Monday, May 31, 2010

5 Essential Steps to Weight Loss Success

(First published as Weight Loss Success: Five Essential Steps on Technorati.)
Millions of Americans are looking for a weight loss plan which is easy to follow and will deliver results. The problem with most traditional weight loss diets is that they eliminate certain important food groups or require drastic lifestyle changes which can’t be maintained long term. The only weight loss plan which can work allows for flexibility in food choices and is structured for a slow transition to a new dietary lifestyle.

Healthy weight loss occurs when calories consumed exceeds the energy burned through basic body metabolism and physical activity. The important thing to understand is that the type of food we eat and more importantly, when we eat that food has a profound effect on whether the body stores fat for future needs or burns fat for energy. For those who have tried the typical diet programs and failed, the following 5 steps will provide the necessary guidelines to achieve permanent weight loss.

Step 1: Stop Eating After 7 PM
Our body abides by a very intricate set of circadian rhythms, allowing time to carry out many necessary metabolic functions. One of those functions is fat burning and storage, which ideally occurs at night when you are asleep. When you stop eating 3 to 4 hours before going to bed, initial digestion of food in the stomach is allowed to complete and the body must turn to burning fat for its energy needs.

Try to fast for at least 12 hours each day, as the body will dip further into fat reserves for a longer period of time, and will also carry out other essential cellular maintenance functions which will slow down when food is being digested. This is not recommended for diabetics who may require small meals throughout the day.

Step 2: Eat 3 Meals: No Snacking
It’s important to eat a breakfast, lunch and dinner meal each day. The critical point is to allow sufficient time between meals with no snacking. The body closely regulates blood sugar and insulin, and eating between meals sends this delicate mechanism awry resulting in excess fat storage. The body needs three evenly spaced, moderately sized meals to fuel our energy needs, and also needs several hours after eating to process the food and return blood sugar and insulin to pre-meal levels. This will encourage fat to be used for fuel instead of being stored.

Step 3: Moderate Meal Size
Eat slowly and closely monitor the amount of calories at each meal. The body is very sensitive to caloric intake, and excessive eating at any given meal causes an overload of sugar and fat to flood the bloodstream with detrimental health implications. Women should target 400 to 600 calories each meal, and men should be in the 500 to 600 calorie range. 

Spread the meal out over at least 20 minutes to allow your body to send the full signal indicating you’re satisfied with the portion consumed. Once the body becomes conditioned to a smaller meal size, overeating will feel unpleasant and natural weight loss will be the result.

Step 4: Include Protein with Breakfast
Proteins are very complex structures which require 30% more energy and up to 12 hours for complete breakdown by the body. Eating a solid protein source with breakfast starts the energy burn cycle which continues for most of the day, as it ramps up the natural fat release mechanism in the body. It’s important to avoid quick burning carbohydrate sources such as pancakes, breads and donuts especially early in the day, as they negate the positive metabolic effects of protein digestion by disturbing insulin response.

Step 5: Reduce High Calorie Carbohydrates
Refined and processed carbohydrates cause an immediate release of sugar into the blood as they begin to break down in the mouth. This starts a vicious cycle causing insulin resistance and ultimately conversion of sugar into stored fat. Carbohydrates from vegetable sources have the opposite effect as they are bound to fiber and break down very slowly. We have evolved to eat a varied diet including lots of vegetables, lean protein sources and healthy fats. The excessive amounts of breads, pastas and sweets consumed by most people causes a sugar overload which leads directly to excess fat storage.

Permanent weight loss is an attainable goal, even for those who have tried and failed repeatedly. It’s important to be mindful of the type of foods eaten and choose wisely from all food groups. A key weight loss strategy is in the proper timing of meals with fasting, as well as intelligent macronutrient combinations. By following this 5 step plan, your healthy weight loss goal is well within reach.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weight Loss Plan Reduces Heart Disease Risk

(Article first published as Weight Loss Plan Reduces Heart Disease Risk on Technorati.)
The number of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to skyrocket at a staggering rate, doubling the risk of sudden death from a heart attack. Heart disease kills more than 700,000 people each year, a number which can be dramatically decreased through a weight loss regimen including proper diet, nutrition, stress management, exercise and understanding the negative effects of a special grain.

