My blood pressure is mildly elevated – is this harmful?

 

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and lower in the late afternoon and evening. When blood pressure stays elevated over time, it is called hypertension. Hypertension is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases both the risk of heart disease and stroke. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension. Historically, prehypertension was not felt to be harmful and ignored. A new study in the journal Neurology shows that this thinking is incorrect. It demonstrates that people with prehypertension have a significantly increased risk of stroke. They found that those with blood pressures in the prehypertensive range were 66% more likely to have strokes than those with ideal blood pressures, below 120/80. The risk rose as the numbers did, nearly doubling at levels above 130/85. The link showed up whether or not people had other risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking.  Multiple studies have showed that the higher the blood pressure, the higher your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. The good news is that high blood pressure can be reduced naturally. The number one way to lower blood pressure naturally is by losing weight. Even losing small amounts of weight such as 10-20 pounds can significantly lower your blood pressure without medication. Exercise is also a great way to lower blood pressure naturally. Regular aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week) has been shown to have beneficial effects in lowering blood pressure. Finally eating a healthy diet low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables can also help lower blood pressure naturally. Hypertension has been called the silent killer. Now we know even mildly elevated blood pressures are dangerous. If your blood pressure is high, take action now before damage has been done.

 

Want to get healthy and lose weight? Reduce your insulin levels.

Food is medicine. I have said this many times. Is it really true? When it comes to losing weight and preventing disease – absolutely! Today we are going to talk about food, your insulin levels and your health.

 

First of all, what is insulin? Insulin is one of your body’s many hormones. The pancreas, in response to elevated blood sugar levels, releases insulin. Eating foods with sugar or foods that are easily turned into sugar, such as highly processed foods and simple carbs, elevate your blood sugar levels quickly. Insulin’s job is to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high. Insulin allows your body’s cells to remove the extra sugar in the blood. Without insulin, your cells would not have the ability to take in sugar (glucose). Your cells need insulin to be able to receive nourishment.

 

Eating excess sugar and simple carbs in your diet causes large amounts of insulin to be released into the bloodstream. Over time, your cells receive enough glucose (sugar), and do not need any more. If you continue to consume large amounts of sugar and simple carbs, the pancreas releases even more insulin. As a result, the pancreas is working overtime to push your blood sugar level back to normal. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult for even the increased levels of insulin to decrease the blood sugar levels back to normal. This continuous increased level of insulin in the blood is called hyper-insulinemia or insulin resistance. Eventually, if you still continue to consume large amounts of sugar and simple carbs, despite large amounts of insulin in your blood stream, the blood sugar level rises and you develop diabetes. The increased levels of insulin are ineffective.

 

Insulin is needed by everybody to keep his or her blood sugar levels in a normal range. A problem develops when insulin levels are chronically elevated. Insulin is the “get fat” hormone. Increased insulin levels directly lead to weight gain. If your insulin levels are high, you will be overweight. Increased insulin levels also lead to high blood pressure and to increased inflammation levels. Inflammation appears to be a greater risk factor for heart disease and stroke than cholesterol. Increased insulin may also lead to an increased cancer risk. Clearly, lowering your insulin levels is critical to good health.

 

How do you know if your insulin levels are high? If you have excess fat around your middle your insulin levels are probably high. Although, you may be tall or thin, short or fat or any combination and still have insulin resistance. If your fasting blood sugar level is greater that 100mg/dL, your insulin levels are high. If your fasting triglyceride levels are high, your insulin levels will also be high.

 

So how do you decrease your insulin levels? Here are some tips:

 

  • Stop eating flour and sugar products, especially high fructose corn syrup.
  • Don’t have liquid calories, like sugary sodas and juices. Your body doesn’t feel full from them anyway.
  • Stop eating all processed, junk or packaged foods. If it doesn’t look like the food it originated from, then stay away.
  • Slow the rate of sugar uptake from the gut through balancing your meals (low glycemic load) with healthy protein (nuts, seeds, beans, small wild fish, organic chicken), healthy carbs (vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, fish oil)
  • Eat plenty of soluble fiber (at least 30 grams a day)
  • Eat smaller more frequent meals
  • Exercise – regular aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes at a time, 4-5 times a week) will help decrease your blood sugar and insulin levels

 

Remember, what you eat directly affects your health through hormones. You can decrease your insulin levels directly through good nutrition and exercise. Ultimately, by decreasing your insulin levels you can lose weight and keep it off, decrease your risk of heart attack and strokes, and finally, also decrease your risk of cancer.

