Celebrate Hearth Health!

6 Things You Can Do For Your Heart Today

Most of us take active steps to avoid cancer—we try to eat right, watch our sun exposure, and have regular check-ups with our physicians. But what have you done lately for the #1 killer of both men and women in America—heart disease? Sure, you don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol excessively, watch your diet and exercise, but are you really doing what counts? Check out these small, evidence-based tricks and tips to benefit your heart starting today.

1. Invest in Supportive Relationships

We all know that having loving, supportive relationships feels great, but did you know it directly affects heart health? In one recent study, people with high levels of supportive relationships were significantly less likely to increase their body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. People with high negative relationships had a 10+ percent increase in waist circumference, as well as increased BMI. Higher BMI readings and waist circumference are significant risk factors for heart disease, so it appears that investing in good relationships with loved ones not only feels great but benefits your heart.

2. Eat Healthy Fats

For years, fats have gotten a bad rap, but in the last 5-10 years, there is increasing evidence that our fear of fats was unfounded, especially healthy fats. Fats are essential for whole body health, and are especially critical to your heart and brain.

Try to include sources of healthy fat in your diet, such as coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, ghee, nuts and seeds, butter sourced from grass-fed cows, and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines, or herring have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a substance which benefits the heart greatly. Omega-3’s reduce the risk of abnormal heart beats, reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth of plaque in the blood vessels, and lower blood pressure. I generally recommend 2-3 servings (approximately ¾ cup flaked fish) per week to get the optimum benefits.

Of course, some kinds of fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and other toxic chemicals. Try to stay away from larger fish such as shark, king mackerel, or swordfish, as they have had longer to accumulate these substances.
Watch for our next newsletter which will contain an in-depth analysis of omega-3 supplements.

3. Boost Your Exercise Routine with Interval Training

Interval training pairs short bursts of vigorous activity with brief periods of rest, and has been shown to increase oxygenation, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, and reduce blood sugar levels. Interval training also improves endothelial function, which is closely linked to cardiovascular health (the endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels).

If you don’t exercise already, start slowly with a 20-minute walk around the block 3-5 days/week. As your endurance improves, add 1-2 minute bursts of faster, more vigorous walking followed by 30 seconds of slower walking. Alternate between the bursts of activity (A) with rest periods of slower walking (B) so your workout has an ABAB pattern.

If you already have an exercise plan in place, add more formal interval training to your workout. I like this video designed for beginners, but if you want something more vigorous, search online for “interval training for cardiovascular fitness.”

4. Rethink Your Stress

I’m sure you’re heard a lot of evidence that chronic stress can damage your heart—and you’re not alone in that belief. More than 80 percent of American adults think that stress can have a strong or very strong impact on health, and 94 percent believe that stress contributes to the development of illnesses like heart disease, obesity, and depression.

And while there is plentiful evidence to support the chronic stress/disease connection, what if focusing on the negative impact of stress makes it worse?

Research published in the European Heart Journal found that those who believed stress heavily affected their health had a 50 percent greater risk of dying from heart attack! Remember, this study was not looking at the presence or absence of stress in participants lives, rather it was linked how people thought about stress to their cardiovascular outcomes.

One way to change your mindset is to watch the work of Alia Crum, in particular her Ted Talk on stress mindsets. I also recommend reading Stanford Psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s book The Upside of Stress. This book will help you see how stress can make you “stronger, smarter, and happier” if you can change your mindset and embrace it.

5. Consider Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is likely the most important nutrient you’ve never heard of. While you may be familiar with vitamin K1, the nutrient that helps our blood clot, K2 is greatly unfamiliar to most people. Research has shown K2 to be important for many diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes, and even cancer. But I find the most promise in using K2 for heart health.

At one point, researchers thought that osteoporosis and calcification of the blood vessels to be unrelated conditions, but there is increasing evidence that a deficiency of vitamin K2 may be at the heart of both!

Without K2, your body can’t activate Matrix Gla Protein (MGP), a substance that inhibits tissue calcification. In other words, without K2, your body sends calcium to your blood vessels, rather than to your bones where it belongs.

There are a number of different forms of vitamin K2, the one that is best absorbed and most stable is K2-7 (also known as MK-7 or menaquinone-7). Typical doses range from 45 mcg to 320 mcg/day, and the most compelling research on K2 and heart health show significant benefit in a higher dose. Most of the vitamin K2 supplements use a K2 source that degrades quickly in the capsule, unfortunately resulting in much lower levels of K2 than claimed on the labels. In our research, only supplements with K2 sourced from MenaquinGold were found to have as much K2 present in the supplement as was promised on the label.

6. Get Tested

The blood work most commonly prescribed at your yearly physical (CBC, CMP, and lipid panel) is far from complete where your heart health is concerned. I encourage all of my patients to have a yearly enhanced cardio metabolic panel, which includes an expanded lipid panel that measures the density and number of lipoproteins, vascular inflammation markers including CRP and homocysteine, and metabolic risk factors such as insulin, hA1c, adiponectin, and c-peptides.

In the office, we offer a complete CardioMetabolic panel from SpectraCell Labs because it is the most comprehensive assessment cardiovascular health we have ever seen. To read more about our favorite test for heart health, click here. In honor of Heart Health Month, SpectraCell Labs is offering a February-only price of $10 for the CardioMetabolic panel when combined with the Micronutrient Panel (a combined price of $190).

It’s never too late to help your heart. Small, incremental changes can make a huge impact on your heart disease risk, as well as on your overall health.


What is your Cardiovascular Health Risk?

What is your Cardiovascular Health risk?

