If you’ve ever moaned, “Ugh. It’s tough growing old.”, you’re likely in pain or you can’t do the things you used to do. But all is not lost! You can control how well you feel and how fast you age. However, before laying out the foundation of youth, here’s why your body is aging in the first place.
Blame It On Blood Sugar
One of the key suspects in what causes your cells to deteriorate is your own circulating blood sugar (glucose). In a process called glycation, these glucose molecules cling to proteins, and a chain of chemical reactions take place in your body. The end result? Proteins clump together, known as crosslinked proteins, which accumulate over time and disrupt the normal functioning of your cells.
Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)
These “crosslinks”, also known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) or glycotoxins, seem to ‘stiffen’ tissues. A stiff body is an aging body. But remember my mantra: “Your age is a given. Growing old is an option.” So don’t throw up your hands just yet. Read on…
Why You Get Stiff
Collagen is the most common and longest living protein molecule in your body. Skin care companies spend billions of dollars trying to replicate it and sell it as their revolutionary secret to erasing wrinkles. Collagen provides structure and support to not only your skin, but to your joints and organs as well.
When glucose binds with collagen (part of the aging process), your collagen loses its suppleness and becomes less flexible. As a result, your lungs, arteries, tendons, and other tissues stiffen. Stiff = Less efficient. For example, when your arteries are stiff, they lose their contractility and can’t pump as much blood through them due to their limited inability to expand and contract.
Age-Related Diseases Linked to AGEs
Posted in ♥ DAILY DOSE, Anti-Aging, Cardiovascular Health, FOOD ED| NUTRITION, Heart Healthy, Tips & Techniques
Tagged advanced glycation end products, AGEs, aging, Anti-Aging, dAGEs, meat
You just returned from the Farmer’s Market, arms overflowing with fresh, seasonal produce that need to go in the frig fast. Do you randomly stash them in the produce drawer? That is, do you put them wherever they fit… only to find that a few days later your greens are wimpy, berries are moldy, and your cucumbers are shriveling? If this sounds familiar, here’s how to store your bounty to maintain their optimal freshness.
Those drawers in your refrigerator, a.k.a. humidity drawers or produce crispers, actually have a purpose. Notice the humidity controls ranging from low to high on each drawer. Do you know what they mean?
These settings aren’t anything fancy. They simply open or close a window in the drawer. For the low humidity setting, the window is completely open; for the high humidity setting, it is completely closed. And here’s why…
The Gassy Offender
Ethylene gas is produced naturally and released by many fruits and veggies. It causes:
- Cells to degrade
- Fruit to ripen (become softer and sweeter)
- Leaves to go limp
- Seeds or buds to sprout
Knowing which items are ethylene-gas producers and which are sensitive to the gas, you’ll never toss your apples in with your lettuce again. It’s all about the gas!
What Goes in the Low-Humidity Drawer (“Low Rot”)
1. Produce that IS NOT sensitive to moisture loss.
2. Produce that emits ethylene gas. When the window is open, the gases escape, and fruits and vegetables won’t spoil prematurely.
Here are some common fruits and vegetables to keep in the low-humidity drawer (window open): Continue reading
Pumpkins are the eternal symbol of fall and a healthy food, but they’re often transformed into not-so-healthy desserts. New York magazine declared Pumpkin is the New Bacon in their headline several years ago. Aargh! That’s because the minimal amount of pumpkin used (if any) in some of these processed products is usually wrapped in layers of saturated fat (butter), refined carbs (white flour) and sugar.
