Three Foods to Help You Avoid Heart Disease, Stroke and Improve Brain Function

Experts have stated for many years that what is good for your heart is also good for your head. Now, both the American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association have stated that the plaque buildup in the arteries that leads to heart disease can also have a negative impact on the brain.

Philip B. Gorelick is a medical doctor and the director of the Center for Stroke Research at University of Illinois College of Medicine. He has stated that the brain and heart are linked by the arteries that supply nutrients, oxygen and blood. If plaque builds up in the arteries and causes them to harden, then the brain and heart will be deprived of blood.

Fortunately, there are a number of delicious foods that can protect your cranium and ticker.

1.) Fish

There have been studies done to confirm that eating one or two four ounce servings of rainbow trout, salmon, sardines or mackerel can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by 36 percent. There was another study done that followed 80,000 women over the course of 14 years. The study found that the women who ate fish twice a week were 51 percent less likely to have a thrombotic stroke than women who consumed fish less than once a month. Clogged arteries are the cause of a thrombotic stroke. According to Ralph Felder, a medical doctor who wrote The Bonus Years Diet, the omega 3 fatty acids in fish help reduce inflammation in the arteries. This keeps blood flowing to the brain.

2.) Have A Glass of Red Wine

Red wine has polyphenols, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol as well as prevent blood clot formation. Resveratrol, which is one type of polyphenol, can increase blood circulation to the brain, which can lower the risk of stroke. Even though there are a number of health benefits that can be reaped from drinking wine, you do not need to start drinking it if you do not currently consume alcoholic beverages.

3.) Increase Your Produce Consumption

A study published in the Journal Circulation showed that hypertensive patients could improve their blood circulation and lower their blood pressure by eating more fruits and vegetables. There was another study performed on people who were over the age of 65. The study showed that the subjects who ate three servings of vegetables per day performed better on cognitive tests than those who consumed few or no vegetables. Potassium, which is a nutrient found in baked potatoes, artichokes and bananas, can help prevent the walls in the arteries from thickening. This will lower blood pressure.

5 foods with brain benefits you may not know about

We've all heard that fish is brain food, especially the kind that is rich with omega-3s. Blueberries and spinach also have notable brain-boosting abilities. However, these aren't the only foods which can help keep your brain strong and free of disease.

Red Wine

Certain compounds found in grape seeds may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. A 2011 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that in mice, these compounds helped prevent the formation of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Those same grape seed compounds are found in red wine, so wine may help protect the brain when consumed in moderation.

Coffee

Fully caffeinated coffee may also help protect against Alzheimer’s. A study done at the University of South Florida fed caffeine to mice specifically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they aged; some mice received caffeinated coffee, some received decaf, and others were given plain caffeine. The mice who received regular coffee showed higher levels of a hormone called granulocyte colony stimulating factor, which reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms by increasing neuron production and connection. For humans, the useful dose would translate to about four cups of coffee spread throughout the day.

Citrus Fruit

While the vitamin C in citrus may or may not be useful in preventing colds, it seems that citrus fruit may help to prevent strokes. Flavones, found in oranges and grapefruit, seem to act as anti-inflammatories and improve the function of blood vessels. A 2012 study in Stroke reported that people who ate two or more servings of citrus each day over a period of 14 years had a 10% lower risk of stroke than people who ate less. Be wary of choosing juice instead of whole fruit; many juices contain added sugar.

Onions

Onions are full of antioxidants which may help prevent brain damage if a person has a stroke; the antioxidants can work to block the formation of oxygen compounds which damage the barrier between blood and brain. A study published in Nutrition reported feeding some mice an onion supplement. When researchers induced stroke in all the mice, the control group showed significantly higher brain damage than did the onion-fed group.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient which is required to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is linked to brain health and memory. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at nearly 1400 adults and found that those who consumed the most choline performed best on memory tests. The subjects with high choline intake were also less likely to have signs of potential dementia such as blood vessel disease in the brain.

10 Tips for Everlasting Energy

The following proven tips will help jump start your day and allow you to feel energized!

Get an Early Start

Individuals who get an early start by leaving the comforts of their bed by 7 a.m. will have a greater attention span throughout the day. An added bonus is that most of those early birds also experienced a happier and healthier outlook on life. Waking up early provides a person with the chance to sleep more sound at night as opposed to their night owl counterparts. Since society is on a nine-to-five schedule, early risers will find their internal alarm clocks to be more in sync.

You can engage a few tricks if getting out of bed early is not your thing. To snap yourself out of a night of slumber, you can try putting your alarm clock at the farthest part of your room. Your body will find it difficult to go back to bed once you’ve gotten up. You can also start your morning with a quick shower, brisk run or by drinking a refreshing glass of water.

