Health & Nurturing
Pg 7 - The Sunshine Express
Four things you can do today
to support your heart health
(BPT) On the path to good health, it
pays to follow your heart - literally. A
healthy heart is essential to supporting
good overall health, yet many people
ignore the warning signs that their heart
is not as healthy as it could be.
A 2016 survey from the American Acad-
emy of Family Physicians, conducted by
Harris Poll, found that nearly three in 10
men and women reported they had been
diagnosed with high blood pressure. This
result mirrors the findings of research
from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. The findings translate
to an estimated 75 million people with
high blood pressure, and just slightly
more than half have the condition under
¡°This finding is concerning because we
know that high blood pressure and heart
attacks or chronic heart failure are so
closely related,¡± said John Meigs, Jr.,
MD, president of the AAFP. ¡°According
to the CDC, seven out of 10 people who
have a first heart attack have high blood
pressure. Seven out of 10 people who
develop chronic heart failure have high
blood pressure. So it¡¯s important that
people know what their blood pressure
Scary additives or gifts from nature?
(BPT) Food ingredient labels are getting short-
er. Why? Because the people have spoken: We
want fewer, better ingredients in our foods.
We asked, and the companies that make our
food responded by replacing artificial colors
and flavors, removing what¡¯s unessential, and
using naturally derived ingredients.
But even shorter ¡°clean¡± labels can still read
like a technical manual. Which isn¡¯t necessari-
ly a bad thing - just because a food ingredient
is unfamiliar or has a difficult-to-pronounce
name doesn¡¯t mean it¡¯s not good for you.
For instance, you might not have heard of
cholecalciferol, and it sounds a little scary.
But cholecalciferol is just another name for
Vitamin D. You might not have heard of rick-
ets, either; that¡¯s because this once-common
childhood disease became nearly obsolete
when Vitamin D, which prevents rickets, was
added to milk (Vitamin D also helps our bod-
ies absorb the calcium in milk).
Another ingredient with a somewhat strange
name is carrageenan. This seaweed-based
ingredient makes some of our favorite foods
To lower your blood pressure and improve your
heart health, the American Academy of Family
Physicians offers these recommendations.
* Be deliberate with your diet. Fruits and
vegetables are essential, but pay special at-
tention to their color too. Vegetables and fruits
of different colors offer different nutrients, so
mix them up. At the same time, avoid heavily
processed foods and those high in sodium. You
should also make sure you¡¯re drinking plenty of
water rather than soda or energy drinks. Aim
for at least eight 8-ounce glasses every single
* Balance your BMI. If you don¡¯t know your
BMI, a quick Internet search can lead you to
several easy-to-use BMI calculators. And once
you do know your BMI, you can start taking
steps to reduce it, if necessary. According to
the American Heart Association, losing just
5-10 percent of your body weight can dramati-
cally reduce your risk of suffering a heart at-
tack or stroke. And that leads us to...
* Jump start your heart with aerobic exercise.
Your heart is a muscle, and like other muscles
in your body, exercise strengthens it. So put
your heart through a workout with activities
like walking, biking or hiking to increase your
heart rate. Exercise can also lower your risk
of developing plaque in your arteries, allowing
your heart to be more efficient in delivering
blood and nutrients to other parts of your body.
* Stop the stress. Aside from a poor diet,
there may be no larger culprit for high blood
pressure than stress. Successful stress man-
agement has been proven to reduce your risk
of heart attack or stroke. So relax, exercise,
meditate, breathe deep or just have some fun.
Whatever you do to burn off stress, make it an
essential part of your day. You and your heart
will be better for it.
Cellulose, which is the most common organic com-
pound on earth, is one of only seven FDA-approved
sources of fiber.
So when microcrystalline cellulose or cellulose gel ap-
pears on a food label, it means your food contains the
same plant fiber found in broccoli and apples.
Other ingredients that might not ring a bell?
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that has been
used as a medicine and spice in India for thousands
Modern science has shown it is also a powerful anti-
oxidant that settles upset stomachs and may lower
cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, all while bright-
ening your food with its deep yellow color.
Some of the unfamiliar ingredients on your food label
might literally be found in your own backyard.
Pectin, for example, comes from the peels of lemons
or other citrus fruits and is commonly used to thicken
jams and jellies.
Understanding what goes into our food is important.
But it¡¯s also important that we don¡¯t say ¡°no¡± to a
product just because we don¡¯t recognize every ingre-
dient on its label.
When we research the ones we¡¯re not familiar with,
we might come to find that those ¡°scary additives¡±
are actually delicious gifts from nature.
To learn more about what¡¯s in your food visit:
It replaces the
sodium in lunch
meat and can take
the place of fats,
oils and sugar,
which is why that
you had for lunch
tastes just as
good as the full-
fat option, without
might look like
a mouthful, but
MCC - also called
cellulose gel - is
just cellulose de-
rived from fruits,
Decoding Food Labels
Follow Your Heart
¡°Get your blood pressure checked,¡± says
Meigs. ¡°If you have high blood pressure, work
with your doctor to treat it and lower your risk
factors. That same advice applies to knowing
what your blood cholesterol levels are.¡±
To learn more about how you can reduce
your blood pressure and improve your heart
health, have a conversation with your family
doctor today. Your doctor will be able to give
you an accurate assessment of your current
health and offer ideas on where and how you
can improve. And to find more heart-healthy
tips visit: familydoctor.org