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heart disease

Healthy Eating Roundup: Behind the headlines

How do you set priorities to assure that your “healthy choices” are doing the most good for health and vitality? Nutrition headlines in perspective

A look at several studies making headlines in the last few weeks shows that the answer may not be as clear-cut as it seems.

Let’s pull them together for a look at the big picture.

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Healthy Eating Tweaks for Lower Blood Pressure

Among people with high blood pressure, only about half have their blood pressure under good control.  Whether you have high blood pressure and hope to improve control to reduce the toll it takes on your health, or hope to delay or avoid development of high blood pressure, the good news is that changes in your eating habits can help.

Even better news: if you’re not up for a major overhaul of your diet, research has identified ways in which we can “tweak” eating habits with relatively small changes that can add up to make a difference for a healthier blood pressure and improve overall health at the same time. Tweaks that cut sodium are part of this, but let’s make sure we consider the big picture of how eating habits affect blood pressure.

What’s the big deal? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure makes you four times more likely to die from a stroke, and three times more likely to die from heart disease.

In the United States, about 1 in 3 adults – or about 2 in 3 age 60 and older — has high blood pressure. Another 1 in 3 has prehypertension, above-normal blood pressure between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, not high enough to classify as hypertension, but now recognized as high enough to increase risk of heart disease and stroke. Your blood pressure can be high for years without causing any symptoms, even though it is damaging your heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

Let’s consider three places you can look for ways you might tweak your current eating habits for healthy blood pressure….

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News on Healthy Eating & Semi-Vegetarian Diets

Is a plant-based diet the same thing as a vegetarian diet?

Study links pro-vegetarian diet with fewer heart disease deaths

Plant-based diets come in many forms

You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “plant-based diet” used in describing eating habits linked to heart health, cancer prevention and more. Some sources use the term to indicate a vegetarian diet. Yet not all the studies and recommendations about plant-based diets are actually referring to vegetarian eating.

At a recent heart health conference I attended, plant-based diets in their broader sense were the subject of several presentations, including one that received a lot of interest from media reaching health professionals and the public.

Let’s look at this study, which you may see reported somewhat differently by various sources, and see how it fits in the big picture of overall research on healthy eating patterns.

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Can You Multitask a Healthy Lifestyle?

Though many are probably unaware of it, one in three American adults has Metabolic Syndrome, a clustering of risk factors that together doubles the risk of heart disease and increases risk of type 2 diabetes five-fold. Some research also links it with 20% to more than 60% increased risk of several cancers, such as colon, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancers.

Choose healthy habits to reduce risks of metabolic syndrome

Multitasking while driving: Not a good idea.
Multitasking Healthy Habits:
Smart way to use Small Steps that pay off Big!

Medications may successfully treat most components of metabolic syndrome, but they do so one at a time. You might take one (or more) to control rising blood sugar and one (or more) for blood pressure, for example, but neither helps elevated blood triglycerides or an expanding waistline.  (Waist size is relevant because it can help indicate whether you have too much of a type of body fat that is particularly harmful.) A medication to treat one component of metabolic syndrome can sometimes make another component worse.

The question – as research increasingly shows the inter-connectedness of all these risk factors – is whether your lifestyle choices can multitask. Can you focus on healthy habits that pay-off with multiple health benefits? The exciting answer is yes. Continue reading

“How am I NOT Losing Weight with All this Exercise?”

“How am I NOT losing weight?”

Weight loss - Is exercise enough?

“How am I NOT losing weight?”
It’s a common frustration.

Have you ever wondered that after boosting your activity with extra walking, swimming or other forms of exercise? You’re not alone. Sometimes it is hard to understand a lack of weight loss. Often, though, a little digging can uncover several potential reasons why weight is not dropping as quickly as you expect.

Identifying what’s going on allows you to adjust how you are approaching a healthy lifestyle.

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