Low Impact Cardio: Exercise Without Injury

Cardio is great, but low-impact cardio is even better when it comes to taking care of your bones and joints.

What do we mean by “low-impact”? Low-impact cardio is exercise that gets your blood pumping, but saves your joints, bones, and tendons from hard-hitting stress caused by running (feet pounding the pavement), weight lifting (which puts your elbows and shoulders under stress), or other activities that might cause strain.

Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of maintaining heart health, strengthening your heart, and managing stress.

When you feel as though regular cardio exercise sin’t an option for you because of bone, joint, or tendon injuries, that’s when things get frustrating.

If you already have joint problems, it’s discouraging to think that working out for your heart health could harm another part of your health.

This is why we have suggestions for great low-impact workouts that will help you stay in shape, without sacrificing your cartilage.

1) Swimming

Why it’s Low-Impact: Whether you’re swimming laps or doing water aerobics, water provides cushion and a sort of weightlessness for your body, while significantly reducing any pressure o impact.

Why It’s A Great Workout: While water cushions you, it also provides natural resistance.

It goes without saying that it’s much more difficult to move your body through water, than it is through air.

And, because of the weightlessness, you have to work harder to keep your balance. Consequently, you often end up using more muscle groups when you do workouts in water.

Try: Warm up by treading water for 2 minutes. Then, swim 4 50-meter laps (If in Olympic-sized pool) alternating intensity or strokes every other lap.

Repeat 3 times, and cool down with 2 slow laps and 1 minute of treading water.

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2) Biking

Why It’s Low-Impact: Biking is considered low-impact because you’re using additional leverage to transport your body, but that leverage doesn’t require heavy-hitting movements.

Why It’s A Great Workout: Not only is biking a energy-efficient way to get around and explore new places, it provides an amazing full-body workout.

You’re never just using your legs on a bike—you’re maintaining balance and stability with your arms and core.

Try: Using a stationary bike, or a real bike, try biking for 30 minutes a day. During your ride, mix in 1-minute bursts of speed with 2-minutes of moderately-paced pedaling.

3) Pilates

Why It’s Low-Impact: Pilates is a form of exercise that combines strength training, balance, and stretching.

The creator of Pilates specifically designed the workout regimen to alleviate joint pain, back and neck pain, and increase strength and mobility in the problem are typically affected by high-impact workouts.

Why It’s A Great Workout: Pilates is about using your own body weight to achieve better balance, limber muscles and joints, all while strengthening everything from head to toe through complex movements that challenge under-worked muscle groups.

Try:

4) Walking

Why It’s Low-Impact: Walking requires a more relaxed movement than running, but still allows room for high intensity and fat-burning opportunities.

Why It’s A Great Workout: Much like biking, walking is a low-impact way of getting around, and can easily be used to multi-task, for those of you who feel short on time.

Walk your dog, make phone calls, or head to the grocery store while walking.

If you’re conscious about hitting the hills and speeding up your pace every couple of minutes, walking can also burn some serious calories.

Try: 3 minutes fast-pace walking alternating with 2 minutes moderate pace walking for 45 minutes. For an extra challenge, add hand or ankle weights!

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How To Strengthen Your Heart: Taking Care Of An Important Muscle

Your heart is an important muscle—possibly THE most important muscle in your body. And it’s essential that your heart has the strength it needs to do its job.

Knowing how to strengthen your heart is less about physically strengthening the muscle (although that IS part of it) and more to do with creating an environment in which your heart can thrive and be strong.

So, as you read this article, don’t just think about the heart itself. Think about outside factors that could contribute to or take away from its strength.

1) Stress

If you’ve read our blog on what we have to say about stress, you know that it isn’t a good thing for you and your heart.

Adrenaline released during stress keeps your heart rate high and your breathing speedy.

If you’re stressed more often than not, your heart is almost always in this state of beating faster than normal.

Think of it this way: when you stress more, your body and your heart are more like a tightly coiled spring, just waiting for a chance to unwind and relax—only that chance rarely comes.

You also know that when you stress, your blood sugar gets higher and you’re more likely to store that sugar as fat if that sugar isn’t metabolized into energy.

This just places more long-term odds against your heart by way of high cholesterol and blood pressure.

When you try to eliminate stress in your life, you place less of a demand on your heart and the hard work it already does.

Taking L-Arginine Plus could be the first step to a stronger, healthier lifestyle.

2) Exercise

There’s a reason why cardiovascular workouts are called…cardiovascular workouts.

They literally get your heart and blood pumping in the best way possible! When you exercise regularly, your are exercising your heart’s muscle and training it to have more endurance, stamina, and efficiency.