The health benefits of weight loss begin to take effect after losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, as blood pressure, triglycerides and blood sugar levels fall back into the normal range. It does take time, planning and concentrated effort to begin losing weight, but the benefits are improved self esteem, positive mood and the understanding that you have the ability to lengthen and improve the quality of your life.

Diet is the Key to Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction
There are many different categories of heart disease, but the most prevalent is atherosclerosis, also referred to as hardening of the arteries because of the stiffness detectable in the normally elastic vessels. Atherosclerosis is the result of two primary factors, systemic inflammation and foamy plaque, both of which reduce blood flow to the heart and ultimately lead to a heart attack.

Dropping excess pounds, especially for those more than 20% over their ideal weight can significantly reduce the risks associated with a heart attack. The best way to lose weight and bring critical metabolic markers back to the normal range is through a healthy diet plan. As body weight slowly increases over the years, blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides begin to rise and spiral out of control. The body wages a gallant battle in an attempt to protect the major organs, but ultimately loses the war.

Everybody knows the primary reasons for weight gain such as too many fried foods, sweets and sugary soda, but there is a much larger culprit to explain that expanding belly. In a word, it’s wheat. Man did not evolve to consume wheat, and many people have an inflammatory digestive reaction every time the grain is consumed.

Refined wheat products are everywhere, and include multi and whole grain breads which are touted as being healthy. Studies demonstrate that wheat can be the trigger for a series of metabolic maladies including high triglycerides and oxidized LDL cholesterol, both of which lead to coronary plaque formation, especially in the presence of high blood pressure.

Eat Natural to Lose Weight and Prevent Heart Disease
A diet which focuses on foods in their natural form is necessary to prevent and even reverse the effects of a lifetime of poor food choices. It’s necessary to eliminate all wheat based products from the diet to reap the benefits in disease risk reduction. Processed wheat products are a significant source of calories, so quick weight loss will be an immediate benefit.

More importantly, the low level inflammation many experience from wheat consumption will subside along with many risk factors. The first two weeks will be the most difficult as your body accommodates to the new diet, but soon you’ll feel more focused and revived with a burst of extra energy. Eliminate wheat and replace those calories with natural carbohydrates from leafy green vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), seeds, lean proteins and healthy fat sources.

Weight loss and heart disease prevention and reversal are both achieved through a healthy diet which excludes wheat in all forms. Wheat is a relative newcomer to the food supply, and is seen as an intruder to our digestive system. This causes inflammation in our arteries and excess weight around the midsection. Replacing wheat with raw, natural food choices will quickly prompt weight loss and reduce heart disease risk factors.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Comparing Top Healthy Weight Loss Plans: Diet vs. Exercise

(Article first published as Best Healthy Weight Loss Plan: Diet vs. Exercise on Technorati.)
Everyone has an opinion as to whether diet or exercise works best when trying to lose weight.  Which method will provide the best weight loss results, and more importantly, which will help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes and cancer?

Both diet and exercise are important when considering a weight loss plan, and each regimen has important benefits when considering the war on obesity. More than 45 million Americans belong to a health club and yet obesity continues to rise at an alarming rate. How do you determine the best strategy to drop those excess pounds without disrupting your daily routine?

Important Benefits of Diet for Weight Loss and Health
Changing the quantity and type of food eaten is the single most important way to promote weight loss and improve overall health. To lose one pound of body fat, it’s necessary to burn an extra 3500 calories, either through physical exertion or reduction in calories eaten.

This can be done by jogging for a total of 7 hours over the course of a week or through substituting 3 sugary soft drinks each day with a no calorie alternative. The net effect will be the same, and most people find the dietary modification route much easier to tolerate. Diet trumps exercise as the quickest route to sustainable weight loss.

It’s important to look beyond weight loss, and consider the health implications of a reduced calorie diet. The food you eat has a direct impact on your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia. The nutrients in the foods we eat have either a positive or negative impact on our genes. Studies demonstrate that our genome is altered ever so slightly every time we eat, depending on our food choices at that meal.

Researchers have been able to map the negative genetic changes which we incur from a single meal of fried foods, refined carbohydrates and sweets. Our genes are dynamic and continually changing the risk factors which lead to serious disease. Proper diet is the most important factor in any healthy weight loss plan.

