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Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone

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Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone

Add Zing to Your Meals

Onions and garlic are your allies in the kitchen and in the bedroom. They help you make more and better sperm. Both raise levels of a hormone that triggers your body to make testosterone. And both have high levels of natural plant chemical called flavonoids, which safeguard your li’l swimmers against damage.

Pile on the Protein

Lean beef, chicken, fish, and eggs are some of your options. Tofu, nuts, and seeds have protein, too. Try to get about 5 to 6 ounces per day, although the ideal amount for you depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. When you don’t eat enough of these foods, your body makes more of a substance that binds with testosterone, leaving you with less T available to do its job.

Go Fish

Fatty kinds like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich with vitamin D. It’s a natural testosterone booster because it plays a crucial role in hormone production.

More Magnesium

This mineral blocks a protein from binding with testosterone. The result? More of the usable man-stuff floating around in your blood. Spinach is packed with magnesium. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are good sources, too.

Order Oysters

There’s a reason why these mollusks are known for being great for fertility. They have almost five times your recommended daily dose of zinc. This mineral helps your body make testosterone. You can also get it in beef and beans. And it’s often added to breakfast cereal.

Bonus: Zinc boosts your immune system.

Pick Pomegranate

Start your day with a glass of this ancient seedy fruit’s juice instead of OJ. It lowers levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which helps raise levels of sex hormones including testosterone. And it can lower your blood pressure and put you in a better mood!

Diet Down

A Mediterranean-style diet can help keep your weight in check and protect you from insulin resistance, which is related to lower T levels. And when your testosterone is low, your fat levels go up, which can lead to your body not using insulin well. You can break this cycle.

Trade saturated fats for healthier ones such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Choose lean meats and whole grains. Eat lots of veggies and fruits.

Back Off the Beer

It takes only 5 days of regular drinking for your testosterone level to drop. Alcohol may throw off many parts of your body’s hormone system. Heavy drinkers can have shrunken testes, thin chest and beard hair, and higher levels of the female hormone estrogen.

Use Glass, Not Plastic

Be careful about what you store your leftovers in. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastics, cans, and other food packaging. It can mess with your hormone-making process. After 6 months, men who worked around BPA every day had lower testosterone levels than men who didn’t.

Build Your Strength

Focus your workouts on your muscles. Hit the weight room at the gym, or get a trainer to help you with a routine on the exercise machines. Cardio has its benefits, but it doesn’t boost your testosterone like strength training can.

Be careful to not overdo it. Too much exercise can take your T level in the other direction.

Get Enough ZZZs

Your body turns up the testosterone when you fall asleep. The levels peak when you start dreaming and stay there until you wake up. But daytime testosterone levels can drop up to 15% when you get only 5 hours of sleep. Aim for 7 or 8 hours every night, even if it means a shift in your schedule or a limit to your late-night plans.

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Sleeping less than 6 hours a night in midlife raises risk of dementia 30%, study finds

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Sleeping less than 6 hours a night in midlife raises risk of dementia 30%,

If you’re trying to get by on about six hours or less of sleep a night during the workweek, you’re setting up your brain for future failure, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

After following nearly 8,000 people for 25 years, the study found a higher dementia risk with a “sleep duration of six hours or less at age 50 and 60″ as compared to those who slept seven hours a night.
    In addition, persistent short sleep duration between the ages of 50, 60 and 70 was also associated with a “30% increased dementia risk,” independent of “sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors,” including depression, the study said.
    “Sleep is important for normal brain function and is also thought to be important for clearing toxic proteins that build up in dementias from the brain,” said Tara Spires-Jones, who is deputy director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, in a statement. Spires-Jones was not involved in the study.
      “What’s the message for us all? Evidence of sleep disturbance can occur a long time before the onset of other clinical evidence of dementia,” said Tom Dening, who heads the Centre for Dementia at the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham in the UK, in a statement.
      It’s well known that people with Alzheimer’s suffer sleep issues. In fact, insomnia, nighttime wandering and daytime sleepiness are common for people with Alzheimer’s, as well as other cognitive disorders such as Lewy body dementia and frontal lobe dementia.
      But does poor sleep lead to dementia — and which comes first? This “chicken and egg” question has been explored in prior studies, with research pointing both ways, according to neuroscientist Jeffrey Iliff, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
      “In experimental studies, there does seem to be evidence of both chicken and egg,” Iliff told CNN in a prior interview. “You can drive it either direction.”
      Some recent studies, however, have explored the damage sleep deprivation may cause.
      People who get less REM, or dream-stage sleep, may be at higher risk for developing dementia, one 2017 study found. REM is the fifth stage of sleep, when the eyes move, the body heats up, breathing and pulse quicken and the mind dreams.
      Healthy middle-aged adults who slept badly for just one night produced an abundance of beta amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, another study published in 2017 revealed. Beta amyloid is a sticky protein compound that disrupts communication between brain cells, eventually killing the cells as it accumulates in the brain
      A week of disrupted sleep increased the amount of tau, another protein responsible for the tangles associated with Alzheimer’s, frontal lobe dementia and Lewy body disease, the study found.
      Yet another 2017 study compared dementia markers in spinal fluid against self-reported sleep problems, and found subjects who had sleep issues were more likely to show evidence of tau pathology, brain cell damage and inflammation, even when other factors like depression, body mass, cardiovascular disease and sleep medications were taken into account.
      “Our findings align with the idea that worse sleep may contribute to the accumulation of Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the brain,” Barbara Bendlin of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center told CNN in a prior interview about the 2017 study.
      “The fact that we can find these effects in people who are cognitively healthy and close to middle age suggest that these relationships appear early, perhaps providing a window of opportunity for intervention,” Bendlin said.