Speed Up Your Metabolism with Sex

Getting frisky in the morning with sex can help release pent up tension. It can also speed up your metabolism and start your day off with an energized punch. Physical interaction in the early morning hours stimulates the body’s production of cortisol. For people who have obtained a good night’s sleep, higher levels of cortisol can contribute to their overall well-being and heightened energy levels. A great bout of sex can also increase a person’s endorphins. This will leave you with a skip in your step as you head off to work.

Replace Your Morning Cup of Java with Water

While a tall latte can sharpen your mental alertness, too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect. Drinking a cup of Joe can give you a much needed burst of energy. However, your body could experience quite the crash later in the day. Instead of becoming dependent on your morning java run, you can replace your mug of coffee with cold glasses of water. You can also be kind to the environment by ditching your plastic versions in favor of a stylish water bottle. Try to replenish your water a minimum of three to five times throughout the day.

If your body is still craving that cup of java to get you going, you can try to postpone your mug of coffee to later in the morning. Since most cortisol levels begin their decline between the hours of 9:00 and 11:30 a.m., the stimulant in coffee will be most effective.

Add a Meal to Your Day

The body requires food throughout the day and going for long periods of time in between can cause a reduction in energy. Low blood sugar caused by a lack of food can also make it difficult to focus. Replacing your morning and afternoon snack breaks with an extra meal can keep you fully functioning. They should also be spaced approximately four hours apart. Depending on your activity level, your meals should be between 400 and 600 calories.

To get the most out of your meals, try combining complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat. Menus options could include mixed greens, grilled chicken and an oil and vinegar based salad dressing and whole-grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana.

Get Down with a Healthy Dosage of Vitamin D

Individuals who fail to consume the required amount of vitamin D can experience bone and muscle weakness, chronic fatigue and mental impairment. While the recommended daily intake is 600 IUs, most women average their daily intake around 276 IUs. The vitamin D deficiencies are most common in the winter months when the exposure to the sun’s light is more limited.

Fatty fish, fortified orange juice and non-fat milk are excellent sources, but you may need an additional daily supplement, especially when the sun is at its most limited levels. If you’re struggling with fatigue, you can also have your physician test your levels during your annual check-up.

Make a Commitment to Exercise

If you’re looking to recharge your batteries, a good workout is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, convincing your body that it’s in need of exercise can be a difficult process. Strong motivators such as reminding yourself of how good you’ll feel afterward can help jumpstart your workout.

To lessen the levels of fatigue and improve your performance during your workout sessions, try scheduling your activity the same time each day. While any exercise and movement is great for your health and wellness, people who exercised early in the morning had the most effective boosts of energy after its completion.

Shake Up Your Routine

Whether you’re changing your route into work or you want to try a different workout, exposing your body to new experiences can increase your feel-good hormones. While you don’t have to make drastic changes such as scouring mountain tops or changing careers, you can open your normal routine up to new experiences.

Get Moving

Simple things around your home such as your comfy bed, chair and car can be stealing your energy levels. People who sit for long periods of time may find themselves more physically and mentally drained. It also raises your chances for illnesses and diseases, even if you get sufficient exercise each day.

You can prevent being chained to your desk by scheduling five minute bursts that allow your heart rate to get pumping and elevated. A simple run up and down the stairs, walk around the office building or session of group office jumping jacks can pump your blood. In addition to helping you stay more alert and focused, the brief bursts of activity could also contribute to weight loss.

Add Some Melody and Base

Music that is upbeat can be more inspiring than a good workout. The body is hardwired to subliminally tailor the body’s rhythm to rival what we are exposed to. If you find yourself tired and nodding off, you can select a song on your headphones that gets you moving.

If you’re at the gym, try selecting something with 140 beats per minute to get your body pumped and energized. If your gym mates don’t mind, you can even sing or hum along to the tunes. Individuals who incorporated music into their exercise routine also found it to be easier to do.

Steer Clear of Negative “Nancy’s”

Whether it’s the co-worker who seeks drama or the gym buddy who wants constant advice on their latest conquests, you need to avoid people who try to bring you down with their own problems. Listening to someone else’s hardships takes time. It can also be exhaustive to be the problem-solver.

While you don’t want to cut these people out of your life completely, you need to set some boundaries. Give them 10 minutes of your time to tell a condensed version of their story. Be brief and to the point in your response and move on. This allows you to help them out and retain your positive mental outlook on life.

5 Super Food Alternatives

If you’re looking to change up your food habits, you’ll find the following options an exciting alternative.

While super foods such as blueberries, quinoa, and garlic generate a lot of nutritional buzz, you’ll find that they’re not the only items that can prevent disease and improve your health and wellness. There are a number of foods equally loaded with nutrition that a person overlooks in favor of the originals.

Super Food: Quinoa
What it Does: The best whole-grain for losing weight
The Sleeper: Oatmeal

When you’re looking for a super grain, you don’t want to overlook the nutritional capabilities of oats. While quinoa has a total of eight grams of protein versus the six in oats, it doesn’t contain a unique ingredient like its counterpart. Beta glucan is a particular fiber that raises the body’s appetite controlling hormone called PYY. Oats can keep you feeling fuller longer and comes in at only 166 calories. That makes it a more weight conscious selection over the 220 in quinoa.

