The DASH Diet for Brain Health

The DASH Diet for Brain Health

Senior health has become a major focus in the past decade or so as the so-called Baby Boomer generation hit 50, and now 70.

With an aging population has come more cases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia than ever before.

As scientists study AD in the desperate hope of finding some form of prevention or cure, they’ve noted that many AD patients have certain things in common.

They are often overweight, eat a lot of processed foods, focus on carbohydrates rather than healthier foods, and have high blood pressure.

The DASH diet has been proven in relation to heart health, but can it also help with brain health and reduce your risk of AD?

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet, Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is a free diet that was developed when researchers noted just how many cases of high blood pressure (HBP) were developing in the US. Blood pressure tended to rise as we got older, and at first, was considered a normal and not too dangerous part of aging.

However, fast forward to 2016, and we now know that HBP contributes to a range of life-threatening diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Recent recommendations therefore state that everyone, no matter what their age, should try to maintain a healthy blood pressure of 120 over 70.

The DASH diet was developed in order to help people stay within that normal range through diet alone, not medication. The results have been impressive.

The DASH diet-easy eating

The DASH diet is pretty easy to follow, and there are lots of free resources online to help you get the most out of it. The eating plan emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy, seafood, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It contains less salt and sodium, sweets, added sugars, fats, and red meats than the typical American eats.

Salt is a major contributor to blood pressure because it causes us to retain water. Eating a diet low in salt by steering clear of canned food and ones that are preserved through salting and/or smoking, such as cold cuts, is key to lowering HBP.

DASH recommendations are spread over eight food groups:

* Vegetables
* Fruits
* Grains
* Fat-free dairy
* Lean protein
* Nuts, seeds and legumes (peas, lentils, peanuts)
* Fats and oils
* Sweets and added sugars

Eat more of the items at the top of the list each day, and few to none at the bottom of the list, and see if you can get your HBP down and boost your brain health.


Working People And Sitting Disease

Working People And Sitting Disease

A significant percentage of working people sit in front of a computer all day as part of their job, not realizing that they are increasing their risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, even if they take the time to get out there and exercise.

According to the University Health Network (UHN), more than half of all people spend their days being sedentary, either working at a computer or sitting in front of a television.

The research study by the UHN indicated that even if a person exercises, sitting too much can cause adverse effects on the body.

The research study looked at 47 other primary research studies that looked into the effect of sitting and the risk of death. The article was published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. It found that the risk of death among people who sit most of the day is 24 percent higher than those who didn’t sit as much.

It indicated that sitting eight hours a day is probably considered the cut-off for sitting “too much.”

The risk of heart disease deaths were 18 percent higher in sitters and the risk of death due to cancer was 17 percent higher.

Those who sat too much had a 13-14 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

The risk of dying from endometrial, ovarian, colorectal, colon, and breast cancer was particularly high among people who sat too much.

While exercise improved the risk of dying from these diseases, it didn’t reduce the risk completely.

Exercising resulted in a 33 percent less chance of dying compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. The studies involved almost 830,000 people so it safe to say that the results of the study were accurate.

It recommended that people stand more and exercise more in order to reduce their risk of these diseases.

Sitting Disease

While not technically a medical diagnosis, there is such a thing as “sitting disease” that is more prominent among professional entrepreneurs who don’t exercise and spend much of their time sitting.

It refers to having a metabolic disease caused by excessive sitting. It is a serious disease, causing as many deaths as patients who are smokers.

According to experts, the amount of time commuting to and from work plus the amount of time sitting at home is more than 7 hours per day.

People with sitting disease are 94 percent more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.

Men who sit more at work had a 48 percent greater incidence of death from various causes when compared to men who weren’t “sitters.”

Around 60 percent of workers indicated that they would be more productive if they were allowed to stand more than sit during their workday.

Fortunately, about 2/3 of employers offered desks to their employees that allowed them to adjust the desk so they could stand at least some of the time.

Besides cancer, heart disease, and cancer, having “sitting disease” increased the chances of being obese or having metabolic syndrome, which is a disease that affects glucose metabolism, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.

Another study looked at people who sit too much in front of the television. They compared the risk of various diseases in people who sat in front of the TV for less than two hours per day to people who sat in front of the TV for more than 4 hours per day.

