Foods For BrainPower

MH900438746The rant ‘eat this and not this’ is everywhere but do you reach for foods that can increase your brainpower? It is never to early to start! This short blog throws out or perhaps reminds you what to reach for to increase your brainpower:

- a new study just released from Columbia University links cocoa’s high level of flavanols (naturally occurring antioxidant) to reversed age-related mental decline in healthy older adults.

- beet juice taken by older subjects (>70 years), who then had brain MRIs showed a measurably improvement in blood flow. Apparently the nitrates, in beets, carrots and other brightly colored root vegetables, are converted into nitrite in the body. Nitrite, by the way, is the stuff that makes Viagra get its groove on.

- almond butter works because of its high concentration of Vit. E

- blueberries, high in flavanols an antioxidant and decreases inflammation

- green tea from ancient times is a powerful tool allowing the brain to learn faster

- cherry tomatoes, the deep red means more carotenoid content especially from the skin which is rich in lycopene (one of the carotenoids, plant pigment) boosts mood by inhibiting brain inflammation which results in depression.

 We welcome comments.

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Hi-Tech Blood Pressure Monitors

MC900433826There is more for our smart phone to do! Yes an App for blood pressure tracking (taking and recording). Those of us with high blood pressure – ‘hypertension‘ (HBP) should check/track our pressure to avoid stroke and heart attack and at times alter medication(s). Innovation is this area is wise –  1 in 3 Americans adults have HBP and nearly half  do not have their blood pressure under control. We need to check regularly and follow prescribed treatment. It is not wise to wait till next visit to the doctor.

Again here technology can help us take control of our lives! A new hi-tech ‘marvel’ might be just what many need to start self-monitoring. Numerous devices exist and measure, at the wrist or arm, and many are FDA cleared. If you are already happily self tracking with a $30 device no need to look at hi-tech mobile devices.

 Considering the strengths and weakness of each non-mobile and mobile device given what you would ‘tolerate’ use with ease have patience for. Decide what is best for you, one you do not find cumbersome. If you have an Apple device the new iOS 8 has HealthKit platform can integrate other Apps that monitor health facets.

Considerations: cost, ease or for many ‘fun’ to use.

What is out there:

- non mobile (dependent if arm not wrist model) $30 and up

- mobile range with the least expensive mobile $100. Compatibility with iOS, Android, Windows, and bluetooth feature.

A good and recent review of available wireless BP devices is worth a read.  FYI new crowd sourced device by Qardio (QardioArm Blood Pressure Monitor) will hit market early next year w approx. cost $100. ForaCare & maybe even Omron the most available from Wal-Mart to Costco are names to watch as they will bring mobile models to market.

Monitor your HBP or ‘blow a gasket’ that is possibly suffer a stroke!


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Second-Hand Smoke Dangers

As if our poor air quality is not enough for our bodies to handle, we also need to worry about standing far away from any smoker.MH900290958

Realize that second-hand smoke toxins come directly from the burning of tobacco products, which release thousands of toxic chemicals include ammonia, butane carbon monoxide, chromium (used to make steel), cyanide, formaldehyde, lead and polonium (yes a radioactive substance).

So these toxins enter our lungs and causing many health problems: lung disease (esp. asthma in very young), heart disease and cancer. Unborn children are especially at high risk. Do not forget that chronic lung problems, cough, infections will result in asthma and trouble breathing.

Want to breathe cleaner air, take steps including speaking out!

                         Do not be around anyone smoking, prohibit smoking in your vehicle, workplace.

                         Do frequent businesses that have a NO SMOKING policy

You might say it’s hard if your partner or loved one smokes but helping them stop smoking benefits both of you. If you love them it’s worth the effort!

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Healthy Eating Habits

IMG_2271THINK before you eat!

- Limit salty food, always taste food before reaching for the salt shaker.

- Limit ‘fast food’ and sugary beverages including juice drinks.

- Avoid processed meats – deli meats hotdog sausage bacon and the like

- Protein is important but limit red meat consumption so you’re only having four meals a week and each  containing – 3 ounces -think about the size of a deck of cards.

- I have harped on fiber’s  importance in many aspects of our health – regular bowel movements, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer prevention to mention a few. Eat more high-fiber foods  such as whole-grain breads and cereals. Look for a fiber bar you like and remember to drink plenty of water. Realize when you first start increasing your fiber intake you have a temporary increase gas and cramps this will stop once your bowels gets used to a high-fiber intake.

- Think the plant-based foods for protein like quinoa, lentils and beans.

 – Choose green vegetable,

- Choose oils such as olive oil and canola and use them sparingly.

- Limit fatty foods especially from animal fats

- Alcohol while good should be in moderation and dictated by your medical health

- Remember your doctor and most insurances can allow (especially if you’re overweight) a nutritional consultation with a professional.

Many resources are available on the net but be sure it has a credible background. Visit the US Department of Agriculture‘s site Food & Nutritional Information Center , an awesome.


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World Stroke Day – Oct. 29th

ucm_467573Each year medical societies recognize World Stroke Day to increase awareness of this potentially devastating condition.Print

This blog aims to enlist you in spreading the word after learning the warning signs symptoms and then tell everyone you know!

Please use the free downloadable stroke educational materials from the American Heart Association ( Stroke Resource Center ). If you know someone who is able to spread the word share! The slogan for this critical campaign is “Because I care..

Talk about this – at the ‘water cooler’, at lunch and over drinks – sharing stroke warning signs will help  recognize a stroke and immediately get help.

Prevention and timely recognition is critical for this condition. Use ‘FAST’!!!!Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.28.24 AM




Go to this resource website to learn more about other ways you can get involved. Resources include prevention hints for your diet, stroke in children, risk factors, warning signs and lots more.

