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 What Women Need to Know About Heart Disease


 Ladies, it's time for a heart to heart about the #1 killer of women - heart disease.  
Did you know that only 1  in 5 American women believes heart disease is her greatest health threat? In fact, heart disease still kills  more women than all cancers combined. Heart disease does not discriminate, however there are several  risk factors that are known to be unique for women.  Did you know:


    ~Women who experience high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy might be at higher risk for these conditions and heart attacks down the road, and children born to women with these complications during pregnancy may also be at risk as adults


    ~Decreasing estrogen levels during menopause may pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. 


    ~Smoking is a greater risk factor for women than it is for men. 


 Here’s another tough one:  women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, and studies have shown that when patients present with heart symptoms, women are often twice as likely as men to receive a mental health diagnosis instead of or in addition to a cardiac diagnosis.  Therefore, it is recommended that any suspicious symptoms in women over age 30 be investigated for coronary artery disease. 

 

So, what do women need to look for? Be aware of symptoms like light-headedness or dizziness, nausea, sweats, flutters, paleness, anxiety, fatigue, neck and/or stomach pain, and shortness of breath.  These may be warning signs - don’t ignore them!


We have known for a long time that heart disease is preventable through healthy diet and lifestyle.  But what does this look like?  Let’s get down to some specifics:

 

10 Tips for Heart Health

1.     Nourish Your Heart.  Eat a whole foods diet including a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.  Emphasizing these foods helps maintain a healthy body weight and composition and also contains plant nutrients and anti-oxidants that help quench compounds that can damage your heart and arteries.  By doing so, this rainbow of foods can decrease inflammation in your body, one of the key underlying causes of heart disease.

2.    It’s elementary, my dear.  Magnesium is a mineral necessary for hundreds of enzymes that allow your body to perform many of its normal functions, including blood pressure regulation and a healthy heart rate.  Foods that are high in magnesium include dark chocolate (yes, I said chocolate), nuts and seeds, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens. You might also consider taking a high quality magnesium supplement like magnesium glycinate or citrate for additional therapeutic benefits.

3.    Eat healthy fats.  Omega-3 fatty acids found in high quality supplements and foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, pastured eggs, and deep, cold-water fish like salmon, halibut, herring and sardines have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and can help support healthy cholesterol levels. 

4.     Oh, those berries.  Hawthorne Berry is well known in herbal medicine as wonderful heart tonic. It is used to support healthy blood pressure levels and decrease LDL cholesterol, which is often touted as the “bad” cholesterol and is thought to increase risk for heart disease at elevated levels.

5.     Put out the fire.  Pay attention to your stress levels.  Activities like deep belly breathing and meditation can help support your parasympathetic nervous system - not only allowing for a deep sense of peace, but also promoting healthy blood pressure levels and decreasing inflammation in your body. 

6.     Move.  Spend at least 20 minutes moving your body every day.  Your heart is a muscle and needs to be exercised.  Activities like walking, dancing, and swimming increase circulation and strengthen your heart.

7.     Yoga.  There is evidence that practicing yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar and stress hormones.

8.    Follow your heart.  Spend time and connect with the ones you love on a regular basis.  A life full of love is good for your heart. 

9.    Heed the call.  Listen to your heart’s deepest calling.  Sankalpa, in yogic tradition, refers to a deep knowing of one’s own life intention or purpose. Explore and discover the areas in your life where you are called.  Your heart will be happy for it.     

 10.  Practice Gratitude.  It is thought that giving thanks, even for the little things, can improve heart health directly by decreasing inflammation in your body.  Living from a place of gratitude may also improve mood and promote positive health habits like fitness and good nutrition, both of which are foundational elements in improving heart health.  

Does this seem a bit over-whelming?  Seeking the care of a naturopathic doctor may be just the answer!   Research shows that naturopathic care is highly effective in the prevention and the treatment of heart disease. 

According to a 2013 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group of high risk individuals who received care from licensed naturopathic doctors (in addition to conventional care) for one year had a lower risk of heart disease than those who only received conventional care from their medical doctors.  This group also had better scores on another widely used method for measuring the risk of future heart attacks and strokes. 

