♥ Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or obesity syndrome, is the name of a group of risk factors that increases your risk for:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) also known as atherosclerotic heart disease – Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque (a waxy substance) builds up inside your coronary arteries and hardens and narrows your arteries. The narrowing reduces blood flow to your heart muscle and can result in chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Linked to Overweight, Obesity and Inactivity

Fat Man_istock_000012609799xsmall_800x450Your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes increases with each of the following metabolic risk factors. You have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these measurements.   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters”

♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes

Question: What’s your take on Stevia as a sugar substitute? I use a flavored coffee creamer (French vanilla or Irish cream) in my coffee and would like to add some kind of sweetener. From John S., San Ramon, CA

Answer: First, the flavored coffee creamers are already sweetened.  The primary ingredients of commercial creamers are oil, sugar and artificial flavor/color. See my post on Creaming Up Your Coffee for healthier alternatives.

SteviaSecond, almost all of my patients with type 2 diabetes are hooked on calorie-free sugar substitutes, struggling with their weight and have cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Maybe not. Studies on artificial sweeteners show these compounds contribute to weight gain, sugar cravings and obesity. Also, compared to people who avoid diet or regular soft drinks, diet soda drinkers also appear to have elevated risks for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Metabolic syndrome (the name of a cluster of risk factors that occur together and increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

But It’s “Natural”…

Stevia leaf
For centuries, stevia was used medicinally as a cardiac stimulant.

Stevia is a plant native to South America, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is processed to produce a calorie-free sugar substitute. Because it’s derived from a plant, food companies market stevia as a “natural” sweetener to appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals who presume it must be healthier and safer than those originating in a lab. But unless you are eating stevia in its whole-leaf or crude form (which is NOT FDA-approved due to possible health effects), it isn’t all that “natural”.   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes”

♥ Daily Dose | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Arterial BlockageWhen you walk or climb stairs, do you have… cramping, pain, aching, or tiredness in the muscles of your calves, thighs, buttocks, or hips? If so, you could have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of arteries (blockages) in your pelvis and legs.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Sores on lower extremities that won’t heal
  • Toenail color change

When PAD worsens, it’s typical to develop ‘exertional leg pain’, a symptom known as claudication. It occurs when you’re exerting yourself and feels like a muscle cramp. These symptoms usually go away after resting, but return when you walk again.

Do NOT try to “walk off the pain” or “tough it out”. Your limbs need to reoxygenate. Claudication does NOT go away if you continue to walk — it is only relieved by rest. 

The pain is no different from ischemia (lack of oxygen) of your heart in that the delivery of oxygen does not meet the metabolic oxygen demand of working muscles. What makes it worse when you’re walking is your blood has to move ‘upstream’ through narrowed arteries in your lower extremities to get back to your heart for more oxygen.   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)”

♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics

For good health, aim for getting in 40 gm of fiber every day — but all fibers are not alike. If you’re a diabetic, cardiac patient or at risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re the parts that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber is separated into two main types: “soluble” (or high-viscosity) and “insoluble” (or low-viscosity fibers). They’re both important, but they’re different in how they react with water and their effect on your body.

Oatmeal
Oat fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.

High-Viscosity (Soluble) Fiber

  • Dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel in the intestines which slows down digestion.
  • Helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.*
  • Slows the emptying of food through the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract, so it helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Makes you feel full longer which helps control body weight.
  • May reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.  

Did You Know…

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge“. It soaks up cholesterol-laden bile salts in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. To produce more bile acids (compounds needed to transport and absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins), your liver must use the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. That means there’s less to collect and harden on the walls of your arteries!   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics”

♥ Daily Dose | What Makes a Good Breakfast?

Empty gas tank_PDAre you running on an empty tank? People who start their day without an a.m. meal often feel depleted, overeat later in the day, and make some not-so-smart decisions as they go along. Eating a good breakfast sets the stage for making healthy choices that will power up your body as well as your brain.

Why Eat Breakfast?

As you sleep, your body works hard to digest last night’s dinner. By the time you wake up, your body and brain demand fuel.

Three Breakfast Components

Morning menus are filled with options — from breakfast wraps to smoothies in every color — and need not be complicated. Breakfast can be simple, quick and satisfying. Be sure it includes a heart-healthy mix of whole grains, protein, and healthy fat to satisfy you as well as sustain you.   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | What Makes a Good Breakfast?”