Natural Licorice


Original Image by J Brew via Flickr
Original Image by J Brew via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a plant, most commonly associated with flavorings in food, beverages and tobacco.  However, the root is used to make Eastern and Western medicine.

Licorice can be used for:

  • Digestive issues: heartburn, indigestion, GERD, stomach ulcers, colic, ongoing inflammation of the stomach’s lining-chronic gastritis
  • Sore throat
  • Canker sores
  • Eczema
  • Bronchitis
  • Cough
  • Infections from bacteria or viruses
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Liver disorders
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Food poisoning
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

It can be used in many forms:

  • Dried root: 1 – 5 g as an infusion or decoction (boiled), 3 times daily
  • Licorice 1:5 tincture: 2 – 5 mL, 3 times daily
  • Standardized extract: 250 – 500 mg, 3 times daily, standardized to contain 20% glycyrrhizinic acid
  • DGL extract: 0.4 – 1.6 g, 3 times daily, for peptic ulcer
  • DGL extract 4:1: chew 300 – 400 mg, 3 times daily 20 minutes before meals, for peptic ulcer

If one has the following disease states or situations, use of licorice should not be used: liver disease, pregnancy and breastfeeding, high blood pressure, hypertonia, low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia), kidney disease, surgery, sexual problems in men and/or hormone sensitive conditions (i.e. breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and/or endometriosis).

Natural licorice can increase cortisol concentration, leading to increased sodium retention, potassium excretion, high blood pressure (aka hypertension) and/or an increase in sodium reabsorption.  These changes can antagonize the action of diuretics and antihypertensive medications.  Some herbs have a stimulant laxative effect (i.e. aloe vera, castor oil, senna and rhubarb) should be avoided to lower potassium in body.

Furthermore, use of certain medications can negatively interact with licorice.

Medication Use Potential interaction with licorice
Warfarin (Coumadin) Slow blood clotting Licorice may increase breakdown; decrease effectiveness of warfarin, which may increase the risk of clotting
Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) Treat cancer Licorice may decrease how well cisplatin works
Digoxin (Lanoxin) Treats atrial fibrillation and heart failure Large amounts of licorice can decrease potassium levels, which can inhibit digoxin’s effectiveness
Ethacyrnic Acid (Edecrin); Furosemide (Lasix) Treats edema; diuretic When etharynic and licorice are taken together, may cause potassium to become too low
Furosemide (Lasix) Treats edema When furosemide and licorice are taken together, may cause potassium to become too low
Medications associated with the liver (i.e. cytochrome P450 2C9, cytochrome P450 3A4, CYP3A4, phenobarbital, dexamethasone) Liver issues Licorice may change how the liver breaks down medications, may increase/decrease effects of medications
Antihypertensive drugs (i.e. captopril, enalapril, losartan, valsartan, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, Lasix) Treats high blood pressure Might decrease effectiveness of medications for high blood pressure
Corticosteroids (i.e. hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisone, prednisone) For inflammation Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body; when corticosteroids are taken in conjunction with licorice, can decrease potassium in the body too much
Diuretics (i.e. Lasix, Diuril, Thalitone, HCTZ, Microzide) Water pills In conjunction with licorice, diuretics can decrease potassium in body too much

Lastly, when taking licorice, drinking grapefruit juice may increase licorice’s ability to cause potassium depletion. Licorice can increase sodium/water retention and increase blood pressure. Licorice can be a great solution to certain disease states, however, take caution with use of licorice if you’re on medications. Best to check with your primary care physician if it is safe to use licorice.

Sources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/881.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/licorice

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-881-licorice.aspx?activeingredientid=881&activeingredientname=licorice

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/licorice

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/drug-licorice/article_em.htm

http://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/licorice.html

Diabetic Complications


diabetescomplicationsBy: Nikki Nies

Care for diabetes is a long term treatment lifestyle.  When left untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can leave devastating results. 

Taking care of yourself and monitoring changes in your body and your environment is critical for optimal care.  By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, lean meats and limiting sodium content, you’re more than half way there in beating the odds of diabetic complications!