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Lung Cancer Risk


Lung cancer is the leading USA cause of death (more than breast, cancer prostate, colon and pancreas cancer combined) per National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Early detection showed could save over 70,000 lives a year in the United States.

If you are at high risk you would want to cut your chance of death by 20%.

 Consider these 3 questions to decide if you’re at high risk for lung cancer.

  1. Are you between 55 and 80 years of age?
  2. Have you smoked to a 30 pack year* or greater?

                                                                            *pack year = # of years smoked x # packs/day

  1. Do you now smoke or have you quit within the last 15 years?

Yes to all three? Then you are at high risk and should be screened for lung cancer or wait for symptoms to develop.

The decision to screen should be done jointly with a physician who must order an imaging study – CT or a CAT scan. Small slices through your lung tissue create digital images identifying abnormal lung tissue. This scan requires radiation exposure and not a routine study.

Prevention; Always key smoking a well-known cause of lung cancer should be stopped or never started. There are people who develop lung cancer who have not smoked the culprit could be secondary smoke exposure.

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Potassium Questions

I have blogged in the past about the correct amount of salt and cholesterol in our diets but never mentioned potassium (K+).

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.20.21 PMPotassium is truly key in our body affecting cellular activity in all muscle esp. heart muscle. So it is critical to know is there enough circulating in your blood – or too much, not enough. Hyper – hypokalemia (high level, low level) can have devastating effects including stroke, high blood pressure, and even quick death. Recall the Periodic Table? Left top side close to other (Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium) essential body elements is K+.

Do you know how much you should take a day of this mineral?

K+ daily total of 3,500 – 4700 mg is what our bodies need to function optimally. This view of OJ container shows that 450 mg of ‘potassium’ present in 8 ounces of orange juice. Remember to always check ‘serving size’. I do ‘go on’ about the importance of reading labels don’t I? Please let me know.

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Those with medical conditions may take Rx’ed K+ but know that taking supplements is not as beneficial to the body as absorbing from natural sources. There are many potassium rich foods: dark green (Swiss chard, spinach), also acorn, squash, lentils, beans, yogurt, and watermelon off the top of my head.

Ask your Doc how much K+ you need, he/she should be aware of all your medical conditions/medication. Please remember too much is as dangerous as too little.

If you do not take any medication that affects potassium balance and if you don’t have any diseases especially kidney disease that can affect potassium levels within your body please be sure to give your body enough of this vital mineral.

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Heart Failure -A Big Problem


You will be hearing allot about ‘heart failure’ (HF). No that does not mean a heart has a “F” score!  New drugs for this condition are everywhere from the financial news to medical journals. This blog aims to ‘wise u-up’ on this condition.

Background: The heart is a pump with 4 chambers (compartments). The heart can stop to work properly for a myriad of reasons, only one of which is coronary vessel disease (CAD). When you have a heart attack (MI) some heart muscle dies from lack of blood supply. This happens when either the coronary vessel become narrowed/plugged or the heart beat is skipping so much the coronary vessels cannot fill with blood. A significant decrease in pump efficiency (HF) can happen from muscle damage from other causes; viruses, cocaine, drugs, and untreated high blood pressure to name a few. Often called a ‘big heart’ since it dilates as muscle becomes flabby.

Stats: From the Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update of AHA

  • In 2010, 1 in 9 death certificates (279,098 deaths) in the United States mentioned heart failure.
  • Approximately 5.1 million Americans ?20 years of age have HF.
  • Heart failure accounts for 35% of cardiovascular disease deaths.
  • Prevalence of HF will increase 46% from 2012 to 2030, resulting in >8 million people ?18 years of age with HF.

Important: Self-care is a big part of living longer.

  • Depression is quite common
  • Exercise can improve oxygen flow.
  • Many interactions with OTC and supplements can occur,
  • Understanding the diet is crucial esp. low salt intake & alcohol restriction.

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Diabetics Beware of Salt

Take time and listen to DocHandal’s recent podcast/feed and recent blog on salt dangers. It is known that a salty diet in most people contributes to several medical conditions and complicates others such as Diabetes. This is a well studied area the latest is out of Japan and shows well-controlled Diabetics have a 20% increase in cardiovascular problems from a saltier diet – adding another 1.0 gr (1,000 mg) of sodium a day. A goal of 1.2 – 1.5 gr. a day can decrease heart and vascular disease – stroke. Interestingly other complications of Diabetes, eye and kidney problems were not adversely effected.

No matter your age too much sodium chloride (salt) is unhealthy. Current personal goals are for 1,200 – 1,500 mg of sodium a day. As always it is very difficult to prove simple/direct cause and effect relationship in medicine but at least a casual association is identified between salt overuse and cardiovascular disease well controlled Diabetics.

Please read labels for portion size and nutritional listings.

This is an excellent web resource please have a look.

Remember many ingredients scream HIGH IN SODIUM! Baking soda, Brine, Garlic salt, Onion salt, Monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Remember any ingredient with word ‘sodium’ = ‘salt’!

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Run, Even A Little, for Your Longer Life

Too many of us are sedentary, 40 – 80% of the world population. A recent - Aug. 5th – Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that running even slowly (6 miles/hour rate) for 5-10 minutes 1- 2 times a week can significantly decrease risk of heart disease, death and an increase life expectancy. Some studies have shown minimal if any benefits from vigorous running activity.

This is a wonderful prospective – planned in advance 15-year study that everyone needs to know about. The slogans ‘just do something’ & ‘some is better than none’ sums up this study’s findings, as a 30% – 40% reduction in death. Researchers equate running’s life saving effect to taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

This study suggests that 15-minutes of brisk walking could be substitutes for 5 minutes running.

Like so many activities your personal health conditions can limit or should limit you so before running even a small amount check with your health professional.

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