Monday, 27 August 2012

Hot peppers reduce blood pressure

People who like say hooked, they want more and more, but some people can not handle them. The extremely hot peppers, known as chiles, are present in many cultures and are responsible for giving the strong flavor, sometimes to the limit of pain, much of the world's hottest sauces, from Mexico to India.

The good news for fans is intense flavors that the peppers would be a good remedy for hypertension. Scientists already knew of its beneficial effect in the short term, following an acute ingestion. But now it has been found, by experiment with rats, which are also effective to relax blood vessels and control blood over time.

Capsaicin, one of the most abundant compounds in chili peppers, is the cause of your itching, a property that is believed to serve these varieties to avoid being eaten by herbivores.

A research team led by Zhiming Zhu of Third Military Medical University Chongqing (China), has discovered that capsaicin activates a channel of endothelial cells present in the interior of blood vessels, through which the power nitrogen monoxide production, a gaseous molecule that protects the arteries of inflammation and other disorders.

In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism , a group used genetically hypertensive rats and capsaicin were administered continuously for seven months. After that time, their vascular functions had improved and his blood pressure had dropped.

Although further research is needed to confirm this effect in humans, scientists now have some clues: hypertension in northeast China affects more than 20% of the population, while in the Southwest Asia where the diet is rich in hot peppers, the figure is between 10% and 14%.

"People in these regions like to eat hot and spicy with lots of chili peppers," says Zhu. "For example, a popular dish in my hometown, Chongqing, is the spicy pot". Apart from confirming these variables still missing chile determine the amount necessary to elicit a beneficial effect in humans.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Drinking vegetable juice could boost nutrient levels and lower blood pressure

vegetable juice
Do you eat at least five vegetable servings a day? If you’re like most people, you probably fall short of this recommended dietary intake of veggies. Maybe you are too busy to prepare that many vegetables. Or maybe you simply don’t remember to eat five servings. It could be that you don’t really like vegetables all that much. Whatever the reason for not keeping up, you may be short-changing yourself in getting some vital nutrients that could protect you from illness. It’s been proven time and again that vegetables are an excellent food cure. What to do? Well — here’s asolution for you: drink some vegetable juice.

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Olive Leaf Lowers Blood Pressure

Olive Leaf Lowers Cholesterol, Blood Pressure           
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A new study has found that 1,000 milligrams (mg)of olive-leaf extract can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure in certain patients. The extract was one called “EFLA®943.” It worked in people who had mild “hypertension.” 
This is high blood pressure, a condition that’s common throughout the Western world. Previous studies on rats indicated that olive leaf could be yet another herbal medicine that influences our blood pressure.
So Swiss and German scientists tested the idea in humans — specifically, in 20 identical twins who had high blood pressure. They were given placebo or either 500 mg or 1,000 mg of olive-leaf extract. After two months, they measured blood pressure and discovered that those who were taking the herb had significant reductions in blood pressure. More studies, as usual, are needed.

Cancer Patients Turning to Alternative Medicine

A new American Cancer Society study shows that many cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicines to improve their quality of life. The most common include prayer, relaxation, supplements, meditation and massage. Other methods, though, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, homeopathy and acupressure, are not so common.
It shows that cancer patients use similar methods as others with chronic diseases. About half of all cancer patients are believed to use supplements and relaxation therapies, but there is a gap here, as the least-used alternative treatments were hypnosis, biofeedback and acupuncture or acupressure. This was surprising, as these methods have been found to be successful in providing relief for cancer-related symptoms such as pain. All cancer patients should know that many complementary therapies could provide help in coping with the disease — and with the side effects of chemotherapy, as well.21

Probiotics Useful for IBS: Studies

Two new studies in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice illustrate that probiotics are effective in managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They both find that one probiotic bacterium in particular is effective: Bifantis. This is a form that is found in supplements marketed as “Align.” The probiotic fights inflammation and can get the gut to function healthily again.
One study compared Lactobacillus to Bifantis, as well as placebo. After two months, patients taking Bifantis had the greatest reduction in IBS symptoms. The second study found that Bifantis was significantly superior to placebo in improving stomach pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, straining and gas at the end of the four weeks. The great effects on inflammation suggest that Bifantis could be used to treat other inflammatory conditions — such as arthritis — but that, for now, we will have to wait and see.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cardiologists Weigh in on Natural Hypertension Aids

This story is all about doctors’ advice. The target is high blood pressure and the subject is whether alternative health methods can work for you. Here is what an array of cardiologists — heart experts — believes on the subject.

