Heart disease is often blamed on genetics (your mom, dad, grandparents…) BUT over 360,000 Americans manage to kill themselves each year from the food they eat. Cardiovascular disease is the country’s number one killer and coronary artery diseaseor ischemic heart disease (where plaque-filled arteries literally choke off oxygen to your heart) leads the way.
Coronary heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States per year. But plaque not only builds up in your coronary arteries, it builds up in the vessels of your brain as well. And the result? Your brain shrinks.
BRAIN CELLS DIE
Unfortunately, the fat-laden, sugar-heavy junk you consume (and find so addictive) often packs on pounds around your middle. Abdominal obesity has been shown to kill brain cells. According to a study published in the Annals of Neurology, having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults.
Lifestyle diseases are diseases that occur primarily as a result of your daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include: bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock.
Diabetes (A Model of Accelerated Aging)
The connection between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are real and strong.
Experts are now referring to the progression from type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia to type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes. It occurs when neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin which is essential for memory and learning.
There is considerable evidence that diabetes is related to brain diseases. Younger diabetics suffer a variety of degenerative diseases earlier and with greater severity than non-diabetics and seem to age more rapidly than normal.
People with type 2 diabetes are 50-65% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people with normal blood sugars.
Coronary Artery Disease
Research shows if you get cardiovascular disease, it is likely to affect your cognitive function. Plaque builds up in your brain as well as your heart. Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol disrupt communication between nerve cells in your brain and contribute to memory and mental destruction.
As the population ages, it is expected that dementia incidences will increase 400% in the next 20 years. A 27-year studyfound obese people were 74% more likely to have dementia, while overweight people were 35% more likely.
Possible speculation is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by visceral or “belly” fat may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
Do you get short of breath when you bend forward, such as to tie your shoelaces or put on a sock? If so, here’s what this symptom could mean and why you shouldn’t ignore it.
What this Symptom Could Mean
If you bend forward and get short of breath, do NOT ignore this symptom! This symptom was recently coined as “bendopnea” (pronounced bend-op-nee-ah). This symptom could be a sign of heart failure.
A study of 102 heart failure patients showed bendopnea was present in 28% of their subjects (29 out of 102 subjects). When bending over, the average time it took for these symptoms to appear was eight seconds. Some patients thought their bendopnea was due to being out of shape or overweight, but were more likely to have other symptoms of advanced disease.
Try this test: Sit down and bend forward at the waist. Are you short of breath within 30 seconds? If you have “bendopnea”, you have:
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure, often referred to as congestive heart failure or (CHF), is a serious condition, but people often mistakenly think that it means that the heart has stopped beating.
Heart failure occurs when one or more chambers of the heart “fail” to keep up with the volume of blood blowing through them. The heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to maintain blood flow to other organs in your body. The reoxygenated blood from your lungs starts building up inside your lungs when your heart can’t keep up with ejecting it to other organs in need.
The buildup of blood causes fluid (mainly water) to leak from the small blood vessels (capillaries). That is, the arms, lungs, legs, feet, ankles, and other organs become “congested” with blood and fluid which explains how “congestive heart failure” got its name.
Lifestyle diseases characterize diseases that occur primarily as a result of a person’s daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock — all of which contribute to visceral (intra-abdominal) fat.
When it comes to your health, where you store your fat makes a difference. Are you shaped like an apple or more like a pear? KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about the difference between the fat that has settled on your hips and thighs versus what you’re carrying upfront.
All Fat is Not Equal
Fat accumulated in the lower body, such as the hips, thighs, and buttocks (the “pear shape”) is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fatlies under your skin and above your muscles — it’s the “pinchable stuff”. Subcutaneous fat is measured by pinching your skin in a several different locations.
Visceral fat, a.k.a. intra-abdominal, belly, or deep fat, (the “pear shape”) lies out of reach and is tucked deep within your abdominal cavity where it pads the spaces between and around your VISCERA — your internal organs like your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.
It’s also stored in the “omentum” — an apron-like flap of tissue that sits underneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.
Lifestyle Diseases Linked to Visceral Fat
Research shows that people with “apple-shaped” bodies face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies. You need some visceral fat to cushion your organs, but too much of it has been correlated with the following health conditions:
Kaiser Permanente of Northern California studied of 6,500 members for an average of 36 years, from they were in their 40’s to 70’s. The study concluded subjects with higher visceral fat had a higher risk of dementia than those with less visceral fat. Possible speculation of the trial is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
Researchers are not clear why visceral fat plays a larger role in insulin resistance — which raises risk for diabetes — than other fat.
Why Visceral Fat is a Health Risk
Visceral fat is most dangerous because it is biologically active — that is, it acts like an organ producing hormones and other substances that have harmful effects.
Excess visceral fat is near the portal vein which carries blood from your intestines to your liver. Substances (e.g., free fatty acids) released by visceral fat enter the portal vein and travel to your liver where they can affect the production of fats in the blood. Visceral fat is directly linked to:
Although you may not see heart attacks and strokes until middle age, the process of cardiovascular disease can begin early in life — often as children. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caretaker of children, this information is vital to their longevity. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about how to identify who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent or delay it.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Children
In a study of young American children, over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showed evidence of early heart disease (fatty streaks and plaque accumulated in the arteries). A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with:
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Family history of CVD
Inactivity at any age can lead to lifelong habits and result in developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Better in School
An American College of Sports Medicine research study found that kids that engage in vigorous-intensity activity were better able to concentrate and even exhibited fewer behavioral problems than kids that participated in moderate-intensity activity.