Complication

Description

Tips for Better Care

Eyes

  • Diabetics are 40% more likely to have glaucoma than those without diabetes—risk increases with age
  • Vision suffers due to retina and nerve damage over time
  • Cataracts: Diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts than nondiabetics; cataracts blocks light, making lens “cloudy”
  • Retinopathy: all disorders of retina caused by diabetes; 2 types: proliferative and nonproliferative
  • Factors influencing retinopathy development: genes, how long one’s had DM; blood sugar and blood pressure levels
 

  • Wear sunglasses more often
  • Use glare control lenses in glasses
  • Keep blood sugars closer to normal

Gastroparesis

  • Delayed gastric (stomach) emptying
  • If vagus nerve, which controls the muscles of stomach and intestines do not work properlyàmovement of food stops or slows
  • Symptoms: lack of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux, spasms of stomach wall, erratic blood sugar levels, weight loss, abdominal bleeding, early satiety, heartburn, etc.

 Monitor blood sugars

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome(HHNS)

  • Can occur in Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics
  • Usually due to an infection or illness
  • Blood glucose levels increase, yet one’s body tries to get rid of excess sugar by passing in through urine. Urine becomes dark and one may become thirsty.
  • Severe dehydration can lead to coma, seizures or death
  • Symptoms: excessive thirst, n/v, weakness or fatigue, fruity scented breath, confusion, shortness of breath, frequent urinating, abdominal pain
 

  • Drink liquids even when not thirsty
  • Control blood glucose levels
  • Check sugars regularly
  • Know target range for blood sugars
  • Adjust insulin dosages as needed
  • Check ketone levels

Hypertension

  • Nearly 2/3 of diabetics have high blood pressure
  • With high blood pressure, one’s heart has to work harder, which increases one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke
 

  • Opt for whole grain cereals and grains
  • Read nutrition fact labels—opt for foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving
  • If needed, quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol  
  • Replace salt in cooking with herbs and spices

Feet

  • Most often in occurrence with neuropathy
  • Can lead to tingling, weakness, pain or stinging in feet
  • Can lead to loss of feeling in foot—unknowingly injuring foot
  • Feet problems may be due to poor blood flow or changes in shape of feet and/or toes
  • Can cause changes in the skin of feet—may become very dry and start to peel and crack
  • Calluses , foot ulcers, amputations and/or poor circulation can occur as well
 

  • After showering, dry feet and seal in remaining moisture with petroleum jelly or unscented hand cream
  • Do not place oils or creams between toes
  • To limit dry skin, limit soaking of feet
  • Let a health care provider cut off calluses
  • Increase amount of exercise if there’s poor circulation
  • Avoid smoking as it can impact small blood vessels and decrease blood flow to feet

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

  • Dangerously   high ketone levels or acids in the blood
  • More rare in those with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ketones appear in urine when there is not enough insulinàcan poison body
 Eat small, frequent meals

Kidney Disease—Nephropathy

  • High blood sugars make it hard for kidneys to filter out blood
  • After years of exertion, kidney may start to leak and protein may start to be present in urine
 

  • Control blood pressure and blood sugars
  • Consume less high sodium foods
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Lose weight  
  • Low protein diet

Nerve Damage—Neuropathy

  • About ½ of all diabetics have some type of neuropathy
  • More common for those who have had diabetes for years
  • Types: peripheral,
  • Peripheral neuropathy: may experience tingling, pain or increased sensitivity, numbness or weakness, muscles and bone
 

  • Keep blood sugars on target
  • Manage pain
  • Protect feet
  • Medications to reduce burning and tingling

