More fiber = less heart attacks.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely consume less than the recommended amount of fiber each day. This may be a big mistake. The latest study of heart attack survivors shows that people who ate the most fiber had a 25% lower chance of dying nine years later from any cause compared to people who consumed less. Every increase of 10g of fiber each day was on average linked to a 15% lower risk of dying over the study period.

This is the first study to suggest that heart attack patients benefited from adding fiber (found in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables) to their daily diet. An earlier study found that people at risk of heart disease, but who hadn’t yet experienced some kind of a heart event, could lower their chances of having a heart attack by eating more high fiber foods. Studies show that fiber-rich foods can decrease inflammation, a potential trigger for heart attacks, as well as lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to atherosclerosis in your arteries.

Interestingly, the findings suggest that fiber may also be helping more than the heart, since those eating higher amounts were able to lower their risk of dying from any cause, not just heart disease. It also helps to lower the risk of colon cancer by reducing the time that potentially cancer-causing toxins spend in the intestines. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar in diabetics, reducing their risk of complications. Fiber also plays an important role in fighting obesity and its unhealthy consequences. Increasing fiber intake fiber helps the body feel less hungry and cuts down on overeating.

There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are undigested. They are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from your body. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber is good for the GI tract and can help prevent colon cancer. It adds bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. Since insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, it passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speeds up the passage of food and waste through your gut.  Therefore, it helps remove toxic waste through colon in less time. A mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber every day is important. Click this link for a list of foods which contain soluble and insoluble fiber: https://drjeffgreenberg.com/2012/10/24/guide-to-fiber-in-food.

A good daily goal of fiber intake is 40 grams of fiber a day. Increase your intake slowly and drink a lot of water. Make it a habit to look at labels. Look for foods with the highest fiber amount. Look for pasta with a large amount of fiber. Look for cereals and oatmeal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. For extra fiber, add flaxseed or berries to your breakfast. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables for a snack. The more processed a food is, the less fiber it will have, and the less healthy it will be. Fiber from supplements is not nearly as good as fiber from whole foods. A high fiber diet is a marker of many anti-cancerous properties of whole foods, especially phytochemicals. Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. Some studies suggest that the amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain/loss, insulin/blood sugar levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the total amount of fat consumed. Remember, fiber is only found in plant products and not in meat, dairy, or highly processed products. Fiber is a miracle nutrient. Not only will it help keep you regular, it also appears to significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack and stroke.

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.

 

Insulin resistance – What is it and why is it so bad?

Insulin resistance is a condition characterized by an inability of the body to utilize the hormone insulin properly. When you eat, food is broken down into glucose to be used for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, tempers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream by helping glucose get into muscle, fat and liver cells. Insulin is a “key” that opens doors to the body’s cells, so glucose can enter. With insulin resistance, it’s like having locks that do not work. The keys won’t turn, and glucose can’t get into the cell. The pancreas, alarmed by the increase in blood sugar, cranks out more insulin. This cycle then feeds on itself, leading to higher and higher inulin levels in your blood.

 

People who have high levels of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) in the body are called insulin resistant. This is because their pancreas continues to pump out more and more insulin in an effort to lower rising blood glucose levels. When an individual can no longer produce enough insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar, type 2 diabetes develops.

 

For those of you having difficult losing weight, high insulin levels make it very hard to lose those extra pounds because it “locks” the doors to fat cells.

 

Excess insulin is also highly inflammatory. As noted in previous articles, high levels of inflammation can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

 

An estimated one in three Americans is insulin resistant, a condition that puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and stroke.  Insulin resistance can be diagnosed based on medical history, risk factors, and lab tests. Abdominal obesity is a significant risk factor for insulin resistance. It is defined as a waist circumference of 102 cm (40 in) or more in men and 88 cm (35 inches) or more in women.

 

The following lab results suggest a diagnosis of insulin resistance syndrome:

 

  • A fasting glucose level between 100 and 124 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides of 150 mg/dl or higher.
  • HDL cholesterol of < 40 (men) or < 50 (women).
  • A blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher.

 

The good news is that insulin resistance is reversible. Losing weight is the best natural way to treat insulin resistance. Many people think they need to lose large amounts of weight (50lbs or even 100lbs) to reverse insulin resistance. This is not necessarily true. Losing even small amounts of weight (15-20lbs) can significantly lower blood sugar levels and insulin levels. The best long-term diet or life style is one that is low in sugar, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. Simple carbs such as bread, rice, flour, pasta, and cereals are quickly turned by the body into sugar and thus raise insulin levels. Eating complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are slowly digested and do not raise insulin levels. Complex carbs tend to have a lot of fiber, which will help lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Your daily goal should be at least 30 grams of fiber a day. (See prior article on fiber.) Combining protein and healthy fats with your meals will also slow down digestion of sugars and help keep your insulin levels from rising too much. Finally, aerobic exercise is also a great way to burn off extra glucose in your blood stream and lower your insulin levels naturally. Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and rowing for 20-30 minutes at a time 4-5 times a week can significantly lower both blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

 

 

7 Numbers Everyone Should Know About Themselves

There are many numbers everyone should know to help gauge their health. Here are 7 important numbers everyone should know. They are easily measured at home or in your doctors office. Some are simple blood tests. Remember that knowledge is power. If your numbers are less than optimum, start making changes to improve them and your overall health.