However, after much ‘tinkering’ in my kitchen, you can enjoy this nutritional all-star. These pumpkin treats are not only quick and easy to make, they’re extremely moist and light in texture (yes, despite being ‘whole grain’). I’ve skimped on the fat and sugar, but not the flavor. Best of all, my cardiac patients and family gave them a huge thumbs up! 🙂
- 2 cups (117 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 2 large eggs (omega-3 fortified)
- 1 1/3 cups (176 grams) light brown sugar
- 2 cups (488 grams) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
- 1/2 cup (113.5 grams) nonfat milk
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) Earth Balance® (Original) natural buttery spread, melted
- 1/4 cup (63.8 grams) unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Mexican vanilla bean extract)
- Date sugar (optional)
Posted in FOOD ED| NUTRITION, Get Real Food!™, Heart Healthy, Longevity, Real Food Recipes, Recipes | Desserts
Tagged beta carotene, healthy dessert, healthy food, healthy pumpkin bars, light and healthy, pumpkin, pumpkin muffins, vitamin A, weight control
If you’re experiencing “chest pressure” or “chest pain”, aspirin is the BEST form of first aid. But all aspirins are not alike nor are all methods of taking aspirin alike. Take the lifesaving quiz below…
A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle. Most heart attacks develop when a cholesterol-laden plaque in a coronary artery ruptures. Plaque deposits are hard on the outside and when this outer shell ruptures (cracks), platelets rush to the area in an effort to ‘patch’ the ruptured area.
Platelets are disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid in clotting. A clot grows minute by minute! As a clot grows, it blocks an artery. When the artery is completely blocked, cardiac tissue dies from the lack of blood supply and you have a heart attack. But aspirin can help stop the platelets from forming a larger clot if you take the aspirin BEFORE the clot gets too big. Time is critical! Aspirin helps inhibit platelet activity.
QUIZ (3 questions):
1. Pick the METHOD that you think makes aspirin work the fastest*. That is, during a suspected heart attack, which of the following is the fastest way to reduce blood clot formation?
A. Swallow the aspirin with 4 oz. of water.
B. Chew the aspirin for 30 seconds, then swallow it.
C. Swallow the aspirin with 4 oz. Alka Seltzer. Continue reading
Posted in ♥ DAILY DOSE, Cardiovascular Health, Heart Health | Cardiac Rehab, Longevity, Men's Health, Women's Health
Tagged antiplatelet therapy, aspirin, aspirin therapy, chest pain, chest pressure, heart attack, myocardial infarction
Empathy (that is, “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”) is the foundation of healthy relationships. It helps you understand the perspectives, needs and intentions of others.
“How deep is the mud? Depends on who you ask. We all go through the same stuff differently.”
For more inspiration: http://www.pinterest.com/karenowoc/quotes-that-move-me/
Did you know… that sudden cardiac death is usually the first symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD) — especially among women?
Compared to men, studies show that women are 66% less likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease before sudden cardiac death strikes. If you’re a woman and free of symptoms, you’re not identified as “high risk” which means you’re not eligible for cardiac interventions that could save your life. SCD accounts for more than 50% of cardiac deaths (approximately 250,000 to 310,000 cases annually in the United States).
Heart Attack vs. Sudden Cardiac Death
To clarify, the terms “heart attack” and “sudden cardiac death” are NOT the same thing.
- A heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood suddenly gets blocked. Oxygen can’t get to a section of the heart and cardiac tissue dies. Most often the heart is blocked by a build-up of fatty plaque.
- Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an abrupt loss of heart function as a result of abnormal electrical impulses within the heart. The heart’s electrical system may fail from physical stress, inherited arrhythmias, drug/alcohol abuse, chronic kidney disease, structural changes in the heart, and/or scar tissue that damages the heart’s electrical system. (Cardiac deaths were considered “sudden” if the death or cardiac arrest occurred within 1 hour of the onset of symptoms.)
Simply put, SCD is considered an ‘electrical’ problem whereas a heart attack is more of a ‘plumbing’ problem. Over the years, I’ve had several patients that were revived and survived sudden cardiac arrest who said they didn’t need cardiac rehab because they didn’t have a heart attack, but had an “electrical issue”. They couldn’t be more wrong.
SCD Risk Can Be Prevented
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a 26-year study of nearly 82,000 women that showed you can reduce your risk for sudden cardiac death. In the majority of people, coronary heart disease is usually the underlying cause of SCD and this study showed that a low-risk, healthy lifestyle is associated with a low risk of sudden cardiac death. Continue reading
Posted in ♥ DAILY DOSE, Cardiovascular Health, Exercise, FOOD ED| NUTRITION, Heart Healthy, Lifestyle, Longevity
Tagged cardiac arrest, healthy lifestyle, healthy living, heart attack, Karen Owoc, Longevity, myocardial infarction, SCD, sudden cardiac death
The Evo™ oil sprayer is my newest and absolute favorite gadget in my kitchen. I love it so much that I give it a “Must Have” for every health-conscious kitchen! Yes, really! It’s great for cooking, baking, sautéing, grilling, you name it.
