KRON 4 | How Exercise and Turmeric Affect Your Arteries

Research shows if you don’t take care of the “inner lining” of your blood vessels, you may be setting yourself up for heart disease or a stroke. Here are some important tips to improve how long and how well your arteries function.  

The Relevance of “Endothelial Dysfunction” 

  • The inner lining of your blood vessels is called the “endothelium”. Endothelial function declines with age and is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. 
  • When the lining fails to function optimally, it’s called “endothelial dysfunction” or ED. Think of a healthy endothelium as being smooth (think Teflon®) where nothing sticks to it.
  • ED refers to a spectrum of damaging changes that take place in the endothelium, such as the smooth inner lining becomes inflamed and “rough” (think sandpaper) from the constant assaults from substances like sodium, high blood sugar, and cortisol (stress hormone).
  • When the endothelium becomes rough, arterial plaque* sticks to the artery wall (think spackling paste or putty).

*Plaque is fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent).

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An unhealthy arterial lining can become “rough” like sandpaper and plaque sticks to it.

When Plaque Builds Up and Ruptures

  • As more plaque deposits build up, your artery narrows and reduces blood flow. This is known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis. 
  • Plaque not only accumulates in the arteries, it can also rupture and create a blood clot at the ruptured area. Your body sees this rupture as an “injury” and rushes to repair it with platelets (or “thrombocytes”) to rapidly cover up the rupture and form a plug, or clot.
  • Platelets are very large colorless blood cells (think super glue). They help wounds heal and form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in injured blood vessels.

When Plaque Breaks Away

  • Ruptured plaque can also break away and travel through the blood to other areas in your body and cause a blood clot.
  • If the clot is big enough, it can block the flow of blood to arteries in various organs — e.g., lungs (pulmonary embolism), heart (heart attack), or brain (stroke).

How to Reverse Arterial Aging   

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KRON 4 | How to Make Your Veins Last Longer

Nearly sixty percent of men suffer from varicose veins, so it’s not a common problem for just women and grandmas. Young men are afflicted as well. Here’s how to keep your veins healthy, strong, and functional.

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What are Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, most commonly appearing in the legs and feet, and they are visible under the surface of the skin. These ballooned veins develop a bluish/brown appearance, but they’re not just a cosmetic concern.

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Varicose veins afflict 60% of men.
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Varicose veins are swollen and gnarled.

The Cause — It’s All About the Valves!

They occur when the valves in your veins do not work properly. Your blood is supposed to flow in ONE direction thanks to many one-way valves in your veins. Your veins have to return blood to your heart — that is, your blood has to flow “upstream”. Once it reaches the heart, it is routed to your lungs to reoxygenate.

Faulty valves cause blood to flow back into the vein and then enlarge and swell. Due to excess pressure on the valves, they get stretched and less elastic (flexible). Depending on the vein, you have 1-13 valves per vein.

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Healthy valves keep the blood running one-way (back up to the heart).
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Valves weaken and blood no longer flows in one direction.

Dangers!   

These ballooned, gnarled veins are not just a cosmetic concern. These weak bulging vessels can rupture and bleed as well as cause swelling and throbbing (mild to moderate pain) which can cut into your daily activities. Worse yet, they can cause dangerous blood clots and skin ulcers (sores).

Legs of old woman with varicose veins.

Symptoms

  • Aching legs 
  • Legs feel heavy (especially after exercise or at night)
  • Swollen ankles
  • Shiny skin discoloration near the varicose veins
  • Red, dry, itchy skin
  • Leg cramps when suddenly standing up

Risk Factors      

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KRON 4 | Can You Lengthen Your Life with a Shorter Workout?

Looking for a way to lower your risk of dying from heart disease, but you’re short on time? Here’s a tip to living longer while working out less.

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Common Exercise Barrier

One of the biggest barriers to exercise is time. People often nix working out because they decide they don’t have an hour (or even a half hour) to spare. If that sounds like you, here’s the good news…

Researchers studied 55,000 adults aged 18 to 100 for over 15 years. They studied the following:

  • Overall health
  • Whether they ran
  • How long they lived

Clinical Examination

Physicians recorded and analyzed the following:

  • Resting blood pressure
  • Blood glucose
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness (assessed using a maximal treadmill stress test)
  • Health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity)
  • Physician-diagnosed medical conditions
  • Parental history of cardiovascular disease

The study excluded analyses from individuals who reported participating in other activities besides running (e.g, cycling, swimming, walking, basketball, racquet sports, aerobic dance, and other sports-related activities).

The Results (Compared with Non-Runners):

  • Runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes .
  • Runners had a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Runners had a 50% lower risk of sudden cardiac death.

Cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality. (Morbidity is the condition of being unhealthy, ill, or diseased. Morbidity is the condition of being dead.) Runners had approximately 30% higher cardiorespiratory fitness than non-runners.

If You’re “Unhealthy”, Can You Still Benefit from Running?   

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KRON 4 | How to Cure Dietary Amnesia

The inability to manage your stress often results in unhealthy, automatic overeating. You likely eat more than you think, don’t feel satisfied after a meal, nor remember what you ate. If this sounds familiar, here are some tips I shared with Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, to help cure your dietary amnesia.

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Dietary Amnesia

Dietary amnesia occurs when you eat, and you don’t realize how much you ate, whether you’re satisfied, or if you even ate. Stress is often one of the underlying causes of dietary amnesia.

The Downside of Stress Eating

People who eat when they’re stressed often eat FAST which contributes to dietary amnesia. A study found that men who ate fast were fatter than men who ate slowly. 

They also found the men ate faster than women — shoveling down 80 calories per minute compared to just 52 calories per minute for the ladies. If you want to lose weight, slow yourself down and eat “mindfully”. 

What Does Eating Mindfully Mean?

Mindfulness is about paying attention. When you pay attention to your food, that is, really pay attention, you begin to notice the taste, color, aroma, and textures of your food and become aware of what you’re putting into your body. Eating uses all of your senses — it’s a sensory experience.

How to Eat Mindfully   

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KRON 4 | Sugar and Diabetes; Now Potassium Too?

One out of three adults has pre-diabetes, that’s, over 84 million people — and nine out of ten don’t even know they have it. Diabetes increases your risk of death by fifty percent. Many are familiar with the link between diabetes and eating too much refined sugar, but did you know there’s a diabetes link to potassium too?

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The Battle with Blood Sugar

Your body processes the food you eat and turns it into a sugar called glucose. Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose in your blood (hyperglycemia). This happens because glucose is ‘locked out’ from getting into your cells and starts to build up in your blood.

Blood sugar is a precious fuel for your body, but when it’s persistently high, glucose can damage nerves and vessels. Since glucose circulates throughout your entire body, high levels can cause damage anywhere.

Diabetes-related complications include:

  • Blood vessel damage that increases your risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Nerve and vessel damage to your eyes (retinopathy), feet, and kidneys

What is Insulin?

Insulin (produced by the pancreas) is the hormone that’s needed for the glucose in your blood to enter your cells. Think of insulin as the ‘key’ that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. Without the ‘key’, your organs are starved of essential energy and can lead to cell death.

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Insulin is the “key” that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. 

Types of Diabetes

The two most common forms of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2, are distinctly different:

1. Type 1 diabetes mellitus: You DO NOT PRODUCE INSULIN and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells of your pancreas.

2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): With this type, you DO NOT USE INSULIN efficiently and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. 

  • 90% of diabetes cases are type 2.
  • In T2DM, your cells become resistant to insulin. Your pancreas goes into overdrive producing more and more insulin in a futile attempt to get the glucose into your cells. As a result, your pancreas can eventually wear out (become permanently damaged) and can no longer produce enough insulin. 
  • High blood sugar levels can erode your cells’ ability to make insulin. T2DM is preventable whereas Type 1 is not.

Waist Size and Diabetes

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A waist size that is over 40″ increases risk for type 2 diabetes 12X.

People who are overweight or obese, particularly with visceral fat (i.e., belly fat), are more likely to develop T2DM, but even normal weight individuals can develop diabetes.

  • If you’re a man and your waistline is over 40 inches, your risk for diabetes is 12 times higher than someone with a normal healthy size waist. 
  • Normal waist size is half your height in inches. Therefore, weight loss is the primary goal in treating this form of type 2 diabetes.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral that helps keep your bodily fluids at the proper level. If your fluids are at normal levels, you can:

  • Contract your muscles without pain
  • Keep your heart beating correctly
  • Keep your brain functioning at its highest capability

Muscle cramps to more serious conditions, such as seizures, are symptoms of potassium deficiency which also means fluid imbalance.  

Low Potassium Linked to Diabetes

  • One 2011 study found that people taking thiazides (diuretic, a.k.a. “water pill”) to treat high blood pressure experienced a loss of electrolytes, such as potassium. 
  • Researchers noted that potassium loss might increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes.
  • Researchers have also linked low potassium levels to high blood pressure.

NOTE: Even though low potassium may increase your risk of developing diabetes, taking potassium won’t cure your diabetes.

How Much Potassium Do You Need?

An adult needs 4,700 milligrams per day. Even if you’re getting the right amount potassium each day, levels may still be deficient or excessive due to fluctuating potassium levels.

Causes of Fluctuating Potassium Levels   

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