When your heart is in good shape to do harder work, like going for regular runs, biking, hiking—any form of exercise that wears you out, it’s in even BETTER shape to do the day-to-day activities.

This is why professional athletes have lower heart rates. Not because there’s something wrong with them, but because their hearts simply know how to be efficient about their work.

How do you know if your heart is becoming more “fit”?

Take your heart rate. Simply put, take your heart rate immediately after strenuous activity. Let’s say after a 3-mile run, your heart rate is beating at 125 beats per minute. After taking note of this, wait and rest for 2 minutes.

After two minutes, take your heart rate again. Chances are, it’s slowed down a bit. Say it’s gone from 125 beats per minute to 105 beats per minute. Your heart rate has decreased 20 beats per minute in 2 minutes.

This is how much your heart has “recovered”.

Write down these numbers, and continue to track their change each time you exercise.

If you exercise the next week, and discover that your heart rate goes down 25 beats per minute that time, you’re recovering more quickly and returning to a more normal resting heart rate more efficiently. This means your heart is getting stronger and more efficient.

3) Get Rid Of Visceral Fat

Think the fat under your skin is annoying and unattractive?

Think about visceral fat, the kind of fat that literally goes deeper and gathers around your internal organs, shows up in your muscles, and adds toxins to your bloodstream. Not only is it unattractive, it’s downright dangerous.

Visceral fat is a contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and poor hormone function. You can work to lose visceral fat by following a lean, low-fat, low sugar, and low-sodium diet combined with regular aerobic exercise and strength training.

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Cholesterol Lowering Foods – 9 Foods GUARANTEED to Help Lower Your Cholesterol

Keeping your cholesterol is check is one vital way to keep your heart as healthy as possible and we wanted to share what foods can help.

RELATED: Read How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally | 8 Bizarre Things You Didn’t Know about Your Cholesterol

But if you’re like most people, it’s difficult to make sure you’re taking all the right steps toward lowering your cholesterol levels. But it doesn’t have to be difficult and could be as simple as including these foods more regularly in your diet.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods

Serious About Reducing Your Cholesterol?

Sorry . . . burgers, beer and brats are not making the list no matter how bad you wish they were on here. But here are the cholesterol lowering foods you should be eating:

Best Cholesterol Lowering Foods

1. Green Tea – Green tea packs immense benefits when it comes to improving your health. Loaded with antioxidants, catechins and more, green tea reduces the amount of cholesterol your body takes in to reduce overall bad cholesterol. Green tea retains more nutrients than other forms of tea because it does not go through extensive processing.

2. Avocados – Naturally cholesterol free, avocados are full of the healthy fats the body needs to function at its best. The oleic acid in avocados works to reduce your bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Avocados also come packed with potassium and fiber to help reduce your blood pressure and support your overall health.

3. Beans – With as much soluble fiber as there is in beans, you’ll really notice bad cholesterol drop if you eat them regularly. Beans also help stabilize blood sugar levels and help you feel energized because they’re high in protein.

RECOMMENDED: Learn More about the Heart Health Benefits of L-arginine

4. Oranges – Of course, you know about the vitamin C in oranges, but did you know about the pectin? Pectin works to flush cholesterol before the body has a chance to absorb it. But you’ll only get the benefits with the whole food, not from the juice.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods - Avocoadoes

5. Broccoli – Clearly broccoli is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The fiber content in broccoli helps eliminate your bad cholesterol. When it comes to eating broccoli, your best bet is to steam it to retain the fiber and nutrients in it.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods - Avocoadoes

6. Salmon – The fatty acid found in salmon works to regulate triglyceride levels and help remove the bad fat and cholesterol within the body.

7. Oatmeal – Consider oatmeal as a cholesterol sponge. Oatmeal helps gather bad cholesterol and pushes it out as waste.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods - Avocoadoes

8. Red Wine – Resveratrol in red wine helps prevent bad cholesterol from rising while boosting good cholesterol levels.

9. Blueberries – You might not have ever heard of pterostilbene, but it’s found in blueberries and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. You’ll also improve the health of your arteries by protecting them from free radicals with all the antioxidants found in blueberries.

Of course, our list of cholesterol lowering foods is not comprehensive and there are dozens of other foods you should be eating to reduce your cholesterol.

Also Eat – Blueberries, tomatoes, flax seeds, kale, soy, garlic, dark chocolate, apples and spinach.

Look for foods high in fiber, pectin and antioxidants.

