Tag Archives: high blood pressure

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

Do you eat “healthy?” Or, perhaps a better question should be ‘DID you think you ate healthy,’ before this post?

Food labeling is VERY misleading. Don’t be fooled. Get educated! High sugar consumption increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease!

Is this really a "healthy" diet?

Is this really a “healthy” diet?

 

 

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The Health Benefits of Chocolate!

Finally! Some good news! Chocolate has some great health benefits and, in moderation, can be a tasty part of a healthy diet. See the video below for more information!

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Genes, Alzheimer’s Disease and Your Choice

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease

Image via Wikipedia

New genes have been discovered that seem to be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  AD currently affects over 5 million Americans and that number is expected to increase substantially by the year 2029.

This year the first baby boomers will reach their 65th birthdays. By 2029, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old.  Ninety-five percent of all AD is in people 65 and older.

The discovery of new genes linked to AD is a step in the right direction.  Every bit of information that help scientists unlock the mystery of why this occurs puts us closer to being able to effectively treat AD.

Let’s pretend that we know every gene that is involved in the production of AD.  Let’s also pretend a test that exists to specifically detect all of these genes in you.  Would you want to find out?  What would you do if you had all of the genes linked to AD?

The truth of it is, there is nothing you could do to change your genes.  Your genes are your genes.  They are there and you can’t remove them.  What you can do, however, is change how they are expressed.  Just because a person has a specific gene does not mean it has to be expressed.  The expression of many of our genes is closely related to our environment.  Diet, exercise, smoking, pollution and stress are just a few things that can negatively or positively affect the expression of our genes.

So back to my first question.  What would you do if you had all the genes linked to AD?  You can’t change your genes, but you can change your risk factors.

There are many known risk factor that increase the risk of AD, independent of your genetic potential.  The number one risk is aging.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about that.  We are all going to get older which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is much better than the alternative!

Known risk factors for AD that are controllable are as follows:

You will notice that these risk factors significantly overlap with one another.  You will also notice that when you control one risk factor you will impact another.  If you can control these risk factors in your life you will significantly reduce your risk of developing AD regardless of your genetic potential.
Cardiovascular health is perhaps the most important.  Cardiovascular disease causes a chronic, low grade reduction in blood delivery to the brain.  This is known as hypoperfusion.  This hypoperfusion is responsible for protein synthesis defects that later result in the classic AD neurodegenerative lesions.

To keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible make sure you eat an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise.  Fish oil is also something you should consider.  Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease mortality better than any other substance known.

Reduction of high blood pressure is also very important.  When blood pressure is too high it fuels a kind of scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  Controlling your blood pressure is actually very simple.  You must maintain a healthy weight first and foremost.  This, of course, means diet and exercise.  Increasing waistlines mean more tissue and blood vessels for your heart to push blood through. This puts a strain on the heart and increases the resistance the heart must push against.

Keeping a healthy cholesterol profile is essential.  However, the traditional tests from your doctor are probably not enough to tell whether you are at risk or not.  Traditional tests examine total cholesterol, HDL (“good”), LDL (“bad”) and triglycerides.  These are of some value, but they don’t tell the whole story.  What you must find out is the particle size.  In a nut shell, large and buoyant molecules of cholesterol are not as problematic as small and dense particles.  Your traditional test does not distinguish between the two.  Your traditional test might look very good, but a more advanced test may show that you are still very much at risk.  See my blog entry from last summer for more detailed information.

Diabetes is also extremely important to control.  Some references are referring to Alzheimer’s as Type III diabetes because of the biochemical similarities. Even being borderline diabetic raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia by 70%!  Diabetes’ hallmark is high blood sugar.  This high blood sugar leads to a phenomenon called advanced glycation end products or AGEs.  AGEs adversely affect the structure and function of proteins. In combination with oxidative stress brain function is easily affected.  Advanced glycation end products have been found to be much more prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients than in healthy controls. This process begins early on in the course of Alzheimer’s and there is also evidence that AGEs assist in the formation of plaques seen in AD.  Diet and exercise are the best ways to prevent diabetes and reduce your risk of AD.

While the study for a purely genetic link to AD will continue, a cure is likely many years away if one can even be found.  What we can control, however, are our lifestyle choices that activate our genes.  If we choose poorly, we are much more likely to activate unfavorable genes that cause disease.  If we choose wisely, we are more likely to activate genes that are favorable and reduce our risk of further disease.  The choice is yours.  Make the right one.

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See the amazing statistics on sugar consumption in the U.S.

A new study recently published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that sugar intake significantly contributes to ill-health and specifically increases cholesterol levels.

Researchers at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the added sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults.

Added sugars included table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave syrup and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods — for instance, in soft drinks, iced tea, candy, pastries, cookies and canned fruits. Not included: the sugars in fruit, 100% juice and other whole foods.

  • Participants consumed an average of 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, or more than 320 calories a day from these sources.
  • About 16% of participants’ total daily caloric intake was from added sugars. That compares with 11% in 1977-78.
  • People with the higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats).

The added sugar of common foods is astonishing.

These statistics are truly amazing.  Most people are completely unaware of the amount of sugar in their diets.  Remember, this is considered “added” sugar.  This does not take into account the naturally occurring sugar in fruits, fruit juices and other whole foods as mentioned above.

While fruits are good for you and I do recommend that people consume them, I never recommend that people consume fruit juices.  That is a huge source of sugar for most people and unfortunately they consider sitting down and drinking a glass of orange juice as healthy.  There are worse things you could do, but there are also better things you could do for your health (like not drink it).

Consider that there is about as much sugar in a glass of OJ as there is in a soda.  Fruit is different than fruit juice.  Human beings we were designed to sit down and have one apple or one orange.  We were never intended to sit down and eat 3 or 4 whole apples or oranges – the amount of fruit that it would take to get the sugar content of one glass of fruit juice.

Senior author Miriam Vos, an assistant professor at Emory say, “People have been so focused on fat that we haven’t been focused on sugar, and it’s gotten away from us. This data show we can’t let either one or the other get too high.”  I don’t agree.  The statement would read correctly if it said that traditional medicine has been so focused on fat that they forgot to look at sugar.  Many functionally trained physicians including chiropractors, naturopaths and certified clinical nutritionists have been saying sugar is a huge culprit for years.

I see it routinely in my practice.  People come to me with high cholesterol, weight issues, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues and the first thing I do is cut out the sugar and carbohydrates.  They continue to eat healthy fats and proteins.  They lose weight, improve cholesterol profiles, reduce their blood pressure and their diabetes disappears.  It is simple physiology.

It would make sense that fat makes you fat, but like most things in medicine the obvious is often times not the answer.  This holds true in this instance as well.  People need to take responsibility and be aware of just how much carbohydrate they are putting into their bodies.  After all, carbohydrates, not just simple sugars are contributing to this problem.

The American Heart Association is recommending that women get no more than 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar per day and men get no more than 9.5 teaspoons per day.  While I still view this is high (because people often have other sources of naturally occurring sugar in their diet) it’s a good start.  Remember, the average participant in the study consumed a whopping 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day!  That is astronomical.  Imagine sitting down at breakfast, lunch and dinner and shoveling in 7 teaspoons of sugar at each meal.  You probably wouldn’t do that because you’d view it as terribly unhealthy yet the average person does it every day without even knowing it!

Sugar consumption in this country is out of control and as a person that works in the health field I have been well aware of it.  Unfortunately, I think traditional medicine will continue to teach the low fat mantra that has led so many to be so sick in this country.  The numbers are finally there.  I can only hope people will take this health threat seriously and something will be done about the amount of added sugar that is in our diets.

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