People who sat in front of some sort of screen had a 50 percent greater chance of dying from any type of disease and a 125 percent increased risk of developing heart diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

The study made some recommendations as to how people could spend less time sitting.

Some examples included the following:

Work while running on a treadmill, even if the pace is slow

Do laps during conferences rather than sitting around a table for the conference

Try buying or acquiring a standing desk or use a counter to do your work on

Stand during lunch or when using the telephone

It turns out that any type of movement can decrease your risk. Even if you don’t exercise but instead just stand all day, your chances of dying from heart disease or other diseases related to sitting are greatly diminished.


The Effect High Blood Pressure Has on Your Body

The Effect High Blood Pressure Has on Your Body

If you have been told you have high blood pressure, you are probably wondering what effect it has on your body. High blood pressure that is untreated can result in many harmful effects on the body that can lead to many health problems.

It is important to understand the basics of high blood pressure and how it can negatively impact your body.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force generated by your blood on the walls of your blood vessels when the heart beats and when the heart is relaxing.

Your blood vessels are basically a set of interconnected tubes. The pressure of your blood flowing through them keeps them open. Much like your garden hose gets open and taut when filled with water, your blood vessels fill with blood.

If your blood pressure is too low, blood cannot be transported properly to all the cells of your body.

If your blood pressure is too high, your risk of  heart disease, stroke, kidney and eye problems goes up.

It’s important to keep your blood pressure in the normal range for optimum health.

When looking at your blood pressure readings, the bottom number or lower number is the pressure generated on the blood vessels when your heart is relaxing between beats.

This lower number is called the diastolic blood pressure.

Under most circumstances the ideal number for diastolic blood pressure is 70-80.

The higher number is referred to as the systolic blood pressure and is generated by the pressure on the walls of the blood vessels when the heart contracts.

The ideal number for systolic blood pressure is 120-130.

Your healthcare provider can take your blood pressure using a special cuff and instrument called a sphygmomanometer. You can also find digital machines in pharmacies or purchase one yourself to keep at home.

Ocassional elevation of your blood pressure is not usual.. Stress, infections, and activity can cause blood pressure to increase.

Taking your blood pressure while at rest will give you a picture of your overall blood pressure. If your readings are  consistently high it is important that you see your healthcare provider, so they can recheck your blood pressure and determine if further intervention is needed.

Breaking Down Blood Vessels

Perhaps the greatest damage that high blood pressure does is to damage the vessels that move the blood around your body. This is a critical transport system that delivers oxygen and nutrients and takes away carbon dioxide and wastes.

In particular, high blood pressure affects the arteries. These are vessels that take blood away from the heart to deliver oxygen and nutrition. They are under higher pressure than veins, which take blood back to the heart.

Having constantly high pressure causes the cells that make up the inside of your blood vessels to become damaged. They can actually become hardened. You might think at first that this makes them stronger, but it actually makes them weaker.

The tissue of the blood vessels needs to be elastic so that it can stretch when pressure increases and go back to its original shape when pressure decreases. But when arteries become hard, they can’t expand and contract.

Then as you eat a diet that’s high in fats, those fats can collect in the hardened areas of the arteries and eventually cause blockages. Because this system delivers blood to all parts of the body, many parts of the body can get reduced nutrition and oxygen.

Eventually blockages can lead to heart attacks – a condition where the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen and tissue actually dies. You can also become the victim of a stroke – bleeding in the brain that has the same result of tissue death.When arteries become weak, they can develop aneurisms. These are areas of weak walls in the arteries that bubble out. As they bubble out, they become stretched and unnaturally thin.

Eventually these can burst and can be a cause of stroke. You can also bleed to death internally when an aneurysm bursts and there are often no symptoms that this is even happening until it’s too late to repair.

If all this sounds pretty scary – it should. Heart disease and stroke are the number one killers of both men and women – higher than any cancers or other illnesses. This isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Hurting Your Heart

While we’ve discussed how heart attacks can happen when arteries are damaged, there are some other problems that high blood pressure can cause for the heart.

When your heart is constantly under arterial high blood pressure, it has to work harder. This constant wear and tear on the heart can cause it to simply get weak and wear out.

Even if you don’t have a heart attack, you can still suffer from heart failure. As the heart becomes weaker, it’s not able to pump nutrients and gases to the tissues and this begins to affect all systems of the body.