      ‘New information’ on link with sleep deprivation

      Because the new study followed a large population over an extended period of time, it adds “new information to the emerging picture” on the link between sleep deprivation and dementia, said Elizabeth Coulthard, an associate professor in dementia neurology at the University of Bristol in the UK, in a statement.
      “This means that at least some of the people who went on to develop dementia probably did not already have it at the start of the study when their sleep was first assessed,” said Coulthard, who was not involved in the study.
      “It strengthens the evidence that poor sleep in middle age could cause or worsen dementia in later life,” she said.
      At this time, science has no “sure-fire way to prevent dementia,” but people can change certain behavior to reduce their risk, said Sara Imarisio, who heads strategic initiatives at Alzheimer’s Research UK, in a statement. Imarisio was not involved in the study.
      “The best evidence suggests that not smoking, only drinking in moderation, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age.”

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      Belly fat raises your risk for disease

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      Belly fat raises your risk for disease

       It is clear to people concerned about their health that measuring waist circumference should go hand-in-hand with stepping on a scale as part of any health assessment, according to new guidelines published Thursday by the American Heart Association in the journal Circulation.
        That’s because research is showing that a protruding tummy may be a sign of what is called visceral adipose tissue, or VAT — a dangerous form of fat that wraps itself around organs deep inside your body.
          “Studies that have examined the relationship between abdominal fat and cardiovascular outcomes confirm that visceral fat is a clear health hazard,” said Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley, chief of the social determinants of obesity and cardiovascular risk laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

            Belly fat is different

            Unlike the fat just under your skin, called subcutaneous fat, visceral fat raises your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol. Experts think that’s because visceral fat makes more inflammatory proteins that narrow blood vessels, raise blood pressure and inflame tissues and organs.
            And here’s the rub: You can’t assume you’re safe from visceral fat if your overall weight is healthy, experts stress. That’s because you can have dangerous visceral fat even if you’re not considered obese by BMI standards — and not have any visceral fat even if you are obese. You are overweight if your BMI is over 25; over 30 is considered obese.
            How do you know if your stomach is protruding into dangerous territory? Do a gut check.
            Find your hip bone. Then take out a tape measure and — without sucking in your tummy, please — wrap it around your waist at the top of your hipbone (which is typically across the belly button). Exhale normally, and measure, making sure that the tape is parallel to the floor and snug, but not tight, across the skin.
            Non-pregnant women with a waist size greater than 35 inches (88 cm) and men with a waist larger than 40 inches (102 cm), are at higher risk according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
            If you’re of Asian descent, the benchmark for visceral fat drops to 31.5 inches for women and 35.5 inches for men, according to the Endocrine Society.
            You can also compare your waist-to-hip ratio. Start by measuring your waist as instructed above, then place the tape measure on your hips at the widest part of your buttocks (as viewed from the side in a mirror).

            What to do?

