30 days to younger heart

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30 Days To A Younger Heart With Dr. Steven Masley

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Dr. Steven Masley

Heart Tune-Up Blog

3 Ways Fish Oil Can Benefit Your Health – Aug. 5, 2014

Five Tips to Select Good-Quality Salmon – July 18, 2014

Increase Vitality and Energy In Your Life – May 22, 2014

Eat Your Way to Heart Health with The Cheat System Diet – May 12, 2014

12 Steps to Raise Testosterone Naturally – April 18, 2014

Which Common Hormones Can Cause Heart Attacks in Women? – March 7, 2014

Heart Tune-Up Resources

Visit hearttuneup.com/resources for a list of Heart Tune-Up Resources from Dr. Masley.

Did you know that it’s possible to make your heart 10 years younger?

Regardless of your body composition, genetics, or age…you can turn back time. And when you do…you will feel healthier, trimmer, fitter, sexier, mentally sharper and better than you have in a decade. Does it sound too good to be true? It isn’t…

Dr. Steven Masley and his three simple steps have helped thousands of patients turn back the clock, and reverse the onset of aging and disease. He is a board-certified physician, nutritionist, longevity researcher and award-winning educator who is also a highly acclaimed chef, trained at the Four Seasons.

In “30 Days To A Younger Heart,” Dr. Masley shares the surprising news that Metabolic Syndrome, also known as pre-diabetes – not high cholesterol – is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. Since the term metabolic syndrome is new to most, the doctor describes how easy it is to determine your risk, and why so many Americans have it.

Dr. Masley also educates viewers about the dangers of invasive, often unnecessary cardiovascular procedures. His three-step Heart Tune-Up program is a guide to making lifestyle changes that significantly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. He specifically discusses the impact food, nutrients and exercise have on making a measurable difference in the reduction of arterial plaque.

Discover five new categories of heart-healing foods, learn how the amount of time you exercise isn’t as important as you may think plus ensure you receive the five key nutrients many lack but are truly necessary for a younger heart.

No matter how old you are, or how much you weigh or even the health battle you are facing, no one has to be on a one-way street to aging and disability. Patients’ lives every day have been saved and transformed with this heart tune-up program that explores the three easy lifestyle corrections that can take 10 years off of your heart’s age in just 30 days.

Dr. Steven Masley is on Facebook, and you can follow @StevenMasley on Twitter.

30 Days To A Younger Heart With Dr. Steven Masley Promo

Dr. Steven Masley and his three simple steps have helped thousands of patients turn back the clock…and reverse the onset of aging and disease. He is a board-certified physician, nutritionist, longevity researcher and award-winning educator who is also a highly acclaimed chef, trained at the Four Seasons.

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Smart Fat and 30 Days to a Younger Heart in the Media

Regardless of your body composition, genetics, or age…you can turn back time.

And when you do…you will feel healthier, trimmer, fitter, sexier, mentally sharper and better than you have in a decade.

Does it sound too good to be true? …… It isn’t…

Dr. Steven Masley and his three simple steps have helped thousands of patients turn back the clock…and reverse the onset of aging and disease. He is a board-certified physician, nutritionist, longevity researcher and award-winning educator who is also a highly acclaimed chef, trained at the Four Seasons.

In “30 Days to a Younger Heart”, Dr. Masley shares the surprising news that Metabolic Syndrome, also known as pre-diabetes – not high cholesterol – is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. Since the term metabolic syndrome is new to most, the doctor describes how easy it is to determine your risk, and why so many Americans have it.

Dr. Masley also educates viewers about the dangers of invasive, often unnecessary cardiovascular procedures. His 3 step Heart Tune-Up program is a guide to making lifestyle changes that significantly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. He specifically discusses the impact food, nutrients and exercise have on making a measurable difference in the reduction of arterial plaque.

Discover five new categories of heart-healing foods, learn how the amount of time you exercise isn’t as important as you may think plus ensure you receive the five key nutrients many lack but are truly necessary for a younger heart.

No matter how old you are, or how much you weigh or even the health battle you are facing, no one has to be on a one-way street to aging and disability. Patients’ lives every day have been saved and transformed with this heart tune-up program that explores the three easy lifestyle corrections that can take 10 years off of your heart’s age in just 30 Days.

Check your local listings for show times.

Tune-Up Your Heart in 30 Days

By Steven Masley, MD, Special to Everyday Health.

As a resident and then physician, I volunteered in more than fifteen impoverished countries. Most people in the underdeveloped world by necessity had to be fit and to eat unprocessed food. In fact, I was shocked to realize that despite their difficult living conditions, if they weren’t starving, they usually enjoyed better heart health than most of my patients back home. They were trimmer, fitter and had fewer joint problems. They also had better blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure control.

Why are Americans cardiovascular “wrecks” compared to people in other countries? Why does cardiovascular disease remain our No. 1 killer today — accounting for more deaths than all forms of cancer combined? The answer is simple — our lifestyle is killing us! Our diets rich in trans and saturated fats and sugar and low in nutrients and fiber, our lack of exercise, our stressed-out lives that leave little time for rest and reflection all contribute to the cardiovascular disease epidemic in the US.

How Your Heart Ages

The first step to avoiding heart disease is understanding how your heart and arteries age. Here’s why: The factor that causes most heart problems is not cholesterol, but the growth of plaque in your arteries. Newly-formed, soft plaque can coat the lining of the arteries and mound up like pimples. These lesions can pop into the bloodstream. The inflammatory chemicals released from this rupture cause large blood clots to form. These travel to the heart and brain, blocking the supply of oxygen which leads to a heart attack, stroke, or sudden death.

To determine your heart’s true age, we need to look at the growth of plaque. That is simple and safe to do with ultrasound equipment similar to what monitors a fetus. This new carotid intimal-medial thickness testing (carotid IMT) calculates arterial plaque growth. It reliably estimates my patients’ arterial age.

The carotid arteries carry blood from the heart to the brain. Research has shown that more than 90 percent of the time, the carotid and coronary arteries grow plaque at the same rate. The thickness of plaque in the carotid artery reflects growth in the arteries that feed the heart. Carotid IMT is an excellent predictor of risk for future cardiovascular events.

To receive a carotid IMT test, my patient lies on an exam table. I apply warm ultrasound gel on his neck. I gently pass a measuring device from the machine over the skin and take pictures of the carotid arteries, just beneath the surface. I transfer the images to my computer, enlarge them, and use software to measure the plaque thickness accurate to hundredths of millimeters.

Studies in major medical journals have determined average plaque thickness in thousands of men and women. So once I’ve calculated my patient’s score, I use these figures to project his arteries’ average age. A 50-year-old man, for instance, might have the plaque of a 40-, 50-, or 60-year-old . . . or even older.

How to Tune Up Your Heart

In my new book, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, I explain how to shrink plaque, improve circulation, and strengthen your heartbeat.

Here are your tools to accomplish these goals:

  • Incorporate five heart healing foods into your diet:
    • Fiber: You need 30 grams a day from fruits, veggies, beans and nuts.
    • Healthy fats: Substitute saturated and trans fats with olive and almond oils, avocados, omega-3 eggs. Eat cold water, small-mouth fish 3 times a week (or take a fish oil supplement).
    • Lean protein: Eat free-range grass fed meats and poultry, low mercury seafood, beans, protein powder, tofu, plain nonfat yogurt.
    • Beneficial beverages: Drink green tea, hot cocoa, red wine!
    • Fabulous flavors: Use herbs and spices, garlic, dark chocolate
  • Aerobic and weight-training exercise strengthens your heart and arteries. Exercise not only burns fat, it also improves blood sugar control, lowers inflammation, improves your cholesterol profile, reduces stress and builds stamina.
  • Manage your stress: Stress-induced spasms in coronary arteries can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. Reduce stress by:
    • Getting plenty of good quality sleep
    • Engaging in moments of peace and meditation
    • Enjoying loving relationships including sex, if possible
    • Exercising
  • Follow a customized supplement plan that includes:
    • 400 mg of magnesium
    • 12-15 mg of zinc
    • fiber
    • fish oil.

