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Blog posts of '2013' 'August'

Liver Health in a Cup?


Liver Health in a Cup?Your liver performs many essential functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity, and the storage of nutrients within the body. It is also crucial to the filtration and detoxification of your blood. Good liver function is an essential component of your overall health, and now, for coffee and tea drinkers, a recently released study just shed light on how these beverages can play a role in protecting the health of your liver.

Good News for Caffeine Consumers

An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Duke University School of Medicine released a study that suggests caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in humans. Led by Dr. Paul Yen and Dr. Rohit Sinha, the study observed that caffeine stimulates the metabolization of lipids (fat molecules that include cholesterol and triglycerides) stored in liver cells and decreased the fatty liver content of subjects that were fed a high-fat diet. These findings suggest that consuming the equivalent caffeine intake of four cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in protecting the liver from fatty tissue accumulation.

"This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver and the results are very interesting," Yen said. "Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being ‘bad’ for health, is especially enlightening." This research could lead to the development of caffeine-like drugs that do not have the usual side effects related to caffeine, yet retain the therapeutic effects on the liver.

There’s a Few Coffee and Tea Drinkers Out There

So coffee and tea drinkers can celebrate. According to the International Tea Committee (ITC) and the International Coffee Organization (ICO), global tea production reached 4.3 million tons annually as of 2012 while coffee reached 7.88 million tons. With 2 grams of tea and 10 grams of coffee needed to brew a cup, this is enough to produce 5.9 billion cups of tea and 2.2 billion cups of coffee a day. That is a lot of coffee and tea, but it’s also important to remember caffeine consumption should be done in moderation. It is estimated for most healthy adults that 200 to 300 milligrams, or about two-to-four cups, of brewed coffee a day is an accepted range of consumption.

Go Easy on the Additives

There are, however, ways to turn your reportedly healthy dose of caffeine into an unhealthy start to your day. An abundance of cream and sugar can turn any cup of coffee or tea into a sugary and fattening nightmare, especially refined and artificial sugars with high fructose corn syrup. These sweeteners are associated with metabolic disturbances that can affect appetite, weight management, blood sugar levels, and heart health. Flavored creamers can also add sugar to your cup of coffee or tea, along with tripling the amount of calories and adding unhealthy trans fats. So when you can, go light on the additives and enjoy the natural flavors. When it comes to protecting your liver, you can now enjoy your daily cup of coffee or tea with a more satisfying, healthy feeling. But remember, moderation and a healthy diet are two of the best ways to keep your liver healthy and performing all its necessary functions.




Regularly Forgotten, the Thyroid Is Essential to Healthy Daily Living


Regularly Forgotten, the Thyroid Is Essential to Healthy Daily LivingDoes your body feel out of whack? Are you constantly feeling jittery, or do you continually feel a lack of energy? These are very general symptoms, but the root causes and how they can affect your everyday health may surprise you. Your thyroid, the butterfly shaped gland that resides in your neck, regulates the speed you produce energy and hormones that controls metabolism, moods, and weight. If your thyroid is over- or underactive it could disrupt other bodily processes.

Too Much or Too Little for Too Long

The key to a healthy thyroid, like many things in the health and nutrition world, is achieving balance. A balanced thyroid keeps the many processes it's connected to running smoothly. Too much on either side of the scale can cause noticeable changes in how you feel each day.

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) happens when the thyroid produces too much of the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This can bring on feelings of nervousness, elevated heart rate, shaking, and fluctuating weight with no change in diet or activity. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), by contrast, is when your thyroid doesn't produce enough T3 and T4 hormones. The body's production of energy requires a certain amount of thyroid hormones and an underactive thyroid can cause many of the body's processes to slow down, causing noticeable symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and fluid retention.

Proactively Balancing Thyroid Function

Unlike your muscles, you can't single out your thyroid gland to give it workout. However, you'll be happy to learn that regular exercise can help balance thyroid function whether it's under- or overactive. In cases where the thyroid is underactive, exercise stimulates the production and circulation of thyroid hormones to help raise energy levels and your metabolism. When there is an excess of thyroid hormones, exercise provides a healthy outlet for the increased energy these hormones provide. A good workout also helps naturally elevate your mood, which can help counter feelings of nervousness and anxiety that are associated with thyroid imbalances. Proper nutrition is also paramount to healthy thyroid function. The thyroid requires iodine in order to manufacture T3 and T4 hormones, so it can't function without this basic mineral. Fish and other seafood, as well as iodized salt, can help provide the vital trace amounts you need. Other thyroid-supporting nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin A can be obtained from nuts, wheat, spinach, and kale. For convenience, you can also take a multivitamin or supplement for thyroid health—just make sure that it contains essential minerals such as iodine as well as regular vitamins. The thyroid is not usually the first thing thought of when you're not feeling well, but it's one of the most important glands connected to multiple aspects of your health. Taking the necessary steps to protect your thyroid can help keep your body balanced and allow you to enjoy the healthy lifestyle you deserve.




