The road to good health is just a click away!

The road to good health is just a click away! Learn how to prevent heart disease and stroke as you travel on the Heart Highway. Each stop on your journey will provide you with helpful information about nutrition, physical activity, and other prevention tactics. Learn how to read the road signs (risk factors) for early detection of cardiovascular disease. Prepare yourself and your family for the road trip through life. This web site will help you pave the way.

To ‘cruise’ the Heart Highway, click on blog in the top menu. Stop at any of the locations to learn more about heart health. If your destination takes you to the old hospital in Park City, you will be equipped with information on the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Take the road to the recreation center for helpful hints on physical activity.

If you steer towards the restaurant you must have an appetite for ideas on diet and nutrition. You might want to stop at the newsstand for the latest news and information from the State of Utah and around the world. The old school house in Spring City will send you in the direction of information on the Gold Medal School program and teacher and student resources.

5 Hair Loss Myths Busted

There are many urban legends regarding hair loss and alopecia. Many of these are false and perpetuated by advertising for products which claim to solve the problem.
Wearing a hat can cause hair loss.

For the vast majority of the population, wearing a hat does not cause hair loss. The theory is that wearing a hat somehow cuts off oxygen to hair and causes it to fall out. This is false on two fronts. First, just wearing a cap does not cut off the oxygen to your scalp.

Second, the hair shaft which you see on your head is actually dead anyway so there is no need for it to get any amount of oxygen. The only truth to the myth comes from people who wear very tight hats or turbans. The tight hat can pull on the hair causing a traction alopecia at the site of contact of the hat to the head.

hair loss

Washing hair frequently can cause it to fall out.

This is completely false. On average, 100 hairs per day fall out of the body. Though you may see more hairs in the drain when you shampoo, this is only because you are removing the hair which already fell out. The actual act of washing hair does not cause it to fall out any more than it would normally, it just means that you see it in the drain instead of on your bed.

Hair loss comes from your mother’s side of the family.

In fact, the genetics of hair loss has not been completely worked out but at least one hair loss gene is actually autosomal dominant which means that it can come from either side of the family. Hair loss can skip a generation and may not occur to the same degree in relatives. For instance, even though your father is completely bald and you are starting to thin, this does not mean that you are destined to be completely bald.

Stress causes hair loss.

While this is true, the type of stress is not what most people consider stress. Deadlines at work and making sure you make all of your children’s activities cause stress, but not the type that will cause hair loss. When the body is physically stressed as in pregnancy, prolonged hospitalization, or surgeries, hair loss can occur. Fortunately, once the stress has resolved, the hair will start growing again.

Stress causes hair loss

Cutting your hair will make it grow back thicker.

This is unfortunately not true. Cutting hair short will make it appear thinner where longer hair will give the appearance of a greater density. This change may seem to cause a thickening of the hair as it grows but if you take photographs before you cut it and after you let it grow back to the same length, there will not be a difference.

Organic Skin Care Options – Where to Purchase Online

Natural and organic skin care is a big business right now as many consumers look for more and more ways to begin living a greener lifestyle. While natural and organic skincare options are becoming more common, consumers have to do some homework to make sure that they are getting truly natural products and good quality products.

The USDA does not certify organic skin care and so companies do not have to be as honest as to what their products contain and many natural skin care products will contain botanical extracts and essential oils and so all of the ingredients in them aren’t natural, but for the most part organic skin care products are made with organic products.

Noah's Naturals

As many consumers take the advice of others as to what is natural and what isn’t, I recommend that they check out the companies and the ingredients for themselves. With the amount of information that is available to us on the Internet, it should be fairly easy to find out if a company is truly using natural or organic ingredients in their products. While those are being researched, take advantage of the following companies which are held above other companies as being some of the best organic skin care companies around.

Nature’s Gate is a company which provides environmentally friendly products and recycled packaging. This company was founded over 30 years ago and is still finding ways to improve on their products and find new products. All of their products contain all natural herbs. They sell items such as facial, hair, oral, and sun care products, deodorants, and body and bath products.

Noah’s Naturals is a brand that is exclusively sold at Wal-Mart. They offer bath, body, hair and face products that are guaranteed to not be animal tested. This company donates 1% of all sales to environmentally friendly organizations. Nice company, nice products, and one of my favorites.

Kiss My Face is a line of skin care that includes soaps, shaving creams, hair care, shower gels, face care, toothpaste, mouthwash, sun care, and kids items. This company has used olive oil as one of their main ingredients in several of their products over the years.

Juice Beauty is a skincare company that also uses only natural oils and ingredients. This company was founded by a team of women and they use USDA certified organic growers for the juice, honey, and aloe vera in their products, This company also designs their own labels to show that they have distinct purchasing powers when it comes to the ingredients that go into their products.

Juice Beauty

If you care to take a holistic approach to skincare, then you might be interested in Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. Overall, there are many companies out there that you can find that make their skin care with natural and organic products if you know where to look and what you are looking for .

While natural products and organic products are good for the skin and the environment, be sure that the company is practicing good packaging skills by using organic packaging as much as possible.

Looking Good Later – Steps to Preventing Wrinkles in Your 30s

Who would not want to look 45 at 60? Anyone in their right mind would want too. Well, believe it or not if you start now you could be the next super young grandma, or grandpa for that matter. Men are allowed to look young and wrinkle free, too. Here are some simple steps that could help you be wrinkle free when the time comes.

Stop smoking. If you smoke you are not doing yourself any favors. It has been proven time and time again that smoking is bad for you. Even more so it causes wrinkles and fine lines around your mouth and eyes.

Stop smoking

Cigarette smoke is a toxin that you introduce to your body and smoking only makes your skin worse. So unless you want to have the complexion of the Crypt Keeper, you should put them out and keep them out.

Bad food in bad food out, it is a losing battle. If you stuff your face full of chips and French fries why wouldn’t you expect to look like one? All wrinkly like a crinkle cut French fry. Vegetables and fruit are great sources of antioxidants. These antioxidants keep your skin alive and looking good with very little other to be left.

Water, water, water, water the more the better. Keeping your skin hydrated could be one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It is to say the very least that water is and should be number one on everyone’s list of beverages. Keeping your skin hydrated will help to flush out any toxins that may be in your body. From your kidneys to your skin it is one of the best things for you.

Moisturizer with sun block is a must have on everyone’s list. This will keep your skin protected from all the harmful rays that the sun will produce. Sun damage also causes wrinkles, so tanning should be out of the question.

Drink more water
Start your day with some warm lemon water

As for tanning beds they can be just as bad if they are over used or if the cautions are ignored. There are several other ways to get a golden glow with out burning your flesh to the bone. Such as sunless tanning, there are many great products that work remarkably well and do not give your skin the color of a pumpkin.

Being wrinkle free or less wrinkly when your old will make you feel great so long as you head the warning signs for it today. If you are not sure you can stop by your local cosmetics counter and ask around.

Winter Skin Care for Women: Big Cities, Bad Weather

As we all know, living in a cold weather city can take it’s toll mentally and physically as well. With cold weather comes a whole new threat to the well-being of your skin, so it is best if you take the proper precautions to prevent serious skin damage. Always remember that it is always easier to prevent cold weather skin damage than it is to treat it.
The main effects of cold weather include dryness and breakage. There are certain things you should do that include deciding on your best options, why you avoiding caffeinated drinks, and why hot showers can dry out skin.

Your Best Options

The absolute best option that you can choose is seeing a skin expert or professional. They’ll give you all the tips and advice you need, however, this may be more expensive so you might also want to consider doing the adequate research and finding out for yourself.

You will also want to use tons of moisturizing creams as well. During the day you will want to use light lotion, and save the powerful lotion with active ingredients during the night when you are inside most of the time. By using powerful lotion during the day of extreme cold weather; it can actually do more hurt than help.

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Also, you will want to change the beauty products you use during the winter season. There are beauty products specifically designed for the winter season because of the cold weather. Spring time beauty products are much more different from winter time products, so be sure that you do a fair share of research on what products will help you more during the winter season.

Avoiding Caffeinated Drinks

This may seem pretty harsh, since a vast amount of people drink coffee; especially during the cold weather season. Remember that it is very important that you drink 8 glasses of water during the day. By keeping your body hydrated, you can withstand all of the sweat that may be produced by wearing heavy clothes.

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You will want to avoid caffeinated drinks because they cut down on your health. Even if you eat and maintain a healthy diet of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables; caffeinated drinks will still dehydrate your body and cut down on any benefits that the fruits and vegetables give you. The H20 benefits that you receive from coffee will be canceled out by the coffee or caffeinated sodas you may drink.