By taking these steps you can tune up your own heart for a healthier future.

Steven Masley, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., C.N.S., F.A.C.N., C.C.D., is a board- certified and fellow certified physician and nutritionist, a health researcher, speaker, author, and chef. He is the author of the forthcoming book, THE 30-DAY HEART TUNE-UP: A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Over the past fifteen years, he has won acclaim for helping hundreds of patients reverse Type II diabetes and eliminate the symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Currently, he is the President for the Masley Optimal Health Center, the medical director for the Ten Years Younger ProgramTM, and has a clinical appointment with the University of South Florida.

30 Days to a Healthier Heart

Maybe you recently talked with your health care provider and the important topic of heart health came up, or maybe you just think it’s time to focus more on your health. Regardless of what brought you here, heart health is an important step for people of all ages. Let’s look at some simple ways you can get closer to achieving a healthier heart in just 30 days.

Increase your Activity Level

According to the American Heart Association, the most recent guidelines suggest that adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. This includes physical activities like walking, yoga, golf, water aerobics, bicycling at 5 to 9 mph and dancing. Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week will yield the same results. Vigorous activities include things like running, cycling, weight training, and sports such as tennis, basketball or soccer. Regardless of your current level of activity, even a slight upturn can yield quick results in terms of your heart health.

Make Better Food Choices

There are a number of dietary changes that can quickly help your heart function more effectively. Eliminating foods high in saturated fats that elevate LDL cholesterol can help you avoid a plaque buildup in your arteries. Try to limit saturated fats to 5 percent or less of your total calories (divide your weight by 12 to get the daily total limit in grams). Many people who are in search of better heart health are gravitating towards the Mediterranean diet.

This diet includes limited amounts of meat and emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as whole grains, fresh produce, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption. People who adhere to this diet are proving less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic illnesses. What underlies this trend is that the foods encouraged by the diet help ensure you get the right balance of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.

Increase Your Omega 3’s

In the past our diets were rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, keeping us close to the goal ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s at a 2:1 ratio. As Americans moved towards a more convenience culture our diets shifted drastically. Now many of the foods we consume are loaded with Omega 6’s, which can lead to heart disease. You can help to stop the imbalance of your Omega 3:6 ratio by taking a daily Omega 3 supplement. Choosing a pharmaceutical grade omega will help your heart stay in peak shape.

Drop a Few Pounds

While carrying around a few extra pounds doesn’t seem dangerous, for people at risk for heart disease it can be a hidden danger. Being overweight is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and studies have shown that in the US, 69 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. In overweight adults with cardiovascular risk factors, losing just 3-5 percent of their total body weight can lead to significant improvement in heart health.

Quite Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the most prevalent, yet preventable causes of premature death in the United States. Smoking takes more than 440,000 lives each year in our country alone. Studies have shown that cigarette smokers are at a much higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries. This buildup is a major contributor to the high number of deaths attributed to smoking, because it leads to coronary heart disease. Quitting smoking may seem impossible but with so many options for support during the process it is a more reachable goal than ever before.

Take a High Quality Multi-Vitamin

Despite our best efforts we may not always get all of the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need through what we eat. While our diet should be our biggest source of nourishment, sometimes we fall short. Supplementing our diet with a high-quality, well-rounded multi-vitamin can help ensure that we get enough of the nutrients we need for optimal heart health. A multi-vitamin rich in vitamins C and D, as well as plant sterols, coenzyme Q12, lycopene and niacin will support and promote heart heath. Just be sure to find a multi-vitamin that is of the highest quality with the best ingredients available to help support your cardiac health.

Know Your Numbers

While this step requires a trip to your doctor, it will be a trip well worth scheduling. By understanding these three numbers and knowing where you stack up you can vastly improve the health of your heart.

  1. Check to see if your blood pressure is at or below the goal level of 120/80. If your blood pressure is elevated you can take a number of simple steps like decreasing your sodium intake to lower your number. A helpful hint: the steps you take to improve your heart health will also lower your blood pressure naturally. It’s a two for one benefit!
  2. Make sure your blood sugar is in the normal range. Your fasting blood glucose level should be below 100 milligrams/deciliter and your A1C should be below 5.7.
  3. Your total cholesterol should be lower than 200 milligrams/deciliter for prime heart health.

The American Heart Association has stated that by engaging in efforts to improve your heart heath, the cardiovascular health of Americans could improve by 20 percent by the year 2020. This would lead to a reduction in the number of deaths from cardiovascular-related diseases and strokes. By taking these simple steps you can improve your overall cardiovascular health is as little as 30 days. Once you start on this renewed path of health, you will be surprised how much the trend takes hold. Not only will your heart benefit, so will the rest of your mind and body.

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Day 30: Soak in a bath

Add 2 cups of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to the tub, and your blood vessels will relax, too, as you absorb the mineral through your skin

Day 29: Push Potassium

The mineral relaxes blood vessels, lowering BP and countering the constricting action of sodium. Ideal is 4 700mg a day, but just 750mg to 1 000mg above your usual intake can lower BP two to three points. That’s two bananas or one potato or one c up of cooked spinach.

Day 28: Unroll your mat

Strike some yoga poses two or three times a week, and you may strike a few points from your BP. In a study at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, the average systolic BP moved from 133 to 130. That’s still considered prehypertension, so combine yoga with other strategies

Day 27: Pick meditation over Modern Family

You may feel relaxed watching your favourite sitcom, but BP levels actually rise with the number of hours spent in front of the TV. Try meditation instead; it lowers BP more than muscle-relaxation techniques.

Day 26: Tighten your grip

Squeezing a handgrip or ball (four two-minute holds, a minute’s rest in between) three times a week has been shown to lower BP 13 systolic (upper number) and eight diastolic points. (If your pressure is high, consult your doctor first.)

Day 25: Spice up your life

Just a sprinkling of cinnamon added to your favourite hot cereal could lower your cholesterol levels. A scientifi c review found that regular users of the aromatic spice experienced declines in total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, along with a slight boost in HDL levels. The dose? Less than an eighth of a teaspoon or up to 2½ teaspoons.

Day 24: JUICY NEWS

A study at Tufts University in the US found that people who ate a tomato-rich diet had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. The health boost comes from Lycopene, an oxidant that gives tomatoes their colour and (pizza lover rejoice!) becomes even more concentrated in sauce.

Day 23: HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON

If you already practise heart-healthy behaviours – no smoking, a good diet, exercise, moderate alcohol use – adding at least seven hours of sleep could boost your protection against fatal heart disease, a Dutch study revealed. Participants in the study boosted their protection from 67% to 87%.

Day 22: HEART-WINNING BURGERS

Topping your burger with avocado may not turn this popular meal into health food, but research suggests it may prevent inflammation and stiffness in blood vessels. Use about half a medium avocado. Tuck rosemary into your patty before cooking – the herb helps vessels stay flexible after a meal.

Day 21: MONITOR YOUR HEART RATE

Not sure whether you’re working out hard enough? The Cardio Buddy app will tell you if you are. It uses a hi-tech camera sensor within your phone to analyse the tiny colour variations from different parts of your face to give you an accurate reading. (Free.)

Day 20: POUR JUDGEMENT

The recommended daily alcohol limit for women is one drink, says The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa.

Day 19: TAKE A STAND

In a recent study, every hour women spent sitting in front of a computer screen worsened their scores on tests of blood fats. If you’re desk-bound at work, get up often. At home, swap screen time for walking or playing with the dog.

Day 18: GO NUTS

Here’s why just a handful of cashews and pecans is good for your heart: the high levels of magnesium in cashews keep your blood sugar steady and your blood pressure low. Pecans are rich in antioxidants, which may help protect against heart disease.