February is American Heart Health Month.  At PureBalance we are celebrating the heart all month long and want to share some tips on how to get a head start to a healthier heart!

A healthy heart goes beyond your cholesterol numbers.  Did you know that 50% of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels?  Why do most Americans base their cardiovascular health on a number that at best is relevant only 50% of the time?  At PureBalance we go beyond the lipid panel.  Our Advanced Cardiovascular Health Blood Panel measures other risk factors that give us a much more in depth picture of your cardiovascular health.  This panel will allow us to better understand the specifics of your situation so we can create a customized dietary, lifestyle, exercise, and supplement program to restore health and balance to your cardiovascular system.

The Current state of Cardiovascular testing…

For most people in the US testing for cardiovascular disease consist of a total cholesterol count, triglyceride count, HDL, and LDL values.  Although these are risk factors that we believe everyone should get checked yearly, it is important to understand that cardiovascular disease is not only about blood fats. Our Advanced Cardiovascular Health Blood Panel uncovers information related to inflammation specific to the cardiovascular system.  We look at the size of the lipids because research shows that smaller dense particles are associated with increased heart attacks.  We look for nutrient deficiencies that play a primary role in heart disease such as folic acid and vitamin D, and evaluate other markers associated with arteriosclerosis.

Why doesn’t my Cardiologist offer this test?

Cardiologists are trained to manage heart disease.  The tools they are familiar with consist of drugs and surgery.  The markers in our Advanced Cardiovascular Health Blood Panel are markers that indicate dietary and nutrient deficiencies and chronic inflammation.  They require specific dietary changes and food supplements to correct these imbalances. Some Cardiologists around the country are learning more about these important markers in cardiovascular health and the importance in preventative medicine.  Can you afford to wait for your Cardiologist to jump on board?

Cardiovascular disease is an inflammatory condition, and inflammatory markers can predict cardiovascular stress up to 10 years before a heart attack.  If you can control inflammation now you may be able to prevent a cardiovascular event in the future.  Get started today and get the PureBalance Cardiovascular Health Blood Panel, Your Heart will love you for it!

A cardiovascular health plan will be put together depending on your unique needs based on your blood work results.

4 Heart Friendly Tips:

1) Heart Friendly Product Tip!

Total Omega 3+ our best product for Heart Health!

Total Omega 3+ is the perfect supplement to support a healthy heart.   TO3+ is a combination of pharmaceutical grade Fish Oil, Ubiquinol, Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin E with Tocotrienols.  This combination works specifically on decreasing inflammation in your cardiovascular system.

Fish oil is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory products available, and crucial to keeping your blood fats balanced.  Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10, and the preferred form to use when taking statin medications.  Ubiquinol is one of the most potent antioxidants in the heart tissue.  Vitamin K2 is very important for proper calcium metabolism.  Research shows the K2 transports calcium to the bones, where it belongs, and not to the arteries where it can become part of atherosclerotic plaques! Healthy Vitamin D levels are important for heart and immune health.  Vitamin E with Tocotrienols is one of the most studied natural ingredients for the treatment of heart disease.  Studies show Tocomin softens the arteries and helps with the absorption of fat.

2) Heart Friendly Treatment Tip!

Far Infrared Sauna

Medical research shows that regular use of a Far Infrared Sauna may be as effective for cardiovascular conditioning as exercise. The cardiovascular cleansing properties of a far infrared sauna allow the circulatory system to have increased circulation and oxygenation while lowering blood pressure. A passive cardiovascular work out!

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that repeated use of a far infrared sauna improved vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.

High daily stress levels put constant strain on the body's nervous system and can contribute to chronic disease. The far infrared sauna helps to reduce physical stress by boosting circulation and triggering the production of endorphins, the "feel good" hormones. Besides these physiological effects, a sauna session also contributes to stress reduction simply by providing a peaceful and relaxing environment away from it all.  Book your Sauna time today.  Another reason for your heart to love you!

3) Heart Friendly Dietary Tip!

De-junk your diet! Processed foods are rich in one thing and that is trans fats, the worst fat you can consume. Why are trans fats unhealthy?

Trans fat may increase the levels of “bad” cholesterol in your body and decrease your levels of “good” cholesterol doing nothing good for your heart. Small amounts of trans fat occur naturally in foods such as milk, butter and animal meat. But this type of trans fat doesn’t seem to be as harmful to your health as the trans fat found in commercially prepared baked goods, fried foods and snack foods.

Read food labels carefully and check for trans fat. Food labels must list trans fat, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Trans fat will appear in the ingredient list as “hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

When you read a nutrition label, keep in mind that companies are allowed to list the amount of trans fat as “0 grams” if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means that your food may still contain some trans fat even if the nutrition label says “0 grams” per serving, be aware of foods that say “trans fat free” on the package. Better yet, eat a diet rich in fruit and veggies…no label to decipher!

Heart Friendly recipe: Basic Chicken Stir Fry

4) Heart Friendly Exercise Tip!

To maximize the benefits of exercise on your heart, mix up what you do. Strength-train a couple of days a week. Walk as much as possible, mix in some jogging, running or uphill walking just to change this up.  Consider taking a yoga class for increased circulation and relaxation. Weight training can help lower high blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels. By increasing lean muscle tissue and decreasing fat tissue in the body you help boost your metabolism and maintain a healthy weight.  Different exercises have different cardiovascular benefits.  Variety is the key to exercise when it comes to supporting heart health.

The best exercises are the ones you enjoy and that are convenient for you to do. Those are the ones you'll keep doing. Remember, staying active is vital to a healthy heart!

Get on track to a healthy, happier heart!

 

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