Monthly Archives: October 2017

Is There an Optimal Amount of Exercise for Cardiac Health?

ExerciseCardiacHealthSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

It’s well known that exercise, along with good sleep habits and proper nutrition, is one of the cornerstones of good health. Regular exercise helps to ward off diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments. While studies have shown that too little exercise is not health supportive, a recent long-term study showed there may be a limit to the amount of exercise that is beneficial to cardiac health. Analysis of the results of a 25-year study suggests that low levels of exercise are linked to disease risk, that moderate levels reduce risk, and that high levels increase risk. As with Goldilocks and her porridge, it appears we need to find the level that’s “just right,” as excessive exercise may actually be damaging and detrimental for long-term heart health.

Coronary artery calcification (CAC), measured by CT scans, is known to be a strong predictor of future heart disease. While the researchers expected to see exercise linked to less calcification of the arteries, the findings revealed the opposite. The study found that those who exercised above and beyond the recommended moderate amount, had a 27 percent increased risk of developing coronary subclinical atherosclerosis by middle age. Another surprising finding was that Caucasian men who exercised at high levels were 86 percent more likely to have CAC levels higher than those who exercised the least. While it remains to be seen whether the individuals with these high levels of calcification will have more health problems as they age, previous studies have raised the question that extreme endurance activity may be linked to an increased risk of mortality.

Current research indicates that moderate exercise is the most beneficial for cardiovascualar health and overall wellness. Moderate exercise includes walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling among others. The ability to carry on a conversation during physical activity is a good indicator that you are not overstressing your heart. Heart-pounding exertion is simply not necessary if your goal is to maintain good health. Exercising for health, as opposed to competitive athletic fitness, takes surprisingly little effort to realize enormous benefits. Walking fifteen to thirty minutes daily can help with weight loss, lower both blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce depression. It appears that health benefits of exercise plateaus beyond 45 – 60 minutes of daily moderate exercise. Those who enjoy exercise or participating in sports or dance, may exercise longer, but after the first hour, there are diminishing health returns.

Current U.S. guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Set a goal of thirty minutes of moderate walking each day to reap the beneficial rewards of a healthier mind and body. Individuals who are time stressed, can accomplish this in three ten minute intervals and gain the same rewards. Every little bit of movement throughout the day is beneficial. Studies show that those who get at least some exercise, even if they don’t reach the minimum amount, still improve long-term health outcomes.

Physical activity intensity is determined by fitness levels. While brisk walking at 3 – 4 mph may be the ultimate goal, a pace of 3.0 mph may be ideal if your goal is weight loss and good health.  The moderate intensity zone is defined by exercising at 50%-75% of your maximum heart rate. In healthy persons, maximum heart rate may be determined by substracting your age from 220.

Those who are sedentary or have a health condition, should be sure to check in with their healthcare provider before embarking on a moderate intensity exercise program.

Guide to setting a walking pace:

  • Easy/Light: Leisurely stroll, effortless breathing, light intensity. At this pace, you should be able to sing.
  • Moderate: Purposeful, like you need to get somewhere, breathing more noticeable, light to moderate intensity. At this pace, you can speak in full sentences.
  • Brisk: In a bit of a hurry, breathing harder, moderate intensity. At this pace, you can still speak in full sentences, but may need to take more breaths.
  • Fast: Late for an appointment, hard effort, slightly breathless, moderate to vigorous intensity. At this pace, you can speak in phrases.

References:
Excessive Exercise May Harm The Heart, Study Suggests. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/10/18/excessive-exercise-may-harm-the-heart-study-suggests/#6788e1ab7fa5
How much exercise is optimal for heart health? https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-much-exercise-is-optimal-for-heart-health
Can Too Much Extreme Exercise Damage Your Heart? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/09/can-too-much-extreme-exercise-damage-your-heart/
Physical Activity and Public Health. http://www.drpendleton.com/files/Blair1.pdf
Physical activity beneficial for CV health, but excessive exercise may confer harm. https://www.healio.com/cardiology/chd-prevention/news/print/cardiology-today/%7Ba343fc67-d975-4775-801a-cdb9fb83085f%7D/physical-activity-beneficial-for-cv-health-but-excessive-exercise-may-confer-harm
25-Year Physical Activity Trajectories and Development of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease as Measured by Coronary Artery Calcium: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30577-3/pdf

 

 

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PureEncapsulationsJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