Day 17: FILL UP ON FISH

Fish, especially naturally oily fish such as sardines, pilchards, mackerel and salmon, contains healthy omega-3 fats, which can help to improve cholesterol levels. Eating this kind of fish is recommended at least twice a week.

Day 16: AN APP A DAY

Turn your mobile device into your very own blood-pressure monitor and weight tracker with the Blood Pressure Monitor. It uses your personal information such as the medications you take, what foods you eat and your weight to keep you updated on your blood-pressure levels. Keep your GP informed with its clever export-toe- mail feature. (Free.)

Day 15: BEANS WITH BENEFITS

Tossing a handful of beans into your salad at lunch is a great way to keep your heart healthy, research says. In a study, people who ate one three-quarter-cup serving of legumes daily had a 5% reduction in the levels of LDL in their blood. Peas, chickpeas and lentils are all great options.

Day 14: SCALE BACK

Losing weight lifts spirits and can make the difference between controlling blood pressure on your own and needing drugs. In fact, losing just 4kg can lower systolic pressure by 4,5 points, a review found.

Day 13: POLISH OFF YOUR POMEGRANATE

In addition to being delicious, flavonoid- and polyphenol-rich pomegranate juice may make blood vessels healthier, which can mean lower blood-pressure readings. In an Iranian study, drinking two-thirds of a cup of the juice daily helped a group of adults with hypertension significantly lower their number in just two weeks.

Day 12: DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH

Have a cup of coffee or tea to get you going in the morning. A recent study found that both beverages will help to reduce your stroke risk. One cup of coffee a day cuts odds by 20% and two to three cups of green tea will see a 14% reduction.

Day 11: NO MORE BUTTS

Smoking almost triples your risk of heart disease and more than doubles your risk of having a stroke. After just 30 minutes of quitting, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops slightly. Within three to 30 days of not smoking, your blood pressure may return to normal, oxygen in the blood increases and your risk of having a heart attack decreases.

Day 10: SHAKE THE SALT HABIT

A high-salt diet automatically increases your risk of high blood pressure and a heart attack. Add some zing to your meals with these heart-friendly flavour boosters instead: lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, garlic, ginger, chilli or onions.

Day 9: READ THE FINE PRINT

Choose foods that are lower in salt. If the words sodium, MSG or baking powder are listed as the first three ingredients, the food is probably high in salt.

Day 8: MINIMISE STRESS

Stress is a major risk factor for heart disease, and while you can’t make it disappear, you can do things that help you manage it better, such as listening to music, taking a 10-minute break from e-mails or just taking a few deep breaths.

Day 7: SHOP SMART

Reach for products that carry the Heart Mark logo, as they have been approved by The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa for being lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar, and higher in fibre.

Day 6: BOOST YOUR HEARTBEAT

Build a stronger heart with 30 minutes of moderate activity daily. Add a moderate to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity at least two or more days per week for additional health benefits.

Day 5: A HOUND FOR YOUR HEALTH

A tail-wagging friend can make your heart melt, and make it stronger. The American Heart Association reports growing evidence linking dog ownership to increased activity, a better stress response and possibly lower cholesterol, BP and weight.

Day 4: ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE

A flu vaccine may protect you against more than just influenza. Getting a flu shot cuts the risk of suffering a major cardio event (like a heart attack) by 36%.

Day 3: UNDER PRESSURE

One in three South Africans between the ages of 15 and 64 years suffers from high blood pressure. Get yours checked today.

Day 2: A BERRY WILL MAKE YOUR HEART MERRY

A study at Harvard University in the US found that eating at least three one-cup servings of strawberries a week can cut heart-disease risk by 34%. The anthocyanins in them make blood vessels more flexible and reduce blood pressure.

Day 1: GET CHECKED

Knowing your blood pressure (BP), cholesterol and blood-glucose numbers is the first step to staying healthy. From the age of 20 all adults should have their cholesterol tested. If your bad cholesterol is high or you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, you should have it checked every six months. Visit Heart Foundation to find out where you can get tested free in September.

Heart Healthy Diet

Habits that fuel a healthy heart.

Eat Heart Healthy

Following these nutritional strategies can help you reduce or even eliminate some risk factors, such as reducing total and LDL-cholesterol; lowering blood pressure, blood sugars and triglycerides; and reducing body weight. While most dietary plans tell you what you can’t eat (usually your favorite foods!), the most powerful nutrition strategies help you focus on what you can and should eat. In fact, research has shown that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.

Decrease saturated fats and trans fats

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guidelines (2013) urge people to eat a healthy diet and decrease saturated fats and trans fats in their diet. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (from olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish).

  • See “Know Your Fats” to learn how to eat good fats and avoid bad fats

Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

Choose seven to nine -A-Day

Aim for a combined seven – nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day provides a variety of antioxidants, b-vitamins, dietary fiber and a host of additional plant chemicals known to help prevent disease.

One serving of fruit includes:

1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit
1/2 medium banana
1/2 grapefruit 2 Tbsp dried fruit
1/2 cup canned fruit
1/2 to 3/4 cup most juices

One serving of vegetables includes:

1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1 cup raw or leafy vegetables

Eat a rainbow of colors

Eat a variety of orange carrots and oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches, purple plums, green celery, lettuce, and kiwis and yellow peppers and bananas. Choosing a rainbow of colors helps ensure a diverse intake of nutrients.

Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet

  • Buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit – fresh or frozen to save time – bag them up for a snack or to add to a dish.
  • Have a vegetable-based soup or garden salad with light dressing with your usual sandwich at lunch.
  • Instead of a cookie, enjoy a frozen banana or grapes dipped in 1 tsp of chocolate syrup.
  • Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace.
  • Try a homemade trail mix of you choice of 2 T dried fruit + 2T roasted nuts and/or seeds in a baggie to take with you if you predict you’ll be missing a meal.

*If you have high blood pressure, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains is recommended

Eat more fiber

As part of a healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It’s found primarily in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. As fiber passes through the body, it affects the way the body digests foods and absorbs nutrients.

A diet rich in fiber has health benefits beyond cholesterol control: it helps control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevent gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Each has a unique effect on health.

  • Soluble (viscous) fiber: Provides the greatest heart-health benefit because it helps to lower total and LDL-cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), psyllium, flaxseed, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
  • Insoluble fiber: Generally referred to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, adds bulk and softness to stools, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables. Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods.

Overall, you should aim for a total intake of 25 or more grams of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) each day.

  • Learn how you can fit fiber into your diet

Substitute animal protein with plant protein

Increase plant sources of protein and start reducing your intake of animal protein. Eating more beef, pork, and chicken with skin, and whole milk cheeses and dairy products means more intake of high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which contribute to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease. So start replacing some animal fat meals with meatless meals. There are plenty of palatable nonmeat substitutes that provide good sources of protein but that also provide heart-friendly ingredients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

  • Eat two to three vegetable protein meals weekly: split pea soup, garbanzo bean salad, bean- based meatless burgers, tofu stir-fry or textured vegetable protein.
  • Red meat should be eaten at no more than one meal per week. Choose the leanest cuts of meat possible with skin and visible fat removed. Replace red meat with white.
  • Eat two skinless poultry meals each week.
  • Eat a minimum of six ounces (2 servings) of omega-3-rich fish weekly (cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, and herring). There are also plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Increase whole grains

Increase whole grains and limit processed or refined carbohydrate foods (e.g., white bread, white pasta, white rice). Whole grain breads, brown rice, oats, barley, bulgur , quinoa , whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers and cereals are called unrefined or whole-grain carbohydrates.

These foods provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber than refined carbohydrates.

Limit sweets, desserts, and sugary sodas

Foods such as sweets and sugar sweetened beverages should be limited. You don’t have to eliminate them from the menu altogether to derive benefit—just don’t make them part of your everyday diet. A couple times a month is better than a couple times a week.