There is no question that patients are inquiring more and more about how natural medicine could help lower their blood pressure. There is a shift away from drugs happening. With this in mind, researchers conducted a review of evidence for a wide range of natural hypertension solutions.

Overall, there is not enough proof to recommend any alternative medicine on a regular basis. But, on a person-by-person basis, they believe that natural medicine could be very useful. Every person is different, and every person may react to a medicine in different ways.

Here are the top alternative remedies — some natural, some not –researchers have identified:

1. Lifestyle : They emphasize that all patients with hypertension should adhere to the low-salt DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is high in fiber and low in fats and incorporates lots of fruits and vegetables. Another lifestyle measure is to follow an exercise regimen for shedding pounds.

2. Acupuncture/Meditation : Research on both practices is mixed — the types of patients included, the methods used, and the results vary from study to study. While there is no conclusive evidence that either lowers blood pressure, researchers found that acupuncture reduces blood pressure compared to placebo in patients also taking anti-hypertensive medications, while in a meta-analysis,
transcendental meditation appeared to lower blood pressure. Other techniques that may provide some benefit include Zen Buddhist meditation and “Qigong” (the basis of tai chi).

3. Supplements : The remedy with the best evidence is coenzyme Q10, an enzyme involved in energy production that also acts as an antioxidant. Patients with hypertension tend to have lower levels of the enzyme, and studies found that coenzyme Q10 supplements significantly reduced blood pressure. The researchers think it could have a profound effect. As well, potassium helps lower blood pressure, and there is evidence that increasing the amount of potassium we get through the foods we eat could carry some of the same mild benefits as taking supplements.

4. Herbs : Researchers identified mistletoe extract, used in Chinese medicine, as a herbal remedy potentially useful for hypertension. Also, hawthorn, a type of tree, is also used, but provides only a slight reduction in blood pressure. Some remedies they found to possible increase blood pressure include St. John’s wort, ephedra/ma huang, yohimbine, and licorice. Consult with your doctor before taking any of these herbs.

5. Devices : A few devices may help. Two that can be used at home are the “RESPeRATE” breathing device and the “Zona Plus” handheld device.

The RESPERATE system uses a breath sensor and gives patients feedback through headphones to help them slow their breathing, which research suggests benefits blood pressure. If used 15 minutes a day, studies show that RESPERATE leads to a modest decrease in hypertension.

The Zona Plus is a device that patients grip in either hand and use to perform multiple sets of squeezing at different levels in response to electronic cues. Researchers say there is no good explanation as to why this works, but studies found the device decreased hypertension in patients using it three days a week for at least eight weeks.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Alcohol & Blood Pressure

Truth About Alcohol and High Blood Pressure

Certain types of alcohol, high in flavonoids, exert a benefit on your heart. They can protect this vital muscle from the conditions that trigger disease. One of them is high blood pressure. But the news isn’t all good around this link. Can alcohol help reduce hypertension? Does it help trigger it? A look at the medical literature suggests both.

One study found that, compared to the non-drinkers, those who drank every day or apart from food were at a greater risk of high blood pressure. Having one drink or more a day — typically hard liquor — led to systolic (the upper number) and diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure levels rising 2.7 and 1.4 mm Hg, respectively. For those who had more than two drinks a day, blood pressure levels rose by 5.0 mm Hg. The risk of having high blood pressure increased only in those who claimed that they drank without food.

Drinking alcohol outside of food is associated with a higher risk of death from all causes, including heart attacks.

Alcohol-related high blood pressure seems unrelated to the type of alcohol ingested, be it beer, wine or hard liquor.

Results from two of the largest U.S. population studies show that the risk of hypertension differs between men and women. In women, light-to-moderate alcohol ingestion lowered the hypertension risk; whereas heavy drinking (four or more drinks a day) significantly increased the risk of hypertension. However, in men, not only were there no health benefits with light-to-moderate alcohol ingestion, but also a definite increased risk of hypertension was observed with just five drinks per week.

In the large Physicians Health Study (14,125 men), those who reported monthly, weekly, or daily ingestion of alcohol experienced reduced total and cardiovascular death regardless of whether they had hypertension or not, as compared to those who rarely or never drank.

One drink every month reduced the overall heart risk by 18%.