Compliment Diet with Exercise For Maximum Benefit
While diet may be the most efficient route to permanent weight loss, exercise is a necessary component to ignite your fat burning machine. Combined with a low calorie menu, exercise compliments diet to provide muscle tone, endurance and a positive mood.
Over 70 studies confirm the mood lifting effect of both cardio and resistance exercise performed for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week. Regular exercise is also important for reduction of heart disease risk as it builds the heart muscle, as well as prevention of diabetes due to improved regulation of insulin metabolism by the muscles.

A diet which emphasizes substitution of high calorie, unhealthy foods with low calorie, nutrient dense vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts and seeds will alter the body’s metabolism and result in slow, sustainable weight loss. When compared to exercise, most people will find a dietary restriction plan easier to follow because small changes in food choice lead to quicker weight loss.

The importance of both diet and exercise on overall health cannot be minimized, as both are clear winners in disease risk reduction, but the blue ribbon is awarded to healthy diet and calorie restriction in the weight loss battle.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Processed Meats Increase Heart Disease, Diabetes and Cancer Risk

(First appeared as Processed Meats Increase Heart Disease and Cancer Risk on Technorati.)
Processed meat consumption is surging as Americans gobble up hot dogs, sausage and cold cuts in record numbers. We're paying the ultimate price for this inexpensive, easy preparation food source as the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes have been conclusively linked to processed meat products.

The results of a large study published in Circulation clearly demonstrate that even small quantities of processed meats, as small as 2 ounces eaten daily, increases the risk of heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%. The two diseases account for 700,000 deaths annually in the US, a number which could be significantly decreased by making sensible dietary modifications.

Heart Disease Risk Can Be Slashed
The study was one of the first to separate processed meat products from unprocessed beef, pork or lamb. Based on this information, it's possible to determine that the higher fat levels in meat are not the direct cause of increased disease risk. The high sodium and chemical preservative content of the processed meats are linked to the dramatic increased incidence previously associated with meat consumption in general.

Sodium is a known factor in heart disease as it increases blood pressure and causes changes to the blood's ability to properly clot. People eating the highest amount of processed meats take in nearly three times the daily recommended amount of salt. Although this study did not find a direct link to heart disease from unprocessed meat consumption, it's still advisable to moderate the amount of beef and pork as typical cooking methods lead to the accumulation of aging byproducts known as AGE's (anti-glycation end products). Based on the results of this study, 300,000 lives could be spared each year by scaling back or eliminating processed meats.

Cancer Incidence Linked To Chemical Preservatives
Sodium Nitrite is the main preservative used in meat processing, and adds a healthy looking  fleshy red color to the meat. Those consuming the highest amounts of nitrite through processed meats have shown a 67% increase in pancreatic cancer and a 74% increase in leukemia. Digestive cancers such as those of the stomach and colon are twice as common among those who eat the largest amount of processed meats.

We have not evolved to eat food which has been pumped full of preservative chemicals and sodium. Processed meats have been artificially manipulated to appeal to our taste with no regard to the mountain of evidence demonstrating it is slowly leading to our demise. Total meat consumption should be limited due to the excess calories and potential for weight gain, while processed meat products need to be eliminated from our diet, or minimized to an occasional treat. This study proves with sobering scientific fact that one small dietary change could have a large impact on the rest of our life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Top Diabetes Weight Loss Diet

(Article first published as Top Diabetes Weight Loss Diet on Technorati.)
Diabetes ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the US with new cases of the disease rising at alarming levels, especially among children and teens. More alarming is the fact that diabetes more than doubles the risk of sudden death from a heart attack.

Weight loss among those suffering from diabetes is very difficult as the body's delicate glucose and lipid balancing mechanisms are disrupted, causing excess pounds to become resistant to traditional diet plans. Following a simple, natural three step plan can provide weight loss relief and health benefits to diabetics and those concerned with preventing this devastating disease.

1. Control Diabetes With Food
The Hippocrates quote 'Let food be thy medicine' holds special meaning when discussing diabetes. Medical advise provided to those newly diagnosed with the disease include a variety of prescription medications and a 'low-fat' diet which is laden with carbohydrates, both of which lead to a proliferation of diabetes and life threatening complications. Diabetes drugs work by forcing sugar into the cells whether needed or not, and don't address the core problem.

Diabetics are particularly sensitive to the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar and a resulting high level of triglycerides. Excess triglycerides circulating in the blood are directly responsible for fat storage in the body, and too many carbohydrates at any given meal will be converted to this fat storage lipid resulting in weight gain.