When it comes to eating cholesterol lowering foods, be sure you incorporate foods you enjoy eating. If you’re eating foods you enjoy, it won’t be a chore to try to improve your high cholesterol.

We also recommend adding the amino acid l-arginine to your diet. L-arginine is a key to raising nitric oxide levels to expand your blood vessels. This process helps to flush cholesterol easier.

While l-arginine is available through many foods, the best way to increase your l-arginine is through L-arginine Plus, the #1 cardiovascular supplement available.

L-arginine Plus utilizes proven ingredients to provide impressive support for your heart’s health while supporting healthy cholesterol levels and supporting healthy blood pressure levels.

Learn more about L-arginine Plus to help lower your cholesterol.

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Resources:

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/how-lower-cholesterol-naturally
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192
http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol

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Symptoms of Blocked Arteries: What Are Your Risk Factors?

Blocked arteries are always a concern when it comes to your health.

Unfortunately, symptoms of blocked arteries aren’t necessarily obvious until the worst-case scenario presents itself.

symptoms of blocked arteries

Your arteries are the largest, most muscular blood vessels that supply blood to the main areas of the body.

In general, there are arteries that supply blood directly to your heart, your brain, and your lower body.

You could think of your arteries as “highways”, or the big, main roads where all the important traffic is.

When one of these arteries is blocked significantly, the danger is quite high, since these vessels carry a LOT of blood to some pretty important places.

The question is, do you have symptoms of blocked arteries?

Your best bet for detecting symptoms is considering your risk factors. Ask yourself:

  • Do you high blood pressure?
  • Do you have high blood cholesterol?
  • Are you diabetic or pre-diabetic?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Is there a lot of stress in your life?
  • Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle?
  • Do you have family history of cardiovascular issues?

Each of the above factors contributes something to create the “perfect storm” within your arteries, a place where plaque can easily build up and stay for good, eventually blocking your arteries.

The only real way you can stay on top of these symptoms is by taking ownership of your own health. To prevent blocked arteries:

-Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
-Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
-Quit smoking, don’t start smoking, and try to keep your distance from second-hand smoke.
-Learn about your family’s medical history. This will be beneficial to you, AND your doctor as they try to give you the best healthcare they can.
-Reduce the stress in your life. (You can read more about this here.)
-Get more exercise. There are a few easy ways to do this.

However, there are other symptoms of clogged arteries you don’t need a doctor to help recognize for you. These signs typically don’t lie when it comes to revealing blocked arteries:

• Tingling, numbness, or feeling cold in your hands, feet, arms, and legs could be an indicator of peripheral artery disease. This means that one or more of the arteries that carry blood to your extremities possibly has a significant blockage.

• Chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue all occur when arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked. These are often signs of an oncoming heart attack, and should be taken seriously.

• Angina, which is often experienced as a pain or tightness in the chest, sometimes occurs during times of physical or emotional stress. Usually, angina subsides when the stress subsides.

If you have any of these symptoms of blocked arteries, you could be just a few short steps from these “symptoms” turning into “death traps”.

To put it simply, unless you take quick and serious action you’re at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

If you begin feeling symptoms of blocked arteries, it’s important you see your doctor immediately before your symptoms take you down a fatal path. If you know you might be at risk for artery blockage, here are a few preventative steps you can take:

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Effects Of Too Much Sugar – Is it Really that Bad?

Sugar consumption – from added sugar primarily – in this country is completely out of control. Americans are consuming as much as 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day.

Effects of Too Much Sugar

And it’s true, too much sugar can wreak havoc when it comes to your health.

We all know the effects of too much sugar are bad in theory, but how does too much sugar specifically damage your health?

Related: How are Sugar and Blood Pressure Related?

Chances are, your body on sugar is a less healthy place than you think, and there are a lot of reasons why.

1. Weight Gain and Hunger
Effects of Too Much Sugar

Sugar and sugary-foods might satisfy your sweet tooth initially, but they are satisfying in the long run or nutritious. Simply put, they taste good.

Sugar-packed snacks don’t help you feel full, but they’re still PACKED with calories. This is why, when you eat sugary foods, you feel like you can eat a lot. This is one factor that leads to weight gain, the lack of appetite control.

The other factor is the way excess sugar is stored. If you have all that sugar circulating around your body with:

a) nowhere to go
b) no physical activity to burn it off

Then sugar gets stored as fat and leads to weight gain.

In addition to the empty calories you’re consuming, too much sugar can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that sends signals that you’ve had too much to eat. Without the “I’m full” signal, you’re appetite will significantly increase.

2. Liver Failure

the-human-liver

Sound horrible? It is.

Your liver is a key player in how the body metabolizes sugar.