Avoid Hot Water Showers That Dry Out Skin

You can still take showers in the morning, in fact, it’s encouraging. You do not want to take too many hot showers because they easily dry out the skin. This is even more important if you have naturally dry skin, that will possibly break because of this type of treatment.

Start taking room temperature showers, and even reduce the amount of time that you stay in the shower. By doing this, you can help your skin receive that moisture it needs during the cold weather.

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Conclusion

By seeing an expert, avoiding caffeine, avoiding too many hot showers, and using the best beauty products for the season, you can dramatically cut down on the possibility of cold weather seriously damaging your skin. Some of the good products to use are the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and the Dove Pro-age foaming Facial cleanser. If you have extremely dry skin, you may want to consider the use of Mimyx. Also, if your skin is normal to dry, you should also consider the use of lotions and moisturizers with Shea butter in them. Be sure to avoid mineral oil on your face at all costs!

By following these simple pieces of advice, you can keep your skin safe from the harsh weather treatment for the long cold season of winter. When Spring hits, you skin will be even better than ever.

Fish Oil Supplements Lack Major Benefits of Fish

I do not eat a lot of fish. Once a week I might make tuna salad, or eat frozen fish fillet once a month. When I began to read the benefits of fish oil supplements I began to take them faithfully. Omega 3 fish oil supplements have been recommend for decades.

I believed, as do many others that taking Omega 3 rich fish oil supplements, would give me the same benefits as consuming actual fish. I thought I was really getting a jump on my health by taking a daily Omega 3-6-9 supplement,(fish, borage and flax oil).

One study indicated that individuals who took Omega 3 supplements had less inflammation and joint pain than those who did not. And I personally do not deal with pain and inflammation as do others my age. While they may help with joint pain and inflammation, new research indicates that Omega 3 fish oil supplements do not offer 100% of the benefits of eating cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel.

Contrary to the belief of some and the desire of others, supplements are just what they claim to be. They supplement the human diet. Our bodies work best when we get our nutritional needs met by a combination of healthy foods.

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There are many benefits in the foods we eat that were endowed by our Creator, that supplements cannot duplicate. This is true of fish. New research indicates that Omega 3 supplements may not have the ability to prevent heart attack and stroke, that have been claimed.

The January 7th 2013 edition of Women’s World Magazine,(page15) quotes a British Medical Journal report stating that 2 weekly servings of Omega 3 rich fish helps prevent stroke, while fish oil supplements do not.

A study done at Cambridge University has revealed that fish oil supplements may reduce inflammation and cholesterol, but have no effect in prevention of stroke. To reduce the risk of stroke, you must eat at least 2 actual servings a week of Omega 3 rich fish like salmon or tuna.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the unsaturated fat in fish can cut the risk of heart disease by 1/3. They recommend eating one to two servings of cold water fish each week.

There has been concern that harmful mercury levels in fish would outweigh the benefits. The Mayo Clinic indicates just the opposite is true. The healthy benefits of eating fish far outweigh any problems from mercury.

New Studies regarding fish oil supplements often seem to contradict previous research. This is why we should remember that when it comes to our health, there is no one size fits all. One group of individuals may respond in a vastly different manner than another to the same stimuli.

Five Important Low Carb Diet Tips

Regardless of the specific low carb diet you follow, you will quickly discover that there is much more to it than eating protein each day. Weight loss can occur rapidly once you start a low carb diet. Some individuals lose as much as twenty pounds in the first month alone. (Note, a lot of this will be water weight.) After the first month the weight loss rate should slow to about two pounds per week. The following tips will help you keep the scale moving in the right direction.

  • Keep your diet interesting. There are tons of different foods allowed when on a low carb diet. Despite this fact, many continue to eat the same foods over and over. Boredom can quickly set in, and once it does, cheating may occur. Mix it up in order to avoid boredom.
  • Avoid low carb treats. There are many low carb products on the market today. That sugar-free candy with only two net carbs may seem innocent enough, but such foods can cause problems. Some of these foods may trigger cravings. Artificial sweeteners trick the brain into thinking it is having sugar, which could make the body want more of it. Only turn to these treats if you are absolutely desperate.
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  • Do not completely ignore exercise. Many are attracted to low carb diets due to the fact that they promise to help melt the pounds without the need for exercise. While this may be true, your body will be better able to burn fat if you exercise. Additionally, those who are severely overweight may find themselves with lots of loose skin as the weight comes off. Exercise will build muscle that will keep the skin tighter.
  • Drink plenty of water. Some find it very hard to do this. Some low carb dieters will drink over 100 ounces of water each day. Water helps flush fat, and also helps the liver process protein. If you cannot imagine drinking lots of water each day, at least try to drink as much as you can. What about other liquids? This remains a debate. Some drink coffee, soda, low carb beer, and other drinks and lose just fine. Others are not so fortunate.
Water_01
  • If you cheat, cheat wisely. Some dieters will reward themselves with a cheat day occasionally. Others do not do this because they find that a cheat day will turn into a cheat week. Should you choose to allow yourself cheat days, at least cheat wisely. Avoid the urge to go crazy with it. Eating a large pizza followed by a quart of ice cream is an example of going crazy with. Consider picking just a few foods that you have been missing and have only a reasonable portion.

It was a low carb diet that took me from 252 pounds down to 140 pounds in less than eight months. Much was learned during that journey. These tips worked for me, and will work for you as well. Stick with it, be sensible, start over if you make a mistake. Keep your goals in mind and you will surely reach them.

Workout Supplements – Are They Necessary?

If you’ve ever been serious into athletics, or into hitting the gym and working out, you’ve probably thought about supplements at some point in time. You may have even been to bodybuilding.com or a forum from there just from google searching topics of health you were interested in. Chances are, you’ve purchased or have otherwise wondered about which supplements are necessary, and which the best are for your money. I’m here to tell you what is vital for performance and health, as well as what is out there just to get you to waste your hard-earned cash.

Most athletes tend to spend a lot of their time researching both recovery and pre-workout booster supplements. My opinion on both of these products varies by individuals, but the bottom line is: Neither are crucial.

Preworkouts tend to be made with lots of stimulants, with the objective of giving you an extra pump before you hit the gym or whatever activity it is you wish to do. Some are more focused on different types of proteins or amino acids, but most are focused around a few ingredients, including 1 3 dimethylamylamine, caffeine, nitric oxide, beta alanine, creatine, and various other well-known stimulant enhancers. While different ingredients work better for different people, the most universal, safe performance enhancers tend to be caffeine and beta alanine.

Pre-workout_01

Most of the pre-workouts widely available will include nitric oxide, which has caused a lot of debate. Some will tell you it is essential, others will tell you it’s all muscle-memory hype (placebo). I personally find that pre-workouts with 1 3 dimethyl enhance my short-term performance the best (for instance, the OLD Jack3d recipe), but tend to force me to wear down at a much faster rate. Others, such as Beta-Alanine (found in assault, N.O Explode) give me far less of a pump, but seem to make me sweat more and want to do more reps/have a longer workout.

I prefer to take pre-workouts that allow me to go longer on most days, especially cardio. On major, powerlifting, muscle building days, I prefer to go with Jack3d and do supersets (very few breaks, exercises compile one right into the next). The bottom line: No preworkouts are absolutely necessary, but if you do choose one, make sure to choose one that benefits you long-term, and do your research first; Read reviews, maybe even try sample sizes first.

Post Workouts work differently in that they are meant to help you recover from hard workouts. Some may decrease DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness), and others may just help you get ready for your next workout in minimal time. I don’t have much to say here, as there are so many products out there that it’s difficult to mention any specific ones. In my experience, if you have to supplement any post-workouts, get a good quality Whey protein. Not isolate, and not mass builder protein unless you have more specific goals.

Whey protein is a very good whole protein and BCAA (Branched chain amino acids) provider, but I am more interested in the extra ingredients that come with higher quality whey protein supplements. These include glutamate, creatine monohydrate, and several other ingredients that are proven to reduce muscle soreness. Of course, have other lean protein sources. I prefer grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breast. Tuna is another great protein source that will help in muscle building and recovery, as well as provide you with the all-necessary omega-3 fatty oils.

