KRON 4 | Get Your Beta-Glucan for Your Body and Brain

If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease or you just want to keep your heart healthy, you’ve probably been told to “watch your cholesterol”. The type of cholesterol that puts you at risk for plaque-lined arteries is LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and diet plays an important role. How are you keeping your plumbing clog-free?

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What is Plaque?

Plaque is a fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent). When plaque clogs your arteries, it can partially or totally block blood flow through ANY of your arteries, such as your pelvis, legs, arms, or kidneys — not just your heart and brain.

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Courtesy of Blausen.com staff (2014)

Atherosclerosis can precipitate various conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease (plaque in arteries in or leading to the heart)
  • Angina (chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Carotid artery disease and stroke (plaque in neck arteries supplying blood to the brain)
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD (plaque in arteries of the extremities, especially the legs); hardening of arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet.
  • Chronic kidney disease

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs cholesterol — it’s a fatty, waxy substance that: 

  • Makes hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
  • Makes vitamin D
  • Makes digestive fluids
  • Builds healthy cells
  • Protects nerve cells
  • Enables organs (such as your brain) to function properly 

Your liver makes the cholesterol your body needs and some comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, so it’s enveloped by proteins which enable them to travel in your blood. 

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LDL or “bad cholesterol” is a microscopic blob with a cholesterol center.

What is LDL?

The cholesterol that makes up plaque and builds up on the walls of your blood vessels is LDL or “low-density lipoprotein”. Too much LDL circulating in your blood increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke, so it’s known as the “bad cholesterol”.

Basically, LDL is a ‘microscopic blob’ with a cholesterol center packaged inside of protein. These protein packages are called “lipoproteins”. But LDL’s don’t just carry cholesterol, they also carry triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants.

Why You Need LDL   

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KRON 4 | Arthritis, Hypertension, and Dementia: How this Breathing Exercise May Help

High blood pressure not only damages the arteries in your heart, but also in your brain. It increases your risk for stroke and memory loss later in life along with many other diseases. Here’s how you can improve your brain, heart, and overall health.

Brain-Blood Pressure Link

Your brain is fed by one of the richest networks of blood vessels in your body. When blood vessels are damaged and circulation to the brain is reduced, it can lead to vascular dementia.

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Vascular dementia is the 2nd most common form of dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. (Alzheimer’s is the most common.) You can develop vascular dementia after a stroke when blood flow is blocked and your brain is deprived of oxygen.

Types of Strokes

87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, that is, the stroke is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. A clot or rupture in the blood vessel is usually the cause. 

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Hemorrhagic strokes result in bleeding within the brain.

13% of all strokes are hemorrhagic strokes which can be more deadly. These kinds of strokes occur when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks. High blood pressure is typically the cause of this kind of stroke.

Link to Disease

High blood pressure is often at the root of many diseases as well as conditions, such as inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation plays a key role in chronic disease and pain, such as:

  • Heart disease, diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer
  • Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s
  • Digestive disorders

The Power of the Vagus Nerve   

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KRON 4 | Can Just One Fatty Meal Be All That Bad?

You vowed to eat a heart-healthy diet and have been pretty successful, but every once in a while you can’t resist splurging on a big fat juicy cheeseburger and a thick, creamy milk shake. So is that really all that bad? Find out if an occasional surge of fat in your diet is okay.

The ‘Shake and Cake’ Study

The Heart Research Institute in Australia performed the following “carrot cake and milkshake” test. This well-known research was published in the American College of Cardiology. The subjects were normal weight men and women, age 18 to 40, with no cardiovascular risk factors or established heart disease.

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Researchers compared the effects from eating polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and saturated fat (coconut oil).

Each participant consumed fat in the form of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake.  They had to eat one gram of fat per kilogram of body weight (i.e., one gram of fat for every 2.2 pounds).

For example, a 200-lb person (91 kg) had to eat 91 grams of fat or the equivalent of eating all of the following at one meal:

  • Double 1/4 pounder with cheese (45 g total fat) = 700 cal.
  • Large order of French fries (24 total fat) = 510 cal.
  • Large vanilla milkshake (22 g total fat) = 800 cal.
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Subjects in the study ate as much fat equivalent to a McDonald’s meal.

safflower oilDAY 1: The subjects ate the carrot cake and milkshake that were made with SAFFLOWER OIL which is predominantly polyunsaturated fat. Then 3 hours and 6 hours after they ate, the scientists measured their blood flow (endothelial function) and assessed how well their HDL (“good cholesterol”) was protecting their arteries from inflammation.

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Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat and solid at room temperature.

DAY 2 (one month later): The subjects returned and ate another carrot cake and milkshake meal that contained the same amount of calories and fat except the type of fat used was different. Instead of polyunsaturated fat, the cake and shake contained COCONUT OIL which is 90% saturated fat. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.

The Role of HDL (“Good Cholesterol”)

HDL cholesterol is “supposed” to be anti-inflammatory, that is, they suppress inflammatory molecules from multiplying. When arteries become inflamed:

  • Substances adhere to the artery wall.
  • Arterial plaques can rupture. A blood clot forms around the rupture blocking the artery, resulting in a possible heart attack.

The Results: Sludge in Your Arteries After Eating Just ONE Fatty Meal   

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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 of 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 | 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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