Skin

  • Skin conditions can often be early signs of diabetes—diabetics often have dry skin and are less able to fend off bacteria
  • If caught early, may be easily be treated
  • Inflamed tissues are often times hot, painful, red and swollen
  • Most common organism: Staphylococcus bacteria
  • i.e. bacterial infections, fungal infections, itching, diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica, diabetic blisters, eruptive xanthomatosis and/or diabeticorum
  • Use talcum powder in places with skin to skin touch
  • If skin’s dry, limit bubble baths
  • Avoid very hot showers or baths
  • Limit moisturized in between toes
  • Use mild shampoos
  • Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
  • See a dermatologist
  • During cold, dry months, bathe less if possible
  • Treat cuts right away with antibiotic cream
  • Check feet daily for sores and cuts

Stroke

  • A diabetic has a 1.5 times higher risk of having a stroke
 

  • Lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol on target with physical exercise, medicine and healthy eating
  • Quit smoking 

You’ve probably noticed that most, if not all, of these complications can be controlled with blood sugar levels.  By taking a proactive approach to treating you diabetes, you could live a more worry free life!

Sources: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/risks-complications-uncontrolled-diabetes

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/problems_caused_by_diabetes.htm

http://healthy-ojas.com/diabetes/diabetes-complications.html

50 Reasons To Exercise


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The Salt Review


By: Nikki Nies

Depending on living environment and/or accent, nouns be referred to as different things.  For instance, you won’t find the word “pop” on a menu on the East Coast, but in the MidWest, “pop’s” the standard name for soda.  Get it?  While these regional words are equally accepted and used for sodium bicarbonate, such exchange of words are not always accurate.

Salt and sodium are used interchangeably.  However, salt and sodium don’t have the same meaning.  Salt is the combination of sodium + chloride, with sodium deemed the unhealthy part of salt.  1 gram of sodium is equal to 2.5 grams of salt.  On average, people are consuming 9 grams of salt a day.

It’s important to follow these parameters as too much sodium can lead to hypertension and increase one’s risk for stroke and/or heart disease.  The salt shaker on your table isn’t the issue at hand, but 80% of sodium is from the pre packaged,prepared, restaurant processed foods that are packed with sodium rich preservatives.

Recommendation: One should have no more than 2300 mg a day of sodium/6 grams of salt.  If you’re of African American descent, 51 years or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should limit to 1500 mg per day.  Yet, high salt intake doesn’t increase one’s risk for heart disease, but sodium does!

To be more mindful of the amount of sodium in foods, choose:

  • Food with less than 50 mg sodium per serving is very low in sodium
  • Entrees with no more than 480 mg sodium per serving   
  • Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned
  • Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” products
  • Eat in one more night a week.  Peruse the American Heart Association‘s website for heart healthy recipes and ideas
  • Limit intake of sodium rich foods–soy sauce, pickles, salad dressing, ketchup, cheese, canned meats, frozen meals (i.e. pizza, stir fry, TV dinners), bread, cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, salami and sausage

Foods that contain more than 250 mg of sodium per serving are considered high in sodium.

Salt Grain Size Recommended Use Fun Fact
Sea Salt Small and large Cooking and seasoning Comes from evaporated sea water; it’s common for minerals to be left behind in sea salt, which gives it extra flavor and its off white color
Table Salt Very small For seasoning, baking and in salt shakers All mineralsare removed from table saltChemicals are added in so so the grains don’t stick together
Kosher Salt Large Cooking and Seasoning Salt isn’t actually “kosher”, meaning it doesn’t conform to Jewish food laws, it’s used to make meat kosher

Now that you can differentiate salt and sodium, you’re already on your way to lowering your risk for blood pressure, heart attack and stroke!

Sources:http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Sea-Salt-Vs-Table-Salt_UCM_430992_Article.jsp http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/heart-disease-stroke/sodiumsalt.html http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE

https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/07/Sodium-Levels-Remain-High-in-Popular-Foods

FDA Proposed Nutrition Fact Label


By: Nikki Nies new_vs_old_nutrition_facts_label.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale

You may have heard murmurs about the FDA’s proposed nutrition fact label  later this year.  It seems appropriate for a revamp of the fact label, which was introduced to the food market in 1993.  Present day increased risk of chronic diseases, has caused question of what else can be done to decrease the risk of such said diseases.