            According to the AHA committee, the most beneficial physical activity to reduce abdominal obesity is aerobic exercise.
            In fact, “reaching a target of 150 minutes a week of physical activity, particularly aerobic physical activity, may be enough to help reduce abdominal fat,” said Powell-Wiley, who was the chair of the AHA guidelines writing committee.
            That seems to be the case even if the exercise does not produce weight loss, she added.
            “This decrease in abdominal fat without weight loss may be related to increasing fat-free mass (or muscle mass) with aerobic exercise,” Powell-Wiley said.
            Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.
            “However, we want to emphasize that more studies are needed to determine the best diet, physical activity and other lifestyle changes needed to reduce abdominal fat enough tor reduced heart disease risk,” she added.
            Aerobic means “with oxygen,” so aerobic exercise increases your breathing rate and promotes the circulation of oxygen through the blood. This type of exercise makes the heart more efficient and improves its ability to move oxygen-carrying blood with every beat. Speed walking, jogging, bicycling, stair climbing, cycling and swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise.
            Strength training is also good at building muscle to burn more fat. But remember that spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t target visceral fat. You have to get your whole body moving.
            Of course watching your weight and eating healthy are important, too.
            Eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and little processed meat, saturated fats and sweets.
            Sugar is an especially bad actor when it comes to belly fat, according to studies. Sugar sweetened drinks are a key player because the brain doesn’t register liquid calories in quite the same manner as solid calories; studies find you end up drinking more total calories.
            Instead, fill up on soluble fiber-rich foods that the body can’t absorb easily, like beans, oats, oat bran, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas and sweet potatoes. One study found that each 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten each day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in abdominal fat.
            And of course, eating fewer processed foods and empty carbohydrates will also go a long way toward reducing weight, including that dangerous belly fat.

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            Vegetables for Power

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            Vegetables for Power

            You should consult a nutritionist about what it takes to build muscle power and function. It’s only recently that researchers published a study in the Journal of Nutrition explaining that a nitrate-rich diet — predominantly from leafy, green vegetables such as spinach — is essential for optimal muscle function.

            The study found that over a 12-year period, 1 cup a day of nitrate-rich foods gave folks 11% stronger lower limb strength compared with folks with the lowest nitrate intake and up to 4% faster walking speed. As they got older, they were better protected from falls too. Psst! Nitrates also help the body produce blood-vessel-relaxing, heart-friendly nitric oxide.

            Confused by nitrates, which are sometimes lumped with nitrites as a “bad” additive? Well, when the duo is used as a preservative in processed meats and cheeses, the whole package ups your risk for heart disease and dementia, plus some cancers (from the conversion of nitrates into carcinogenic nitrosamines). But vegetables acquire nitrates and nitrites from the soil they grow in, and because they also contain vitamin C, polyphenols and fiber, which inhibit nitrosamine formation, they’re not a worry.

            The most nitrate-rich veggies are greens, in order from No. 10 to No. 1: beets, Swiss chard, oak leaf lettuce, beet greens, basil, spring greens like mesclun mix, butter-leaf lettuce, cilantro, rhubarb, and the winner … arugula (18 times more nitrates than kale). Some fruits, such as watermelon, grape, pears and apples also have a small amount. 

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            Controlling your blood pressure with sweat and a smile (Dr. Oz Article)

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            Controlling your blood pressure with sweat and a smile (Dr. Oz Article)

            Almost half of adults in the U.S. have delayed going to the dentist because of the pandemic — 75% of those folks postponed a regular checkup and over 12% skipped care for something bothering them, like bleeding gums. That’s bad for oral health, but it has even more far-reaching repercussions, according to a study in Hypertension.

            If you have severe periodontal gum disease, you’re twice as likely to have an elevated systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 140 mmHg or more compared to folks with healthy gums. You’re also likely to have other heart-damaging conditions, such as elevated glucose and lousy LDL cholesterol and chronic inflammation.

            However, controlling blood pressure depends on more than keeping your gums healthy. You also need exercise — and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has issued new guidelines that identify the specific forms that are most effective for controlling or preventing high blood pressure.

            — For people with blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher, aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, cycling or swimming, is the most effective way to reduce high blood pressure.

            — For reduction of high-normal blood pressure (130-139/85-89 mmHg), dynamic resistance training, such as weight-lifting and doing squats and push-ups, is optimal.

            — People with normal blood pressure (less than 130/84 mmHg) can best prevent high blood pressure by doing isometric resistance training, such as handgrip exercises, wall sits and planks.

            The blood-pressure-lowering effects of exercise last about 24 hours, say the researchers, so it’s best to do the exercises daily. And remember, any physical activity done daily is better than none!