When there’s too much sugar to deal with, your liver is overwhelmed and can lead to excess fat storage and even “scarring” that can cause liver failure.

Damage to the liver isn’t typically detectable until an individual goes into full-blown liver failure. This is often indicated by nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.

Liver failure is quite serious, and can be fatal if not treated quickly.

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3. Poor Nutrition

This seems like a given, and it really should be.

Think about it this way: if you’re too occupied with eating your way through processed foods, sweets, and prepackaged goods, think of all the other healthy, nutritious options you’re completely overlooking.

Not to mention that the least expensive grocery items offered tend to be sweet processed foods.

Instead of overlooking healthy options because they’re too difficult to prepare or seem “more expensive”, think about the cost of damaging your health.

The cost of eating healthy and buying quality groceries and foods to put in your body is much less than paying for extensive medical bills, and they;re far easier to deal with than overwhelming health issues in the future.

4. Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

insulin-resistance

Insulin is the hormone that helps your body convert glucose stores into fuel or energy.

When the body is overloaded with sugar, it produces more insulin to handle the large influx of sugar. Over time and regular sugar consumption, your body adapts to the high levels of insulin and stops producing enough to deal with the sugar.

This leads to a build-up of glucose in the blood stream as your body’s sensitivity to insulin decreases.

Insulin resistance is often a precursor for high blood pressure, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.

5. Heart Disease

cardiovascular-disease

Studies indicate there is a significant relationship between sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease.

This could be because high amounts of sugar affect blood glucose, blood pressure, and extra sugar gets stored as fat in the body.

Typically, this fat is stored around the middle, or even around organs, as well as playing a role in artery blockage.

6. Poor Brain Function

brain-profile

Multiple studies show a strong relationship between excessive sugar intake and poor brain function.

This could be because sugar interferes with emotional reactions, as well as being a contributor to stress, depression, and anxiety.

Sugar has been known to impair learning abilities and memory, as well as being highly addictive.

A certain study showed that rats, if they were given a choice, would choose sugar over cocaine. This suggests the effects might not be so different when it comes to humans and sugar.

7. Dental Health

Studies as far back as 1967 have called sugar the “arch criminal” behind cavities. Your teeth suffer as the bacteria that line the teeth feed on simple sugar. That process creates acid that destroys your enamel and leads to decay.

Consuming excessive amounts of sugar directly leads to reduced dental health and significantly increases your chances of getting cavities.

Resources:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp

http://www.businessinsider.com/effects-of-eating-too-much-sugar-2014-3

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Effects of Sodium – How Bad Can it Be?

We all hear that too much sodium is bad for you, and that the effects of sodium are specifically harmful to heart health.

How To Eat Less Sugar

But why? What does salt do to our bodily processes that harms us so much? And how much is too much?

Related: Read About the Opposite Role Potassium Plays in Your Health when Compared to Sodium

While sodium is an important component for a functioning body, we only need 200 mg of sodium a day to reap the benefits.

Wildly enough, the average American goes way overboard and consumes an average of 3,436 mg daily. In fact, 9 out of 10 American consume more than necessary each day.

This is more than double the amount that the AHA recommends daily (1500 mg), and it’s at this point that over consumption becomes dangerous and harmful.

Knowing how too much salt negatively affects the rest of your body is important to being conscious of your sodium intake and your overall health! Here’s the overall process of excess sodium’s damage to bodily functions.

What are the Effects of Sodium on the Body?

Step 1: Kidney Overload

kidneys

Your kidneys are responsible for the difficult task of maintaining a delicate balance between sodium, potassium, and fluid levels in the body.

The kidneys use the process of osmosis to pull excess water out of the blood, excreting it by way of urination. However, excessive sodium leads to increased water retention.

The water stays with the extra sodium to make sure it is properly dissolved.

Damage to your kidneys can also occur due to salt and calcium build up that it too much to be dissolved by water. This damage typically manifests itself in the form of kidney stones.

Step 2) High Blood Pressure

arteries

Imagine a house full of people with a very small back door. Only one person can go through the back door at a time, but 20 people at a time continue to fill the house through the front door.

Eventually, the house becomes crowded. It gets warmer, and more stressful as there is more pressure for the house to accommodate more people despite the limited room.

Chances are, the walls of the house and the furniture will suffer some wear and tear from enduring such a high volume of people.

Similarly, this is how high blood pressure works when it comes to a sodium fluid balance, and what your kidneys are capable of filtering out.

Because excess sodium results in fluid retention since water needs to stay put and ensure the sodium is dissolved, there’s a lot of pressure on the kidneys to filter everything out — fast.