Whey protein_01

While some of the above supplements may increase performance and recovery, I don’t believe they are 100% necessary for any given individual. There are great substitutes that are much more affordable, and natural. Caffeine is a proven stimulant that helps focus the mind and body. Instead of spending tons of money trying to find a functional pre-workout supplement, try making some all-natural green tea or coffee pre-workout, and get some complex carbs in (whole grain bread, etc) an hour before your workout. This should provide similar results as many pre-workouts.

My personal favorite before a workout for years was a baked potato an hour or so before, and then a cup of dark coffee 20 minutes before workout. This is cheap, and effective. Post workout, I would have some lean meat source, and some more complex carbs to keep my energy from spiking.

I hope this article has informed you of some of the common mistakes people make with supplementing their pre and post workouts – As well as potentially saved you some money! Comments are appreciated.

Workout at Home: 7 Beginner Tips for Men

Guys, we all know that regular weight lifting builds muscle and raises your fat-burning furnace. But gym membership is expensive, and let’s face it-commercial gyms are often packed with fit, toned, muscle men, pushing more weight than I’ve lifted in my lifetime. If you’re severely out of shape, going to a commercial gym can be embarrassing. For guys like me, I’ve assembled these 7 beginner tips for working out at home, based on my own experience.

Use dumbbells:

Dumbbells are a great, inexpensive way to work out at home. They don’t require a lot of space, and you’d be surprised what you can do with single set of adjustable dumbbells. You can find them at any sports store. I got mine at Walmart, but you can also try Craigslist or your local thrift stores.

dumbbell workout_01

Be patient:

Building muscle takes time. Start with a weight that you can lift comfortably for 8 to 12 repetitions, and work your way up to 4 sets per muscle group. Don’t overdo it. As you get stronger and more experienced, you can increase the amount of weight as you progress. I promise, with time and work, you won’t always be a beginner.

Be resourceful:

Obviously, many people who work out at home don’t have the luxury of a personal trainer. I know I don’t. There are tons of free, instructional videos for beginners available on YouTube. I work out next to my desktop computer so that I can follow along with the instructors.

Cardio:

If you want to burn fat faster, add a cardio workout on the days that you don’t lift weights. 15 to 20 minutes on a mini-stepper is a great, space-saving way for beginners to work up a sweat. I use mine twice a week in front of the television or while watching music videos on my computer. Mini-steppers range in price, but for around $50 you can find a sturdy one with good resistance bands.

Mini Stepper_01

Use a mirror:

Commercial gyms are surrounded by mirrors for a reason. Working out in front of a mirror helps you to see the muscle groups you are targeting and whether you are performing the exercises correctly. I use a cheap, full-length mirror that I found for about $12.

Rest: It may sound counterproductive, but in order to change, your body needs adequate rest. Muscles need time to recover and rebuild. Never work the same muscle groups without at least a day of rest in between. If possible, use a 7 day schedule and lift 3 times in 7 days until you gain strength and experience.

Eat:

This is a tough one. If you want to grow muscle and burn fat, you have to eat. While I can’t give you specifics for your body type, there are many good resources on the web that offer free dieting tips and eating plans tailored to specific body types and needs. Just remember, the general principle here is that you have to eat enough of the right stuff and drink plenty of water every day to see results.

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Home workouts can be an inexpensive and fun way to get in shape in the privacy of your own home. I’ve been doing it for about a year now. I’ve dropped two pant sizes and have discovered that I do have abs-all without ever setting foot in a commercial gym.

Cholesterol Does Not Predict Stroke Risk in Women

Cholesterol and other lipids (fats), attached to proteins, form globules that circulate in our blood stream. As a graduate student, I studied the proteins in these fat globules to elucidate their role in disease. One of these globules, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and total cholesterol are routinely measured to predict stroke risk.

But a new study suggests that neither high levels of total cholesterol or LDL are predictive of stroke risk in postmenopausal women, whereas triglycerides, a relatively ignored measurement, are highly predictive.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are the main fats stored in our bodies. If you are overweight, your belly or hips are loaded with triglycerides. When we eat food, the large fat molecules are broken down in our gut into triglycerides. Any excess food, such as carbohydrates, is also chemically converted by our bodies to triglycerides. Chemically, triglycerides are made up of three molecular chains of fatty acids, attached to a “head”, a glycerol molecule.

triglycerides_01

Triglycerides clump together and travel to the liver, where they are packaged into lipoprotein globules. The lipoprotein globule, called VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) contains about 90 percent triglycerides, while LDL, the bad cholesterol, only contains about 10 percent triglycerides. After eating dietary fat, the gut produces fat globules, called chylomicrons, that are almost 100 percent triglycerides.

Stroke risk

About 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although stroke risk increases with age, about 25 percent of strokes occur in people under 65 years of age. Most strokes (about 87 percent) are caused by a blood clot, according to the CDC. The blood clot clogs an artery in the brain, causing a “brain attack”. The stroke risk for women increases dramatically after menopause.

Study: triglycerides vs. cholesterol

Researchers looked at 972 women, who experienced a stroke during the 15-year long Women Health Initiative (WHI) study. They compared the data from the blood tests of these women to those of another 972 women in the WHI study, who never had a stroke. The study found no linkage between high levels of total cholesterol and LDL, the bad cholesterol, and stroke, but instead found that high triglyceride levels at the beginning of the study were predictive of stroke risk in postmenopausal women.

The belief that high LDL (the bad cholesterol) is predictive of stroke risk may be due to the fact that people with high triglyceride levels, also often have high LDL levels. It is not known yet if triglycerides also are a risk factor for premenopausal women or men.

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Why do statins reduce stroke?

Statins reduce death and the incidence of heart disease and stroke. Statins inhibit an enzyme in the body that makes cholesterol, but statins also have anti-inflammatory effects. The Jupiter trial, run by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, showed that statins also reduced C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. With statins now widely used, more side effects emerge. Women may be especially susceptible to muscle weakness caused by statins.

How to reduce triglycerides

A major way to reduce triglycerides and stroke risk is to change your lifestyle. Reducing your weight, moderate exercise or physical activity and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduced amounts of saturated and trans fats go a long way toward reducing triglycerides in your body. Omega-3s in food or supplements and niacin and fibrate medication may also help to lower triglycerides.

Natural Products Expo West Full of Goodness

What if nearly ever booth at Comic-Con gave away a free comic book or other piece of cool swag? And what if it was nothing but food that you’d also feel good about eating?

Well, you would get the Natural Products Expo West, held at the Anaheim Convention Center March 7-10, 2013.

My first time at the mega show, I was instantly amazed by the expanse of the show. Shows that I’ve been to at the Anaheim Convention Center haven’t used the entire acreage, adjoining hotels, and outdoor areas. During the OC Auto Show and the upcoming WonderCon, other unrelated events are occurring at the same time. Even D23 Expo 2011 didn’t utilize all the real estate available.

As the attendee walked toward the convention center, a flurry of outdoor pavilions offered free product samples. Many were not the skimpy bite-size samples that dissolve the instant it hits one’s tongue. Companies were putting their best foot forward so even before stepping inside, stomachs were getting filled with Naked Juice and Go Raw.

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In the lobby of the convention center, one couldn’t walk very far before coming upon a table or pop tent offering food. French’s Mustard debuted its Natural Truth mustard just outside registration while Odwalla and Natural Factors Nutritional Products offered free samples of PGX. I overheard several attendees plan to return to the bowl at regular intervals to stock up on their supply.

While there were clear signs stating that the show limits attendees to one bag of samples to take home, there was no one enforcing the rule. And with over 2400 exhibitors, stomachs would be engorged after several hours. There were actually pavilions that encouraged attendees to spend a significant amount of time in their space to learn about their multitude of different products, and some companies even served a full lunch.

Some attendees set up a camp in front of booths, tasting away. Daiya was a popular pavilion especially for those frozen pizzas which are sans gluten, soy, and dairy. But they were anything but delicious free.

The exhibitor floor was a daunting, but oh-so pleasurable paradise for those abstaining from an allergen. Those who were gluten-intolerant were met with bars, baked goods, pasta, sauces, breads, and snacks that were certified gluten free. For those who have gone on so long without, to have that many choices brought on a deep emotional gratitude.

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After much snacking, I had to cease stuffing things in my mouth and concentrate on booths that had take-home samples. Because nearly every booth had health bars of some iteration, one’s mouth tended to get very dry in sampling them.

And even though there are plenty of beverages, there were very few companies offering drinks not imbued with vitamins or nutrients like probiotics. This, and the possibility of some gluten free items not being entirely gluten free or being cross contaminated in the demonstration process, led me to spend a lot of time in the restroom.