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            Physical Activity at Leisure, Not Work, Tied to Health Benefits

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            Physical Activity at Leisure, Not Work, Tied to Health Benefits

            *Let me sum this up for you.  Simple: you lift 35 pounds all day at work.  You leave work and go to the gym where you lift 35 pounds to develop your upper body.

            Same 35 pounds?

            No, no according to your body.  Your brain reminds you that the 35 pounds all day is ‘work’ and is not as beneficial to you as the 35 pounds you lift at the gym which is ‘leisure’ and ‘done for yourself’ *


            Leisure time physical activity and physical activity performed at work have opposite associations with cardiovascular health and mortality, according to results of an observational study in more than 100,000 individuals.

            It found that higher leisure time physical activity was associated with reduced major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and all-cause mortality risk, whereas higher occupational physical activity was associated with increased risks, independent of each other.

            Leisure time physical activities also typically comprise dynamic activities of higher intensity and shorter durations, while workers typically engage in more static, lower-intensity movements over 7 or 8 hours each workday. “There’s a massive difference in duration,” as well as little opportunity to tailor or adapt the work activity to levels of fatigue or pain, he said.

            The concept that certain activities at work can be harmful isn’t new, but studies comparing physical and occupational activities are limited, data quality is often poor, and “always there’s this debate about is it just about socioeconomic confounding or is it really a causal relationship?” Holtermann said. “You can never say there’s no confounding whatsoever, but at least this is one of the studies where we’ve been able to take into account as much as possible.”

            The current study included 104,046 individuals, aged 20 to 100 years, in the Copenhagen General Population Study who had baseline measurements in the years 2003 to 2014 and were linked to national Danish patient and death registries.

            Questionnaires on leisure and occupational physical activity were used to categorize participants as low, moderate, high, and very high activity for both activities. Cox regression models were adjusted for 20 potential confounders including socioeconomic factors such as cohabitation, marital status, education, and household income.

            During a median follow-up of 10 years, there were 7913 (7.6%) MACE (fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction, fatal and nonfatal stroke, and other coronary death) and 9846 (9.5%) deaths from all causes.

            Compared with low leisure time physical activity, the adjusted risk of MACE was reduced 14%, 23%, and 15% with moderate, high, and very high levels of activity, respectively. Compared with low occupational activity, the adjusted MACE risk was increased 15% and 35% with high and very high levels of occupational activity, respectively.

            The risk of all-cause mortality followed a similar pattern. Compared with low leisure activity, moderate, high, and very high levels of leisure activity were associated with 26%, 41%, and 40% reduced risks of all-cause death, respectively. High and very high levels of work activity, however, were associated with 13% and 27% increased risks of death, respectively, compared with low work activity.

            Sensitivity analyses showed similar associations for both leisure time and occupational physical activity with risk of both outcomes, according to the study, published this week in the European Heart Journal.

            “It’s important to tell those doing manual work that they don’t get healthier and fit from the activities they’re doing during work, so it’s important they’re being physically active during their leisure time to promote health,” Holtermann said. “But workplaces should also be aware of this because, in the end, the sustainable solution is not only to tell those lower socioeconomic, manual workers they should just do exercise at leisure…but to make the activity at work healthy.”

            Scandinavian companies have been offering fitness enhancing activities at work for years, with the Copenhagen municipality taking it a step further and making 1 hour of physical activity per week mandatory for those working in the eldercare sector, he noted. The need to promote longevity among lower socioeconomic, manual workers has taken on even greater urgency, however, as Denmark looks to increase its retirement age from 67 to 72 years.

            Further investigation of the association between occupational physical activity and health was also recently encouraged by the World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior, Holtermann said.

            In an interview, Richard Josephson, MD, director of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, said “the intriguing and novel finding here is that they found an adverse gradient with occupational work and health outcomes. The data on that in studies around the world are mixed.”

            “I, for one, would be a bit skeptical of over-analyzing the occupational data because it’s not very strong for a variety of reasons — it’s recall bias, it’s self-reporting, it’s only divided into four tiers, and only a fraction of the patients were actually answering the question,” said Josephson, who also is a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. 

            He agreed that physical activities performed at leisure and work are different in nature, but said one also has to take into account workplace factors such as stress or toxins. “If your job was to be a caddy on a golf course, I would think that working more is better than working less, but if you’re working in a coal mine, I would think working more is worse than working less.”

            It’s unlikely a randomized trial will take place to evaluate the health effects of occupational vs leisure activities or whether the association between the two activities is independent, as the researchers suggest.