Excess fluid in the body results in increased blood volume. When there is more blood to be transported through the veins, the pressure against artery walls increases as things get “crowded”.

This pressure causes a lot of wear and tear on the arteries, damaging the inner lining of the artery walls and can lead to plaque build up, blood clots and other serious health concerns.

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Step 3) Increased Risk

heart

If high blood pressure goes untreated for too long, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

We now know the severe effects excess sodium can have on the cardiovascular system, but our bodily processes are never isolated from one another. Typically, one factor that damages one process is likely to damage many other parts of the body.

Excess sodium can result in:

Bloating: when tissues and capillaries are retaining fluid, they’ll become “puffier”, and sometimes cause noticeable bloating and weight gain.

Edema: This is similar to bloating, but it happens when small blood vessels leak and release fluids into surrounding tissue. The tissue then swells.

Brain Function: Studies show that an increase in sodium could be linked to a decrease in brain function.

Bone Deterioration: High sodium intake can cause the body to expel too much calcium. Calcium is crucial for bone growth, strength, and health. If too much calcium is being excreted by the body, bones weaken without the primary nutrient that builds them strong.

Stomach Ulcers: High sodium intake might damage the lining of the stomach, resulting in ulcers and other damage or irritation.

This graphic from Heart.org shows some of the effects excessive amounts of sodium can have on both our health and appearance:

Effects of Sodium

What’s the Bottom Line When it Comes to Sodium?

If you’re like most Americans, you’re consuming way too much sodium. Most likely you’re getting all the excess sodium from eating out and pre-packaged foods, but also be aware of the following foods if you’re trying to limit the amount of sodium you consume:

  • Breads, Rolls and other Carbohydrates
  • Cold cuts and cured meat
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soup
  • Sandwiches

To stay as healthy as possible, it’s important to stick to a low-sodium diet no matter your age. While you’re in the grocery store, read the nutrition labels on some of the foods you regularly purchase. Chances are you’ll be surprised to see how much sodium is included in many of the foods you eat.

Be sure you’re comparing sodium levels in the foods you’re purchasing.

Resources:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-Effects-of-Excess-Sodium-Infographic_UCM_454384_SubHomePage.jsp

http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/new-science-reveals-two-key-reasons-to-eat-less-salt/

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Clogged Arteries

When we think about “clogged arteries” it’s easy to think of a drain or some other type of plumbing not working correctly.

Clogged Arteries

Your friend or family member jokes about unhealthy foods — pizza, donuts, bacon, etc. — being “artery-cloggers”. Your friend talks you out of an order of French fries by threatening “clogged arteries”.

And this thinking isn’t faulty. In fact, it could be argued that your arteries are THE most important plumbing in your life!

However, it’s easy to laugh off the seriousness of clogged arteries when we talk about them in such a laid-back way.

RECOMMENDED: Learn About L-arginine Plus to Give Your Arteries and Heart More Support

In reality, the “clogged arteries” we joke about have become dangerous issues in current American health, and they should definitely be taken more seriously.

shutterstock_32190214

Unlike the drain of your bathroom sink, a bottle of Drano will not magically unclog and fix all problems that accompany clogged arteries.

This is because plaque—the fatty debris substance that build up in artery walls—thrives off an unhealthy lifestyle and is often there to stay.

Because of this, un-clogging your arteries will take changes in your lifestyle instead of a magic pill or potion. It requires living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Reversing clogged arteries should be considered a process and with the right changes, you can improve the health of your arteries.

Clogged arteries often result in poor circulation and high blood pressure, which in turn lead to more serious cardiovascular diseases, that can lead to death.

If you’re still thinking of it in terms of plumbing, this illustration may help:

Your arteries, veins, and capillaries are all one big hose or sprinkler system responsible for watering a large garden. The water is your blood, the garden is your body.

When the hose gets clogged, water flow either slows down or stops completely.

The same can be said for blood trying to flow through tightened or clogged arteries. Like a garden that doesn’t get enough water, your body doesn’t get enough nutrients or oxygen to function. Eventually, it will die.

MORE: When high blood pressure is a concern, L-Arginine Plus can help.

What Causes Clogged Arteries?

What Causes Clogged Arteries?

Clogged arteries aren’t composed of only plaque and fatty deposits.

In general, the most damage is done when deposits of plaque and fat tear and damage the inner lining of the artery, forming a blood clot that leads to even more blockage and increases the potential of a rupture.

This debris comes from unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, or eating habits that lead to excess fat circulating in the blood stream.