When visiting with your naturopathic doctor, not only can you expect to gain a better understanding about what heart disease is, including its underlying causes and risk factors, but your ND will fully partner with you and collaborate with your other care providers in order to support you in making the nutrition and lifestyle changes necessary to promote optimal heart health and improve your overall sense of wellbeing.  



Healthy Bugs, Healthy People: Fermented Foods for Gut Health

Gastrointestinal health is one of the foundations of peak health and wellness.  Each of us has a unique population of bacteria living within us, referred to as our “microbiome.” When the “gut” is compromised, and the composition of these trillions of bacteria change or are disrupted, significant health issues may ensue including food allergies or intolerances, asthma, anxiety and depression, inflammatory bowel conditions like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s, and a number of other serious autoimmune conditions. 

So, how can we help support healthy digestion by protecting this environment, preventing this disruption and encouraging healing when compromise has occurred?  Start by using food first.  It has been known for centuries in many cultures that eating fermented or cultured foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir have medicinal effects and can benefit gastrointestinal health in a number of fantastic ways.

1. Healthy bugs. Healthy people.  Fermented foods are full of good, living bacteria that normally populate a healthy gastrointestinal tract.   There is some evidence that suggests the more diverse this “microbiome” is, the greater the potential for optimal health and wellness.  

2.  Easy Digestion. Fermented foods contain enzymes that support healthy digestion.  These enzymes break down the foods we eat in a healthy way, thus making the nutrients in those foods more readily available for absorption and assimilation in our bodies. 

3.  Pucker up.  Fermented foods have a sour quality which in Ayurvedic tradition is a part of optimal digestion and a well-rounded healthy diet including each of the 6 Tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent) In this tradition, sour foods stimulate digestion, increase circulation, aid in elimination and energize the body.

All of these things can be made inexpensively and with just a little effort right in your own kitchen.  For a great comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself fermentation check out “The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World” by Sandor Ellix Katz

I've included a simple recipe for sauerkraut below to help get you started.

Easy Mason Jar Sauerkraut


Ingredients:

1 medium head organic green or red cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher/non-iodized salt

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Large kitchen knife for chopping
Mixing bowl
2-quart wide-mouth canning jar
Smaller jelly jar (to fit inside the larger mason jar)
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
Cloth for covering the jar
Rubber band, twine or string for securing the cloth

Instructions:

1. Wash your hands and start with clean equipment.  You will be using your hands to massage salt into the cabbage.  Also, make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed well, leaving no soap residue.

2. Chop the cabbage: Discard the limp outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core.  Chop the remaining cabbage into very thin ribbons.

3. Combine the cabbage and salt: In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the cabbage with salt.  Work the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. As you continue, the cabbage will become watery and limp.  This will take several minutes.   

4. Pack the cabbage into the jar:  Pack cabbage and salt mixture into the canning jar while periodically pressing down the mixture with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage in the mixing bowl into the jar. 

5. Weigh the cabbage mixture down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.

6. Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth.  You can hold the cloth in place with a large rubber band or piece of twine or string, thus allowing air to flow into and out of the jar, but preventing dust or insects from getting into the jar.

7. Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the weighted jelly jar periodically to further compress the cabbage.   As the cabbage releases liquid, it will become more limp and compact.  Over time, the liquid should rise over the top of the cabbage.

8. Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.

9. Start Fermenting: As it's fermenting, keep the sauerkraut at a cooler room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Check sauerkraut daily and press it down when the cabbage is floating above the liquid. 

10. Taste:  Begin tasting after 3 days.  You can continue fermenting the sauerkraut for up 10 days.  Because this is a small batch, it will likely ferment more quickly.  When the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weighted jelly jar, screw on the cap, and refrigerate.  Your sauerkraut will keep for two months or longer if kept refrigerated. 


Have Lyme disease? Don't’ Miss These 5 Steps to Support Healthy Detoxification  


  We’re all exposed to toxins on a daily basis – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water   we drink, and don't forget the majority of household and personal care products we use every     day. A healthy body is designed to process and eliminate these toxins in order to support           optimal health and wellbeing. Supporting healthy detoxification pathways in the body is             important for everybody.  