            That said, “the data from this study shows that whatever level of physical activity you’re doing at your job, it is still important to maintain physical activity in your leisure activities,” Josephson said. “You shouldn’t come home from the factory and say: I was just working all day and there’s no need for me take a walk outside, there’s no need for me to play sports on the weekend.”

            In an accompanying editorial, Martin Halle, MD, and Melanie Heitkamp, PhD, both of the Technical University of Munich, Germany, reiterate many of the same limitations. Nonetheless, the large cohort and methodological strengths of the Copenhagen General Population study “make an important and significant contribution to the cardiovascular and overall risk of occupational work, which has to be followed and differentiated in future studies.”

            They also call on companies to offer breaks and recovery time during work, sufficient recreational breaks, and complementary exercise training for their employees, especially for workers in heavy manual jobs.

            For their part, healthcare professionals should “assess and address the particularly elevated risk of heavy work occupations and emphasize a healthy lifestyle in these high-risk patients at an early stage,” Halle and Heitkamp write.

            The study was supported by the Capital Region of Copenhagen, the Danish Heart Foundation, the Danish Lung Association, Velux Foundation, and Lundbeck Foundation. The authors, Josephson, and the editorialists have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

            Eur Heart J. 2021. Published online April 9, 2021. Full textEditorial

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            Getting The Most Out of The DASH Diet

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            Getting The Most Out of The DASH Diet

            DASH Diet for Heart Health — Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

            What DASH Can Do for You

            The DASH Diet can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which is good for your heart. In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or high blood pressure. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, the DASH Diet is worth a look. It may help you lose weight because it’s a healthier way of eating. You won’t feel deprived. You’ll have lots of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products while cutting back on fats, cholesterol, and sweets.

            Cut the Salt

            Too much salt causes fluids to build up in your body. This puts extra pressure on your heart. On DASH, you’ll lower your sodium to either 2,300 or 1,500 milligrams a day, depending on your health, age, race, and any medical conditions. Here are some ways to cut back:

            1. Choose low- or no-sodium foods and condiments.
            2. Watch foods that are cured, smoked, or pickled.
            3. Limit processed foods. They’re often high in sodium.

            Get Your Grains

            Eating whole grains like whole wheat breads, brown rice, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and popcorn is a good way to get fiber. Some fiber helps lower your cholesterol and also keeps you feeling full longer. For a diet of 2,000 calories per day: Eat six to eight servings a day. One serving is a slice of bread, 1 ounce of dry cereal, or ½ cup of cooked whole wheat pasta, rice, or oatmeal (about the size of half a baseball). 

            Load Your Plate With Vegetables

            Vegetables give you fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They don’t have a lot of calories or fat — a good recipe for controlling blood pressure. Have four to five servings of vegetables a day. That’s 1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables, 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice for each serving. Iffy about veggies? Start by adding a salad at lunch and dinner.

            Don’t Forget Fruit

            Fruits offer lots of fiber and vitamins that are good for your heart. Many also have potassium and magnesium, which help lower blood pressure. Eat four to five servings of fruit every day. One serving is a medium apple or orange, or 1/2 cup of frozen, fresh, or canned fruit. One-half cup of fruit juice or 1/4 cup of dried fruit also counts as a serving. Try adding bananas or berries to your breakfast cereal or have fruit for dessert.

            Have Some Yogurt

            Low- and no-fat dairy foods are good sources of calcium and protein, which can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Try to get three servings of dairy every day. Choose skim or 1% milk and low- or no-fat cheeses and yogurt. Frozen low-fat yogurt is OK, too. One serving equals 1 cup of yogurt or milk, or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese — about the size of three dice.

            Go for Lean Meats and Fish

            You can still eat meat. Just make sure it’s lean. Meats are good sources of protein and magnesium. Skinless chicken and fish are also on the menu. Limit your servings to six or fewer a day. A serving is 1 ounce of cooked meat, fish, or poultry, or one egg. A good rule is to have no more than 3 ounces of meat at a meal — the size of an iPhone. 

            Add Nuts and Legumes

            Nuts, legumes, and seeds are rich in magnesium, protein, and fiber. Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower your risk of heart disease. Enjoy as many as five servings of these foods each week. That’s 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or a 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans or peas in each serving. Grab a handful of seeds or nuts as a snack. Or add beans to your salads or soups.