 

What is more valuable – A new Ferrari or your body?

ferrariLet’s say you just bought a brand new shiny red $250, 000 Ferrari. It is a beautiful, precisely functioning piece of machinery.  How would you treat your new car? Would you put sugar water in the gas tank or feed it premium gasoline? Would you just let it sit in the garage or would you take it out for a spin? Would you get it serviced regularly to make sure it is functioning optimally? Do you treat your body the same way?  Do you care about your appearance enough to keep it looking good?  Do you spend time, money, and effort to take preventive measures such as working out and eating nutritious foods to prevent health problems and the huge expenses that come with them, much like an oil change?  Think about it. You would spend the money to feed your sports car premium fuel. Why do you not do the same for your body? Your body thrives on nutritious, fresh food such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Why do you continue to feed it garbage like sugar, simple carbs, and excess fat? How would the Ferrari run on sugar water? Not well! Just like your body does not run well on junk food. You feel tired and sluggish after eating junk, the same way the car would run on inferior gasoline. How would the Ferrari engine run if it just sat in the garage and was never driven? Your body is exactly the same. You need to get out and move. Regular aerobic activity is critical to keep your body functioning well. Remember, prevention is proactive thinking. There is the initial investment of time, money, and effort to get your body running smooth as the Ferrari. However, it is far more expensive and dangerous to let your body go. The hard part of prevention is that there is not immediate gratification.  You are putting in effort now for future rewards and good health.   But, you sure would practice prevention with your new Ferrari.  You would spend the money and effort on an oil change that in no way changes the way the car runs and feels at the present moment.  You would do it to avoid problems in the long run.  Most people know that they have to get their oil changed or else suffer problems with their car later on.   We also know that we have to take care of our bodies or else we will suffer problems later on.  Disease such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer are highly preventable. So why would we treat our car better than our bodies?  Do you do this?  How much is your body worth? Is your arm worth $250, 000? How much are your eyes worth? Most of us would say our bodies are priceless. So why would you not treat your body like the precious engine it truly is? Think about that. You only get one body and one life. Take the appropriate measures today with your physical and spiritual health: eat healthier foods, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Don’t be lazy. Be proactive. Start today!

Learn How to Live Healthy – LIVE!

Want to learn how to eat healthier?

Want to know what the best way to eat is? Low carb? Low fat? Low calorie?

Want to learn how to lose weight?

fruits-and-vegetablesWant to learn how to prevent heart attacks, stroke and cancer?

Want to learn how to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar naturally?

Want to learn more about exercise?

Want to feel better? Have more energy?

Come hear Dr Greenberg discuss these topics and more live!

Best of all – it is free!!

Tuesday, March 5th at 6pm.

Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center

5600 W. Union Hill Drive, Glendale, AZ

3 Tips to Help You Lose Weight in 2013

I hear all the time about people who are having difficulty losing weight. They ask  for tips to help them lose weight. Here are 3 tips to help you lose those extra pounds in the New Year.

1. Cut out the simple carbs and processed foods. A big reason people put on those extra pounds is that they eat too many simple carbs. Simple carbs include sugar, snack foods, sweets, junk foods, and starches (white bread, white rice, white flour). Eating large amounts of simple carbs stimulates insulin which leads to fat storage and weight gain. Some people are much more sensitive to simple carbs than others. If you are having trouble losing weight, try cutting back significantly on the simple carbs. This may help jump start your weight loss.

