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health expert Dr John

Heart Health

  • Why you'd be NUTS to not eat nuts

    In my book, few things beat a fistful of nuts for a filling and delicious snack. And since they're packed with protein, good fats, and healthy fibre, nuts aren't just tasty, they're good for you, too.

    Now Harvard researchers say they're not just good for you, they could literally add years to your life.

    More on that exciting new finding in a moment, but first let's look at what we already know about nuts.

    Over three years ago, I told you about the humble walnut's apparent ability to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressuure. Volunteers who ate the nuts had improved blood pressure numbers during two different types of stress tests.

    In 2011, Tuft's University researchers revealed that nuts could help us control both blood sugar and cholesterol. When a group of type-2 diabetics was given a half-cup of mixed nuts daily for three months, it lowered both their blood sugar and bad cholesterol.

    And a more recent study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that snacking on walnuts could drive down a woman's diabetes risk by as much as 24 percent.

    Live longer and healthier with nuts

    In fact, at least 57 clinical trials have found that nuts may help protect you against heart disease, and a stack of others have linked nut eating with a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes. And with that kind of track record, it's really no surprise that yet another study has confirmed that one of my favorite snack foods is good for you.

    But what did surprise everyone--including those Harvard researchers, no doubt--was just how impressive the numbers that came out of this massive study were.

    The carefully designed study, which tracked 119,000 men and women over 30 years, found that those who ate nuts almost daily were an astounding 20 percent less likely to die from any cause during the three-decade long study.

    And the impressive nut news didn't stop there... not by a long shot.

    Regular nut eaters (seven or more times a week) had their risk of dying from heart disease plunge by an incredible 29 percent. They were 20 percent less likely to die from diabetes or lung disease. And their risk of dying from cancer dropped a healthy 11 percent.

    Eats nuts and weigh less

    Oh, and if you've been afraid to indulge in nuts because they're high in fat, I've got great news for you. The nut eaters stayed slimmer than the non-nut eaters!

    That's right, eating nuts will NOT make you fat, my friend.

    As I've explained before, nuts are rich in the good-for-you monounsaturated fats. Heck, even the very mainstream American Heart Association admits the kind of fats found in nuts are heart healthy and can help you reduce your cholesterol while lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke.

    And...you might want to sit down for this one... the usually clueless folks over at the FDA even stood up for nuts way back in 2003, when they recommended them as part of a diet to help reduce heart disease.

    Honestly, with results like these, unless you happen to be allergic to them, you'd have to be nuts to not include nuts in your diet.

    Solid research adds to the nut resume

    I do, however, need to mention two things about the Harvard study that you should keep in mind.

    First of all, while it was well-designed and solid, this was an observational study. And as I've explained many times before, observational studies can only show an association or connection between two things. They're not designed to prove cause and effect. (For instance, those nut eaters also ate more healthy fruits and veggies.)

    That doesn't erase any of the positives about nuts, but it's good to know.

    Second, the Harvard researchers made one HUGE misstep with their study. Unfortunately, they accepted some funding from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the Tree Nut Council folks. They run a fine non-profit organization. But once they forked over some money to Harvard it became much easier for naysayers to try to question the findings.

    Luckily, nuts already have a ton of solid research backing up their health value, so it's pretty clear that these latest findings--published in The New England Journal of Medicine--only add to that growing stack.

  • Can this herb keep peripheral artery disease at bay

    PAD or Peripheral Artery Disease is a painful condition and one you want to avoid at all costs.

    At first, it feels just like a little numbness in an isolated area of the legs, a prickly feeling or leg pain while walking…

    But in reality, this nasty disorder affects the blood vessels outside the brain and heart, causing them to narrow, restricting the blood flow to the arms, legs, kidneys or stomach.

    In advanced cases of the disease, ulcers and gangrene may also develop.

    As you can imagine, PAD is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

    PAD affects about 10 million people in the United States, approximately 5% of people older than 50.

    Diabetics and smokers are at highest risk of developing PAD.

    PAD is also more common in African-Americans than any other ethnic or racial group. And men are slightly more likely than women to develop PAD.

    PAD is a very nasty disease that very often goes undetected and untreated.

    Available medications are few and not without side effects.

    And so on and so forth.

    Have I painted a grim enough picture?

    Apologies.

    But that’s precisely the message that I want to convey.

    I want you to be very vigilant with your health.

    I want you to quit smoking if you are still stuck to the old habit.

    I want you to go out there and start walking, cycling or swimming.

    I want you to follow a healthy diet.

    Ultimately, I want you to stay away from this and many other chronic diseases.

    A little help along the way – Gingko Biloba

    Physicians in Europe have been using a highly standardized purified extract of Ginkgo Biloba leaves for treatment of PAD for a long time now.

    They call it EGb761.

    It has been estimated that 2,000 tons of EGb761 are consumed yearly in Germany and France, and this amount is increasing.

    If you are not familiar with Gingko Biloba, let me tell you a little bit about it.

    Native of China, Gingko Biloba is a very unique and persistent species of tree.

    A true survivor.

    In fact, the ginkgo is actually a living fossil, with fossils recognisably related to modern ginkgo from the Permian, dating back 270 million years.

    Its fan-shaped leafs have been therapeutically used for centuries in Asian traditional medicines.

    And while an extract from the Ginkgo Biloba tree has been thought to provide a "cheaper and safer" alternative to mainstream PAD treatments, a recent study hints that it does not reduce risk of heart attack or stroke in people over the age of 75.