            Cut Back on Fats and Oils

            Eating too many fats can cause high cholesterol and heart disease. With DASH, you’ll limit fats and oils to two to three servings a day. A serving is 1 teaspoon of margarine or vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, or 2 tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing. When cooking, use vegetable oils like olive or canola instead of butter.

            Watch the Sweets

            You don’t have to skip all sweets. But you should try to have five or fewer servings a week. That’s 1 tablespoon of sugar or jam, 1 cup of lemonade, or 1/2 cup of sorbet at a time. Choose sweets that are low in fat, such as gelatin, hard candy, or maple syrup. Instead of high-fat desserts, try having fresh fruit over low-fat ice cream.

            Get Enough Potassium

            Potassium is another important part of the DASH diet. Getting enough of this mineral may help lower your blood pressure. It’s best to get potassium from food instead of supplements. Aim for 4,700 milligrams (mg) a day. Try these potassium-rich foods:

            • Potato: 610 mg
            • Sweet potato: 542 mg
            • Banana: 422 mg
            • Avocado (1/2): 487 mg
            • Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 419 mg

            Getting Started on DASH

            DASH isn’t hard to follow, but you’ll have to make some changes. Start by keeping a food diary for a few days and see how your diet stacks up. Then start making changes. You’ll aim for around 2,000 calories a day. It may vary some depending on your body and how active you are. Ask your doctor for advice.

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            Precursors to DIABETES

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            Precursors to DIABETES

            While diabetes is
            very prevalent in the U.S.—the American
            Diabetes Association
             claims more than 9-percent of the
            population was diagnosed with the disease as of 2012—there are
            warning signs you can watch for.

            as it’s known, is when your fasting blood glucose levels are
            elevated but not yet at the point where diabetes can be diagnosed.
            According to the association, in 2012 prediabetes was found in 86
            million Americans over the age of 20
            . This is a significant jump from
            79 million just two years prior. Here are 12 common signs of
            prediabetes that aren’t so sweet, but can be turned around with the
            right measures

            1. Darkened Skin

            The Mayo
             said that while prediabetes doesn’t always have
            obvious signs, one possible risk factor for type 2 (adult onset)
            diabetes in darkening patches of skin on the neck and joints. This
            condition is referred to as acanthosis nigricans.

            The clinic said the darkened skin can also become thicker than
            normal. In some cases, this condition can also be a warning sign of a
            cancerous tumor on an internal organ, so have you doctor check you
            out either way.

            2. Lack of Exercise

            of physical activity
             is generally bad for us overall, and
            can also to mental illnesses such as depression. Prevention notes
            that while 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes, a change in diet can do
            wonders. The sugar-filled foods you eat can eventually become more
            resistant to insulin that your pancreas creates, meaning it can tap
            out at a certain point.

            However, while diet can make some improvements, Prevention says that
            a study in Finland showed subjects that exercise regularly dropped
            their risk of diabetes by as much as 70-percent compared to inactive
            The article suggests interval training—low intensity
            exercise with some high-impact moves mixed in—is best for glucose

            3. Lack of Sleep

            While sometimes prediabetes carries symptoms of fatigue, those who
            get less than 6-hours of sleep each night are at a higher risk for
            noted Best

            The theory is that there’s a connection between lack
            of sleep
            , hormones and your nervous system that create the
            perfect storm for the beginnings of diabetes. So try to get more
            sleep at night by avoiding sugar or caffeine-filled treats near
            bedtime, for starters.

            4. Blurred Vision

            While it could just be a case of needing corrective lenses or that
            your eyes are tired, blurry vision can also be a sign of prediabetes,
            according to Shape magazine. The magazine noted that spikes in your
            blood sugar could actually impair eye function and elasticity to
            focus, which should go away once you’ve reduced your glucose

            Blurry vision can be a sign of other health problems such as glaucoma
            and even multiple sclerosis, so if the blurriness persists you should
            probably consult an eye doctor or a family doctor to be on the safe

            5. Increased Thirst

            While diabetics can have bouts of extreme thirst that can’t seem to
            be quenched, those with prediabetes can also feel the need to drink
            more water.
            This is because your body is fighting a battle against
            glucose and is trying to flush it out through urination, noted Shape

            While this will lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom, you may
            end up dehydrated as a result and become thirsty again. Shape
            magazine notes in another article that
            the Adequate Intake Level (AI) is just over half a U.S. gallon (2.2
            liters) of water per day for women.