To prevent and treat diabetes, it's critical to limit carbohydrates from all sources with each meal. Totally eliminate refined carbohydrates from desserts, potatoes and breads. Even fruits and vegetables in large quantities can create blood sugar problems, depending on individual metabolism. Be sure to include a fat source with each meal, as this helps to regulate the release of sugar into the blood. Lean protein sources from chicken, turkey and pork as well as nuts and seeds have minimal impact on blood glucose and triglyceride levels.

As you remove junk carbohydrate calories from your diet, it becomes easier to monitor total caloric intake to achieve slow and healthy weight loss. Women should target 1200 calories a day, and men need around 1500 calories for effective weight loss.

2. Monitor After Meal Blood Sugars
The best way to determine your carbohydrate sensitivity is to test your blood sugar at 1 and 2 hour intervals after eating. Strong evidence exits which indicates that it's the post meal blood sugar readings which determine the risk for diabetic complications. It's also important for those wishing to avoid this disease, as it provides a real-time reading of overall blood glucose control. Many people are unaware they may be pre-diabetic, or already have the disease.

Blood sugar readings 1 hour after a meal should not exceed 140 mg/dl, and no more than 120 mg/dl after 2 hours. Readings which are higher are indicative of metabolic dysfunction, where the cells are bathed in excess sugar for many hours of the day. 

This leads to a condition known as Syndrome X, and significantly increases risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It also raises triglyceride levels, leading to stubborn weight gain as the body works to store excess sugar as fat. Regular blood sugar monitoring to optimal levels will ensure proper metabolic function, improved health and reduced weight.

3. Develop a Resistance Training Exercise Program
Compliment your new diet and blood sugar monitoring plan with regular exercise. The power of physical activity cannot be underestimated, as it helps the muscles to properly utilize blood sugar for energy.  When done most days of the week, the body is trained to become metabolically efficient, as sugar and triglycerides are ushered out of the blood quickly after finishing each meal.

Recent studies show that progressive resistance training using weights or power bands in short bursts are the best method of achieving physical health, as it mimics the exercise patterns of our evolutionary ancestors. Be sure to work all major muscle groups at high intensity for 1 to 2 minutes and then rest for the same time. 20 minutes a day is enough for beneficial effects.

Those wishing to prevent or treat diabetes must be disciplined in following this three step plan. Proper diet is the only way to halt the devastating effects excess carbohydrates have on our metabolism, and blood sugar monitoring provides the necessary confirmation that the program is working properly. Resistance exercise assists the body to naturally regulate insulin and blood sugar, the end result being improved health and sustainable weight loss.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Health Care Reform: The Vitamin D Connection

(Article first published as Is Vitamin D the Answer to Health Care Reform? on Technorati.)
Health care reform continues to be one of the most pressing issues for a majority of Americans. As politicians move forward with sweeping changes to the current defunct health care system, many people are left with non-existent or poor coverage, and a plan which is far from ideal and not likely to improve any time soon.

Now is the time for personal action to prevent heart disease, cancer and stroke which claims the lives of 1.4 million people in the US annually. Vitamin D supplementation is the key to preventing many of the most lethal diseases which plague Western populations today. Studies confirm that heart disease can be reduced by as much as 53%, and cancer incidence slashed by up to 77% in those people with the highest levels of Vitamin D in their blood. For mere pennies a day, we could be taking advantage of this powerful weapon which could yield billions in health care cost savings each year.

Vitamin D Reduces Risk From a Fatal Heart Attack
Heart attacks related to coronary artery disease kill nearly 157,000 people each year. Those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D are 2.5 times more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack, which would result in 93,000 fewer deaths each year by supplementing to optimal Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D works at many levels by helping the body to properly regulate blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin, as it helps prevent excess calcium in the blood which leads to coronary plaque.

It’s estimated that the cost savings of a nation with optimized Vitamin D blood levels would be $84 billion each year. That dollar figure doesn’t take into account the suffering and lost productivity of the millions of Americans who suffer from some form of heart disease. We could take that savings to the health care bank today, relieving pressure on a system which is at the brink of failure.