Choose low fat or non-fat dairy products

The American Heart Association suggests two – three servings per day of dairy. This is good for heart, bone and blood pressure health. Such sources are skim milk or 1% milk, 1% or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese, and reduced fat cheeses.

  • Read the American Heart Association article

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Drinking alcohol is not encouraged, but if you do – drink in moderation. Moderate alcohol use is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Alcohol should be avoided with some medical conditions or medications. Talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol.

More Information

  • Cleveland Clinic: Alcohol and Your Heart
  • American Heart Association: Alcohol and Heart Health

Practice portion control

When you are trying to follow an eating plan that’s good for you, it may help to know how much of a certain kind of food is considered a “serving.” The list below offers some examples.

  • 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
    Serving Size: 2 starch
    Reference Size: Tennis ball
  • 1 slice bread
    Serving Size: 1 starch
    Reference Size: Compact disk case
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fruit
    Serving Size: 1 vegetable or fruit
    Reference Size: Baseball
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheese
    Serving Size: 1 medium-fat protein
    Reference Size: Pair of dice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    Serving Size: 1 fat
    Reference Size: Half-dollar
  • 3 ounces cooked meat
    Serving Size: 3 protein
    Reference Size: Deck of cards or cassette tape
  • 3 ounces tofu
    Serving Size: 1 protein
    Reference Size: Deck of cards or cassette tape

Do not skip meals – more frequent mini-meals are better

Skipping meals is not recommended. Small, frequent meals and snacks appear to promote weight loss and maintenance and give you an opportunity to consume important nutrients throughout the day. Skipping meals only lowers metabolism and deprives you of key nutrients. Researchers have found that people who balance their calories into four to six small meals each day have lower cholesterol levels., so divide your calories into 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day.

  • Learn more

Maintain and achieve a healthy body weight

A body mass index, or BMI, of 18 to 24.9 is considered ideal. Speak with your physician or registered dietitian to learn how you can maintain or achieve a healthier body mass index. Even a loss of 5 to 10% of your body weight can have a significant impact on your overall heart health. For instance, a 200 lb. female would have to lose only 10 to 20 pounds; a 280 lb. male would have to lose only 14 to 28 pounds.

  • Learn more about weight management

Get moving

A healthy diet ALONG WITH exercise improves blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health. Engaging in aerobic exercise—even brisk walking—for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, in addition to maintaining an active lifestyle, can have considerable heart-health benefits. Regardless of the exercise regimen you choose, check with your physician before starting one.

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30 Days to a Younger Heart with Dr. Steven Masley, MD

Did you know that it’s possible to make your heart 10 years younger? Regardless of your body composition, genetics, or age…you can turn back time. And when you do…you will feel healthier, trimmer, fitter, sexier, mentally sharper and better than you have in a decade. Does it sound too good to be true? …… It isn’t… Steven Masley, MD and his three simple steps have helped thousands of patients turn back the clock…and reverse the onset of aging and disease. He is a board-certified physician, nutritionist, longevity researcher and award-winning educator who is also a highly acclaimed chef, trained at the Four Seasons. In “30 Days to a Younger Heart”, Dr. Masley shares the surprising news that Metabolic Syndrome, also known as pre-diabetes – not high cholesterol – is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. Since the term metabolic syndrome is new to most, the doctor describes how easy it is to determine your risk, and why so many Americans have it. Dr. Masley also educates viewers about the dangers of invasive, often unnecessary cardiovascular procedures. His 3 step Heart Tune-Up program is a guide to making lifestyle changes that significantly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. He specifically discusses the impact food, nutrients and exercise have on making a measurable difference in the reduction of arterial plaque. Discover five new categories of heart-healing foods, learn how the amount of time you exercise isn’t as important as you may think plus ensure you receive the five key nutrients many lack but are truly necessary for a younger heart. No matter how old you are, or how much you weigh or even the health battle you are facing, no one has to be on a one-way street to aging and disability. Patients’ lives every day have been saved and transformed with this heart tune-up program that explores the three easy lifestyle corrections that can take 10 years off of your heart’s age in just 30 Days.

Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Steven Masley

For the body to be healthy the brain needs to be healthy. Join Dr. Steven Masley as he explains why having a healthy heart is a better brain solution. Learn how your heart rate tells a lot about your brain functions and how exercise is the best way to live healthy. But having a healthy body will require proper nutrition. Discover how all these factors make for a healthier version of you.

Each day, your brain fires up all your senses, brings you pleasure as well as pain, catalogues a lifetime of memories, solves an array of problems, and connects you to the world around you. You can live with one kidney, with a transplant of heart, liver and other organs, but nothing can substitute for a healthy brain. We know that chronic pain often interferes with the brain’s cognitive functions such as memory. We know that memory loss is a major concern for adults as they age. Joining us today to share how you can have a better brain is Dr. Steven Masley whose passion is to empower people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive assessments and lifestyle changes. He’s a physician, nutritionist, trained chef and author. You may know him as the creator of the number one all-time health program for public television, 30 Days to a Younger Heart. Today, we’ll be engaging in a conversation about perhaps our most vital organ, the brain.

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Better Brain Solution with Dr. Steven Masley

Dr. Masley, welcome to The Healing Pain Podcast. It’s great to have you back on.

I’m really glad to be back.

We’re going to talk about your book in today’s podcast. The topic of the brain is so important to the people who listen to my podcast, both patients who have pain as well as the practitioners who treat it, because we know that the brain is really the ultimate source of pain in our body. The healthier your brain is, the healthier you are overall, including chronic pain. As I’d known you now for a number of years, a handful of years back you wrote an awesome book called The 30-Day Heart Tune-up. I want to start today with asking how did the heart doctor become so passionate about brain health, memory and cognitive function?

One of the best predictors of improved brain performance is better artery health.

I think you might know, when I see patients in my clinic, we do a holistic assessment. How does their brain function? How does their heart function? We measure the age of their arteries, their cognitive performance, their hormones, their blood tests, their fitness, their nutrient intake. It’s a holistic approach. At the same time, we were noticing our patients’ arteries were getting younger every year from following a protocol. They had less aches and pains. Their brain was getting sharper and quicker at the same time. We had published data. We had published several studies now looking at our database at what things predict; are you growing plaque or not? Is your brain sharp and quick or is it slow and sluggish? If it’s slow and sluggish, that leads to memory loss, probably more pain and misery and depression and anxiety as well. Not only can we see what predicts your brain function, we put that in scientific journals, we now have hundreds of people who both shrunk their artery plaque and improve their cognitive performance. One of the best predictors of improved brain performance is better artery health. They’re intimately connected. I think we’ve talked a lot about a gut-brain connection in all sorts of books, but there’s also a very strong heart-brain connection or circulation because when you improve your circulation, you help your heart, your brain, and even your romantic life. What’s better than that?

We have an aging population, as you are aware of. Let’s talk about the risk factors that people should be aware of when it comes to their memory and their cognitive function or their cognitive decline, shall we say.

The number one risk factor is elevated blood sugar. If you’re insulin-resistant, if your blood sugar is going up, you have signs of metabolic syndrome, you are much more likely to both have heart disease and cognitive decline. That’s the first. You have a family history of memory loss, that’s concerning because there are some jag things as well as lifestyle that impact that. I think surprising for me was like if you’ve had a concussion, which is associated with people with chronic headaches. A concussion increases your risk 300% to 400% of future memory loss; depression, almost 300% to 400% in women and man if you had a history of depression. Number one would be elevated blood sugar, not even diabetes, just mildly elevated blood sugar. There’s also an APOE4 genotype. All those things would make someone that has any of those risk factor, they would be high-risk for cognitive decline and memory loss.

You mentioned elevated blood sugar and you said not diabetes. My question would be, as a physician when you’re looking to educate people as well, are you looking at a range of say that’s pre-diabetic or are you looking at even before pre-diabetes in people where you start to say, “Let’s start to pay attention to this. Let’s start to make some lifestyle changes that will positively affect your blood sugar?”