    Really?

    How is that possible when twice as many subjects in the placebo group developed PAD compared to the ginkgo group in the six year study?

    No, I know that’s not proof that ginkgo prevents PAD, but isn’t it worth looking into it further?

    Because even if there is just a slight insinuation that ginkgo is a safe alternative for the prevention and treatment of PAD, it needs to be followed up.

    After all, Ginkgo has a long history of being used in traditional medicine to treat blood disorders and improve memory.

    Some studies have also shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky.

    Ginkgo leaves also contain flavonoids and terpenoids, which are both antioxidants. What does that mean?

    It means that Gingko assists in your fight against free radicals which, as you very well know, contribute to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

    Antioxidants like those found in ginkgo fight off free radicals, and stop them from damaging DNA and mitochondria (your cells’ mini-powerstations)

    So, don’t you think that there are enough reasons to give GB a try in the fight against PAD?

    I certainly think so but (and I’d like to capitalize this BUT): if you do take a ginkgo supplement, or if you’re considering one, please bear in mind the following:

    • If you take drugs such as aspiring and warfarin, slight gastrointestinal bleeding is a potential side effect.
    • Ginkgo contains a compound called ginkgolic acid. A safe maximum level is 5 ppm. Higher levels may prompt side effects such as headaches and skin irritations.

    The moral of the story?

    Prevention is key.

    Make sure you keep healthy.

    Stop smoking and exercise – move your legs and you will be warding off this very nasty condition and all the pain associated with it.

     

  • Golden Spice Better than Big Name Drug for Fighting Depression

    This is the tale of the David and Goliath of anti-depression treatments.

    This is the tale of a humble millennia-old natural medication proving to be a lot more effective than a multimillion dollar-backed pharmaceutical medication prescribed worldwide.

    Fortunately, this is a tale which, like many other stories in life, has a happy ending with lots of depression sufferers now starting to benefit from a natural treatment that is gentle on the system and free of nasty side-effects.

    That Mother Nature knows what she is doing is unquestionable. Unlike synthetic drugs, natural vitamins, spices, herbs and other organic foods are not only kind to us, they are also incredibly effective at multi-tasking.

    Take blueberries, for instance. These little indigo warriors are not only capable of warding off the toxins linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, they also work to protect us against diabetes.

    What about garlic? If you ingest this unassuming plant found in everyone’s kitchen you will not only be looking after your heart and immune system but you will unwittingly be shielding yourself against the never pleasant effects of food poisoning.

    Turmeric - a natural wonder with more than a few tricks up its sleeve

    Mother Nature could not have done a better job in producing a natural anti-inflammatory.  I’m talking about the very talented and supreme multi-tasker curcumin, a natural compound that has been used in Indian and Chinese homes for thousands of years. It's not just responsible for the vibrant, yellow colour of turmeric, but for its many medicinal properties.

    This polyphenol-rich spice isn’t just good at protecting us from inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Curcumin also helps us ward off cancer too. And that’s certainly worth a minute or two of your time.

    You see, several studies have shown that curcumin is responsible for reawakening the genes that help protect us against cancer and for triggering apoptosis (cell death.)

    And those are pretty impressive achievements for a humble spice.

    But there’s more:

    • Those very same inflammation-fighting skills found in curcumin have now been shown to come in very handy to soothe swollen and painful joints and tendons.
    • A study conducted in 2013 also established a link between curcumin and better blood vessel function and consequent heart health boost.
    • It is widely known to support our body’s insulin production.
    • Its inflammation-fighting ability makes it very promising as a brain-friendly Alzheimer's fighter.

    Is that it? No.

    Curcumin - the type of friend we need to help us fight severe depression

    A ground-breaking study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research has recently shown that curcumin is both safe and effective for treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  Designed to compare the effectiveness of a popular depression drug against the spice extract, the study randomly assigned sixty volunteers who had been pre-diagnosed with MDD to take either fluoxetine (Prozac) 20mg daily, curcumin 1000mg daily or a combination of both, for six weeks.

    These volunteers were carefully observed during that period of time and evaluated using the standard 'Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.'

    The results? I bet you can guess them.

    Curcumin was found to be an anti-depression fighting agent every bit as effective as the big pharma favourite, Prozac.

    With just a minuscule non-statistical difference of 2.2% between the two, curcumin proved to work just as well as the heavy duty drug so freely prescribed worldwide.

    No, hang on. That’s not quite fair.

    If we consider that curcumin takers in the study were effectively treated against depression without suffering  any of the nasty side-effects associated with Prozac, then the golden yellow spice wins hands down. Why? Because it didn’t produce any of the suicidal thoughts, nausea, anxiety, libido loss, headaches, tremors, diarrhoea or any other nasty side effects associated with taking Prozac.

    Why are we all not adding this miracle worker to our diet regularly?

    Perhaps we are being misinformed. However, now that you know, it’s time you did.

    If you're currently suffering from depression, talk to your healthcare practitioner about introducing this healing spice extract to your diet. And for a little extra help SAMe and St. John's Wort are both proven blues beaters. Forget those nasty anti-depressants and their even nastier side-effects.

    Add a little yellow to your life and stop feeling blue once and for all. (You may be interested to know that the recommended daily dose of Cell Defence -- our premium anti-oxidant formula contains 100mg of curcumin.)

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