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Let’s Talk About Sugar

SugarTalkJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

While a bit of sugar in your morning coffee may sweeten the cup, the typical American consumes an average of 22 teaspoons or 110 grams of sugar daily, equating to an extra 350 non-nutritive calories every day. The key word here is average, as per the Obesity Society, the top 20 percent of adult consumers are eating an additional 721 empty calories daily. Equally alarming is the fact that the top 20 percent of children are consuming an average of 673 calories from added sugars each day. Research shows that added sugar consumption has increased by more than 30 percent over the last three decades. Along with increased consumption, the general state of health of Americans has declined. Data shows that two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, one child in six is obese, and almost 115 million adults have diabetes or prediabetes.

While controversy reigns over how much added sugar is too much, the nearly 66 pounds that the average American consumes yearly can be construed as more than a bit excessive, especially when compared to the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation of no more than six teaspoons daily for women and nine teaspoons a day for men. The World Health Organization (WHO) takes it a step further and recommends that everyone reduce their daily intake of added sugars to less than six teaspoons, or below five percent of total daily calories.

How is added sugar harmful to health?

As opposed to sugars naturally present in healthy nutritious foods, such as dairy and fruit, added sugars are omnipresent in processed foods, sweetened beverages, condiments, and formerly healthy, but highly sugar laden foods, such many cereals and yogurts, marketed to both children and adults. Over time, overconsumption of added sugars can negatively affect natural hunger and satiety hormone balance, leading to insulin and leptin resistance.

While added sugars may supply a short-term energy boost, they provide no nutritive benefit and decease nutrient density in the diet, often contributing to the risk of inflammation, tooth decay, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes, as well as classic metabolic syndrome with symptoms of weight gain, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides and blood sugar.

What happens when you give up sugar:

Those who are accustomed to a high sugar diet can experience disagreeable short-term side effects when eliminating sugar from the diet. Sugar dependency can bring on withdrawal symptoms when sugar is restricted, resulting in irritability, fatigue and headaches. Fortunately, the unpleasant side effects are short-lived, while the positive health effects like better sleep, stable energy levels, improved immune health, lowered triglycerides and more stabilized blood sugar will remain if the diet continues to be low in sugar.

Reducing the amount of sugar in the diet can result in a healthier weight, smaller waist size, healthier looking skin, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Very importantly, above normal blood sugar, even in those without diabetes, is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that any incremental increase in blood sugar increased vascular disease, as well as metabolic issues such as insulin resistance.

Transitioning to a sugar restricted diet:

Hydration, nourishing foods, and healthy fats can help to keep the appetite and cravings under control, and reduce withdrawal symptoms while transitioning to a healthier pattern of eating. Choosing whole, unprocessed high fiber foods, and skipping foods with lengthy ingredient lists will help one eliminate sources of added sugars. Enjoy an occasional sweet treat, but be aware of the total amount of sugar consumed daily. Individuals who are looking to stabilize or reduce their blood sugar level, may also consider reducing refined carbohydrates, especially those who are prediabetic or overweight.

Those who are willing to shift to a healthier eating pattern that restricts added sugars and refined carbohydrates can make a real difference in their health. Above normal blood sugar can be lowered with proper diet and increased physical activity. Taking short, but frequent walking breaks, small amounts of activity throughout the day, and taking a walk after a meal can make a difference in improved physical and mental wellness.

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Gluco-Support...Gluco-Support Formula™ by Douglas Laboratories®: This synergistic and comprehensive complex provides vitamins, minerals, botanicals, micronutrients and trace elements specifically formulated to offer support for healthy glucose metabolism. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, sugar, and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation.

References:
U.S. Adult Consumption of Added Sugars Increased by More Than 30% Over Three Decades. http://www.obesity.org/news/press-releases/us-adult
How Much Is Too Much? http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption/
Sugar 101. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp
How to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms When You Quit Sugar, According to a Nutritionist. http://www.health.com/nutrition/sugar-free-diet-help
Short Term Side Effects of a Decreased Sugar Diet. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/short-term-side-effects-decreased-sugar-diet-1397.html
Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021
Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1819573
Added Sugar in the Diet. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/
WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/
Too Much Can Make Us Sick. http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/too-much-can-make-us-sick/
Above-normal blood sugar linked to dementia. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/above-normal-blood-sugar-linked-to-dementia-201308076596
Statistics About Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/