2.Eat more fiber. Fiber is very helpful in weight loss. Most people are significantly deficient in their daily fiber intake. The goal is 30-40 grams of fiber a day. Fiber has no calories and helps fill you up. Furthermore, fiber slows the release of sugar into your blood stream. This keeps your insulin levels down and helps you to lose weight. See prior articles for lists of high fiber foods.

3. Exercise more. Aerobic exercise is critical to weight loss. Regular aerobic exercise helps to burn off extra calories. It also helps you to burn extra sugar in the blood stream, muscle and liver. Lower levels of sugar in the blood keeps your insulin levels down. Lower insulin levels leads to weight loss. Overall, your goal should be a minimum of 20-30 minutes 3-4 days a week.

Follow these 3 tips to help boost your weight loss in the New Year. This can be your healthiest year ever!

Should I Count Calories?

I get asked all the time about counting calories. Many wonder if it is a useful tool. Usually, my answer is no. The whole point of eating foods with low calorie densities is to avoid counting calories. If you mainly eat foods with low calorie densities you should lose weight especially if you also exercise. Low calorie density foods fill you up with less calories. Remember though, the only way to lose weight is to eat less calories than you burn off. Sometimes though, people will tell me that the weight will not come off. No matter what they do, they cannot lose weight. At this point I do recommend counting calories. I generally find that people are taking in more calories than they think they are. Everything that you put in your mouth needs to be counted. Serving sizes need to be followed closely. That bite of cake needs to be included. All drinks should be included. Furthermore, it is also important to get a good idea of your daily calorie requirements. How many calories are you burning on a daily basis? Get a pedometer to measure your daily steps and activity level. Many people think they are burning many more calories than they really are. Calorie counting can be an excellent exercise to get a good idea of what your overall energy status is – are you positive or negative over time? You need to be honest with yourself. Monitor yourself for at least a few weeks to get a good idea of your overall trends. Be very careful when eating out. Ask restaurants for calories counts for your meals, again remembering to look closely at serving sizes and adjusting as needed. Once you have this information, adjustments to your diet and lifestyle can be made. Reduce your daily calorie intake. Increase your intake of low calorie dense foods. Increase your fiber intake. Increase your exercise levels. Weight loss is absolutely possible. Be patient. Never give up!

I am unable to exercise. Can I still lose weight?

Many people assume that they cannot lose weight because they are unable to exercise for various reasons such as knee or back pains. The good news is that weight loss is absolutely possible even without exercise. Remember that the key to weight loss is calories in versus calories out. We all have a minimum amount of calories we need to maintain our weight (Our basic metabolic rate or BMR). If you eat more you will gain weight over time, eat less and you will lose weight. Unfortunately, the less active you are, the less daily calories you will require to maintain your weight at a set level. Furthermore, the less muscle mass you have, the less calories you burn sitting around. (This becomes an important issue for many as they get older and become inactive. Muscle seems to turn to fat which is less metabolically active than muscle. This is why muscle building/strengthening exercises are important at any age.) The basic metabolic rate for most people tends to be between 1500 – 2000 calories a day. One pound is equal to 3500 calories. Therefore, to lose a pound you need to eat 3500 calories less or burn them off with exercise. Clearly, it is more difficult to lose weight when not being able to exercise. If your daily calorie requirement is 1800 calories and you consume 1500 calories you will lose 1 pound in almost 2 weeks (3500/300 = about 12 days). This is not fast weight loss, but should result in slow but steady weight loss (about 2 pounds per month – which then equates to almost 25 pounds in a year!) The key is consistency and patience. Unfortunately, most become impatient and give up too soon. As I have discussed in previous posts, one key is to eat foods that are not calorie dense. You do not want to be hungry or you will give up. Eat good sized portions of low calorie dense foods. (Especially fruits and vegetables!) Make sure your foods are nutrient dense. Your goal is is the most nutrition you can get for the least calories. As people do start to lose weight, many see striking improvements in their energy and their aches and pains which then allows them to become more active and speed up the weight loss process. Overall, have a long term weight loss goal and stick to it. Remember, patience and consistency are critical to long term weight loss. Do not get frustrated. The weight will come off. Just keep thinking how much more energy you will have and how much better you will feel in the long term!