Vitamin D Slashes Cancer Deaths
Overwhelming evidence exists that the risk of 17 different types of cancer can be cut by as much as 77%. This could conservatively prevent the unnecessary demise of 350,000 people in the US each year. We have evolved with high levels of Vitamin D over the course of generations, and we know that it functions at the genetic level by supporting the development and replication of new cells. Vitamin D is required by every cell in our body and represents a powerful ally toward a healthy lifestyle. Vitamin D helps activate the immune system, permitting our body to detect and snuff out potential invaders, including single cancer cells which will multiply if left unchecked.

The federal government spends $1 billion each year to prevent or develop cures for many lethal diseases and yet Vitamin D is not on their radar. It’s estimated that mandatory supplementation to optimal Vitamin D levels would save the US nearly $400 billion annually, which would effectively put an end to concerns over skyrocketing health care costs. With the countless studies confirming that Vitamin D can have a major impact in reducing the risk of disease, it’s clear we must make the decision to protect ourselves and provide for our own health care reform.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Your New Weight Loss Lifestyle

(Article first published as Weight Loss is Just a Lifestyle Change Away on Technorati.)
Americans continue to struggle with weight loss, and yet the number of people who indicate they are actively trying to lose weight has steadily decreased. As a nation, we have become less concerned about the impact overweight and obesity will have on our quality and length of life, as well as the burden being placed on an already broken health care system.

The solution is well within our reach, and like every significant achievement, healthy weight loss requires time, planning and perseverance. The most important part of losing weight is to keep in mind that it’s not a diet, but a new lifestyle which must be followed every day. Virtually every diet is destined to fail when viewed as a temporary plan. Only a sustainable dietary modification program with proper exercise will result in permanent weight loss.

Keep an Electronic Food Journal
The best way to develop a weight loss plan is to keep an accurate food journal and record everything eaten in a day. Be honest with your quantities and weigh foods where appropriate. Using one of the many free online food calculators, input the journal results to receive the total calories consumed for each day. Most people are surprised to see the total number of calories, especially when eating out or frequenting fast food restaurants.

After a few days, begin to look at the types of food you eat regularly, especially the high sugar items and refined carbohydrates. While it may be true that each calorie has the same impact on weight regardless of the type, studies demonstrate that many people are metabolically sensitive to calories from high fructose corn syrup and highly processed wheat and corn based foods. From an evolutionary perspective, these are new food groups which create havoc in our body, as it leads to abnormal fat storage and weight gain.

Eat a Well Balanced Diet to Lose Weight
Many fad diets eliminate one or more of the major food groups, resulting in an unsustainable lifestyle and possibly even damaging your health. The only diet which can work is balanced and consists of reduced quantities of lean proteins, nuts, seeds, healthy monounsaturated fats and unlimited raw green vegetables. The key is to eat healthy quantities of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and spring mix so you become full. Resist the natural urge to eat processed and refined foods which are laden with calories and have been stripped of nutrients.

It’s important to slowly eliminate the most calorie dense food choices such as sweets, breads, fried foods, snacks and soft drinks. Most people can easily eliminate 500 calories per day simply by making a low calorie substitution. This is a good starting goal, as 3,500 calories dropped per week will result in 1 pound lost. Most women will want to target approximately 1,200 total calories per day, while men will need around 1,500 calories. Never go below 1,000 calories per day, as the body has certain energy requirements for normal metabolic function which may be jeopardized.

Compliment Diet with Exercise
No weight loss lifestyle plan would be complete without exercise. Physical activity is a great way to achieve an extended calorie burn, but more important are the health benefits from improved blood lipids and blood sugar control as well as lowered blood pressure. Exercise helps tone the different muscle groups in the body and modifies insulin resistance that can alter how fat is stored and burned. This has a direct effect on weight loss and will also lead to overall improved health as you age. A high intensity workout is not necessary, as just 20 minutes of moderate exercise on most days is enough to reap the rewards and fuel weight loss.

Americans continue to gain pounds at an alarming rate, and appear to have become complacent with their efforts to lose weight. Dedication is required to reach a proper weight, and can only be achieved by committing to a new lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity. It’s difficult to make the changes necessary to reverse a lifetime of eating processed junk food, but the reward is a natural and healthy weight loss which can be maintained for life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Health Benefits of Exercise: Reducing Disease Risk

Exercise is necessary to remain healthy, as it ties together a lifestyle of proper diet, stress management and social interaction. Our need for regular exercise is encoded into our genes, as our earliest ancestors required short bursts of energy to hunt for food or evade predators.