When the artery wall is damaged, the damage creates ideal spots for all this debris to “park” and sit. The more it piles up, the greater the possibility your arteries will get damaged — this can ultimately lead to a blood clot and a serious blockage.

What Happens to Your Health When Your Arteries are Clogged?

Like we said before, a blockage in a life source (water to a garden, blood to your heart) is always a serious concern, and a quick way to ensure more significant heart problems to come.

Build up of plaque in arteries leads to increased blood pressure, a silent issue which doesn’t typically manifest itself until severe situations such as heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease occur.

Read More Signs You May Have Clogged Arteries

How Do I Get My Arteries Unclogged?

The best medicine for clogged arteries is prevention. Attacking the problem before it even starts is the best way to ensure your long-term health. Prevention involves:

  • Avoid Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke/li>
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption
  • Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
  • Limit High-Fat, High-Sugar Foods and Beverages
  • Get Regular (Daily) Exercise
  • Monitor Your Blood Pressure

What If My Arteries Are Already Damaged or Blocked?

If your doctor has determined you have a certain amount of artery blockage, he will likely put you on blood pressure medications and a strict diet/exercise regimen.

Again, this is where the DASH diet comes in handy.

Issues such as high blood pressure and poor circulation are side effects of artery blockage that most people seek relief for. Getting help includes making changes to your diet and activity level. Without adequate exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, you reduce the likelihood of being able to reverse the problems associated with clogged arteries.

Nitric oxide boosters, such as l-arginine and l-citrulline, will help improve your blood flow and can be included in your efforts to improve your lifestyle.

Resources:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307285,00.html
http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/clogged-arteries-arterial-plaque

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Stress And Health

Stress can be both a positive force and negative force, but either way it affects our health, especially chronic stress we fail to deal with in a constructive way.

There’s a really crucial mindset we’re all guilty of — the mindset that stress and health exist on separate plains.

Stress and Health

Or the idea that mental health and physical health have nothing to do with one another.

Bu that belief couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, thinking this way could be dire to both your mental and physical health.

It’s time we adjusted that mindset by learning more about stress and overall health, and here’s why.

Fight or Flight when it Comes to Stress

Our bodies are hardwired to respond to stress, whether it’s sudden danger or a growing worry of something down the road.

This instinct is called “fight or flight”. When you are placed under enough stress, your brain sends urgent signals to the adrenal glands. Cortisol is then released from your adrenal glands, a hormone that raises your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

This is useful if you have to respond to the stress by taking physical action, for example: carrying your unconscious family member our of a burning house, running from danger, breaking a car window during an accident, etc.

However, if the stress is of the kind that requires mental or emotional response, all that extra blood sugar and higher blood pressure don’t do you or your heart health any favors.

If you already have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or other heart problems, added mental stress will contribute negatively to physical side effects you might already be dealing with!

Cortisol: A Necessary Evil

We can all agree cortisol (remember, the stress hormone) exists for very useful reasons. Again, if we are having to react physically, or if we experience an “adrenaline rush”, it’s likely that we’ll need higher blood pressure and those extra sugars for increased energy and stamina.

Once again, though, when you’re reacting to something emotionally, cortisol seems to do nothing but trigger unhealthy cravings and fat storage as it spikes your blood sugar and blood pressure.

The best way to combat this is, simply, to know yourself. If you know you’re easily stressed by certain things, be alert and understand your triggers. Why do you suddenly feel as though you could eat a whole pint of ice cream? What is making you stressed? How can you respond in a healthy way instead of giving in to the impulse that cortisol seems to trigger?

Healthy ways to deal with stress include:

  • taking a walk
  • seeing a movie
  • reading a favorite book
  • calling a friend
  • stepping away from the computer
  • hanging out with friends or family
  • concentrate on your breathing

Other Side Effects Of Stress and Your Health

Sleep deprivation – If you live a stressful life, you might be familiar with a lack of sleep.

This is because stress can often trigger “hyperarousal”. This is when you KNOW you need to sleep, your body UNDERSTANDS it is time for sleep, but you just can’t seem to wind down enough to actually fall asleep.

We all know that when we don’t have enough sleep, we don’t have as much mental capacity or energy to live healthy lifestyles. It wears us down emotionally and we’re tired all the time.

Try creating a peaceful sleep atmosphere and developing a bedtime ritual.

Headaches – You’ve heard of tension headaches. Stress can cause headaches brought on by literal and metaphorical tension.

Emotional and mental stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and fatigue are all culprits of tension headaches and factors brought about by stress.

Skin Flare-Ups – Stress has been known to result in excessive acne, rashes, or hives. This is due to the hormone fluctuation that occurs when your body is under stress.