Super Food: Garlic
What it Does: Fights cancer
The Sleeper: Onions

Both garlic and onions come from the same vegetable family and are chalk full of organosulfur compounds. Onions also contain cancer fighting agents that can stall the growth of tumors. However, purple onions are loaded with a powerful disease fighting hue called anthocyanins and are more nutritious than both white and yellow onions.

Super Food: Blueberries
What it Does: Combats cardiovascular disease by protecting the heart
The Sleeper: Bananas

Bananas contain essential minerals and nutrients that can help combat cardiovascular disease. While blueberries are rich in nutrients, you’ll find that bananas contain over three times the potassium and magnesium. This can help regulate blood pressure and keep the heart in good physical condition.

Super Food: Almonds
What it Does: Some say they are the healthiest of nuts
The Sleeper: Peanuts

Some say almonds are the favorite nut at present. However, peanuts are just as delicious and nutritious. Similar in fiber and calories, you’ll find the peanut to be above average when it comes to protein. Peanuts are also a winner in antioxidants, as they contain just as many as the average berry.

Super Food: Black beans
What it Does: An excellent source of protein for vegetarians
The Sleeper: Peas

Black beans and split peas are both a great source of protein, complex carbs and fiber. While black beans offer 45 percent of a day’s worth of iron, split peas are just as nutritious and come in around 32 percent.

11 Surprising Facts About Your Heart

Straight from the Heart

One of the hardest working muscles in the human body is your heart. The heart beating capabilities of this extraordinary muscle are powerful with it being able to beat approximately 3 billion times throughout an individual’s lifetime. With every beat of your heart, it can also pump out close to two ounces of blood. Over the average day, this can equate to a minimum of 2,500 gallons of the red stuff.

Sedentary Lifestyle Could Equate to Trouble

For health conscious individuals who want to stay heart healthy, you may want to reduce the amount of time in front of the T.V. You may also want to do a little more walking than driving. A study of nearly 30,000 individuals across 52 countries showed that the group of people who owned a T.V. and automobile had a greater risk of a heart attack by as much as 27 percent over individuals without. However, the studies also cautioned that it was the lack of exercise that caused the increase risk of a heart attack and not the actual machines.

The Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

A slimmed down Mario Batali isn’t the only one who has benefited from the Mediterranean diet. Research suggests that individuals with heart disease who follow this particular eating regimen can prevent a second heart attack from occurring. Mediterranean eating consists of consuming fruits, vegetables, fish, high-fiber grain, beans, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Dieters are also asked to limit eating sweets and cheese.

Pollution is Just as Toxic for the Heart

Studies have shown the negative effects of pollution on a person’s lungs. Scientists are also finding the toxic air that you breathe can also be responsible for harming your heart. When the toxic air is inhaled, the harmful molecules can cause both your heart and lungs to become contaminated. Individuals who have been exposed to polluted air can also be at a higher risk for arrhythmias.

A Broken Heart

The despair and overwhelming feelings of depression and anger caused by grief can take a toll on a person. The sadness and shock of losing a loved one can also leave feelings of anguish and bring on a sudden heart attack. A recent study of more than 2,000 heart attack survivors indicated that the risk of a heart attack was greater after the death of a loved one than after any other time. As the grief subsided, so did the risk of a heart attack.

Your Heart as the Focal Point

When the Pledge of Allegiance is usually recited, you’ll notice that most individuals place their hands over the left side of their bodies. While the heart may feel like it’s favoring the left side, your heart is actually centered toward the middle of the chest. However, a heart defect called dextrocardia has the heart being placed on the opposite side.

A Cup of Java to Reduce Risks

Coffee with caffeine can cause the heart to beat faster. However, a surprising study found that individuals who drank coffee were less likely to be hospitalized or concerned about heart arrhythmia. While caffeine can often cause the heart to beat faster, studies have shown that consuming more than four cups of coffee daily were fund to lessen a person’s risk by as much as 18 percent. Individuals who drank between one to three cups per day found their risk to be at 7 percent. However, physicians are not likely to prescribe coffee as a way to protect the heart.

It’s the Size of an Apple

The heart is the size of an average apple and can weigh between seven and 15 ounces. This can equate to being a littler bigger than your fist.

It Never Stops Ticking

Your heart begins ticking approximately 22 days after you’ve been conceived. By the time it ends, the average heart can end up beating as much as 3.5 billion times according to research.

Men versus Women

Both male and female hearts experience the same rate of beat before conception. However, a male heart can beat approximately 70, while women can experience around 78 beats.

Does Sneezing Stop the Heart?

The age old saying says that sneezing can trigger the heart to stop. However, heart aficionados find that saying to be simply just a myth.

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