Exhibitors without the time to navigate the exhibition floor frequented the concession stand which sold pricey food that was not very analogous to the expo’s focus. Stamina is an issue, no matter if the samples turn the stomach the wrong way or not. Even though sustenance was available, albeit in small portions, another booth’s offerings quickly grabbed one’s attention.

How can one turn down Non GMO, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, casein free, nut free chocolate chip cookies specked with nutrients that help hangovers? But oh wait, there’s Grass Fed beef, and it’s right beside smoked fish.

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Spoiled by all the events at the LA Convention Center, the jaunt to Anaheim wasn’t too much of a hassle. The show offered free parking at Anaheim Stadium with transportation to the show on Disneyland shuttles. It was disappointing that it was further away from me as I discovered I completely missed several venues including the Hot Products Pavilion and the Fresh Ideas Marketplace which was in a tent at the adjoining Marriot. Free breakfasts and nighttime parties complemented conference sessions, tours, award ceremonies, and networking events.

With a full plate of events and food offerings, a day was not enough to enjoy oneself. The Natural Products Expo West is definitely worth spending more time at.

High Cholesterol? 5 Foods to Eat and 5 to Avoid

As a health advocate, I’m careful to watch my diet to prevent increases in my cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are among the leading risk factors for serious forms of heart disease, but they’re something millions of Americans live with. Treatments for high cholesterol and its consequences form an expansive industry of pharmaceutical drugs including statins, bile-acid-binding resins, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors.

While these drugs arguably have their place, a healthy diet is absolutely necessary for both preventing and treating high cholesterol–and that’s why I’m careful about what I put into my body.
Here are the foods I eat to keep my cholesterol in check — and the foods I avoid like the plague.

Eat These

1.Whole-Grain Pasta

Whole-wheat pasta is my favorite way to improve my heart health, because it is so affordable and delicious. Pasta also combines easily with other heart-healthy foods, like olive oil and vegetables.

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2.Wild Alaskan Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovy, mackerel and herring. Omega-3 fats in these fish reduce triglycerides and the overall risk of heart disease. I’m specifically a fan of Alaskan salmon because it is abundant and sustainable.

3.Beans

Beans, they’re good for your heart! Beans can help to reduce your cholesterol levels, and they’re a healthier source of protein than red meat. Since I’m predominantly vegetarian, beans — especially soy — are my primary protein source.

4.Fruits and Vegetables

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: fruits and vegetables are the backbone of a heart-healthy diet. Antioxidant compounds in fruits and veggies can prevent oxidation, or molecular damage, to deposits of LDL cholesterol, making complications like heart attack less likely.

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5.Olive Oil

I eat olive oil like I’m Mediterranean — meaning it goes on virtually everything I eat, in copious amounts. Along with canola and peanut oil, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can reduce LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Use olive oil as your primary source of dietary fat.

Avoid These

1.Dairy Products

I tend to shy away from full-fat dairy products on general principle. Eat only low-fat dairy products if you have high cholesterol. Full-fat dairy products are among the most concentrated sources of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which increase LDL cholesterol.

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2.Eggs

Eggs have a bad reputation for contributing to high cholesterol, but the American Heart Association contends that one or two eggs per week can be part of a heart-healthy diet. Eat no more than this amount, though, to avoid jumps in your LDL cholesterol. I personally try to eat eggs no more than a few times per month.

3.Red Meat

I don’t eat red meat, largely because I want to avoid the risk of heart disease associated with it. Red meat can arguably be included in a healthy, balanced diet, but you should be eating it no more than once per week to keep your cholesterol in check. Avoid organ meats entirely, since they contain massive amounts of dietary cholesterol.

4.Trans Fats

Found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil, trans fats both increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while reducing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Steer clear of any food that contains hydrogenated oil in any amount, even if the label claims it is free of trans fat — this label only means that it contains less than .5 grams per serving.

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5.Alcohol

A little alcohol here and there may boost your HDL, or “good” cholesterol, but too much alcohol can be seriously detrimental to your health. Drink no more than 7-10 drinks per week, and no more than three drinks per occasion, to maintain your general health.

High cholesterol is not a death sentence, but it is a sign that you need to take steps to preserve your health and well-being — up to and including changes in your dietary habits. By altering your diet and abiding by your health care provider’s guidelines, you can help to prevent this condition from turning into something more serious.

Check also: Best Probiotic Pills On The Market

Best Natural Cholesterol Lowering Supplements

Sometimes we forget that we need to actively take care of our life if we wish to live a fulfilling and long one. As the saying goes, we’re here today and gone tomorrow. Not all potential hazards are instantly visible, so we must watch out for the silent killers – such as cholesterol. In this article, you will find out what cholesterol is, how to prevent it and what the best natural cholesterol-lowering supplements for men are. If you are ready to take control of your heart’s health in your own two hands, then keep reading!

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a thick, waxy substance that helps your body make hormones and vitamin D, digest food, and build cells. It can be found in our whole body. Therefore, our body needs cholesterol to function properly. However, too much cholesterol can cause serious health issues.

There are two types of cholesterol. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the ”bad” kind which can cause a series of health issues. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the ”good” kind that transports the excess cholesterol to the liver.

What are the causes of high cholesterol in men?

It is possible to inherit high cholesterol. However, it is not the sole cause. If you have problems with high cholesterol, chances are that an unhealthy lifestyle created them, or at least helped amplify the issue. This means that eating unhealthy food that contains a lot of bad fats, eating a lot of processed food, smoking, and not getting enough physical activity can all endanger your health and put you at risk. Some other factors can increase the chances of you getting high cholesterol, too – weight, age, and even race, for example.

High cholesterol risks in men

 If you have too much cholesterol in your body, it will accumulate in your blood vessels as a buildup of plaque, also known as atherosclerosis. This decreases the amount of blood that can pass through, and can cause arteries to get blocked completely. This can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. You can also experience chest pain (angina).

How to lower cholesterol the natural way?

The best thing you can do to lower cholesterol the natural way is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. First of all, make sure you maintain a healthy diet. This means that you shouldn’t eat food that contains a lot of salt, simple sugars, and trans or saturated fats. Eat some fruit, vegetables, whole grains, tuna, salmon, or tofu instead.

Second, if you are a smoker, consider quitting it for good. Other than being a general health hazard both to you and your environment, it also lowers your HDL (‘’good cholesterol’’). Limit your alcohol consumption as well, or ideally, cut it out completely.

Third of all, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. It is generally good for your heart, but it will also raise your HDL and lower triglycerides.  Less weight also means less workload for your heart and arteries, which is always a good step to improve your heart’s condition. You should also consider taking up meditation or any other exercise that could help you lower your stress levels because that can affect your cholesterol, too.

Finally, don’t forget to consult your doctor. You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol, and the doctor might have some good tips for you.

Best cholesterol lowering supplements    

You may wish to make sure that your cholesterol is how it’s supposed to be, without using any prescription drugs. That is why we will now inform you of what the best natural cholesterol-lowering supplements for men are.

1. HFL – CholesLo

 CholesLo is a five-in-one product from HFL. It helps you lower your cholesterol and improve lipid levels naturally – this means that it contains no harmful drugs. It is also effective, easy and safe to use.

The goal of CholesLo is to not only lower your cholesterol levels but to promote complete lipid health and balance. This means that it has 5 functions: to keep your cholesterol in a healthy range, to give you an optimal range between your LDL and HDL, to lower fatty triglycerides, to decrease Homocysteine levels and to cleanse and repair your liver. Next to these benefits, it also helps reduce inflammation, which can also cause a heart attack or a stroke.

The benefit of taking this supplement is that it’s natural and not a prescription drug. The other benefit is that it helps you improve your cholesterol levels without you having to make very drastic lifestyle changes. The third benefit is that you will see the results in just a few days – this means that you won’t have to take it for an extended period and be left wondering whether it works or not.

CholesLo is made out of clinically researched and scientifically proven ingredients. It is doctor-formulated and medically endorsed, organic, natural, gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO.

HFL offers a refund to their customers – if the product doesn’t work for you, they will fully refund you and give you an additional $100.00 to boot! Finally, as far as the dosage goes, HFL recommends that you start with a lower dosage – 1 to 2 capsules at a time – and increase the dosage to the recommended one if your body responds positively.

A bottle of CholesLo contains 80 capsules, which is roughly a one-month supply. Pregnant, lactating women, women trying to conceive, people who are under 18, or people who are taking medications should consult their doctor before taking this (or any other) supplement.