That’s a really good question because we usually see 126 is like diabetes and there is this 100 to 126 where you’re elevated pre-diabetic. Even if you’re 85, you’re at lower risk, 95 and 100, there’s a 60% difference in your risk for getting memory loss. The lower the better. Here’s the other thing which I think you know that probably the listeners should hear. Ten years before your blood sugar is up, you have signs that you’re becoming insulin-resistant. During that time, you’re losing memory and losing brain function. In the ten years before your blood sugar is slightly elevated, then you’re already having cognitive dysfunction, brain fog, more forgetful. It’s the ten years before you ever have a mild increase that puts you at risk. Usually people think, “Am I diabetic or not?” It’s much more important these other signs of insulin-resistance we want to know much earlier because they’re so important.

It makes me think of the prevention almost before the prevention even that we’re talking about, which I think is really so important. You mentioned briefly the APOE4 genotype. I was going to leave this to the end but you brought it in the middle, so let’s talk about it now. How concerned should someone be about that genotype? Should they get tested for it? What kind of lifestyle should they begin to think about and follow if they specifically have that genotype?

Let’s put it in perspective. There’s APOE 2, 3 and 4 genes. If you have the APOE 2 or 3 or a combination of them, your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease is 9% in your lifetime. It doesn’t mean whether you could get it and not have the gene. If you have one of the APOE4 genes, that’s 20% of the population. For those 20% of people, their risk of Alzheimer’s is 30%, so that’s a lot more than 9%. It really does increase your risk about 300%. If you have it, it means several things. 200,000 or 300,000 years ago, everybody had the APOE4 gene and we’ve had these mutations in the last 200,000 years, in the last 80,000 to 90,000 years to these other genes.

The APOE4 makes you better at fighting infections. If you’re running around in the bush, stepping on things and cutting yourself and being bitten by animals, you’ll fight infections off better. This is really important to me. I have family with APOE4. I personally don’t but I’ve got loved ones who do. It increases the risk then what can they do? Exercise is really important for them. They do extremely well. They do very poorly if they have elevated blood sugar. That’s a terrible burden for people with the APOE4. They do not tolerate insulin-resistance and high blood sugar levels. That makes my program more important for them. They do really well with fish oil but they need double the dose. They don’t uptake it well, but when they get it, they get more benefit than an average person. A double-dose is more important for an APOE4 than a regular person. Normal blood sugar, extra fish oil, definitely exercise, and they seem to do really well with some partial fasting a few days a week, skipping breakfast and getting a fasting state then. Those are the four things that are probably more important for people with the APOE4 genotype that other people don’t have to focus as much on.

I love the way you just tell that, just those four important concepts. People can really write those down and start to implement those into their life. You mentioned exercise, which is a whole big topic in and of itself when we were talking about memory loss or cognitive problems. What kind of exercise are you recommending for patients?

This showed up in our data point. We’re publishing on this. The number one predictor of better brain function being higher processing speed, executive function, thinking quicker, preventing memory loss appears to be aerobic performance, so when you get your heart rate up aerobically. Strength training also had an independent benefit. It’s both you want to do aerobic stuff like ride a bike, go for a jog, power walking, swim, dancing, whatever is fun, do something fun to rev up your heart rate. Strength training has an additional added benefit that’s independent. We want muscle mass. When you add more muscle mass, it helps your brain grow. I think the aerobic part makes your brain faster and quicker. Literally, when you do strength training, build muscle mass, it lowers insulin-resistance and helps your blood sugar, your brain grows larger. I think both are critically important.

With the aerobic exercise, because I think we’ve gone through this period where we have found love with aerobic exercise and now just recently over the course of maybe the last five years or so, we’ve pushed it to the wayside. Is the benefit of aerobic exercise cardiovascular, meaning it’s helping your heart and lungs? Or is it really profusing your brain, which has certain kinds of biochemical changes that happen?

I think it’s both. Probably that’s your area of key interest too. I think we benefit both ways, that you’re increasing the circulation to your brain and brain flow and there’s biochemical and hormonal impacts in our brain, neurotrophic factors that increase and stimulate the brain to grow and develop and repair itself. Exercise is just one of the key pillars of having a healthy, functioning, quick brain. It’s also really good for preventing and reversing depression. Same things that reverse depression are really good at improving cognitive function and preventing memory loss.

The other key pillar, as you know as a chef and a nutritionist and an integrative physician, is nutrition and how important that is for memory and cognitive function.

In the program, I read almost close to a thousand articles, medical published articles on foods and nutrients and which ones are the most predictive of helping improve cognitive performance and prevent cognitive decline. That was really one of the finest parts of the program is helping identify what foods you should have.

That’s leading to my next question. We focus so much on what not to eat but I’m always like, “What’s delicious and healthy I can put on my plate?” What would I put on my plate if I want to work on slowing down or completely preventing any kind of memory loss that might happen?

Somebody who eats green leafies every day, their brain is eleven years younger than someone who doesn’t eat them at all.

I’ve eaten with you many times. This is how you and I eat. It’s fabulous food that tastes great. Number one on the list was green leafy vegetables. Somebody who eats green leafies every day, their brain is eleven years younger than someone who doesn’t eat them at all. Eleven years and we’re only talking one cup a day. That should be a slam dunk no-brainer. Other colorful vegetables, especially beets, that contain pigment in red beets, really does improve brain flow and protect your brain, especially for the memory center. Nuts. There’s a whole bunch of healthy fats that are good for our brain.

I think the data has been pretty conclusive a low-fat diet is hard on your brain. The long chain Omega-3 fats from wild salmon or sardines and nuts are really good for your brain. Extra virgin olive oil is awesome for your brain. Those are healthy fats we want more of. Spices and herbs are anti-inflammatory and they’re good for your brain, things like rosemary or curry spices, especially turmeric. Example would be rosemary or one of my favorites is Italian herb seasoning or mixed curry spices. Red wine showed at, in moderation, not in excess, that one or two servings a day improve brain function, help prevent memory loss. Green tea is really good for your brain. There’s a long list of food we should focus on adding that are really good for us. They make our food taste better like olive oil and spices and herbs. That should be easy no-brainer.

Once we perfected our palate and we go into a supermarket and we’re filling our grocery cart with the healthy food, which is obviously winding up on our plate at night, and we’re educating our self about what to eat when we go out at night, are there supplements that are proven through evidence-based medicine to help with cognitive function and memory?

Some of the ones that were most important, like if you miss them you have accelerated brain loss and cognitive decline, were vitamin D, long-chain Omega-3 fats like fish oil or DHA. If you’re vegetarian, then maybe DHA seaweed supplement. A good quality multi-vitamin with adequate mixed folates, you need not just folic acid but mixed folates, and adequate B12 if you’re B12 low, especially as we get older, a lot of people have low B12 levels. Adequate B12, mixed folates, some chromium so you’re not blood sugar deficient and magnesium. Magnesium is a really good predictor of brain function. Maybe that essential core, I would throw in a pro-biotic to help your gut. That gut-brain connection is really important. That would be my initial. It would be insane not to get your vitamin D like 2,000 mg a day. In the program we go through how do you get them and what doses with fish oil, magnesium, a good quality, multi, pro-biotic, that would be my core, plus there are some other things you can add that I think have additional benefit.

Can you tell us about some of those? I think so often people focus on vitamins, but there are other types of nutrients and herbs that can be beneficial. What are other kinds that you recommend for?