High blood pressure and heart disease – Researchers have studied the affects of stress as related to heart disease and found individuals that feel stressed out have a higher risk for high blood pressure and heart problems. Stress directly increases the heart rate and blood flow while triggering the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the blood stream. While stress has not been confirmed as a cause of high blood pressure, scientists continue to study the link between stress and health, including factors related to blood pressure and heart disease.

Related: Read about other factors that can increase your risk for heart disease

What To Do about Stress and Your Health:

You’re stressing hard, but don’t know what to do about it! A good place to start is by doing the little things that are actually big things.

This includes getting an extra hour or two of sleep, and creating a wind-down method before bed. Maybe it’s a warm bath, a cup of tea, or your favorite book. Whatever it is, make sure it’s relaxing and prepares your brain for rest.

Another thing to do is be sure you’re funneling your stress and pointing it in another direction.

Find an activity that takes your mind off things. Many people find exercise or other physical activity allows them to physically “burn off” the stress.

Even activities such as writing in a journal every day, coloring, or singing at the top of your lungs in the car can work as stress relievers.

Finally, have a real conversation with yourself and your family (if that applies) about the current stress in your life and how you can honestly eliminate it or decrease its presence.

Resources:
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/10-fixable-stress-related-health-problems
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

Posted in Cardio, Fitness, Health, High Blood Pressure, Stress Management | Leave a comment

Poor Circulation: It’s More Serious Than You Think

If you’re cold ALL the time, your legs are cramping and maybe your fingers and toes even tingle at times, you could be facing poor circulation.

A lot of symptoms related to your extremities can be chalked up to poor circulation, but here’s why poor circulation should be more concerning to you than just something you manage.

Poor circulation is the body’s inability to efficiently move blood through various vessels in order to meet the body’s needs.

Ultimately, it is poor blood flow to and from the heart.

poor-circulation

Poor Circulation is An Indicator of More Serious Health Concerns

Poor circulation can be one of the many side effects of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, low blood pressure or a variety of health problems which in turn can be signs of cardiovascular disease.

It is also a common side effect of diabetes, could indicate peripheral artery disease, or even Raynaud’s syndrome.

If you’re noticing the symptoms of poor circulation regularly, it would be a good idea to visit your doctor. Poor circulation can prevent parts of the body from receiving enough oxygen.

Why Circulation Slows:

Poor circulation can be caused by a number of factors, such as peripheral artery disease, blood clots, diabetes, and other cardiovascular-related issues.

When the blood passing through blood vessels is blocked or reduced due to plaque build up in veins, blood clots, or heart problems, your body can’t get all the benefits and necessities that blood carries, and problems can arise quickly.

Blood does everything from carry oxygen, nutrients, heal wounds, and is the general driving force behind the life of a body. When the process of getting blood to various body tissues is slowed, many other bodily functions are slowed down and are far less efficient and effective at their jobs.

How Do You Know If You Have Poor Circulation?

Poor circulation manifests itself in pretty telltale ways. Most of the time, good indicators of poor circulation include:

  • tingling
  • muscle cramps (especially in the calves, thighs, and buttocks)
  • pain in extremities (arms, legs, fingers, toes)
  • stinging in extremities
  • numbness in extremities
  • weak immune system
  • erectile dysfunction
  • no appetite
  • cold hands and feet
  • swelling
  • discolored skin
  • hair loss
  • leg ulcers

What Can You Do About Poor Circulation?

Because poor circulation is typically the result of another cardiovascular condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, or peripheral artery disease, the best thing you can do is make heart healthy changes to your lifestyle. We’ve written about living a heart healthy diet, and most suggestions are related to your diet and activity level.

These changes are things that involve eliminating anything that would affect your circulation by constricting your arteries or encouraging plaque build-up.

Efforts to improve circulation include:

  • eating a low fat diet
  • consuming plenty of fiber
  • cutting back on alcohol
  • cutting out smoking
  • eating less sodium
  • exercising
  • taking a nitric oxide supplement

L-arginine and Your Circulation

Of course, we also highly recommend supplementing your diet with l-arginine, particularly with L-arginine Plus. L-arginine Plus has been shown to provide support for your entire cardiovascular health. For more information about the benefits of taking l-arginine, read more here.

Resources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000170.htm
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=97614

Posted in Health | Leave a comment

What NOT To Eat With High Blood Pressure

We talk a lot about what you’re supposed to eat if you have high blood pressure, but not enough about what NOT to eat with high blood pressure.