At the most basic level, our metabolic function and ability to fight off disease is dependent on the food we eat and the amount and type of exercise we provide for our well being. Exercise provides the added benefits of improving mood, boosting energy levels and providing for better sleep. Regular exercise is part of the formula necessary to remain healthy.

Exercise Regularly To Improve Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that regular exercise reduces the risk of developing major illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Exercise has a powerful effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, and is viewed as a significant means to lower the risk associated with elevated levels. 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can reduce triglyceride levels by as much as 40%.

Research is also showing that in addition to traditional aerobic exercise, strength training can have a major impact on cholesterol levels. Short burst resistance training which quickly raises the heart rate and works the major muscle groups can lower total cholesterol and raise the important healthy HDL cholesterol level. Since HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood, heart disease risk is effectively lowered. Further, this type of exercise helps to regulate blood sugar by helping the body efficiently process glucose into the cells and muscles to be used for energy, thus helping to prevent diabetes.

Exercise is Good for the Heart
Regular physical activity which lasts for at least 30 minutes should be on your schedule for most days of the week. People who follow this lifestyle have reduced blood pressure and a healthier weight. Combined with the blood lipid lowering effects, exercise is essential to heart health.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, and a regular fitness program can be the key to reversing that statistic.

Exercise strengthens the heart muscle and allows the veins and arteries to regain a natural elasticity, resulting in lowered blood pressure. Since the heart does not have to beat as hard or as frequently, the small cracks which begin to form on the inner lining of the arteries from excessive pressure can begin to heal. Combine regular physical activity with a healthy diet of leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean proteins and monounsaturated fats, and the result will be a reversal in coronary plaque and heart attack risk.

Exercise is Good for the Brain
The brain also benefits from a solid exercise program, as the neuronal connections are strengthened through physical activity. Concentration, attention and mood are enhanced with exercise and reaction times are snappier in those people with the highest performance levels. Studies show that new brain cells are developed at a higher rate allowing for improved learning and comprehension with exercise. Additionally, blood flow and oxygen to the brain is improved, resulting in improved memory and lowered risk of stroke.

Regular exercise provides many benefits to our health. The risk of chronic illness from heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer is reduced, along with a lowered incidence of depression and improved mood. A good fitness regime can be started at any point, and should always be combined with a healthy diet for maximum benefit. The end result will be a happier and healthier disease-free life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vitamin D Facts For Life

Vitamin D is regularly in the medical news headlines being credited as a treatment and preventive measure for diseases ranging from the common cold to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's.  Now we can add improved stamina and physical performance as we age.  

By promoting muscle strength, bone growth and repair, Vitamin D has demonstrated the ability to delay age-related illnesses and improve the quality of life in aging adults.  Vitamin D supports the healthy function of our cells at the genetic level and it's essential that we maintain proper blood levels to ensure continued health and longevity.

Vitamin D Linked With Improved Physical Performance
As we age many of our body's natural defense systems we have taken for granted all our life begin to weaken, leading to reduced physical performance and poor quality of life.  It's estimated that as high as 90% of the senior population is deficient in Vitamin D, and those with the lowest blood levels are directly associated with the most loss of mobility and physical performance using tests of walking, balance, endurance and strength.

Conversely, those individuals with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D retained a much higher degree of physical mobility and muscle function, and suffered a reduced incidence from other significant health concerns.  Even higher levels of Vitamin D, achieved only through targeted supplementation and blood testing will result in better outcomes for an aging population.

Vitamin D Prevents and Treats Heart Disease
Heart disease or atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death in the US.  The risk of sudden death from a heart attack can by reduced by as much as a third by ensuring the highest level of Vitamin D through blood testing.  Every cell in our body carries a Vitamin D receptor which is required to perform genetic replication.  Insufficient levels in the blood means that all the cells are not being saturated with the vitamin and heart disease incidence increases dramatically.

Research shows that those people with the lowest levels of Vitamin D are 45% more likely to develop heart disease and 77% more likely to die from any cause.   These studies suggest that Vitamin D may provide these significant health benefits due to its ability to reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and control inflammation, all factors which contribute to heart disease.

Vitamin D Enhances Immune Function
People who supplement with Vitamin D know that they rarely suffer from the common cold or influenza when everyone around them is coughing and sneezing.  Researchers have shown how Vitamin D activates our primary immune system component known as the T cell.  The T cell has a Vitamin D receptor which allows it stretch out like an antenna, engulfing the microbial invader and keeping us from becoming ill.