I would say it’s a total slam dunk, nobody should be B12 or vitamin D or magnesium deficient. That’s just insane. We’re getting into more theoretical. It’s been studied in trials for people. There have been some studies that show that if you use it for people with mild cognitive loss and impairment, their memory got better, and the people who weren’t on it kept getting worse. Curcumin is that extract that comes from turmeric, the curry spice. I use it for pain. It’s such a great pain drug because it lowers inflammation. It’s been used in clinical studies to help prevent, reverse cancer or cognitive decline. I take it myself for arthritis. When I’m taking that and my fish oil, I don’t have any joint symptoms at all. As a pain mediator and an anti-inflammatory, I think it’s awesome. I thought I could get it in food, I was trying to get it in food first and I figured out the dosing. To get 500 mg to 1,000 mg of curcumin that’s well absorbed in a capsule, you have to have three tablespoons of turmeric every day. I thought, ” I could do this, three tablespoons into a cup of yogurt,” and Joe, there’s no way. It’s a lot. I’m much happier just taking a pill a day with 500 mg to 1,000 mg. I still like curry spices but I gave up having it from food.

It reminds me I tried to do that once in a protein shake, and it was great, but after a while, that much turmeric every morning, you can be like, “I want a different flavor this morning.” Sometimes there are pills that make a lot of sense and that would be one of them actually. Can you tell me about some of the testing you’ve done on patients? How do you test to see how their cognitive function is improving when you do these trials with them and the entire program that you have?

We have a brain symptoms course so we ask questions like, are you losing things? Do you lose your car in a parking lot? Can you remember a phone number long enough to dial it? A brain symptoms course which we have and we make available to people is a nice tool. I should go to the other extreme first. The standard thing that doctors do in clinics and hospitals is the Mini-Mental Status Exam. What year is it? What city do you live in? What state are you in? By the time you don’t know those, you’re gorked. Sad to say but that’s standard medicine. Wait until you’re totally gone to intervene. You should have identified someone ten or twenty years before. Much I prefer, we do cognitive test in my office where we do a pretty challenging memory, both words and visual-shape memory. We help people go through a maze of different symbols that they have to match with other words and things. Thirty-minute cognitive test you can do on a computer to measure your brain processing speed, that to me is ideal. I wish everybody can identify how does the brain function? Are they sharp and quick or are they slow and sluggish? Slow and sluggish brains progress to memory loss. I’d rather identify ten to twenty years before someone had cognitive decline that they were trying to slip, and then take steps then to reverse it early on. That’s the kind of testing I like to do.

That’s so interesting because I feel like when I think back in my life, obviously we had IQ tests, maybe you had your SAT test, maybe some tests in college, but then after that, you really stop assessing what your cognitive function was. When you go to the typical, the average primary care physician, they’re not really going to test your cognitive function much beyond what year is it and what’s your address, which most people remember.

When you’ve lost that, it’s almost too late.

You have a collection of books, you’ve written a lot of books, but why is this book probably your most important work?

This is the biggest crisis facing not just the US and Canada but the world today. Cognitive decline is increasing rapidly. Here’s the amazing thing: Right now it’s the number one cause of expense for healthcare in America today. We spend more money on memory loss than any other problem. That problem, which is our number one biggest problem, is going to double in twelve years. It’s scary. Memory loss doesn’t just affect us if we get it. We become disabled and a burden to our family and the people we love. If you’re not functioning at your full capacity, if you’re sluggish and have brain fog and are forgetful, when you could be sharp and quick and productive, that’s a huge loss. Decades before we’re actually suffering, that’s a huge loss not to be at your full potential. I want people to be sharp, quick.

Our average patient going through our program has been showing to be 25% sharper. We can prevent the number one cause of misery and disability, the scare. I think we can prevent most of the scariest disease on the planet, which is going to double in just the next twelve years. No matter what your age, it doesn’t matter who couldn’t benefit from being sharper, quicker, more productive. I think anybody with a brain needs help in protecting it and improving it. After all, who wouldn’t want a better brain?

Of course, we all have brains from children all the way up to the elderly. It’s a really great book. I’ve been talking to Dr. Steven Masley. He’s the author of a book called The Better Brain Solution. You can find him at www.DrMasley.com. Steven, can you tell people what you planned for the release of your book that they might be interested in?

Better Brain Challenge

I have a Better Brain Challenge. My goal is to join together with colleagues like you, brilliant minds out there who are doing the right work. I think we can work together. I’m trying to create a Better Brain Challenge, give people five easy steps to take to have a better brain in just 30 days. That’s what I’d like to do with you and many others, to work Better Brain Challenge. What are the five things people could do? Just a short time, 30 days, their brains are better, they are quicker, they are sharper, they’re more productive. We’re preventing the scariest disease on the planet at the same time. That’s my goal. That’s what I want to have seen accomplished. How can we take the scariest disease and try to vanquish it, and feel better and be more productive? Probably by having a healthier brain, I think it would lower pain and depression and other things that are so common today as well.

I’m up for the challenge for 30 days to a better brain. Make sure to check out Dr. Steven Masley’s book, The Better Brain Solution. You can find it of course at all local retailers and of course online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, any online retailer, and of course on his website at DrMasley.com. I want to thank Dr. Steven Masley for being on The Healing Pain Podcast this week. Make sure to share this episode with your friends and family on social media. Please log on to iTunes and give us a five-star review so we can help spread the message. Thank you very much. This is Dr. Joe Tatta. We’ll see you next week on the podcast.

About Dr. Steven Masley

Steven Masley MD is a physician, nutritionist, trained-chef, author, and the creator of the #1 all-time health program for Public Television, 30 Days to a Younger Heart. He helps motivated people tune up their brain, heart, and sexual performance.

Dr. Masley is a fellow with three prestigious organizations: the American Heart Association, the American College of Nutrition, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of South Florida. His research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on heart health, brain function, and aging.

Dr. Masley’s passion is empowering people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive assessments and lifestyle changes. As a best-selling author, he has published several books: Ten Years Younger, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, Smart Fat, and his latest book, The Better Brain Solution, plus numerous scientific articles. His work has been viewed by millions on PBS, the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, and in over 500 media interviews. He continues to see patients and publish research from his medical clinic in St. Petersburg Florida, and he offers weekly blogs on his website, www.DrMasley.com.

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A platform to discuss pain treatment, research and advocacy.

If you would like to appear in an episode of The Healing Pain Podcast or know someone with an incredible story of overcoming pain contact Dr. Joe Tatta at [email protected] Experts from the fields of medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic, nutrition, psychology, spirituality, personal development and more are welcome.Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

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You know that exercise and a good diet can keep your heart healthy. But what else can you do to keep your ticker going strong? Here, Marc Gillinov, MD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, recommends five key things you need to do every day to help your heart work most efficiently. Incorporate these habits into your lifestyle and your heart health will be the best it can be for you.

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  1. Eat healthy fats, NOT trans fats. We need fats in our diet, including saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats. One fat we don’t need is trans fat, which is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke over a lifetime. This is because trans fat clogs your arteries by raising your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL). By cutting them from your diet, you improve the blood flow throughout your body. So, what are trans fats? They are industry-produced fats often used in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarines and fried fast foods to add flavor and texture. TIP: Read the labels on all foods. Trans fat appears on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils. Look for 0 percent trans fat. Make it a point to avoid eating foods with trans fat.
  2. Practice good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily. Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including your heart, because those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Studies continue on this issue, but many have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. TIP: Floss and brush your teeth daily to ward off gum disease. It’s more than cavities you may have to deal with if you are fighting gum disease.
  3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation. TIP: Make sleep a priority. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights. If you have sleep apnea, you should be treated as this condition is linked to heart disease and arrhythmias.
  4. Don’t sit for too long at one time. In recent years, research has suggested that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health no matter how much exercise you do. This is bad news for the many people who sit at sedentary jobs all day. When looking at the combined results of several observational studies that included nearly 800,000 people, researchers found that in those who sat the most, there was an associated 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 percent increase in death caused by these events. In addition, sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot). TIP: Experts say it’s important to move throughout the day. Park farther away from the office, take a few shorter walks throughout the day and/or use a standing work station so you can move up and down. And remember to exercise on most days.
  5. Avoid secondhand smoke like the plague. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. And nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries. TIP: Be firm with smokers that you do not want to be around environmental smoke — and keep children away from secondhand smoke.