What I Love About It
When pouring oil straight from the bottle, I would usually end up with more than I need and with oil in concentrated doses on my food or sauté pan. What I like about the Evo is that it sprays in what they call a “fan spray pattern” which is why it dispenses the exact amount of oil that I want and where I want it (great for portion control). It’s also refillable and reuseable, so it’s economical, as well as easy to clean.
I really like the trigger design because it feels good in my hand, that is, it’s ergonomic. If you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, the Evo is much easier to handle than the aerosol types. I suggest getting a pair of them — one for your favorite oil as well as balsamic vinegar. I spray fresh fish, veggies before roasting (much better than ‘drizzling’ oil all over them), and salads as well as my waffle iron, sandwich grill and baking pans. I plan to get another one to use for my own oil and vinegar dressing!
The BPA-free Evo Oil Sprayer comes in different sizes. I have the smaller 8-oz. size (in the photo at the top) which is perfect for my cooking needs and is great for portability. They also have a large 18-oz. size (left) for the commercial cook or someone who cooks a LOT of food at home. Check out their blog for videos.
Commercial aerosol cooking sprays are horrible. They contain propellants and chemicals and they’re messy. Their inevitable overspray left a sticky hard-to-remove residue on my wood cabinets and cooking surfaces. Ugh. I also never cared for the ‘mister’ types for spritzing oils because they clogged up and were hard to clean.
Fit Tip: Evo is perfect for taking on picnics, BBQ’s or camping trips. I took my Evo on our last camping/fishing trip for grilling and cooking. It was so convenient to grab my Evo and go. Just be sure to lock the sprayer before you pack it up! It was so much more convenient than trying to fill up a travel size bottle of olive oil or packing up the entire bottle of oil (plus a basting brush) as I usually have had to do. Happy spraying! 🙂
When I first started working in cardiac rehabilitation as a new college grad, one of my Phase 3 cardiac rehab patients had a heart attack when he was only 35 years old. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, he had his heart attack the DAY AFTER he “passed” his treadmill test. Back then, I couldn’t understand how that could possibly happen, but I now know better.
How Sensitive Is Your Treadmill Test?
Here’s what you need to know. Currently, the exercise ECG is the most cost-effective first-line screening tool, but its accuracy relies on the ‘sensitivity’ of the test. Sensitivity refers to the percentage of cases in which exercise testing accurately identifies the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD). Unfortunately, the exercise ECG it is not 100% sensitive to detecting coronary artery disease.
Per the American College of Sports Medicine, the current sensitivity for detecting CAD using the exercise stress test is only about 70%. In other words, if you test 100 cardiac rehab patients with documented coronary artery disease, only 70 patients would show evidence of CAD per the stress ECG test. If you’re one of the 30 remaining patients, where does that leave you?
Well, don’t start your celebratory dance (or meal) just yet. It just means that you may fall in either of the following groups:
- You have a negative stress test. That is, you actually “passed” and show no signs of coronary artery disease.
- You have a false-negative finding. This means you’ve been given a negative stress test result (normal) where no CAD ‘appears’ to be present, but you actually have CAD.
The bottom line… a negative exercise ECG test is no guarantee that you do NOT have coronary artery disease (CAD) even if your cardiologist tells you, “Everything looks great! See you in a year.” So sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s the reality. Cardiac events that occur after a negative stress test happen all too often, but it’s not so perplexing to me anymore.
Causes of False-Negatives (Lower Sensitivity)
Stress test results are only as valuable as your performance, the technician’s monitoring, and the test interpretation. Here are some factors that may increase your chances of a false-negative finding: Continue reading
Posted in ♥ DAILY DOSE, Cardiovascular Health, Exercise, Heart Health | Cardiac Rehab, Longevity, Men's Health, Women's Health
Tagged CAD, cardiac rehab, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, CVD, echo stress test, exercise stress test, exercise testing, false-negative stress test, heart attack, heart disease, treadmill test