The new proposed fact labels are intended to provide more attention to calories, serving size and to emphasize the amount of sugar derived from added sugar.With a larger font and less “clutter” on the new proposed fact label, will help people more quickly discern if a product should be purchased or not.

Now that we know the type of fat, not the amount, is more important for overall health, the new label would not list calories from fat, but list the amount of fat from trans and saturated fat.

Additionally, servings would better reflect what the average American eats, not a serving size of what the suggested serving should be.  For example, instead of listing it would list servings as a cup, etc. The amounts of potassium and vitamin D would also be required to be listed on the label as they are important for adequate bone growth and development.

With these proposed nutrition fact label changes, it is hoped it will help people make healthier choices.  Secondly, with high blood pressure, stroke and CVD risk a concern, by having cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat potassium and sodium content available, it shall help in the decision process.

What’re your thoughts on the new proposed changes?  Do you already use nutrition facts labels when deciding to choose to purchase a food?

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm387114.htm

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/health/nutrition-labels-changes/

FDA’s new food label: much improved!

http://www.treehugger.com/health/new-nutrition-labels-force-packaged-food-makers-be-honest-about-portion-sizes.html

Preeclampsia


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By: Nikki Nies

Pregnant women not only have to worry about eating well, fulfilling regular daily responsibilities, but also about long term health complications of baby and herself.  It’s a large load to ask of someone, but it’s almost a requirement for a healthy outcome for mother and baby.  Conditions, such as pre eclampsia and eclampsia are preventable, yet are necessary to understand if pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Formerly known as toxemia, preclampsia is like pre-diabetes.  One hasn’t been diagnosed with pre eclampsia, but red flags emerged. I’m into my second paragraph and have yet to define preeclampsia.  No worries.  Preeclampsia is when a women develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy (between the 2nd and 3rd trimester).

The specific cause of preeclampsia is not conclusive, but may be due to diet, genes, autoimmune disorder and/or blood vessel problems.  Additional risk factors include being one’s first pregnancy, obesity, over the age of 35, multiple pregnancy–twins, triplets, etc.; and/or a history of high blood pressure, kidney disease or a history of heart disease.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include: preeclampsia-pih

  • Swelling [edema] of extremities
  • Sudden weight gain within 1-2 weeks
  • Chronic headache
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision change
  • Abdomen pain
  • Proteinuria

Proteins are normally confined to one’s blood, but with proteinuria, proteins entire one’s urine due to the lack of “filtering” of urine.

A physician will check one’s blood pressure for indications of preeclampsia.  Blood and urine tests may show proteinuria, higher than normal liver enzymes and/or platelet count with less than 100,000.

Treatment:

  •  The only true cure is the delivery of one’s baby–c section or medications may be used to induce labor
  • If delivery is not impending, it may be recommended to consume less salt, bed rest, plenty of water, medications to lower blood pressure and/or frequent visits for monitoring by physician.

Hopefully, preeclampsia will go away within 6 weeks of delivery.  With future pregnancies, the likelihood of preeclampsia increases dramatically.  Complications from preeclampsia can include severe bleeding, premature separation of placenta, stroke, rupture of liver and/or death.

Sources: http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/signs-and-symptoms

http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/preeclampsia-eclampsia

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000898.htm

Nursing Care Plan – Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH; Preeclampsia and Eclampsia)

http://www.tutti-bambini.com/preeclampsia-during-pregnancy/

Binge Eating


how-to-stop-binge-eating

By: Nikki Nies

Every one loves a good meal, right? What’s the last meal you couldn’t resist taking another bite even though your body was telling you that it was full?  For me, it was the pasta I had last night.  From time to time, it’s natural to overeat, yet, for some, over eating occurs more often than “from time to time.” Binge eating is described as compulsive overeating and is a common outlet for stress and undealed emotions.

A binge can last from a couple hours into a multiple day feast.   The worse one feels about themselves, the more often and longer the binge.   Common features include feeling distressed after a binge and no attempts to “make up” for the binge (i.e. no vomiting, over exercising).  Often times, binge eaters see themselves in a hamster wheel cycle, where they see they have a problem, but don’t know how to go about stopping regular bingeing. Common cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.