You hear about the super foods, the diets, and the vitamins you should be taking in order to regulate your blood pressure, but what about the food that should be blacklisted and banned from your kitchen?

Here, we break down food by the contents that make it harmful, and we make sure to spell it all out for you.

Sodium is Dangerous with or without High Blood Pressure

what-not-to-eat-with-high-blood-pressure

Sodium is one of the main culprits that contributes to high blood pressure. Sodium forces the body to retain additional fluid. When your body retains more fluid, there is more pressure placed on the walls of blood vessels, constricting them and in turn reducing blood flow.

Many foods containing sodium rely on it less for flavoring and more as a preservative to give food products a longer shelf life.

Foods that are notoriously high in sodium include:

1) Sauces: not only is sodium used in sauces as flavoring, it’s also used as a preservative.

2) Packaged Baked Goods: Pre-packaged baked goods rely on salt as a preservative to extend shelf life, since they aren’t freshly baked and sold the same day they are made. These include cookies, donuts, snack cakes, bread, rolls, etc.

3) Soup: Canned soups make a delicious and easy meal, but they’ll sneak up on your sodium count for the day. Be sure to either make your own or search for low-sodium options at the grocery store.

4) Deli Meat: Deli meat is preserved in salt, especially the pre-packaged kind. To avoid excess sodium on your sandwich, get your sandwich meat freshly sliced at the deli counter of your grocery store.

5) Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds can make a great and healthy snack, but part of what makes them so delicious is they’re all coated with a fine layer of salt. When choosing your snacks, be sure to find a brand that offers “lightly salted” or “natural/no salt” options.

6) Chips, Crackers, Pretzels: Your favorite, flavorful chips pack a punch because they’re coated in salt to satisfy those salty, crunchy cravings temporarily.

Read More about L-arginine and what it has done to help others like you.

Sodium is one of the easiest elements of your diet to overdo because it’s hidden in so many different foods. If you’re blood pressure is high, be sure you’re checking labels as you shop to avoid overdoing the sodium in your diet.

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats Should be Eliminated

trans-fat-saturated-fat

All fats are NOT created equal. Heart-health experts know Omega-3s, polyunsaturated fats, and monosaturated fats are, in fact, GOOD for your heart and good for your health. It’s not the amount of total fat you consume daily, it’s the amount of the TYPE of fat you consume daily that you should be concerned with.

Trans and saturated fats are terrible for your health and blood pressure because they raise the cholesterol levels in your blood, increasing blood pressure and raising your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Infamous foods that contain saturated or trans fats are:

1) Certain Cuts of Meat: This most often refers to red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork. Keeping consumption of red meat to a minimum is always good, but if you do purchase it, make sure it is a very lean cut.

2) Commercially-baked goods

3) Shortening, butter, margarine

4) Foods fried in trans and saturated fat

5) Whole fat dairy foods

Sugar, Potentially as Bad for Your Blood Pressure as Sodium

grains-of-sugar

Whether you have heart problems, including high blood pressure, or not, added sugar will never add to improved health.

This is because excess sugar causes metabolic dysfunction, since it is metabolized similarly to alcohol, and does a lot of damage to the liver and is quite readily metabolized into fat.

When your body contains more sugar than it needs or can metabolize, it must find some way to store it and the way it stores it is, you guessed it, by turning it to fat.

This is the same fat that settles around our organs (visceral fat) becomes bad cholesterol, and causes problem after problem in the cardiovascular system. Here’s our list of common sugary foods you’ll want to avoid:

1) Canned or processed fruit: used as a preservative, the syrup in canned and processed fruit adds excessive sugar on top of the fructose that is naturally-occurring in fruit.

2) Baked goods and pre-packaged desserts

3) Cereal: So much added sugar here! be sure to read labels, and go for a whole-grain, fiber-rich cereal.

4) Baking Mixes: Companies that produce baking mixes are sneaking sugar into your favorite muffin or brownie mix! This is why it’s best to do your own baking so you have total control over your ingredients.

5) Beverages: Beer, wine, cocktails, soda, fruit juice and more. Beverages like this quickly increase your daily sugar count because they are empty calories — meaning, they aren’t filling, but they add to your waistline nonetheless. Sugary beverages are the biggest obstacle for millions of people with high blood pressure when it comes to cutting out excess sugar.

6) Candy: This one is a no-brainer. The whole purpose of candy’s existence is to be a sugary fix for a sweet tooth. However, candy adds no nutritional value to your diet.

For more tips on heart healthy (and blood pressure-friendly) eating, read How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally.

Posted in Cholesterol, Health, High Blood Pressure, Weight Loss | Leave a comment
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