From the category archives:

heart health

The Five Keys to Optimal Health

by Ed

Key #1 Nutrition

After spending billions of dollars, over the past thirty years, the American Cancer Society has begun to realize that searching for a cure may not be the answer. Now they are focusing more on prevention. And what is the best way to prevent cancer? Fruits and vegetables.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over the best diet: High protein? High carbohydrate? paleolithic? Mediterranean?

But one thing the experts agree on is that we need more fruits and vegetables in our diet. Dr. Bruce Ames, a leading cancer scientist has said that if you aren’t eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, you might as well be standing in front of a low level X-ray machine, all day.

You may have seen the American Cancer Society’s ad campaign: “5 A DAY”. Actually, they recommend 9 servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they think five a day is easier to sell to
the American public.

The Framingham study looked at Stroke risks. They found a direct correlation between 3 servings a day and a 22% reduction in strokes. 6 servings a day; 44% reduction in stroke. 9 servings a day, 66% reduction in stroke. Now that’s pretty remarkable.

Let’s face it, most of us are not big fruit and vegetable eaters. But we should be. Fruits and vegetables are full of disease preventing phytochemicals, including the now famous antioxidants. We have
discovered hundreds, so far, but there are still many we don’t know about. And that’s one reason that taking vitamins is not the answer for a poor diet. I could go on for pages about other reasons. If you want more information on the research, let me know and I will send it to you.

Key #2: ExerciseEveryone knows we need more exercise. So, what’s your excuse?
Not enough time? Not enough energy? too boring?

In fact, once you get on a simple exercise program you create a spiral of success. More time, more energy, more joy in every area of your life

So how to start? Well, you need at least a little energy to get started. It may be that you need to improve your nutrition to get that energy. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less fat, especially saturated
and trans fat.

Ok, back to exercise: You should aim for an hour of exercise, almost every day. However, you can break it up into 6 ten minute chunks, throughout the day. During coffee break take a ten minute walk or
climb ten flights of stairs.

Buy one of those six foot rubber bands designed for exercising. They are great for mini work outs. Buy several. Keep one in your desk, one in the car and one or more at home. Buy a brand that comes with a video so you can learn the exercises. Then buy some cheaper ones for different places. Any time you have five to ten minutes pull it out. Learn a few different short routines and alternate them. One for strengthening the arms and upper back, one for the abs and lower back, and one for the legs. Plus one or two good stretching routines.

Once you start feeling healthier, you can sleep thirty minutes less and use that extra thirty minutes for a good aerobic workout, three days a week. On the other four days, you can meditate or read a good book
or enjoy a sunrise.

Obesity is becoming an American epidemic. One that leads to hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. The only healthy way to maintain a healthy weight is sensible eating and exercise.

Exercise improves our mood, our immune system, our stamina, our bone mass, and our ability to assimilate the nutrients from our food. So get up and have some fun.

Play with your kids.
Join a team.
Walk your dog.
Have fun!

Key #3 OxygenAre you breathing? Many people seem to barely breathe when under stress, sitting at a computer, and other times. Some people seem to barely breathe, all the time. Abundant oxygen is vital to our wellbeing. It is even more important today, than it was 30 years ago. Besides all of the toxins in our water, food and air, and our stress levels, all of which require more oxygen to healthfully process, we have a lot less oxygen in the air we breathe. You have heard about greenhouse gases and global warming, by now. Did you ever stop to think what all those greenhouse gases are replacing? Oxygen. Oxygen levels are getting dangerously low, about three percent lower than they were a few decades ago. Levels are within a couple of percent of being unable to sustain our lives, especially in cities with high smog levels.

We need to be breathing more deeply just to maintain normal levels of oxygen, let alone levels necessary to help us combat pollution and stress. Get more aerobic exercise and take several deep breathing breaks, throughout your day.
Key #4 CleansingIn the 21st Century it is impossible to escape toxicity. Our air, food
and water are all polluted. Not to mention all of the toxic ingredients
they put in our personal care products and packaged foods.
Regular internal cleansing has become essential to maintain good
health.

The two main areas that require cleansing are the digestive tract
and the Liver/ Gall Bladder. For most people, I recommend an
intestinal cleanse and a Liver cleanse, as well as a Gall Bladder
flush, every Spring. Many people with allergies, for instance, find
that a regular Spring cleaning brings a lot of relief, through out the
year.

Because cleansing can release toxins into the body, it is important
to be careful. I always recommend a gentle cleansing. Eating lightly
with an even greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables
(I suggest 5 servings of each during non cleansing times),
is always a great way to reduce our toxic burden and begin a
cleanse.

It’s important to cleanse your digestive tract gently so as not to shock your system or release excess toxins into the body. An herbal fiber supplement makes a great colon cleanse because herbal fiber can work slowly to thoroughly sweep the colon clear of impacted waste and toxins without disrupting daily life. When combined with herbs to soothe and stimulate the digestive tract, a fiber supplement can make a great spring cleanse. 

Click here to see my other posts on cleansing.

Key #5 State of mindCheck out my many posts on the importance of our state of mind, particularly this one. Positive states of mind keep our immune systems robust, and help us ward of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A positive state of mind makes it easier to maintain the other four keys. See this post for tips on staying happy.

Flax seeds: The Good and The Bad

by Ed

Ground flax seeds are a great nutritional supplement to most people’s diet. Flax oil is not.

The Good:

  • Flax is high in ALA, an essential fatty acid that has some health benefits.

  • Flax is high in protein

  • Flax is high in lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against breast cancer and other estrogen related cancers.

  • Eating ground flax seeds slows the growth of prostate cancer.

  • Flax is a good source of many vitamins.

  • Flax improves cardiovascular and colon health.

The Bad:

  • Most of the benefits of ALA are only realized after being converted to EPA and DHA, which the human body does very poorly. Fish oils are a much better source of these fatty acids.

  • The oils in flax seeds go rancid very quickly. Flax oil is almost useless for this reason. If you use ground flax seeds, it is best to use them immediately after grinding. Otherwise store them in an airtight, opaque container, in the refrigerator.

  • Flax seed oil actually increases the risk of prostate cancer. This may be due to an excess of ALA in the body. Ground flax seeds do not seem to have this problem.

If you are going to eat flax seeds, the ideal amount is about two tablespoons a day, of ground flax seeds. Although flax oil is very unstable, it seems that the seeds are much less so. Apparently it is ok to eat flax seeds after cooking them. People who find raw flax seeds to be too laxative, have no problem with eating them cooked. So put them in muffins or sprinkle them raw on your cereal or salad.

Siesta Time

by Ed

As I was researching side effects of insomnia for my Sunday sleep series, I found this article in Tuesday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune.

They found that Greeks who took regular 30-minute siestas were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease over a six-year period than those who never napped. So, I guess the Mediterranean cultures had it right all along. We in North America are to consumed with doing. We never stop until the day is done. So, this afternoon, tell your boss that you need your nap, otherwise next week, he might be calling an ambulance for you.

In so many ways, in our culture, we overstress ourselves. Let’s take back our lives and enjoy them for a few years. Have a nap, at least on the weekend.