2. Nature Made – CholestOff Original

CholestOff is a product made with a blend of plant sterols and stanols which lower LDL by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. It is made only with the supplements you need, which means that it doesn’t contain any added artificial ingredients or fillers. The effects and benefits of the product are scientifically researched to prove that they truly benefit you and are safe to use. Finally, Nature Made’s products are made to precisely fit your needs and your lifestyle.

One bottle contains 120 caplets, which is a one-month supply. Adults should take 2 caplets with water at their two largest meals (so 4 caplets total per day). If you are pregnant, nursing, or currently taking any medications, you should consult your physician before using this product.

3. The Genius Brand – Genius Heart

This supplement is an all-in-one solution that benefits men and women of all ages. It can help you counter high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or you can simply take it to boost your general health. Because the heart and the brain are directly connected, this product will boost your mental clarity as well – it will improve your memory, help you fight dementia and reduce brain fog.

Genius Heart contains Pantesin Panthetine which supports healthy cholesterol levels. It is a natural cholesterol-lowering product. Its key ingredient is the all-natural grape seed extract, which also boosts circulation. 

The bottle of this product contains 60 veggie capsules, which is a one-month supply.

4. Now Foods – Cholesterol Pro

  Cholesterol Pro is a supplement that helps you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. This means that you should consider using this product if your cholesterol levels are already within the normal range. It contains Bergamonte and plant sterols which can help support cardiovascular health, proper blood sugar management, and healthy cholesterol levels.

This product is soy-free, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, halal and kosher. It comes in packs of 60 tablets and 120 tablets. You should take 2 tablets daily with food. It is for adults only.

5. BRI Nutrition – Garlic Extra Strength

This is a supplement whose main ingredient is garlic. Garlic is an effective agent that can help counter cardiovascular issues (high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart attack prevention), that aids the immune system, circulation, digestion, and cleanses your body. Allicin is its most useful active compound. The product is an odorless, easy-to-swallow soft gel pill that promotes heart and cardiovascular health, helps you maintain normal cholesterol levels and provides detox abilities. It also contains parsley seed to refresh your breath!

 You are advised to take 1 serving daily, with water and a meal. The product comes in packs of 60, 120, and 240 soft gel pills.

More info about cholesterol supplements

What are the benefits of cholesterol supplements?

Cholesterol supplements are easy to take and contain multiple ingredients that are often hard to come by otherwise. Sometimes, these ingredients are concentrated as well, meaning that taking the supplement is more potent than eating the raw ingredient by itself. Finally, supplements can often boost your overall health and even have other positive side effects, like mental clarity.

Which ingredients should I look for?

There are many different products out there and each of them has a unique formula. The most commonly used ingredients are niacin, L-carnitine, plant sterols, plant stanols, and flaxseed.

Do cholesterol supplements cause any side effects?

Cholesterol supplements are non-prescription products that are very diverse. We advise you to check the ingredients’ list of the product you plan on using to make sure that you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients. Finally, it is always good to consult your doctor, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.

Conclusion

Cholesterol issues are a serious matter and you shouldn’t take them lightly. If you want to ensure that your heart and veins are healthy, make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and boost your heart with a supplement. Remember, healthy people have many wishes and desires, but the sick have only one: to be healthy again. Take good care of yourself, and you’re on your way to living a happy and long life.



What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements

Supplements are marketed to help prevent or cure a wide range of medical problems, but if you are healthy and eat a varied diet, are they really necessary?

Dietary supplements (like Instant Knockout fat burner) claim to provide a natural means of enhancing health and have become increasingly popular, for example, more than half of Americans use some sort of supplement. The most common types are vitamins and minerals, but herbal/botanical products, protein extracts, enzymes and various other substances are all now widely available in a variety of forms from tablets, capsules and powders to energy bars and drinks.

Supplements can be useful if you take them wisely and carefully follow the manufacturers” guidelines on the labels. For example, taking a multi-vitamin during a hectic period may, in the short term, be beneficial. However most healthy professionals would advocate a healthy, varied diet and ask you to remember that supplements won’t compensate if you eat badly and don’t exercise.

Some supplements can pose unexpected risks in certain circumstances; for example, a few vitamins and minerals are actually toxic at high doses.

Vitamins_01

A new European Directive on Food Supplements due shortly is likely to set limits for the maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in supplements to ensure that the normal use of these products under the instructions provided by the manufacturer will be safe for you to consume.

Many supplements contain other ingredients that can have strong effects on the body and could lead to harm if used with some medication.

You should always check with a health practitioner before taking and supplement, if combining with or substituting for other foods or prescribed medicine.

Supplements can be used to ensure that you meet your daily nutritional requirements. They can have proven health benefits; for example, it is well known that folic acid taken by pregnant women prior to and during the first three months of pregnancy can help to prevent birth defects.

Other supplements can compensate for variations in the amounts of nutrients in foods and their ability to be absorbed and utilized; interactions with other components in food can reduce absorption. Supplements also help with some health problems, such as arthritis and PMS.

Nutrient food supplements_01

Don’t make the mistake of thinking supplements offer a ‘quick fix’; they can’t replace a healthy diet and lifestyle. They don’t always live up to their marketing claims and aren’t subject to the same rigorous standards as over-the-counter drugs; just because supplements are ‘natural’ doesn’t mean they are always safe. Your body only stores a limited amount of vitamins and some compete with each other in the gut. A high intake of one can lead to a deficiency of another.

Supplements can encourage people to self-diagnose health conditions. You should always check with your GP that any symptoms are not associated with an underlying condition that may other wise go undiagnosed. Finally, supplements are least likely to be taken by the people who need them.

It can be recommended that children take supplement drops containing vitamins A, C and D from six months until at least two years of age. Women planning a baby and pregnant women for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are advised to take a folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their babies. Pregnant and breast-feeding women may benefit from extra vitamin D to ensure an adequate intake, while women with high menstrual losses and those with iron deficiency anemia may need iron supplements.

Folic Acid_01

Supplements are useful for groups of people whose lifestyle or habits lead to nutrient deficiencies. For example, smokers need extra antioxidants, such as vitamin C, E or selenium, because of the damage to body tissues caused by smoking. Other groups of people who may suffer impaired nutrient absorption include those who drink excessive alcohol, those who follow restrictive or faddy diets and people recovering from a recent illness or with suppressed immune systems. The elderly also suffer with impaired absorption. They need vitamins C, B12, folate and zinc.

Athletes often use supplements to improve performance and provide a competitive edge. These include vitamins, mineral supplements, sports drinks, carbohydrate bars and gels, protein powders, drinks, liquid meals and ergogenic acid that aim to boost energy, alertness and body composition.

Protein and amino acid supplements may help to enhance performance by affecting body composition, but generally these are ineffective. Exercise doesn’t dramatically increase requirements and eating a healthy balanced diet should provide all that you need. Often professional body builders and athletes overdose on a cocktail of energy-boosting supplements.

Stroke: Everything You Should Know

A stroke is often referred to as a “brain attack,” cutting off blood and oxygen to the brain cells that control everything we do, from speaking, to walking, to breathing. Most strokes occur when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits.

Some strokes are caused when weak spots on the blood vessel wall break and rupture arteries. Brain tissue needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. When the tissue is cut off from oxygen during a stroke, the tissue begins to die.

Every year stroke strikes approximately 750,000 Americans – killing 160,000, and forever changing the lives of many who survive. For people over 55, the risk of a stroke is greater than one in six. A stroke can cause permanent disability and even death. In fact, it is the third-leading cause of death in America, and the number one cause of disability.

The good news is that many strokes can be prevented. If you do have a stroke, new treatments may help stop brain damage and disability (if administered within three hours of the first sign of a stroke). Once you recognize the signs, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.

Types of Strokes

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke is the most serious. This type occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Hemorrhage can occur in several ways. One common way is a weak spot in an artery wall that stretches or balloons out under pressure and eventually ruptures. It can also occur when the arterial wall breaks open, due to plaque or fatty deposit build-up.
  • Ischemic Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked, suddenly decreasing or stopping blood flow and causing brain damage. Blood clots are the most common cause of an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke accounts for 80 percent of all strokes.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), also known as a “mini-stroke,” occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off for a short period of time, usually less than 15 minutes. A TIA is a warning sign and should be treated seriously. Of the approximately 50,000 Americans that have a TIA each year, about one-third will have a stroke in the near future. So, if you experience the symptoms of a stroke for only a short period of time, then the symptoms go away, you may be having a “mini stroke.” Although a TIA may not leave noticeable damage, it is important to talk to your doctor immediately.