Symptoms often arise during adolescence or into early adulthood and may include:

  • Eating even when full
  • Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later
  • Eating normal amount with others, but gorging alone
  • Inability to control portions when around food
  • Eating throughout the day without any consistent meal times
  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food
  • When stressed, eating is only thing to calm you down
  • Embarrassed by how much you have eaten
  • Never feeling satisfied from a meal
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed or dejected after a meal
  • Desperate to stop over eating and/or control eating habits
  • Feel numb when bingeing
  • Feeling isolated and having a hard time articulating feelings
  • Frequently dieting without noticeable weight loss

Those that binge eat can cause additional health risks and often leads to obesity.  Medical complications that can ensue include type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, menstrual problems, gastrointestinal problems and/or cancer.

Unlike other addictions, one needs food to survive.  The challenge is to not eat to cope with one’s emotions, but to eat for health and nutrition.  By creating meal plans and being prepared how to order when dining out, can be a proactive approach to healthier eating.
Here are some friendly suggestions to help you on your journey to healthier eating:

  1. Find alternative outlet to relieve stress: i.e. exercising, meditating, listening to music and/or relation and simple breathing techniques
  2. Eat 3 meals a day+ healthy snacks: Starts your metabolism with best foot forward with breakfast; schedule meal time to prevent skipping meals and overeating later in the day
  3. Remove temptation: By removing tempting foods in your cupboards, fridge and pantry will decrease your chances of overeating; don’t buy in bulk if that’s going to make it harder for you to resist large amounts of food
  4. Stay connected: Lean on friends and family for times when you’re feeling blue
  5. Exercise: Is a great addition to healthy eating and can improve one’s mood
  6. Keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat will help you see trends in when you’re more likely to binge and helps hold you more accountable for what you’re eating
  7. Fight boredom: Often times, we eat as something to “do.”  Instead, get out of the house and take a walk, call a friend or catch up on some reading.

We all can use a refresher course on what to eat.  Working with a team of health professionals can provide you with the support and guidance you may need.  Search online for local support groups as well. If you’re a recovering over eater, what tips have helped you?

Sources: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/binge_eating.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/basics/definition/con-20033155

Metabolic Syndrome (MetS)


Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr
Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Metabolic syndrome is not an actual syndrome, but a cluster of risk factors that can raise one’s chances of heart disease, diabetes and/or stroke.  While, the name may be misleading, it’s called metabolic syndrome due to the impact the risk factors have on one’s biochemical processes and the ability for one’s body to function normally.  Other common names for MetS include Syndrome X, Obesity syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertriglyceridimic waist and/or dysmetabolic syndrome.

While one can have only one of the following risk factors, it’s common for someone to encounter multiple risk factors simultaneously.  One’s considered to have metabolic syndrome if at least 3/5 risk factors pertain to them:

  1. Large waistline:  Also known as “apple shape”; with abdominal obesity, excess fat in the abdominal area increases chances of heart disease, then on hips; for men: 40 inches or larger; for women: 35 inches or larger
  2. High triglyceride levels:  Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood; or if you’re already on triglyceride medications; 150 mg/dL or higher
  3. Low HDL cholesterol level:  When low HDL levels are low, it means the cholesterol from arteries isn’t being removed at ideal rate;for men: 40 mg/dL or lower; for women: 50 mg/dL or lower
  4. High blood pressure: With high blood pressure over time, it can damage the heart and lead to plaque buildup; blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or higher
  5. High fasting blood sugar:  Can signify early diabetes; 100 mg/dL or higher

For those living with MetS, it can lead to diabetes, yet the follow recommendations for those with MetS may help:

Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
  • Increase  physical activity: while it may be hard at first, start by walking 5 minutes a day and increase time gradually; it’s doctor recommended to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily
  • Losing 5-10% of your body weight can make a world of difference! It can decrease blood pressure, insulin resistance and one’s risk for diabetes
  • Adopting the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or Mediterranean diet can help one eat healthier: limits intake of unhealthy fats, while highlighting whole grains, high intake of fruits and vegetables and low sodium foods
  • Stop smoking!: Smoking increases one’s insulin resistance and
  • If prescribed, don’t forget to necessary medications to help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels

The more risk factors one has, for example, 4/5 risk factors, the more likely one will develop heart disease and or develop diabetes than someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.  While the above risk factors are often looked at as indicators of heart disease, they’re not the sole risk factors, physical inactivity, smoking, insulin resistance, age and gender can also play a role in one’s heart health.  With 35% of the American adults with MetS, be proactive and talk to your physician.

Sources:http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms/

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MetabolicSyndrome/Metabolic-Syndrome_UCM_002080_SubHomePage.jsp

http://www.webmd.com/heart/metabolic-syndrome/metabolic-syndrome-what-is-it

http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2012/06/22/are-you-apple-shape-or-pear-shape-learning-your-risk-of-metabolic-syndrome/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20027243

The Ins and Outs of Cholesterol


atherosclerosis_2011

By: Nikki Nies

Often times the words “bad” and “good” are associated with cholesterol, but what defines good and bad you ask?  Let’s rewind a bit and go over what the word cholesterol means.  Cholesterol is composed of a waxy, fat like substance that is made in the liver and can be found in certain foods (i.e. eggs, dairy products and meats).  Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream with the help of an attached protein, called a lipoprotein.

A certain level of cholesterol is needed for the body to function properly: its cell walls, or membranes need cholesterol to produce  vitamin D,hormones and the bile acids  to help digest fat.  However, problems can occur when too much cholesterol builds up, called plaque, in the walls of one’s arteries.  Plaque is a thick, hard deposit and with enough plaque, the build up will make the passage of the blood to the heart harder.

Problems associated with cholesterol:

  • The build up of plaque, called artherosclerosis can then lead to heart disease
  • Angina, also known as chest pain, can occur where there is not enough oxygen carrying blood to reach the heart
  • Heart attack: Can occur if complete blood supply to portion of heart is blocked off by total blockage of a coronary artery

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream with the help of an attached protein, called a lipoprotein.  There are 3 types of cholesterol, classified depending on the ratio of protein to fat.

Type of Lipoprotein

Description

Very Low Density lipoprotein (VLDL) Similar to LDL; contains mostly fat and not much protein
Low Density lipoprotein (LDL) Considered “bad” cholesterol; can cause the buildup of plaque on walls of arteries; increased LDLàincreased risk of heart disease
High density lipoproteins (HDL) Called “good” cholesterol; helps body get rid of bad cholesterol in blood; decreased HDLàincreased risk of heart disease
Triglycerides Another type of fat; carried in blood by VLDL; derives from excess calories, sugar and alcohol in body are converted into triglycerides; stored in fat cells throughout body

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Those 20 years or older should get their cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.  A fasting cholesterol test is a common way to gauge one’s heart health. It’s recommended total cholesterol remains under 200.

Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Levels and Prevent Heart Disease:

  • Moderate Exercise:  Can help reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and maintain weight control, which can decrease chances of heart disease
  • Quit smoking: Smoking lowers HDL levels
  • Heart Healthy Foods: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends one limits daily intake of cholesterol to less than 300 mg; if one already has heart disease, it should be less than 200 mg; limit intake of saturated fat; moderate intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Medications and Cholesterol lowering drugs: i.e. statins; niacin, bile acid resins

Remember, your body makes all the cholesterol needed for regular function.  That doesn’t mean you should refrain from cholesterol rich foods (i.e. eggs), but moderation is key.  High cholesterol is leading cause of heart disease, but it is preventable.  What changes can you make to your daily life to stabilize your cholesterol levels?

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152.php

http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/default.htm?names-dropdown=GA

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=866215&show=html

Detecting Nutritional Deficiencies


Detecting Nutritional Deficiencies

Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/470204017315889103/