Follow these five tips and you’ll be doing your heart a favor. You’ll feel better and be able to stay active with a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Most of us hear the term wellness and assume that it’s something beyond our reach. Or perhaps we think that wellness is only for advanced yogis, holistic doctors, or wellness practitioners, but not us — not everyday people just working the daily grind and living busy lives. But this is where we make the mistake. Wellness is nothing more than small daily choices that lead up to lifelong, very big changes — that’s it. Anyone can achieve wellness whether that means you’re a stay at home mom or a full-time working adult, maybe even juggling two jobs just to get by. You don’t have to have a lot of money, time, or even kitchen skills because all of us have access to wellness if we choose to.

It simply starts with one choice after another.

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To help you achieve wellness in 30 days, here is a checklist you can go by that if followed, will have you well on your way to a healthier and happier you in just a month. These tips are simple, doable for everyone, affordable, and absolutely life-altering when all combined.

No one becomes healthy by wishing, making excuses, or deeming themselves unworthy. Here’s how to choose wellness one day at a time:

Week One: Kitchen Tips

1. Eat Berries With Breakfast

Berries are an incredible food, rich in nutrients for our brain, our digestion, and they’re disease-preventative. They’re also a fresh source of produce and keep us fuller than processed cereals with dried fruits. Add 1/2 cup of your choice frozen or fresh berries to either a smoothie, oatmeal, or just have some with some unsweetened coconut yogurt and a little chia or flax seeds. Berries are also a great source of vitamin C to kickstart your immune system.

2. Eat One Green Food Per Day

Eating one green vegetable per day or one leafy green is a great way to get yourself healthier in the kitchen without much thought. It can be a cup of broccoli at dinner or spinach snuck into a smoothie. A cup of green beans at dinner or some leafy kale tossed with chopped sweet potato and some simple seasonings. Anything counts, just make sure it’s green, natural, and from the earth. These foods provide us with more nutrition than any food out there. They alkalize our bodies, promote mental wellness, and protect us from major forms of disease.

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3. Drink a Glass of Water When You Wake Up

A new health practice that many observe, drinking water is essential to hydrating your body first thing in the day after a night long fast. It helps wake you up and is an excellent way to flush out your body first thing to keep you regular, a key part of staying healthy. Remember, your body contains (and needs) more water than most of us realize. Be sure you’re giving it enough, starting first thing — even before the coffee!

4. Enjoy Plain Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are two of the most amazing sources of antioxidants in our diet, so long as they’re sustainably (preferably) organically sourced, so they’re produced without pesticides. These two beverages boost mental health, liver health, and promote a healthy heart. The key is to leave out the sugar and milk, which takes away most all their benefits. Coffee is even being studied most recently for its healthy effects on the longevity and cancer prevention, while tea has been a long-standing healing remedy for years. Enjoy 1-2 cups of either in the morning, and even again in the afternoon before 3 p.m. if they’re caffeinated.

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5. Cook Your Own Meals

Cooking at home does two things: It puts you in touch with the food that you’re using to keep you well and it keeps you away from restaurant options that someone else prepared for you, probably using ingredients that aren’t the best for you (excess oil, salt, sugar, etc.). Leave out the middleman and cook more at home, even if that means preparing simple meals such as soup, a protein and veggie, a macro-bowl or salad, or even some smoothies with oatmeal for a fun breakfast for dinner option. Cooking your own meals is one of the best things to do for life long health, so see all of our food tips here to try all kinds of hacks in the kitchen.

6. Use Herbs Instead of All the Salt

Instead of shaking salt on all your food, try using herbs to flavor them instead. For breakfast, use cinnamon, cardamom and ginger for a sweet and spicy flavor. For lunch, use Italian seasonings, sage, black pepper, and/or cayenne and turmeric. For dinner, try some garam masala, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme. Mix these up however you like, but use them more often; they’re some of the best ingredients that provide antioxidants, mood-boosting benefits, and even anti-cancer benefits. They also reduce blood pressure levels, unlike excess salt that can lead to hypertension (chronically high blood pressure).

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7. Ditch the Sugary Food

Sugary foods are not part of a healthy diet, mostly because they’re processed, void of nutrients, and can be addicting. Instead of choosing something with sugar, have an apple, some berries, a banana, an orange, or just enjoy sweet veggies like carrots instead. Your body will learn to love the taste of fresh vegetables and fruits when you give it a chance. Sugar ages your skin, messes with your digestion, makes you moody, tired, and doesn’t satisfy your appetite. Ditch it; you’ll feel much better in no time!

Week Two: Activity Tips

8. Aim to get in a 20-30 Minute Walk or Jog

This might sound difficult but is easier than we all think. Getting up just 30 minutes earlier in the morning will give you plenty of time to get in a good walk (or jog). If you like to run, even better, but walking is great too. Moving first thing in the day boosts your serotonin levels, provides energy to the body, and also helps you focus better throughout the day. It is also an easy way to improve your metabolism to help manage your weight.

9. Lift Something Heavy for 5 Minutes Every Day

How many of you have ever thought, “I don’t have time to lift weights,” or maybe you know you have time, but just don’t enjoy it. Whatever the case, here’s an easy way to combat that issue: Pick something heavy, whether it be a kettlebell, a dumbell, or even a household item you can grasp in your hands that is heavy but still light enough to pick up. Lift one of these items for just five minutes a day, preferably over your head like you would if you were in the gym, along with by your sides to work your arms, and even hold this while you do a few squats too. Resistance training not only improves your metabolism, but also boosts testosterone in the body that improves your sense of motivation, focus, and even your energy. It also aids in strengthening the body, even in just five minutes. If you have time for more great, but if not, five minutes is enough to get you out of breath just enough to get good results. If you can do this three different times throughout the day, you’ve lifted weights for 15 minutes without realizing it.

10. Don’t Over Sit Your Welcome

Sitting is not as evil as it’s being made out to be now, but it is tremendously important that we don’t “over sit” our welcome. We need to stand more throughout the day, even if that’s while chatting with friends, talking on the phone, or just getting up in between nightly relaxing activities before bed. If you like to watch television, be sure not to sit there for hours on end while doing so. If you work at a computer all day, get up and move around or try to stand and work however possible. Sitting too long makes you tired, can cause brain fog, increases your insulin levels, and slows down your metabolism. It can even lead to a bad mood, and antsy nature. The body likes to move; give it what it needs.

11. Practice Active Errands and Commutes

When commuting to work throughout the day, running errands or the like, it’s important to be active during those activities when you can. For instance, if you can take the stairs more often, do it. If you can walk to work, do it. If you can park further away at the store, do it. You get the idea. Working in a large city makes it easy for most people, but those that rely on cars and public transportation may have to keep this in mind to prevent easy access to more sitting and less activity.

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12. Do Some Sort of Stretching Per Day

Stretching is one of the most overlooked exercises that improves your mood. It releases muscle tension, prevents muscle cramps, improves lymphatic flow and blood flow that can make you happier and also keep digestion working well. It also prevents muscle stagnation that can just make you feel badly. Stretch in the morning a little and a little more at night before bed. Even just a couple minutes will make you feel better — try it!

13. Spend a Little Time Outside Daily

Take a stroll around your neighborhood or walk through a local park each day if you live near one. If you have a dog, take them for a five minute spin down the street. Or, maybe you have the option to exercise outside — try it; it’s rejuvenating compared to indoor treadmills! Being active outside, even just for a few minutes, is a great way to enlighten your spirits without even trying. It puts you in touch with nature, which studies show can actually benefit our brains, prevent depression, and exposes us to the most natural source of vitamin D available to us: the sun.

