Please pass on the salt!
Last month, the CDC reported that 9 out of 10 Americans consume more sodium than is recommended. The average was almost 3300mg, whereas the recommended dose is 2300mg for regular joes and 1500mg for high-risk individuals! More than that, most of that sodium came from only ten food groups, most of which are from grocery stores: cold cuts, pizza, soup, bread, pasta, cheese, snacks (chips, pretzels). Follow the link below to see them all. While we can’t completely avoid salt (and most of us admit to loving those chips or pretzels), make sure you pay attention to how much you eat. Too much sodium can not only lead to unwanted bloating and water weight, but also higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
True or False: Soda is okay if it is “diet”?
According to a recent study that followed 2500 people for 10 years, daily intake of diet sodas was associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, and other vascular risks. While this study was not completely conclusive, it does add to the growing body of research that suggests diet soda–like regular soda–is not doing our bodies any favors, and may be hurting us.
Be One in a Million Hearts!
You don’t have to be old to have a heart attack or a stroke. Every day about 2200 people die from heart disease–1 out of every 3–and most of them are younger than 65! There are many risk factors that lead to strokes and heart attacks–some are obvious, while others are silent and not even detected on traditional laboratory evaluations for heart risk. As American Heart Month comes to an end, let it be the beginning of your decision to build and maintain a healthy heart! Start by seeing a doctor who will do a thorough and proactive evaluation, and be a part of the CDC’s campaign to prevent a million strokes and heart attacks!
Salty Love Leads to Painful Hearts
A recent study by the CDC found that 9 out of 10 people consume more sodium than is necessary – a whopping 3300mg as opposed to the <2300mg recommendation. We do love our salt! But too much sodium can cause severe health issues such as heart disease and strokes. Read this article to get an idea of which foods contain the most sodium so you can make better, more informed choices about your meals!
In Your Corner: February 2012 – Love Your Heart!
Not all Fat is Created Equal
Ever wondered why it sometimes seems that thin, fit people don’t have to watch what they eat as much and are better able to keep exercising? This month Harvard & Dana Farber researchers report on a newly discovered hormone, Irisin, that may play a role in this seemingly unfair phenomenon. Irisin, created when people exercise, seems to turn white fat cells into brown fat cells. White fat? Brown fat? What difference does it make–fat is fat, right? Actually no, not all fat is created equal.
White fat just stores calories, whereas brown fat actually burns calories. We used to think that only babies had brown fat. It was thought that they used it to help keep themselves warm until they were old enough to move around and generate their own heat, and then-no longer needing the brown fat’s heat-the brown fat was replaced by white fat. In 2009 we learned that some adults still seem to have some brown fat, but we didn’t know how or why. This new study seems to have revealed one possible mechanism. In brief, exercising muscles release a hormone called PGC1-alpha which in turn leads to the creation of Irisin. Irisin then travels to white fat and seems to signal the white fat to become brown.
Now these guys aren’t the only reasons fit people are more toned than sedentary individuals, but the study does demonstrate that the more you exercise, the more of these hormones you release, and the more brown fat you develop – ergo, burning calories for you and increasing your metabolism!
You can read more in this NY Times article.
Yoga = Apple?
You know the old saying about an apple a day? Well maybe we should be eating that apple and then spending some time practicing yoga….
There are increasing numbers of studies pointing to potential benefits from yoga in a variety of conditions. At the American College of Cardiology conference this month a study was presented that showed several beneifts of yoga in patients with a common irregular heart rhythm called Atrial Fibrillation. These included a 45% reduction in episodes of arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) as well as significant reduction in anxiety level. This adds to recent studies showing positive effects of yoga on in Heart Failure, in Coronary Heart Disease (heart blockages), in High Blood Pressure and in various types of Arthritis. Yoga can improve strength and flexibility, can be “anti-stress” and promote calmness & a sense of well-being, and may help relieve asthma symptoms. There is more research about yoga in progress including studies looking at insomnia and multiple sclerosis.
So is yoga a panacea? No probably not, but it does seem to have wide-ranging positive effects and is probably under-utilized in conditions in which it could help. If you’re suffering from one of the problems I mentioned, consider talking to your doctor about whether yoga might play a role in your care. If you’re not suffering from one of these problems, consider yoga as one way to incorporate regular exercise into your life.
It’s Good to be a Quitter when…
…you need surgery. Did you know that some people-including some clinicians-believe that quiting smoking before surgery actually increases risk for pulmonary (lung) complications after surgery? In the last couple of months 2 different meta-analyses have put this question to rest and not only were there not more pulmonary complications, one analysis actually found a 41% relative reduction in total post-operative complications. The longer you quit the better, but even quiting for relatively short periods of time yeilded benefits to the quitter.
We talk a lot about the longer-term risks of smoking (i.e. heart attacks, cancer, lung disease, etc), and how quiting can decrease your risk for those problems. And while this is true, these recent studies point out a short-term benefit: if you’re looking at having surgery and want to reduce your risk of complications afterward, consider quiting now!
(This is one of the new warning labels being considered for cigarette packaging)
Dr. Dowd featured in Suffolk News-Herald (again!)
Check out the article on Dr. Dowd and his talk “Building Optimal Health: The Heart of the Matter” featured on the front page of the Health & Fitness section of Sunday’s paper.
Sushi and Building Heart Health
I’m looking forward to eating sushi and talking with patients, friends and anyone else interested in “Building Optimal Health: The Heart of the Matter”. Space is filling up quickly so let us know soon if you’d like to come!