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May signals Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are the no. 4 killer in this country. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain abruptly stops. The biggest risk factor is uncontrolled high blood pressure – remember, high blood pressure is called the Silent Killer for a reason. And researchers state that 80% of strokes could have been prevented with quick action at the first symptoms.
To prevent a stroke, act F.A.S.T.:
(1) Face drooping – ask the person to smile
(2) Arm weakness – ask them to raise both arms
(3) Speech difficulty – ask then to repeat “the sky is blue”
(4) Time to call 911 when you first see a symptom
Stroke Risk Factors:
Time to take action when you observe in a person or you yourself have:
The key to preventing strokes is to act FAST. Take action now and don’t wait. A person needs to get to the ER for early medication treatment to stop cold a stroke that might be coming soon.
TIA or transient ischemic attack is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms. TIA symptoms usually only last a few minutes but, if left untreated, people who have TIAs have a high risk of stroke. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
More information at www.americanheart.org.
I am reminded each week, when I see patients for individual counseling, that some folks need to lower their cholesterol numbers by primarily diet. They may be unable to tolerate cholesterol-lowering meds, or there may be other reasons that the meds are just not right for them. So that means lifestyle is key!
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fiber foods at each meal:
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fats each day:
To get cholesterol down, focus on natural plant sterols in
Other tips to get cholesterol down to reduce fatty plaque build-up in artery walls:
Family meals, no matter the hour or which meal, are important in many ways for children, young and old. This is my mantra – eat with your kids around the table – face to face. You get to chat with them, and hear their ideas, thoughts and dreams. They get to chat with you, learning about your work, the community that you live in, and the happenings in the world.
Here’s an idea – a family dinner menu featuring Old-Fashioned Turkey Meatloaf.
TIP: Prep in the morn and bake off in the evening. Make 2 pans to have extra for sandwiches and quick dinners.
Family dinner sides to go with Old-Fashioned Meatloaf:
What can the kids to help with dinner?
Kids are pretty interesting. For sure, they do what we do, and not necessarily do what we say. So providing healthy meals and then modeling healthy eating habits, which means reasonable portions, is something they will be very tuned into. If we are drinking soda with a meal, they are going to want that. When our kids were at home, we all drank milk or water with the meal. No sodas at all. They are still milk drinkers today, as young adults.
I think that the beginning of the year, and especially in February, which is heart month, it’s a great time to evaluate your health and to begin to make some lifestyle changes, if needed. As part of the freshening up, is this a good time to take stock of your food cabinets, and do some weeding out and replacing?
Cleaning up the cupboards… OUT with high-fat, salty snacks and IN with whole-grain crackers, unsalted pretzels, assorted nuts, and plain popcorn.
Cleaning up the cupboards…. OUT with candy, rich desserts, and sweet sugary sodas and IN with fresh fruit, simple homemade cookies, and good old-fashioned water.
Cleaning up the cupboards… OUT with sugary refined cereals and white processed grains and IN with whole-grain cereals (likes oats), brown and wild rice, whole-grain pasta, barley, and quinoa.
Okay, so you don’t need to change everything at once – use your foods up, and then as you run out of items, replace with a healthier version. Be well-stocked with legumes, sweet and white potatoes, healthy condiments such as reduce-fat mayonnaise, flavorful vinegars, oils and mustards. And then don’t forget a variety of herbs and spices to give flavor without added salt: thyme, rosemary, garlic, basil, oregano… the list is endless.
It’s Heart Month! The American Heart Association suggests “Life’s Simple 7” – seven reminders for living well.
The AHA “Life’s Simple 7”:
Eating healthy ala American Heart Association:
Also, some AHA cautions:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Heart issues:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Weight Management issues:
Other health issues where a Registered Dietitian might be able to offer some guidance with your food choices:
Our Nutrition and Diabetes Education Department will get a referral from the MD office. And YOU can call insurance to see if there is coverage. There is more coverage in disease prevention than ever before, so it is worth checking it out.
A recommendation on sodium intake has been made by the American Heart Association. It’s pretty aggressive. But these heart researchers feel very strongly that lowering sodium/salt intake can help the 76 million U.S. adults with high blood pressure, AND may prevent high blood pressure in millions of other Americans.
The average daily sodium intake: 3,400 mg. The USDA sodium guidelines: less than 2,300 mg, and the American Heart Association sodium guidelines: less than 1, 500 mg.
Sodium intake adds up quickly when you rely on convenience items. For example, a homemade spaghetti sauce has ~50 mg sodium in ½ cup but ½ cup jarred spaghetti sauce can be as high as 800 mg of sodium.
As much as possible, have dishes prepared from scratch, with flavorful herbs and spices for seasoning rather than salt. Remember, every time that you omit 1 teaspoon of salt from a recipe, you save 2,300 mg of sodium!! Holy cow!
Be alert when shopping. The Nutrition Facts label on each and every packaged food item MUST list the sodium content per serving. And the American Heart Association reminds us that reducing our sodium/salt intake can help keep the blood pressure of ALL family members in good control. And that will reduce cardiovascular disease risk!
For many years the American Heart Association has suggested that egg yolks be limited to 3 per week. A recent study 1,200 folks suggests that we might want to heed the AHA suggestions.
There is nothing like a poached egg on toast or an egg salad sandwich. But many times, egg whites will work very nicely in place of the whole egg.
This study published in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that independent of smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure having diabetes, and body mass index, eating more egg yolks per week slightly increased plaque in the arteries.
An apple a day is an old saying that has some health merit to it. In a recent study, post-menopausal women who ate 2 apples daily (in dried apple form) saw total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol drop! With more than $15.5 BILLION spent on statin drugs in a year, apples seem like an economical choice, too.
For the women who ate 2 apples/day, in 6 months, total cholesterol dropped 13%, from 250 to 218. The harmful LDL-cholesterol lowered 24% (!!) from 160 down to 132.
Why do apples seem to be fabulous for cholesterol reduction?
Apples, apples, apples….
In the U.S., 81million adults have cardiovascular disease, and over 800,000 die from this disease. Reducing cholesterol is one tool to lower risk. And a diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts – all sources of dietary fiber – seem to be a health (and economical) way to get a handle on this disease.
Chronic diseases are not just found here in the United States. Data from The World Health Organization (WHO) shows high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease are now in poor nations because of dietary and lifestyle changes.
The Worldwide Stats (and they aren’t pretty):
The Scope of Obesity Worldwide:
In poorer nations with less access to health care, chronic diseases are not diagnosed and treated. This equates to unnecessary disability and deaths.
Where do we go from here? Promote and encourage inexpensive personal lifestyle strategies to reduce chronic disease….