  For people dealing with Lyme disease, not only is healthy detoxification important but also       critical in regaining balance in their bodies and ultimately moving further along the path to m   peak health.

  In many cases, we find that people with Lyme have an increased burden of these toxins – i.e.     from food sensitivities, environmental exposure to toxic metals and mold or from toxins that     are produced from Lyme treatment itself. Many of these people also have underlying mechanisms that prevent them from detoxing well or in a healthy way. These factors can be due to a number of things including genetic factors and poor liver function.  So, what are some things you can do?

Here are 5 tips for supporting healthy detoxification: 

1. Water, water, water.  Drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day can help support healthy bowel function and the removal of toxins from the body.  Add some lemon for more beneficial detox support.

 

2. Eat for Liver Health.  Foods like beets, artichokes, carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, garlic, onions and spices like turmeric contain compounds that protect and improve the very important detoxification function of the liver. 

 

3. Take your Vitamins.  Nutritional supplements like Vitamin C, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and Milk Thistle are among many of the nutrients and herbal medicines that can help support healthy detoxification. 

 

4.  Breathe.  The lungs are one of the primary pathways for toxin removal in the body.  Taking several conscious, deep belly breaths throughout the day can help support this process.

 

4. Heat up with an Infrared Sauna – Infrared saunas not only improve circulation, decrease inflammation and relieve pain, but they also increase sweating which is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of a detoxification protocol. 

 

In naturopathic medicine, treatment options are unique to every patient.  Like most diseases, Lyme and other Tick Borne infections result when there is an imbalance somewhere in the body that increases susceptibility when that person is exposed or bitten by an infected tick.  Naturopathic care can help support healthy detoxification and interrupt the processes that occur when someone is infected with Lyme, helping restore the body’s ability to heal itself.  


Flu season is no longer just around the corner but officially here!  Fortunately, there are a number of ways to support your immune system naturally to prevent and stave off more severe flu symptoms if you are exposed. Your body has an inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health. The following tips are rooted in this naturopathic principle.

Dr. Leslie’s Tips for Supporting Your Immune System Naturally:

1. Eat whole foods – include a wide array of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, high quality protein sources including organic/hormone-free/free-range poultry, eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild cold-water fish like salmon, halibut, herring, and sardines.

2. Hydration – drink plenty of pure filtered water every day.  This is especially important if you are fighting the flu.  I recommend drinking a minimum of 50% of your body weight (in pounds) of water (in ounces), f.e. a person who weighs 100 lbs must consume 50 ozs or 8 cups of water.

3. Elimination of sugar and processed foods - research has confirmed that immune function may be compromised within hours of consuming sugar.  When you eliminate the “junk” from your diet, you are more likely to be able to fight off viral infections.

4. Elimination of dairy – dairy foods can increase inflammation in the body.  Many people find it helpful to eliminate foods containing dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc.) in order to avoid or minimize flu symptoms.

5. Get adequate sleep – I recommend a minimum of 8 hours/night.  Sleep is essential for healing and plays an integral role in immune function.  Research indicates that lack of sleep may make us more prone to catching colds and flus.

6. Stress management - reflect on the role stress plays in your life. Consider ways that you might begin to incorporate stress management practices into your lifestyle - deep belly breathing, music, inspirational reading, yoga, meditation, prayer, walks in nature, and exercise.

7. Contrast Showers - End your shower with a cool water spray, starting your arms and legs and finishing with your low back, for 15-30 seconds to return blood flow to your internal organs.  You may repeat this 2 more times for increased beneficial effect.  Dry off briskly with a towel after shower.

8. Vitamin C - Vitamin C is a potent  immune stimulant.  Take a minimum of 2-4 grams per day if you would like to support your immune system during flu season.

9. Natural immune supportive nutritional supplements and herbal therapies - there are many natural supplements and herbal therapies that help support immune function for the prevention and treatment of flu symptoms. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about specific recommendations.

To learn more about a comprehensive and individualized approach to support your immune system, contact Dr. Leslie’s New Prague office today at (952)758-5988 or visit mnnaturopath.googlepages.com to schedule an appointment online.