14. Try Yoga

While not everyone may enjoy yoga, its many benefits are so profound that we should all at least give it a shot. Don’t let yoga intimidate you if it seems out of reach or strange. It’s actually just a fluid way of moving your body, stretching everything out, and being kinder to your body through movement. While a grueling workout at the gym is great for pumping muscles, yoga is a nice change of pace that reduces cortisol in the body. This lowers stress around the clock and reduces insulin spikes that are caused by elevated cortisol levels. Yoga also stimulates lymphatic flow, a key to keeping your body feeling well in more ways than one. Try some beginner You Tube videos; even just 10 minutes is a great place to start!

Week 3: Mind and Mood Tips

15. Eat for Your Hormone Health

Most of us don’t consider our hormones when we plan out a meal or grab something to eat — but we should. Our hormones completely control how we feel, act, think, and even how we treat others. And guess what controls our hormones for the most part? Aside from sleep and our lifestyle, our diets do. Though rest, stress management, and staying active play a part, nothing acts like directions for your cells like your food does. Certain foods can disrupt hormonal function and possibly even lead to mood disorders, anxiety, or depression. Some of the most common foods to avoid are: dairy, gluten, processed foods, and sugar. Even for those not allergic to gluten, it seems to play a part in the way the brain feels, thinks, and can lead to depression and hormone disorders. Most dairy products have also largely been linked to brain fog, estrogen imbalance, and overall anxiety and depression. One reason these foods create a problem is due to the protein structures they contain which interferes with optimal hormone processes. Sugar and processed foods also upset insulin levels and can interfere with optimal hormone function as well. Eat whole and unprocessed foods whenever possible. Nuts, seeds, leafy greens, vegetables and fruits are some of the best foods you can give our brain on an ongoing basis.

16. Do Something You Love Every Single Day

This can be as small as something such as cooking your favorite breakfast, writing in a journal a few minutes a day, participating in a local event, participating in a favorite hobby, or anything else that you just truly love. Doing something small for yourself every day is a great way to enhance serotonin levels in the body to raise those feel good hormones on a regular basis.

17. Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium is the anti-stress hormone, not to mention the host of other benefits it has for your body. Plant-based foods are rich in magnesium and are important to include in your day to optimize mental wellness. Some of the best sources include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, cacao, bananas, avocado, and sweet potatoes. See some magnesium-rich recipes here to find out how to work more of this important mineral into your diet!

18. Eat Good Fats

Healthy fats are like fuel for a good mood. They’re one of the most important things to include in your diet to promote a healthy mood (and a balanced metabolism). Healthy fats also promote good heart health, reduce cholesterol, and contain none of the harmful side effects associated with animal-based saturated fats. Go for raw coconut, avocados, almonds, walnuts, acai fruit, flax seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or tahini, pecans, and olives. Many of these are also packed with protein, B vitamins, and magnesium to enhance brain health even further.

19. Ditch the Negative Self Talk

Consistently telling yourself reasons why you can’t do something, don’t deserve something, or will never achieve something are never going to get you where you want to be. Ditch the negative self talk and start creating new messages instead. When you change your mindset, you have the power to change your life. This is one of the most overlooked, yet most important things, that everyone can do for better mood and mental health daily.

20. Eat Your B’s

B vitamins reduce stress in the brain, promote energy, and enhance focus — who doesn’t want all of those things?! Vitamin B12 isn’t the only one important for good health. Other B vitamins, specifically vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B7 are also important. If you eat a plant-based diet, you can easily get enough. Some of the best sources of B vitamins include: nuts, seeds, leafy greens, broccoli, avocados, root vegetables, coconut, beans) (including coffee and cacao), bananas, pumpkin, berries, legumes, and whole grains. Mix these up throughout the day for a healthy brain all day long!

21. Eat More Plant-Based Foods

Even if you’re not vegan, just eating more plant-based foods is a great way to enhance your mood. Plant-based foods have been shown to relieve depression, anxiety, and even promote mental clarity. Don’t take our word for it though; give it a try yourself and see! Here are some recipes you can try that are whole-food based and sure to make you feel good around the clock!

Week 4: Lifestyle Tips

22. Get Social

Social wellness is something most of us don’t pay enough attention to, but we should for long-term health. Even if you enjoy alone time, keep in mind that we are all social creatures by nature. We aren’t meant to give ourselves the privilege of being social whenever we can. Corresponding with others can relieve stress, enhance our mood, and even promote longevity. Even just spending time with friends, family, or chatting with someone at the gym, park, or the office is an important way to stroke your social needs daily.

23. Learn to Love Sleep

Why has sleep become something we have (and even hate) to work into our schedules? Sleep is a gift, something that’s just as important as the food on our plate and our exercise habits. It’s the time of the day that our body resets itself, detoxifies, and allows us to be able to conquer the next day ahead. Depression, weight gain, stress, and even food cravings can all occur when we don’t get enough rest. For some of us, our sleep needs may be 8 hours, and others it could be 9 or 10. Don’t just yourself by how much sleep you need — get enough until you wake up at the same time each day without the need for an alarm clock.

24. Become a Minimalist

Having nice things is great, and such a treat to give ourselves whenever we can, however we should never forget how much joy that being a minimalist can bring to our lives. Being a minimalist can be as small as reducing the amount of products we use, to learning to prepare more simple meals. It means that sometimes less is more, and sometimes, the little things can give us the most joy. Try scaling down your wardrobe and donating what you don’t wear anymore. Ditch the pricey beauty products and use more natural options instead. Clean out your kitchen and stick to whole foods with simple preparation tips. This is a great way to make life simpler, which can make you healthier and happier without the need for so much stuff.

25. Try a New Activity Once a Month

Our schedules can turn us into creatures of habit. We can easily just start going through the motions if we’re not careful to try new things, but this can also make us bored, unhappy, and possibly lose our passion for things we care about such as being active, our jobs, and even our healthy eating habits. So the answer is to try a new activity when you can, possibly once a month. This can be something as simple as trying a new cooking method, trying a new exercise, working in a different atmosphere, trying a new approach to something at your work, or even just shopping at a local farmer’s market instead of a commercial grocery store. Expose yourself to new activities and see how great it can make you feel!

28. Do Something Nice for Someone When You Can

Doing something nice for others doesn’t just benefit them but also you too. We’re meant to be giving creatures, yet many of us see giving as a form of sacrifice. This is simply not true. When we give, we get so much more in return in more ways than one. It doesn’t have to be related to money at all either, but could be a simple as sending a card, an email, making a dish for someone, running errand for a friend, sending flowers, taking someone to lunch, or even just letting someone ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Or, give to an animal organization, volunteer at one, or just do something to promote cultural awareness and animal welfare. Doing small things for the good of others on a regular basis is an important part of long-term wellness. Try it and see how fulfilled it makes you feel, and how you might just change the lives of others in ways you may never even know.

29. Bring Energy Into a Room Instead of Taking it Away

No matter what we have going on in our lives, one of the most important things we can all do is bring energy, not steal it. This means maintaining a positive outlook and energy, even if our lives are not as they should be or we wish they were. This is important for our health, along with the health of others around us. People who have a positive spirit can make a huge impact on people around them. If everyone practiced this regularly, the world would like be a more energetic, happier place. The next place you go to, even if it’s a meeting at work you’re dreading, bring energy and positive nature into the room instead of steal it away with a negative outlook.

30. Spend Time in the Quiet Each Morning

If you work out in the morning, this is a great time to get some quiet time to yourself, but even if you don’t, try to spend a little bit of your morning in the quiet when you can. This can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which peaks first thing in the morning. It also gives you some time to think to yourself before the busyness of the day begins. You might like to write out your thoughts, to-do’s, prayers, concerns, or whatever else comes to your mind first thing in the day — do whatever suits you. Taking just 10 minutes each morning, perhaps over coffee, is a great way to take care of yourself in a small way each day.

And there you go friends, a month’s worth of wellness tips you can practice to be a healthier, happier you in just 30 days. You can try one tip per day, or optimally, build on each day as the month goes by. You won’t believe how different these can make you feel when practiced on a regular basis.

Remember, wellness is merely a gift you choose to give yourself that begins with one simple choice after another. Start your wellness journey today!

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