Common signs of a stroke include

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking

Learning them – and knowing what to do when they occur – could save your life.

A stroke is a medical emergency. If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Treatment can be more effective if you receive it early on. Every second counts!

To help prevent stroke follow the ABCs

  • Aspirin: take an aspirin a day. It is very important to talk to your doctor about the correct dosage BEFORE starting.
  • Blood Pressure: Keep your blood pressure under 140/90. See your health care provider and follow his recommendations.
  • Cholesterol: Remind your health care provider to test your cholesterol level and follow their directions.
  • Smoking Cessation: Stop smoking; there are many aids to help you stop smoking. Contact your health care provider for help, or visit www.utahquitnet.com or call Utah Tobacco Quit Line toll-free at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Risk Factors

stroke risk factors

Am I at risk for a stroke? Everyone has some risk for stroke. Many risk factors are preventable or can be controlled but a few stroke risk factors are beyond your control.

Risk factors you cannot change

  • Increasing age: People over age 55 are at greater risk of stroke.
  • Gender: More men than women have strokes in certain age groups, but more women actually die from stroke.
  • Race: African-Americans and Hispanics have a higher risk of death and disability from stroke.
  • Heredity: A family history of stroke can increase your risk. The Family Health History Toolkit is a great resource for collecting your family health history.
  • Previous Stroke: History of a previous stroke may increase stroke risk by up to 10 times.
    Previous episode of Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA (“mini-stroke”).
  • Heart Disease
  • Atrial Fibrillation: An abnormal heart rate or rhythm. This type of irregular heartbeat occurs in 15 percent of all strokes. Learn more about atrial fibrillation and what you can do to decrease your risk.
  • Carotid Artery Disease: The narrowing or blocking of the carotid arteries by cholesterol called plaque. Carotid Artery Disease puts you at an increased risk for stroke because a piece of the plaque can break free and travel to the brain where it blocks a vessel in the brain.

Risk factors you can change

High Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance in your body. Cholesterol comes only from animal products or animal by-products such as beef, chicken, eggs, milk, etc. A high level of cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart attack and also increases your risk of having a stroke. High levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. People with a low level of HDL cholesterol (<40 mg/dL) have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. A high LDL level, more than 160 mg/dL (130 mg/dL or above if you have two or more risk factors for heart disease), reflects an increased risk of stroke. That’s why LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol.

High Blood Pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder, putting you at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney, and eye problems. There are no symptoms to identify high blood pressure and therefore many people are unaware that they have it. The only way to detect high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly.

Smoking

Quitting smoking lowers a person’s risk of stroke greatly, even after many years of smoking. Learn more about the impact of smoking on stroke.

Diabetes

Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder affecting the body’s ability to make or use insulin. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose (blood sugar) from digested nutrients into the body’s cells for energy and growth. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. When the body cannot produce insulin, this is called type 1 diabetes. In order to control their blood sugar, the patient must use insulin injections. In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but is unable to process it and/or use it correctly in most cases this may be controlled by diet and exercise. If you are diabetic, following your doctor’s recommendations helps you maintain control and lessens your risk for stroke. Learn more about diabetes.

Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. You can reduce your risk by doing moderate-intensity physical activity for a total of 2 ½ hours per week.

Obesity

Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Only smoking exceeds obesity in contributing to the total U.S. death rate. The percentage of overweight or obese persons in Utah and the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Adults who are obese are also at a greater risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Contributing Factors for Stroke

Researchers continually discover other factors that seem to relate to stroke. The following are a few of these factors:

  • Alcohol
  • Stress

Stroke Treatment and Rehabilitation

stroke treatment
Headache area on brain X-ray, 3D illustration.

Until recently, stroke treatment was restricted to basic life support at the time of the stroke and rehabilitation later. Now, several treatments options are available, and if treated early enough they can help stroke victims avoid death or disability.

Treatment options during a stroke

Medication or Drug Therapy

Medication or drug therapy is the most common treatment for a stroke. The only drug currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ischemic stroke is a thrombolytic agent called tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA). This is often referred to as “clot buster” medication. tPA must be given within the first three hours of the first sign of a stroke. This is why it is important to seek medical help immediately!

Mechanical Therapy

Mechanical therapies to remove blood clots and restore flow are a new approach to the treatment of ischemic stroke. The FDA recently cleared the Merci Retriever, a device from Concentric Medical that removes blood clots from patients experiencing an ischemic stroke. The device is navigated into the brain using standard catheterization techniques. A small puncture in the groin is made to introduce the Merci Retriever into an artery leading to the brain. Upon reaching the targeted area, the Merci Retriever is designed to restore blood flow by engaging, capturing, and removing the blood clot.

Preventive treatment

  • Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets – Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin and anticoagulants such as warfarin interfere with the blood’s ability to clot and can play an important role in preventing stroke. Please check with your doctor before starting any medications.
  • Carotid Endarterectomy – A carotid endarterectomy is a surgical removal of plaque (or fatty buildup) from the carotid artery (an artery in the neck). This will help increase blood flow to the brain and prevent strokes.
  • Angioplasty/Stents – Doctors sometimes use a balloon angioplasty and implant steel screens called stents to treat cardiovascular disease. These mechanical devices are used to remove fatty buildup that is clogging the blood vessel.

There are also possible treatments to fix a hemorrhagic stroke. Please consult your physician to learn more.

Rehabilitation after a stroke

Rehabilitation helps stroke survivors relearn skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged. The types and degrees of disability that follow a stroke depend upon which area of the brain is damaged. Generally, stroke can cause five types of disabilities: Paralysis or problems controlling movement; sensory disturbances including pain; problems using or understanding language; problems with thinking and memory; and emotional disturbances.

For a stroke survivor, the rehabilitation goal is to be as independent and productive as possible. That may mean improving physical abilities. Often old skills have been lost and new ones are needed. It’s also important to maintain and improve a person’s physical condition when possible. Rehabilitation can mean the difference between returning home or staying in an institution.

Although a majority of functional abilities may be restored soon after a stroke, recovery is an ongoing process.

Heart Disease: Everything You Should Know

Heart disease is a generic term that describes many different problems affecting the heart. It can affect your coronary arteries, heart valves, and heart muscle and can also affect your heart rate and rhythm. Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans.

Most common kinds of heart disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)/Atherosclerosis (ath·ero·scle·ro·sis)

Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle (the coronary arteries) become hardened and narrowed. The arteries harden and narrow due to buildup of a material called plaque on their inner walls. The buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis. As the plaque increases in size, the insides of the coronary arteries get narrower and less blood can flow through them. Eventually, blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced, and because blood carries much-needed oxygen, the heart muscle is not able to receive the amount of oxygen it needs.

Angina

Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart does not get enough blood. People describe angina as discomfort, pressure, or pain in the chest, back, neck, shoulders, arms (especially the left arm), or jaw. Angina can be a warning of a heart attack.

Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort – Most heart attacks involve a discomforting feeling in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath – May occur with or without chest discomfort. Other signs – May include breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling nauseated, or light headed.

Heart attack symptoms can be different for men and women. As with men, women’s most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

If you or someone with you has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. For more information about 9-1-1, please visit www.911.utah.gov/index.php

Heart Valve Disease

The heart has four chambers. The upper two are the right and left atria. The lower two are the right and left ventricles. Blood is pumped through the chambers, aided by four heart valves. The valves open and close to let the blood flow in only one direction. Each valve has a set of flaps (also called leaflets or cusps). When working properly, the heart valves open and close fully. A defective heart valve is one that fails to fully open or close. A person can be born with an abnormal heart valve, a type of congenital heart defect. Also, a valve can become damaged by:

  • infections such as infective endocarditis
  • rheumatic fever
  • changes in valve structure in the elderly

Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy (car·dio·my·op·a·thy)

Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Key symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, a dry and hacking cough, weight gain, swelling, and fatigue.

Heart failure develops as a result of weakening of the heart muscle. This weakening is often brought on by other conditions that damage the heart muscle, including atherosclerosis, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve problems, and alcohol abuse. Heart muscle weakening and damage is often called cardiomyopathy, which literally means “heart muscle disease.” Cardiomyopathy can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary cardiomyopathy can’t be attributed to a specific cause, such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, artery diseases, or congenital heart defects. Secondary cardiomyopathy is due to specific causes. It’s often associated with diseases involving other organs as well as the heart.