Based on a meta-analysis of 15 randomized placebo-controlled studies with 2,234 subjects, reduction in alcohol intake led to lowering of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by-3.31 and -2.04 mmHg, respectively. This degree of a blood-pressure-lowering effect is comparable to sodium restriction. It is known that a 2.0-mmHg reduction of the diastolic blood pressure leads to a 17% decrease in the prevalence of hypertension, a six-percent drop in the risk of coronary heart disease, and a 15% reduction in the risk of stroke.

Only ever drink in moderation, always drink with food, and, if you have questions, speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits of alcohol.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

Take Measures Against Kidney Disease

Your kidneys work hard every day to remove waste products from your body. They also help keep your body’s chemicals in balance and help keep the amount of water in your body balanced. However, certain risk factors can put the kidneys in danger. Your kidneys can be damaged by exposure to certain drugs or toxins, for example. These toxins may be in the form of any number of harmful chemicals that include heavy metals, solvents, pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides.
There are also a number of conditions that can affect the kidneys and their ability to function: heart failure, diabetes, “hypertension,” liver disease, lupus and “sickle-cell anemia” are some examples.

Diabetes & Kidney Disease Often Linked

If you have an underlying condition, especially diabetes, there are steps that you can take to help protect your liver from damage. According to researchers, about half of those who have diabetes will develop early signs of kidney damage. Unfortunately, though, early kidney damage doesn’t really have any symptoms.
It’s important if you have diabetes to get regular tests to check your kidney function. It also makes sense to be aware of the risk of kidney damage so that you can do as much as you can to stop it from happening.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the leading causes of kidney disease. If you have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of kidney damage by managing your blood-sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure, you can help protect your kidneys by getting your blood pressure to a healthy level.
There’s a lot that you can do to help manage these conditions—or, in some cases, to prevent them. By doing so, you’ll benefit your overall health, not just your kidney function.

Control Your Blood-sugar Levels

With the help of your doctor, make sure that you have the medication and/or resources that you need to keep your blood-sugar levels stable. Remember that there are some relatively simple things that you can do to help keep your blood-sugar levels normal and help prevent diabetes from becoming a threat to your well-being. Here is a list to help you out.

Low-fat, High-fiber Diet

Add plenty of raw vegetables and fruits, including vegetable juices, to a low-fat, high-fiber diet. This will reduce your body’s need for insulin. It will also lower the level of fats in your blood, helping you maintain a healthy weight. Fiber helps prevent blood-sugar spikes, as it is more slowly digested than simple sugars are.

Get More Vegetable Proteins

Eat lots of legumes, like kidney, lima and navy beans. Some grains are also high in protein. Try “quinoa,” which has the most protein of all the grains and has a pleasing texture and taste. Soy protein is also a good source—it could help keep the levels of good cholesterol high in Type 2 diabetics.

Avoid Saturated Fats

That goes for trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, too. These oils, which are usually found in fast foods, could increase your risk for getting diabetes. Instead, use healthy oils like olive, sesame, flax, pumpkin, walnut and sunflower. Take a walk down the oils aisle in your local health-food store. You’ll be surprised at the number of varieties that are available. Give some of them a try—you might discover a new taste that you like. Just take note that some oils are better at retaining their nutrients when heated. Other oils may be best used only for salad dressings and in baking.

Avoid Smoking

Tobacco can constrict your blood vessels and reduce your circulation. It is very important to keep your circulation healthy and robust, especially if you are already diabetic.

Don’t Drink Sugary Beverages

One study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the effects of soft drinks and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that women who drank more than one sugar-sweetened drink a day increased their risk of getting diabetes twofold.6

Keep Dietary Ratios Balanced

What is an ideal ratio for carbohydrates, proteins and fats? Medical experts suggest that a diet consisting of 45% carbs, 40% healthy fats and 15% protein can benefit people with insulin resistance. Others maintain that a ratio of 50% carbs, 30% fats and 20% protein is a good balance. The important thing to remember is that carbs should make up the bulk of your diet.

Monitor Your Kidney Function

Make sure that you get regular urine and blood tests to monitor your kidney function. That way, you can keep track of any small problems before they become unmanageable. Knowing that you have signs of early kidney damage, for example, can motivate you to try some lifestyle changes that will protect your kidneys from further wear and tear.