Taking Control Over Your Cholesterol Leads to Healthier Heart Support, No Matter Your Age


High Density Helpers and Low Density Cloggers

Taking Control Over Your Cholesterol Leads to Healthier Heart Support, No Matter Your AgeDid you know there are 2 types of cholesterol? And while they both can affect each other, one is good for you and one is bad? Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver for cells, membranes and metabolism and is needed in order to create hormones, vitamin D and the bile acid that helps you digest fat. The good cholesterol is known as high density lipoprotein or HDL. Your HDL cholesterol acts as the street sweeper of your blood vessels. They clean the walls of your blood vessels, and support a healthy heart and good circulation.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol flowing through the bloodstream that tends to deposit on the walls of arteries. Collecting in the blood vessels and accumulating over time, LDL cholesterol can contribute to poor circulation and is thought to be a significant contributor for many heart related concerns for adults as they continue to mature. HDL helps lower LDL levels by gathering up the bad cholesterol but overall the body only needs a limited amount of cholesterol, beyond that is a cause for further health issues.

Numbers Game

You can monitor your cholesterol levels by taking a cholesterol test or lipid panel. Looking at your genetics or family history can be an indicator as to your cholesterol, as well as looking at your diet, how active you are, and your habits (smoking, tobacco use, medications.) The average recommended cholesterol levels, range from 100-120 for HDL and around 60 or above for LDL. It is usually advised to keep your total cholesterol number around 200 or below. Ways to stay away from high cholesterol numbers include keeping a diet low in saturated fats, trans-fats, and sugars, as well as avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol content themselves - such as burgers and cheese fries - as these can all increase your LDL cholesterol.

Taking Action to Heart

While staying away from the bad, you can take on the good to help support healthier cholesterol levels. Fish, walnuts, almonds and other nuts that are rich in polyunsaturated fats are beneficial because of their omega-3 fatty acid content which has been proven to help support lower triglyceride levels and better HDL numbers. Fruits and vegetables that specifically contain plant sterols or stanols can help block your body’s absorption of cholesterol. But you can’t always get everything your body needs directly from your diet, supplementing your nutrition directly with fish oil, or flaxseed oil and borage oil as a vegetarian option, can help provide you with a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The B vitamin niacin can also provide support for healthy HDL levels and works best in junction with a low cholesterol-focused diet. Combining a healthy diet, proper supplementation, and at least 30 minutes a day of exercise can help support higher HDL levels and combat LDL cholesterol. The road to a healthy heart runs through your blood vessels. Help keep your heart’s highways clean by taking the necessary steps towards healthier levels cholesterol levels, no matter your age. Today is the perfect day to begin a healthier lifestyle!

Triple Omega 3-6-9



Clearing the Heart’s Highways for Healthy Blood Pressure Support


Clearing the Heart’s Highways for Healthy Blood Pressure SupportYour veins and arteries are the highways of your heart, carrying fresh, oxygenated blood to the rest of your body while bringing deoxygenated blood back to the heart to be recycled. Blood pressure is the force in which blood flows through the arteries. It’s normal for your blood pressure to rise during strenuous activity, such as exercise, and fall when you’re resting or asleep. Consistently high blood pressure, however, means that your heart is working extra hard to pump blood around your body all the time, which can be stressful on the heart, veins, and arteries.

Under Pressure from Numbers

When the heart beats, the force it creates as blood flows through the arteries is called your systolic measurement. This is the first number you will see on blood pressure measurement (BPM) results, which is the higher number. The second number in BPM is called the diastolic measurement. This number represents the pressure exerted by blood flowing through your arteries when your heart is at rest or between beats. The average BPM should be below 120/80. Readings that are slightly higher do not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure, but it does indicate that you have a higher risk of developing heart health challenges.

External Pressures Can Raise Your Internal Pressure

Tobacco use can contribute to an unhealthy heart and high blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels, making it even more difficult for blood to circulate. Excessive alcohol intake (more than two drinks a day) can also raise blood pressure readings. The last factor affecting blood pressure is a big one: stress. Quitting smoking and curbing drinking habits can be manageable with the right assistance, but stress can be trickier to deal with. While avoiding all stress is impossible, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, massage, and yoga may help ease your worries—and your heart.

Everyday Aids to Your Heart’s Roadways

There are many ways you can easily begin to protect your heart and support healthy blood pressure levels, and some tips are as easy as adding more fruit and vegetables to your meals. Fresh fruit and veggies are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber that have been linked to good heart health. The antioxidant, CoQ10, as well as omega fatty acids have also been found to promote healthy blood pressure levels and provide circulation support. Exercising is another top way to promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Gentle exercises such as walking, stretching, and swimming are all ways to keep you active and moving, which aids healthy circulation and helps the body utilize oxygen more efficiently. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or ask your physician to help you find a suitable program that matches your level of fitness condition. The journey towards healthier blood pressure doesn’t require drastic measures—all it takes is better nutrition, regular exercise, and cutting back on bad habits. The benefits of consistent, healthy habits add up over time and can not only help you improve your current lifestyle, but can put you on the path towards overall better living throughout your lifetime.