1. C – reactive protein (CRP) – This is a very important number everyone should have measured. It may be more important that your cholesterol number. This number is a measure of your inflammation level. Inflammation has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and possibly even cancer. An optimal CRP level is less than 1.0. CRP is a simple blood test.

2. Total LDL particle number (LDL-p) – This is a better measurement of your bad cholesterol levels than LDL. LDL alone is a concentration level of the bad cholesterol and may misrepresent your risk of heart attack or stroke. LDL-p measures the total number of bad cholesterol particles. A large number of small and dense LDL particles contributes to atherosclerosis and heart disease. A high LDL-p along with a high CRP is especially dangerous. LDL-p is also a simple blood test. An LDL-p level below 1000 is optimal.

3. Glucose – This simple blood test measures the glucose or sugar in your blood. A high blood glucose level may mean that your are a diabetic. High blood sugar levels lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, and nerve damage. A normal glucose level is less than 100. A glucose level between 100-124 is considered pre-diabetes. A glucose level of 125 and above means you are a diabetic.

4. Creatinine – This blood test checks your kidney function. A high creatinine level may represent kidney failure. Kidney failure puts you at increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

5. Blood pressure – A normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less. A high blood pressure can lead to damage in the lining of your arteries and then to atherosclerosis. This can then lead to a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure at any age is abnormal and should be treated.

6. Body Mass Index (BMI) – This number relates your weight to your height. It will help you decide if you are overweight. A normal BMI is less than 25. A BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. A BMI above 30 is considered obese. A BMI greater than 40 is considered morbidly obese.

7.  Waist circumference – The size of your belly is actually a better predictor of heart disease than general obesity. People with central obesity tend to develop higher blood pressure, regardless of body mass index (BMI) than those who store fat in other areas of the body. A normal waist circumference in men is less than 40 inches and less than 35 inches in females.

I am healthy. Why do I need to see a cardiologist?

CardiacSolutionsLogoYou are healthy, right? You feel good and take reasonable care of yourself. You have not seen a doctor in years. What good reason is there to see a cardiologist? The answer in one word is: prevention. Heart disease and stroke are both highly preventable and treatable. There is no reason for anyone to have either a heart attack or stroke. Prevention is the key. There are several risk factors which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes including: hypertension, high cholesterol, elevated inflammation levels, diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels, being over weight, increased belly fat, lack of exercise, family history of cardiovascular disease, and smoking. Both heart attacks and stroke are vascular diseases. They both involve our arteries which carry blood and nutrients to the heart and brain. Many people think heart attacks and strokes are sudden events. They are not. In fact, there is usually evidence of diseased arteries (atherosclerosis) years, if not decades ahead of time. There are several non-invasive ways to assess the health of your arteries. Two methods are ultrasound and CT scans. Ultrasound is a favorite of mine, because no radiation is used. A simple ultrasound of the neck arteries (a carotid artery ultrasound) can give you important information on the health of your arteries. Plaque in the walls of the arteries can be visualized by ultrasound. In fact, it can be detected at an early stage. Even mild plaque can be visualized. If it is detected, corrective action can prevent future disasters. Clearly, if you smoke, you need to stop. Smoking directly damages the artery wall which leads to plaque formation. Lowering blood pressure will reduce risk of heart attacks and stroke. Lowering you cholesterol numbers can also help lower your risk. A new measure of cholesterol, LDL-(p), which measures the total number of bad cholesterol particles, can help define your risk. You want to avoid the small, dense LDL (bad) particles which help to promote plaque. Losing weight, shrinking your belly, and exercise all help to reduce your risk. Is your inflammation level high? Reducing inflammation levels will reduce your risk. Think of your cardiologist as a coach. He can help assess your risk and then discuss ways with you to help reduce your risk. It is all about being proactive. Most heart attacks and stroke are preventable. Do not delay! Do not procrastinate any longer! Get an assessment and reduce your risk. Reducing your risk will help you feel better and live longer.  Dr Greenberg specializes in preventive cardiology and nutrition. To make an appointment with Dr Greenberg at Cardiac Solutions please call 623.876.8816.

Brand New Drug Approved by FDA – Look at all the Benefits!

A brand new drug was recently FDA approved. It is being hailed as a wonder drug! It has been studied in several large randomized trials and shows clear benefit. It is quite safe and effective – there are almost no side effects. It is sure to benefit many people. Look at all the documented benefits:

* tones muscles

* increases energy

* improves your waistline and posture

* prevents loss of bone density/osteoporosis

* relieves stress

* burns calorires

* helps keep weight off

* helps to improve your mood

* improves your cognition & helps prevent memory loss/dementia

* makes you look and feel younger

* reduces risk of heart attack and stroke

* reduces blood pressure

* reduces blood pressure

What is the name of this new drug? What pharmacy will carry it? Where can I go to get a prescription?

Well, the drug we are referring to here is exercise. Twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day will achieve most of these results. Daily physical activity is critical to our good health! Our bodies were made to move. We were not created to sit on the couch and watch TV all day long. There are no excuses. Do what you can to start out with and build up over time. Options include walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, bicycling, playing tennis or basketball, or any other activity which gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time. If a pharmaceutical company was able to put all these benefits in a pill, it would hailed as the next wonder drug of the century. It would be worth billions of dollars. It would surely be quite expensive. The good news is that exercise is available right now for everyone to participate in and it is quite cheap. Begin today, and reap all the benefits stated above. Do not waste another day!