If you have had a heart attack that’s damaged your heart, this progression into heart failure can happen even faster. This greatly increases your risk of future heart attacks and heart failure.


You can also have problems specifically in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. These are called coronary arteries. They’re specialized in that they deliver blood from your heart back to your heart to provide it with oxygen and nutrients.


If they become hardened or blocked, they can cause your heart to perform at a lower rate and even cause a heart attack. They can also cause you to have an irregular heartbeat or chest pain.


Normally your heart is about the size of your fist, but when you have high blood pressure you can suffer from an enlarged heart on one side. The left side of your heart is responsible for delivering blood to the rest of the body.


When you have high blood pressure this side can get harder and can also get larger. An enlarged heart is not as efficient as a heart that’s the normal size for your body. This can increase your risk of a heart attack and heart disease.


Killing Your Kidneys


Your kidneys are also greatly affected by having high blood pressure. These are actually the organs that regulate your blood pressure. They do that by decreasing or increasing the fluid in your blood.


When you have high blood pressure, your kidneys can actually develop scars. Within your kidneys are millions of tiny blood vessels that become damaged when they’re exposed to constant high pressure.


As they become scarred, they’re less able to do their job of filtering blood. This can cause your body to not be able to filter waste properly and can lead to kidney disease.


You can also have an aneurysm in your kidney blood vessels. This type of aneurysm is very deadly because of how much blood travels through your kidneys – your entire blood supply passes through them. You could die from massive internal bleeding.


Finally, you may develop kidney failure. Kidney failure is the inability of your kidneys to filter waste either because of damage to large or small arteries that deliver blood to them.


When this happens you may have a buildup of toxins and have swelling due to increased body fluids. Over time you may require the process of dialysis. This is when blood is removed from the body and filtered in a machine then sent back to the body.


Ultimately, when you have kidney failure you may need a kidney transplant. However, the list for this is very long and the poorer your overall health is, the less likely you are to get an organ transplant.




Brain Damage


High blood pressure is also very bad for the brain. As we already discussed, high blood pressure puts you at increased risk of stroke. The effects of a stroke can include paralysis, memory loss, and even death.


However, there are other problems associated with high blood pressure. For example, people with high blood pressure are at a greater risk for dementia. This can be a result of not having enough oxygen being delivered to the brain.


You can also have impairment to your brain that keeps you from being able to process information. The earlier you begin to have high blood pressure, the greater the damage will be as you age.


Problems in the Bedroom


One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction in men is high blood pressure. High blood pressure affects all the blood vessels in the body and can decrease flow to the penis.


But don’t think that you’re off the hook if you’re a woman. Women also rely on strong blood flow to the vaginal area for sexual arousal and satisfaction. It’s important to both sexes to keep blood flowing freely.


In fact, treating high blood pressure often eliminates the need to take drugs such as Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Your best bet for good sexual health is good heart health.


You can also have trouble sleeping. Studies note that high blood pressure and sleep apnea go hand in hand. Sleep apnea keeps you from getting enough sleep and actually puts you at risk for heart disease and other problems.


Eye Opening Issues


Your eyes are also very sensitive to changes in your blood pressure. The blood vessels of the eyes are very small and fragile and particularly vulnerable to damage from high blood pressure.


When the retina is not supplied with blood correctly, it can become damaged. You can have blurred vision or even a complete loss of vision when blood pressure goes unchecked.


You’re particularly at risk for this type of problem if you also have diabetes. Diabetes and high blood pressure greatly increase your risk of eye disease and loss of sight.


You can also have blocked blood vessels leading to your optic nerve. This, too, can lead to permanent blurred vision and even blindness. It’s critical that you pay attention to your blood pressure to have good vision.


Finally, problems with high blood pressure can lead to a buildup of fluid in your eye. This excess pressure can cause damage and scarring inside the eye and lead to permanent vision deterioration.


Bad to the Bone


You can even suffer from bone loss as a result of problems with your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure lose more calcium than those who have normal blood pressure.


As calcium leaves the bones and enters the bloodstream, bones can be left weak and brittle. This increases your risk for osteoporosis and broken bones. In fact, most hip fractures in seniors are really a result of bone disease.


While men can suffer from osteoporosis, women are generally more at risk after menopause. It’s important to keep track of your blood pressure and take corrective