Check Your Blood Pressure

When you check your blood pressure regularly, you are kept abreast of the health of your heart. Heart conditions and heart disease can impair the function of your kidneys. By getting your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor, you’ll know if you are within a healthy range.
The complications of high blood pressure can be quite serious. You know that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, but did you know that it could also cause kidney damage? If you find that your blood pressure is higher than it should be, speak to your doctor.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other conditions. Being overweight can be a major factor in Type 2 diabetes.
In one trial, called “The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study,” researchers proved that exercise can protect against Type 2 diabetes. The study included 522 overweight individuals with impaired glucose tolerance who were divided into two groups. One group was a control group, and the other was an intensive-lifestyle-intervention group, which included increased physical activity of approximately four hours a week.
The subjects in the intervention group were more likely to report changes in dietary and exercise habits than subjects in the control group were. Success in achieving exercise goals in the intervention group was 86%. The incidence of diabetes after four years in the intervention group was 11%, while it was 23% in the control group. The risk of diabetes was reduced by 58% in the intervention group—an outcome that was directly associated with exercise.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ease Blood Pressure with Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a “wonder food” — it really is. It packs an exceptional nutrient punch in a very small dose. You don’t want to eat too much of it on a daily basis, because it’s full of sugar and calories. But on the other hand, what are you missing by not having it?

Here is a quick rundown of an adequate answer:

Antioxidants: Maybe more than any other food.
Flavonoids: Natural plant chemicals protect you from chronic disease, especially of the heart.
Cocoa phenols: Lower your blood pressure.
Fatty acids: “Stearic” and “oleic” acids can neutralize and lower cholesterol.
Phytochemicals: A flurry of natural chemicals constantly being studied for their health benefits.
Fiber: High content means that you absorb all its nutrients well.
Epicatechin: Antioxidant that protects “LDL” cholesterol from being dangerously “oxidized”.
Essential minerals: High levels of copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese.

The fourth on that list (fatty acids) may be responsible for new findings out of Germany. Researchers there have proof that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure — a notion that hadn’t been proven until now.

They addressed it in a small study of 44 adults between 56 and 73 years of age.

Each person had high blood pressure or was just on the cusp of having it. Otherwise, they were healthy and taking no drugs. They were split into two groups: one received 30-calorie pieces of dark chocolate each day for more than four months; the other got doses of white chocolate. The latter doesn’t contain cocoa, the premium health ingredient in dark chocolate.

In the end, people in the dark-chocolate group had lowered systolic blood pressure by about three points and diastolic by about two. The white-chocolate group had no change at all. This doesn’t promise that this sinful treat can beat high blood pressure itself — you still need an overall healthy diet and exercise.
This is another strong sign that dark chocolate is an excellent aid for your cardiovascular system. But don’t eat too much! The amount used in this study was roughly the same as a tiny Hershey’s “Kiss.”


Deeper Into Dark Chocolate

For a long while now, scientists have known that dark chocolate protects your heart by working against the risk factors that raise the specter of heart disease. Because of its healthful ingredients, listed above, the food can combat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and hardened arteries.

In a 2005 study, white chocolate was again the comparison. Healthy individuals eating dark chocolate each day had a greater ability to break down blood-sugar levels (thus preventing diabetes). Also, these people had significantly lower blood pressure after just two weeks. This finding has been replicated in other studies. The difference is cocoa and the abundance of flavonoids in it.

And what about those antioxidants? A 2003 study had a dozen adults eat either 100 grams (g) of dark chocolate, 100 g along with a glass of milk, or 200 g of milk chocolate. Just 60 minutes later, those on dark chocolate alone had the most antioxidants. Researchers believe that milk from milk chocolate actually interferes with your body’s absorption of antioxidants. Dark wins again.

Last year, a study sought to find out exactly how regular, everyday chocolate consumption influenced the heart’s health. In the first chemical analysis of chocolate and our bodies, researchers found that blood platelets are less likely to clot together and form harmful clumps. This suggests that if you add dark chocolate to your healthy diet, it can provide added protection for your heart.

Researchers looked at 140 people with a family history of heart disease. In order to prevent clotting, they kept up an exercise program, didn’t smoke and didn’t eat or drink anything known to activate blood platelets. This included chocolate.

But then a funny thing happened: some people in this study loved chocolate so much that they couldn’t stop eating it. They were called “chocolate offenders,” and they were caught, but instead of disqualifying them, the researchers decided to use them as a separate analysis. And in these individuals, they first noticed that chocolate appeared to slow blood clotting and cause less platelet activity than what was going on in the other participants.

Without the platelets getting activated, it means that there isn’t as much clumping in the body. Researchers call the chocolate difference “very significant.” Everything that one eats affects platelet function and the length of time that it takes for blood to clot. So if your platelet activity is slower, it means that your blood is less “sticky,” less likely to clot and less likely to cause changes that could lead to a heart attack.

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