Arrhythmias (ar·rhyth·mi·as)

An arrhythmia is a change in the rhythm of your heartbeat. When the heart beats too fast, it’s called tachycardia (tach·y·car·di·a). When it beats too slow, it’s called bradycardia (brad·y·car·di·a). An arrhythmia can also mean that your heart beats irregularly (skips a beat or has an extra beat). At some time or another, most people have felt their heart race or skip a beat. These occasional changes can be brought on by strong emotions or exercise. They are usually not a cause for alarm. Arrhythmias that occur more often or cause symptoms may be more serious and need to be discussed with your doctor.
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Heart Defects

Although the term “heart defect” can refer to many different heart problems, it’s often used to talk about defects affecting the wall (septum) that divides the two upper or two lower chambers of the heart. Three of the more common defects are: Atrial septal defect (ASD), Patent foramen ovale (PFO), and Ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Risk Factors

heart disease Risk Factors

Some risk factors cannot be changed, others require some lifestyle adjustments. It is important to be aware of risk factors so you can take the necessary steps to prevent further damage to your heart.

Am I at risk for Heart Disease?

Clinical and statistical studies have identified several factors that increase a person’s risk of having heart disease. Major risk factors are those that research has shown significantly increase the risk of heart disease. Other factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven’t yet been precisely determined. They’re called contributing risk factors.

Use My Life Check from the American Heart Association to assess your heart health and determine what you can do to lower your risk.

Risk factors you cannot change

Some risk factors cannot be changed. Still, it is important to be aware of them. Awareness gives you an opportunity to educate yourself and also to take measures to safeguard your health as much as possible in other ways. The unchangeable factors affecting your heart health are:

  • Age: Your risk increases with age.
  • Sex: Men of any age, and postmenopausal women, have a greater risk.
  • Family History (heredity and race): Heart disease tends to run in families and is more common among some ethnic groups. For help in determining your family health history use the Family Health History Toolkit.
  • Medical history: Past history of heart problems.

Risk factors you can change

High Blood Pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder, putting you at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney, and eye problems. There are no symptoms to identify high blood pressure and therefore many people are unaware that they have it. The only way to detect high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly.

High Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance in your body. Cholesterol only comes from animal products or animal by-products such as beef, chicken, eggs, milk, etc. A high level of cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart attack and also increases your risk of having a stroke. High levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. People with a low level of HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL) have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. A high LDL level (more than 160 mg/dL or more than 130 mg/dL if you have two or more risk factors for heart disease) reflects an increased risk of heart disease. That’s why LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol.

Smoking

Quitting smoking lowers a person’s risk of heart disease greatly, even after many years of smoking. Learn more about the impact of smoking on heart disease.

Diabetes

Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder affecting the body’s ability to make or use insulin. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose (blood sugar) from digested nutrients into the body’s cells for energy and growth. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. When the body cannot produce insulin, this is called type 1 diabetes. In order to control their blood sugar, the patient must use insulin injections. In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but is unable to process it and/or use it correctly in most cases this may be controlled by diet and exercise. People with diabetes can manage their blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce their chance of heart attack or stroke. Learn more about diabetes.

Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. You can reduce your risk by doing moderate-intensity physical activity for a total of 2 ½ hours per week.

Obesity

Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Only smoking exceeds obesity in contributing to the total U.S. death rate. The percentage of overweight or obese persons in Utah and the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Adults who are obese are also at a greater risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Contributing Factors for Heart Disease

Researchers continually discover other factors that seem to relate to heart disease. The following are a few of these factors:

  • Birth control pills
  • C-reactive protein
  • Alcohol Homocysteine
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Stress

Heart Disease Treatment & Rehabilitation

heart disease treatment

If treatment isn’t enough, cardiac rehabilitation allows patients to recover from heart problems or heart surgery, helps them heal faster, and reduces their risk for future cardiac problems.

Diagnosing and Treating Heart Disease

A heart disease treatment plan should be tailored to your specific condition, its severity and causes, and your current health and lifestyle. This may include more than a procedure. It may also mean making lifestyle changes and taking medications. The best thing to do is maintain open communication with your doctor about your risks and what is right for you. The following are procedures used to diagnose and treat heart disease.

  • Exercise stress tests measure symptoms, blood pressure, and EKG (electrocardiogram) during exercise.
  • Imaging procedures provide still or moving pictures through X-ray, fluoroscopy, MRI, or CT scans.
  • Electrophysiology studies, or echocardiograms, examine heart rhythm disturbances using electrodes positioned over the patient’s heart.
  • Ultrasound, like an echocardiogram, uses sound waves to produce images of your heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization diagnoses and/or treats an obstruction. An angiogram introduces dye through a catheter to observe the heart’s blood vessel flow by X-ray; a balloon angioplasty procedure uses a tiny balloon-tipped catheter to help unclog blockages.
  • Surgical procedures can bypass clogged arteries, replace valves, insert pacemakers, and defibrillators or replace the entire heart.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program to help heart patients recover quickly and improve their overall physical and mental functioning. The goal is to reduce the risk of another cardiac event or to keep an already present heart condition from getting worse.
The benefits of participating in a cardiac rehab program are:

  • Faster recovery
  • Improved fitness
  • Decreased symptoms
  • Reduced fear and anxiety
  • Improved confidence
  • Lifelong changes are made
  • Reduced risk of further heart problems
  • Reduced risk of death

The services that cardiac rehabilitation might include are supervised exercise sessions and education about risk factors of heart disease, signs and symptoms of heart disease, and ways you can prevent another cardiac event. Most importantly, cardiac rehab will provide the social and emotional support you will need to adjust to your condition and make lifelong lifestyle changes to reduce your risk factors for further heart problems.

Physical Activity Guidelines for People with Heart Disease

Physical activity is an important part of managing heart disease or recovering from heart surgery. But there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are both active and safe.

Discuss the following with your doctor

  • Medication changes. New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.
  • Heavy lifting. Lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing may be off limits for you. Chores around the house can be tiring for some people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.
  • Safe exercises. Get the doctor’s approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.

General Workout Tips for Those With Heart Disease

  • Be sure any exercise is paced and balanced with rest.
  • Ask your doctor about avoiding isometric exercises. Isometric exercises involve pushing or pulling against an immovable object.
  • Don’t exercise outdoors when it is too cold, hot, or humid. High humidity may cause you to tire more quickly; extreme temperatures can interfere with circulation, make breathing difficult, and cause chest pain. Better choices are indoor activities such as mall walking.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days.
  • Avoid extremely hot and cold showers or sauna baths after exercise. These extreme temperatures increase the workload on the heart.
  • Steer clear of exercise in hilly areas. If you must walk in steep areas, make sure to slow down when going uphill to avoid working too hard. Monitor your heart rate closely.
  • If your exercise program has been interrupted for a few days (for example, due to illness, vacation, or bad weather), make sure to ease back into the routine. Start with a reduced level of activity, and gradually increase it until you are back where you started.

Exercise Precautions

There are many precautions to keep in mind when developing an exercise program for yourself or a loved one with heart disease.

  • Stop the exercise if you become overly fatigued or short of breath; discuss the symptoms with a doctor or schedule an appointment for evaluation.
  • Do not exercise if you are not feeling well or have a fever. Heart patients should wait a few days after all symptoms disappear before restarting the exercise program, unless their doctor gives other directions.
  • Stop the activity if you develop a rapid or irregular heartbeat or have heart palpitations. Check your pulse after you have rested for 15 minutes. If it’s still above 100-120 beats per minute, call the doctor for further instructions.

*If you experience pain don’t ignore it. If you have chest pain or pain anywhere else in the body, do not allow the activity to continue. Performing an activity while in pain may cause stress or damage to the joints.

Stop exercising if you

  • Feel weak. Are dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Have unexplained weight gain or swelling (call the doctor right away).
  • Have pressure or pain in the chest, neck, arm, jaw, or shoulder.
  • Have any other symptoms that cause concern.

Call the doctor if symptoms do not go away.

Blood Pressure: Everything You Have To Know

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is highest when the heart contracts (while it is pumping blood). This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest (between beats) blood pressure is lower. This is called diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is always given in these two numbers. The systolic measurement is on top, and the diastolic is on the bottom (i.e. 120/80). Both numbers are equally important.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure changes during the day. It is lowest when a person is asleep and rises when a person gets up. Most of the time, it stays about the same or within a range. If the blood pressure rises and stays above the recommended levels, a person may have high blood pressure.

Why is High Blood Pressure important?

High blood pressure, if not controlled, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease in a person.

How is High Blood Pressure diagnosed?

