Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Your Heart Taking A Beating?

                                             Is Your Heart Taking A Beating?

The average heart beats 72 times a minute. That's 4,320 beats per hour which makes 103,680 beats in a single day.  The hearts function is to circulate nutrient and oxygen rich blood to every part of your body; without this you would die. The question I have for you is... how many times do you have to think about your heart in order for it to work?

As you know, you don't.  It just works. As humans we are blessed; I know that if I had to think about my heart to make it work (with my level of organization) the outlook would be bleak! I would argue that the reason we do not have to think about our heart is because we have been entrusted with a greater task - maintenance.

Every 7 minutes someone dies of a stroke in Canada. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, almost 30% of all deaths can be attributed to heart disease. Luckily, the CDC estimates that nearly 80% of heart disease is preventable.  So, how are we doing at maintaining the optimal function of our hearts?

 My belief is that a lack of knowledge, some bad habits, and a rising rate of obesity are creating what seems to be an epidemic. If we can educate people on how to identify harmful foods, as well as get people moving again, we can truly change these statistics. What I intend to help you with today is how to identify a few of the foods that negatively affect your heart health.

Tips on reading food labels: Two important things are identifying foods in your diet that either create inflammation or cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Excessive inflammation in the arteries damages the arterial walls and increases the likelihood of complicating blood flow. Elevated blood sugar levels increase the release of the hormone insulin which helps your body either utilize sugar for energy, or stores excess sugar as fat. Excessive insulin can create an inflammatory response. So how do you determine whether a food has the potential to cause inflammation or spike blood sugar levels?

 If you read the ingredients on a food label there are some key things you can look for to help make better decisions about what to eat.

 Rule 1: Anything ending with the suffix -ose is a sugar (ex: fructose is fruit sugar, lactose is milk sugar).  Some people may be thinking If it is sugar from fruit then how bad can it be?. Sugar on its own is not the problem. The problem occurs when our blood sugar levels exceed normal limits for prolonged periods of time. Fructose that has been removed from fruit does not have the natural fibers along with it, so when you consume fructose on its own your blood sugar levels elevate higher then they would naturally. The high spike in blood sugar causes your body to release insulin and the excess sugar is stored as fat.  If your blood sugar levels are elevated for too long, the receptors in your body that tell the pancreas to release insulin can get burned out (a condition known as type 2 diabetes). This can negatively affect your heart's health as well as send you on a quick path to obesity. So if you have the choice between a fresh piece of fruit or a bar filled with fructose or other hidden sugars such as a nutrigrain bar... pick the fruit.    

 Rule 2:  Trans fats.  Trans fats exist naturally in small amounts in beef and dairy products, but they are more frequently created in the processing of polyunsaturated fatty acids during food production. The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of heart disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL). Cholesterol is used by your cells to create the membranes that surround them. When you have excess cholesterol in your diet it does not dissolve in the blood stream so what differentiates cholesterol from being either good or bad is its ability to pass through the blood stream. Bad LDL cholesterol has a tendency to build up on the arterial walls and with other substances and forms blockages which impede blood flow to the heart or brain. Good HDL cholesterol is considered good because of  its ability to move through the blood stream to the liver for excretion so it does not build up in the arteries.  The more trans fats you have in your body the more inflammation and potential build up you create, which as mentioned earlier increases the likelihood of heart disease.

 Once I started reading food labels I realized that there are a lot of added ingredients in our foods that affect the natural integrity of the foods themselves. Companies do this to make their foods more palatable or to increase shelf life. Reducing these foods in my diet not only helped me lose a significant amount of weight, but it also changed my blood pressure for the better.

 Hopefully you found these tips helpful,

 J.P. Bohemier

 PS: February 26, 2013 our office is hosting a complimentary presentation by Dr. Mylene Hopf and Ron Jarrett on this very topic.  If you are experiencing problems with the health of your heart or if youre looking to maximize your heart health then this presentation is for you! Ron Jarrett is from Mission Fitness in Calgary and together Dr. Hopf and Ron will give you tips to help get your heart in shape. Call 403-247-4257 to reserve your seat as space is limited. 






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