            6. Slow-Healing Wounds

            If you’ve got a bruise or a cut that seems to be taking its sweet
            time to heal, it could be a warning sign of prediabetes
            . This is
            because blood that is laced with glucose moves a bit slower
            throughout your body, meaning your body’s natural healing processes
            (from white cells) can be stunted.

             also notes that certain infection-causing bacteria
            feeds off sugar, so higher glucose in your bloodstream means more
            food for the infection. In other words, you’re literally feeding
            cuts and bruises when you snack on sugary items.

            7. Unexplained Weight Loss

            For some reason we tend to associate blood sugar problems like
            diabetes with being overweight, but that’s a common misconception.
            There are many people who have diabetes who are only moderately
            overweight, or even not at all.

            In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, people who are suffering from
            prediabetes might even start
            losing weight
             because diabetes can stop the body from
            receiving the sugar in food.
            When the cells
            aren’t getting enough glucose
            , it can lead to weight loss. It
            can also cause people to go to the bathroom more frequently (which we
            will get to more later), this means you’re getting rid of sugar and
            losing calories.

            8. Always Hungry

            Going off the topic of unexplained weight loss, Deena Adimoolam, MD,
            assistant professor of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone
            Disease, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told Best
            Health that it can also cause people to “feel hungry all the
            time” because they are losing calories and urinating more

            Everyday Health writes, “people with type 2 diabetes have [hormone
            that regulates glucose in the blood] resistance, which means the body
            cannot use [this hormone] properly to help glucose get into the
            cells,” as well as muscle, fat, or other tissues. When this
            happens, the pancreas just puts out more of this hormone to
            compensate which causes high levels of it in the body. These high
            levels signal to the brain that the body is hungry.

            9. Tingling and Numbness

            If you’re experiencing tingling
            or numbness
             in the hands or feet it could also be a warning
            sign of prediabetes.
            This symptom occurs because “high blood sugar
            levels can affect blood circulation and damage the body’s nerves,”
            writes Medical
            News Today
            . This is a common occurrence for people with type 2

            The source goes on to explain that this condition is called
            neuropathy and that it can worse as the disease progresses. To avoid
            more serious complications, treatment is needed.

            10. Frequent Yeast Infections

            Yeast and bacteria are able to multiply at a faster rate when a
            person’s blood sugar levels are high which is why women with
            diabetes are more likely to experience yeast infections. “Women
            with diabetes are overall at a higher risk of feminine health issues,
            such as bacterial infections, yeast infections, and vaginal thrush,
            especially when blood sugar isn’t well controlled
            ,” writes
            Everyday Health. Of course, those with prediabetes who are unaware of
            their condition are likely to have blood sugar levels that are
            unmanaged. Women who are experiencing yeast infections at a regular
            basis might want to consider being checked for diabetes.

            Men aren’t totally off the hook either. The source goes on to note
            that men and women with diabetes are also likely to suffer from foot
            infections, “because the disease can damage the architecture of the
            foot, including the skin, blood vessels, and nerves.” However, this
            is more likely in people with advanced diabetes.

            11. Frequent Urination

            Frequent urination is another early warning sign of diabetes because
            there is an excess of glucose in the blood and the kidneys are
            working hard to flush
            it out with urine, explains Everyday Health. “A
            patient may feel slightly more thirsty and have to urinate more over
            time as well as the sugars increase in their body,” says UPMC
            endocrinologist Dr. Jason Ng, MD, clinical assistant professor of
            medicine at the University of Pittsburgh when talking to Best Health

            This increase in urination puts both men and women at risk for more
            frequent urinary tract infections. In fact, Everyday Health says that
            people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to get a UTI than
            those without the disease. As always, women are even more at risk
            than men.

            12. Family History

            Since there is a genetic link behind diabetes a family history of
            diabetes can be a precursor.
            “There can be a genetic cause for the
            development of type 2 diabetes due to certain gene mutations,” says
            Deena Adimoolam, MD, when talking to Best Health. “Some
            people may have a genetic predisposition to developing type 2
            diabetes due to presence of certain genes than have been passed down
            from one generation to the next.”

            Best Health goes on to cite a European
             that found family history increased a person’s
            chance of having diabetes by 26-percent, as well as the National
            Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
            also states a close family member increases a person’s risk. “Some
            data suggests that the risk of type 2 diabetes is five times higher
            in those with diabetes on both the maternal and paternal sides of the
            family,” says Adimoolam.

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            What is your Heart Rate?

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            What Is Your Heart Rate?

            Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats in a minute. Everyone’s is different, and it changes as you get older. Understanding your heart rate and what’s a healthy one for you is an important part of taking care of yourself.

            Your Resting Heart Rate

            This is the number of times your heart beats in a minute when you’re not active and your heart isn’t having to work hard to pump blood through your body. Some medications like beta-blockers can slow your heartbeat and lower your resting heart rate.

            A Healthy Resting Heart Rate

            Most healthy adults should have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats a minute. In general, the more physically fit  you are, the lower your heart rate will be. Athletes can have a normal resting heart rate in the 40s. A healthy one is a sign that your heart isn’t having to work too hard to circulate blood.

            How to Check It

            You can feel your heart rate by putting your first two fingers on the inside of your wrist, the inside of your elbow, the side of your neck, or on the top of your foot. Once you find it, count how many beats you feel in 15 seconds, and multiply that number by 4.

            How to Lower It

            This can be as easy as simply relaxing — sit down, have a glass of water, or just take a few deep breaths. A healthier lifestyle, including getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day,  eating healthier, watching your weight, and cutting down alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can help, too. If that’s not enough, you might try to find ways to better handle stress, like tai chi, meditation, or mindfulness.

            Arrhythmia: A Problem With Your Heart Rate

            When your heart’s beating rhythm is off, that’s called an arrhythmia.  There are four major types:

            • Tachycardia: When your heart beats too fast, usually more than 100 beats a minute

            • Bradycardia: When your heart beats too slowly, below 60 beats a minute (unless you’re an athlete)

            • Supraventricular arrhythmia: An arrhythmia that starts in your heart’s upper chambers 

            • Ventricular arrhythmia: An arrhythmia that starts in your heart’s lower chambers

            Causes of Arrythmia

            Several things can lead to arrythmia. These include clogged or hardened arteries, high blood pressure, or issues with your heart’s valves. It also can be the result of trauma from a heart attack. It can happen as you recover from heart surgery, and if your electrolytes are out of balance. For example, if your body has too much or too little potassium.

            Elevated Heart Rate (Tachycardia)

            A resting heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute happens most often in kids. It’s also more common in women. The primary causes of a fast heart rate include stress, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol, coffee, or other caffeinated drinks.

            Low Heart Rate (Bradycardia

            A heart rate lower than 60 beats per minute can be caused by an infection, a problem with your thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), a chemical imbalance in your blood, breathing problems while you sleep (obstructive sleep apnea), or inflammatory diseases like lupus. It also can be caused by a problem with how your heart developed before you were born.

            Heart Rate and Exercise

            When you work out, you want your heart rate to go up, but not too much. To find the right number, start by figuring out your maximum rate: Subtract your age from 220. If you’re just starting a fitness regimen, your target should be about 50% of your maximum heart rate. If you already exercise regularly, it might be closer to 85%. Some devices and machines, like a treadmill, keep track of your heart rate.

            Other Contributors

            Outside conditions, like warm weather or humidity, can make your heart pump a little more blood. Extreme emotional highs and lows or feeling anxious can raise your heart rate, too. Standing up from a sitting position can also bring it up for a few seconds.

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            Risk for heartbreak comes from ultraprocessed foods

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            Risk for heartbreak comes from ultraprocessed foods

            A real risk for heartbreak comes from ultraprocessed foods. A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that eating ultraprocessed foods, even those touted as healthy, such as protein and energy bars and some breakfast cereals, ups your risk of heart attack and stroke.

            During 18 years of follow-up on folks who started out without cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that each daily serving of ultraprocessed food was associated with:

            — A 7% increase in the risk of heart attack, coronary death and stroke in folks who developed cardiovascular disease.

            — A 9% increase in the risk of heart attack and coronary death in folks who developed coronary heart disease.

            — And a 9% percent increased risk in cardiovascular disease mortality.

            Salty foods, low-calorie soft drinks, ultraprocessed meats and breads all were major culprits.

            Unfortunately, ultraprocessed foods, such as prepared meals, cold cuts, hot dogs, fast food, packaged cookies and cakes, and snacks account for 58% of the calories consumed by the average American. They’re loaded with artificial color and flavors, chemical preservatives and stabilizers, and food substances like fat, starches and sugars that are reassembled to imitate a natural food, and they’re stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber. So don’t go breakin’ your heart — or your family’s. Opt for fresh, whole foods and lean animal proteins, such as salmon or ocean trout.

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