Since high blood pressure does not generally have any symptoms, the only way to diagnose high blood pressure is to get it tested at the doctor’s office.

Blood Pressure classifications

There are several categories of blood pressure. The following table shows the categories for adults 18 and older.

Category Systolic Diastolic
Optimal Blood Pressure less than 120 less than 80
Pre- hypertension 120 – 139 80 – 89
Stage 1 hypertension140 – 15990 – 99
Stage 2 hypertension 160 or greater 100 or greater

How to Control High Blood Pressure?

Life Style modifications

Life style modifications include things that a person can do on their own such as:

  • Being physically active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Choosing and eating foods low in sodium or salt
  • Following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan

Treatments

These include a variety of medications such as:

  • Diuretics
  • Adrenergic Blockers
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • ACE & ARBS
  • Vascular Dilators
  • Central Adrenergic Agonists

It is important to continue taking the medications in order for them to work. If a problem arises it is important to consult a physician before making any changes.

How Being More Active Can Lower Your Blood Pressure?

blood pressure exercises

According to KryoLife Health (https://www.kryolifehealth.com/) research, physical activity makes your heart stronger over time. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. And the less your heart has to work, the less force or pressure is put on your arteries.

Physical activity can have the same effect on your blood pressure levels as medication. Becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by an average of 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For some people, that’s enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication. Physical activity also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is another way to control blood pressure.

To reap the rewards of being active, try to make it a habit. It takes about one to three months for regular exercise to have a stabilizing effect on blood pressure. The benefits last only as long as you continue to exercise. Remember that aerobic activity will help you control high blood pressure. Simply adding moderate physical activities to your daily routine will help as well.

How Can You Get Moving?

Getting enough activity in your life can be easy. Look for ways to fit regular activity into your day that are fun for you and help you meet the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. If you are just starting, don’t try to do it all at once. Getting some kind of activity every day will help you start smart and allow you to improve your health a step at a time.

Safety First

Those with high blood pressure should remember to start slowly when beginning an exercise program. Warm up and cool down properly and gradually build the intensity of your workouts. Make sure you have your doctor’s “OK” before doing strength training or other resistance exercises as some of these may actually increase your blood pressure.

Stop exercising and seek immediate medical care if you experience any warning signs during exercise, including:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Pain in an arm or your jaw
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive fatigue

5 Herbs for Cleansing and Detoxification

Toxins and pollutants are unavoidable. They may be in the air, food or water. As an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist I have found that engaging in a cleanse at least once per year has many health benefits. Consult with your health care provider prior to starting a cleanse to ensure that you are in good health, since cleansing can stress your internal organs.

Furthermore, talk to a naturopath, herbalist or nutritionist to get the best advice on how to properly engage in a cleansing regime. These herbs may help support your body through the cleansing process and help your body get rid of excess toxins more quickly and easily.

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1.Dandelion

Dandelion is a popular herb for cleansing and detoxificaton. This herb has high antioxidant content and diuretic properties. Dandelion root may help detoxify the liver and gallbladder, which can help your body more efficiently eliminate built up toxins and chemicals. Dandelion leaves support the kidneys and can help your body efficiently eliminate toxins through urination.

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2.Milk Thistle

Milk thistle has been used for 2,000 years and contains a flavonoid called silymarin that can help support your liver. Milk thistle enhances liver and gallbladder detoxification and also supports your kidney function. An added benefit of this herb is that it can help your body re-grow liver cells, can treat viral hepatitis and may have anti-cancer effects.

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3.Burdock Root

Burdock root can be used for a variety of ailments such as digestive problems, sore throats and colds. This herb helps support detoxification because it is a natural blood purifier. Burdock can help clear your bloodstream of toxins and, because of its diuretic effect, can help rid your body of these toxins through urination. Because this herb can also enhance digestive functions, it may also help remove toxins through digestiion and elimination.

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4.Black Walnut

Black walnut hulls can help detoxify and cleanse your body in a variety of ways. This herb can support digestive functions, help flush toxins and impurities from your system, oxygenate your blood and even kill parasites. An added benefit of black walnut is that it has a gentle laxative effect, which makes it more capable of clearing toxins from your body through elimination.

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5.Parsley

Parsley contains vitamins A and C and has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. This herb can help support your kidneys to process and eliminate excess toxins from your body.Parsley also helps purify your bloodstream and can even help naturally freshen your breath. You can eat fresh parsley or blend and drink fresh parsley juice to enjoy its cleansing benefits.

How I Reduced My Cholesterol Levels Fast Without Exercise

About two years back I took a routine blood test at work for measuring the blood lipid levels. It turned out that my cholesterol levels were over the 200 normal limits. I knew I had to do something about it but kept procrastinating.

Well, about eight months into the year I realized I needed to do something about my lipid levels before I take the test in the following year. But then I was also going on a vacation soon. So I decided I will start some kind of aerobic exercise soon after my vacation. I went on a nice three week vacation with family, came back mentally relaxed and recharged but with a minor problem. I had fractured my toe on my left foot! I had not been doing anything super challenging in the vacation. I just tripped on my suitcase and broke my toe.

The podiatrist insisted that I do not walk or do any aerobic activity involving the foot, to help heal my toe faster. Though now I had a valid excuse for my bad lipid levels, I was determined to do something by diet alone.

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I just did two simple things. The first was that I just eliminated sugar from my diet. No sugary drinks, no added sugar to food, no sweets. However, I did allow myself to eat foods with naturally inherent sugar in them like fruits.

The second thing I did was, everyday, I replaced one main meal of the day with oats and vegetables. I usually did this for lunch. I experimented with all sorts of oats dishes – oats with spices, oats with fruits, and oats with veggies. This I did for just one meal of the day and the rest of the meals were like usual. Nothing cut back except the sugar.

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I did this for about a month and half and then it was time for my annual blood screening at work again. I had my blood test done and the results came. Whoa!! The cholesterol and the triglyceride levels were reduced to half of last year’s readings.

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/CL00002). If oatmeal and no sugar combination can bring this kind of impact to the lipid levels in my blood, I am sure if I combine this with regular aerobic activity I can do wonders for my cholesterol levels and my heart health.

5 Surprising Foods Containing Probiotics

I’m not a big fan of yogurt– but I am a big fan of probiotics, both for myself and my family members. Probiotics are forms of bacteria that are helpful, rather than harmful, to the human body. Our bodies are loaded with natural probiotics: they keep our digestive systems, urinary tracts, and reproductive systems safe from harmful bacteria.

The National Institutes of Health acknowledges the many therapeutic and health-boosting benefits of L. acidophilus, a form of probiotic most famously found in yogurt… But yogurt isn’t the only food that contains probiotics! Here are five sources of probiotics you may not know about.

1.Breast Milk

Breast milk is the first and most important source of probiotics we encounter in life. Studies have found that these friendly bacteria are extremely important to the health of infants and toddlers, especially during times of illness. If you have a young child who could benefit from probiotics, consider increasing the amount of breast milk in his diet.

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2.Tempeh

A fermented product made from soy, tempeh is an excellent alternative to tofu for people who want a delicious meat substitute that also offers a boost of friendly bacteria. Because it’s fermented in friendly bacteria like L. acidophilus, it has many of the same health benefits traditionally associated with yogurt.

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3.Kefir

Very similar to yogurt, kefir is a dairy beverage extremely rich in probiotics. Traditionally made with sheep or goat’s milk, this rich drink contains more probiotics than most yogurt and is delicious when mixed into granola or consumed as a small-serving drink.

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4.Kimchi

Kimchi is a flavorful Korean dish made from cabbage cultured in probiotics. Often made with fish oil, peppers and garlic, kimchi is so alive with friendly bacteria that its juices tend to be fizzy and tart-a result of the fermentation process caused by L. acidophilus and other friendly bacteria found in the food. Add a little kimchi to your diet if you want to boost your probiotic intake.

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5.Kombucha

A fermented tea containing a culture of friendly bacteria and yeast compounds, kombucha has a delightful flavor that combines tartness, sweetness and the gentle, familiar taste of tea. Many forms of kombucha tea offer higher levels of health-supporting probiotics than yogurt and other more common sources of probiotics.

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Unfortunately, not all foods containing probiotics are entirely safe. Mayo Clinic notes, for example, that homemade kombucha tea is sometimes made in unsterile environments, where it can be contaminated with bad bacteria. The same problem exists for other homemade cultured foods. As a precaution, buy your probiotic foods from a trusted source and talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your health or diet.