A supercharged immune response is important in the defense against cancer.  Everyday cancer cells develop in our body and are normally picked up by an alert immune system.  As we age and Vitamin D levels drop, cancer cells escape detection, eventually developing into a tumor.  By increasing blood levels of Vitamin D, our T cells are placed on high alert which has been shown to reduce the incidence of 17 different cancers by as much as 77%.

With mounting evidence about the health benefits of Vitamin D, there is still much confusion about how much is needed to maintain proper levels in the blood.  Due to variations in body weight, sun exposure, dietary intake and genetic factors, every person will need to supplement independently based on the result of a simple blood test.  Most normal weight adults should begin by supplementing with 5000 IU of Vitamin D per day for the first 90 days, and then have a 25OH(D) blood test to check levels.  Experts believe that the optimal target range is 50 - 70 ng/ml.  Adjust Vitamin D supplementation in 1000 IU increments to increase or decrease blood levels by 10 ng/ml.

Vitamin D has been shown to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases, and targeted supplementation is essential for every adult to prevent illness and extend a healthy life. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cut Heart Disease Risk in Half by Slashing Refined Carbohydrates

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, killing nearly 650,000 people.  Studies indicate that heart disease risk is doubled by eating a diet which includes a high percent of calories from refined and processed carbohydrates.  

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the typical American diet results in increasing blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels and ultimately culminates with a group of diseases known as metabolic syndrome.  The prolonged effect a high carbohydrate diet contributes to stiffening of the arteries, higher blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the heart.  Dietary modification is the answer to reducing this life threatening risk. 

Excessive Blood Sugar Produced by Refined Carbohydrates
From an evolutionary perspective, our body is not genetically enabled to process the massive calories we eat in the form of breads, sweets, rice and starchy foods.  Our metabolism has evolved to be highly efficient in breaking down our food into glucose for use as energy.  The refined carbohydrates we consume begin to break down into sugar in the mouth and produce a surge into the bloodstream every time we eat.

In an effort to ensure our survival, the excess sugar is converted into triglycerides so it can be stored as fat, causing weight gain and leading to heart disease.  Even more devastating, the excess sugar and fats in the blood are abrasive to the inner lining of the arteries and along with higher blood pressure, cause micro cracks to form.  These cracks are then efficiently plugged with available minerals and oxidized cholesterol in an effort to avert bleeding, and a foamy plaque is formed which is the beginning of Coronary Artery Disease, the most prevalent form of heart disease. 

Processed Carbohydrates Lead to Fatty Liver
The body converts excess sugar from processed carbohydrates to triglycerides and fat for storage in the liver.  Eventually the liver is unable to keep up efficiently processing the high carbohydrate load, and begins to store fat itself.  The liver is not designed to store significant amounts of fat, and liver function begins to decline.

When this happens, the breakdown of fat becomes inefficient and excess quantities in the form of triglycerides remain in the blood where they wreak havoc on our arteries, vessels and capillaries.  High blood pressure and even obesity are the end result, all leading to a doubled risk of developing heart disease from refined carbohydrate consumption. 

Healthy Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk
A culinary lifestyle based on eating dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and non-processed fats has been shown to reduce the risks associated with a highly refined carbohydrate diet.  Blood sugar and insulin spikes are kept in check and excess triglycerides are not formed as a result of carbohydrate excess.

The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, and helping the process through dietary modification will eliminate the need for a lifetime of prescription medications which will only cure the symptoms of heart disease.  Studies have shown that it is possible to reverse arterial plaque and progressing heart disease through a healthy diet, and the results can be measured using a Coronary Calcium Scan.  Start by slowly replacing processed carbohydrates with healthy low carbohydrate alternatives, and be persistent for at least two weeks.  Most people find that it becomes much easier to adopt a new dietary lifestyle after the initial adjustment period.

Heart disease risk can be eradicated by eliminating the primary cause of this killer disease.  Refined carbohydrates have been identified as the key cause of a cascade of metabolic changes in the body which result in illness and eventually death.  Everyone knows that eating our greens is a healthy choice, but most people are unable to eliminate the addiction created by a lifetime of eating wheat and corn based food items, even though we know that reducing processed carbohydrates can cut our risk of heart disease in half.  Making the change today will lead to an extended and healthier future.

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