Currently viewing the tag: "cardiovascular health"

In this time of rapid and uncertain change, some things remain constant, like the ways to keep your body healthy and strong. A simple question would be: who stands the greater chance of withstanding the symptoms of a viral infection, one who maintains the health of one’s environment, or one who does not? Unfortunately, too many people fail to ask that basic, valuable question and instead argue over treatment options. Treatments are important, for sure, but whatever any particular treatment might be, the person who cares for his or her environment will handle the treatment better than if he or she does not. This is not a deep philosophical statement – it is simple logic. It does not depend on the virulence of the pathogen, either – in every way, people who care for their environment will have a greater probability of handling illness.

Staying Strong in the Era of Covid-19Athletes take many physical hits and stresses. They absolutely must condition themselves to withstand these stresses. So too warriors and soldiers of yesterday and today: only the conditioned can take the battering which results from their call of duty. Would you choose a conditioned horse for which to win a race, or would you place your bets on an older, deconditioned horse? There are almost always exceptions to the rules, but all in all, a properly conditioned person tends to fare better than a deconditioned one.

What can you do to strengthen your body? I have written a book on maintaining optimal health, so I could probably ramble on for pages. But let me keep things relevant to our current climate surrounding the coronavirus and its associated illness, Covid-19. Since it is mostly a lung cell attacking virus, keep your lungs as clean and conditioned as possible. I will not bore you with a quit smoking or quit vaping sermon, but I am certain that everybody understands that each habit increases risk. By no means would I share smoking paraphernalia at this time – bongs and hookahs might just be things of the past – smoking in the era of Covid-19 should be a solitary act. Personally, I would not hinder my resistance with any recreational drug whatsoever, but if you must, then stay moderate. Partying hard can, and often does, inhibit the immune system. If you are going to party, then just make sure you get plenty of sleep. Definitely do not go hard two days in a row.

Don’t run with masks onYou should maintain your cardiovascular conditioning. If you can run without pain, do so. Running outside on pavement is probably better than on a treadmill. Either way, get to a point of heavy breathing and sweating every time you challenge your cardiovascular system. Do not run with a mask on. Get fresh air: oxygen is paramount to cardiovascular health. Can’t run? Skip rope. Shadow box. Dance. Do whatever it takes to get your heart rate up and into a sweat. Strong lungs may not be immune to infection, but the greater the surface area of the lungs to absorb oxygen, the better for you if, in fact, you fall ill.

As always, eating whole, natural foods will keep you vibrant and well-functioning. Take this time of quarantine to cook most of your meals at home. Keep the dining out to a minimum. Try bringing down your caloric intake, if you are overweight, and exercise daily. I realize these are not always the easiest things to implement, but in my opinion they are the necessary things to do. As always, results will come down to your desire and commitment. However, keep in mind that one of the highest risk factors with regard to Covid-19 is obesity. This is not surprising information. I have made similar warnings throughout the years: Obesity exponentially increases the risk of falling ill. The reasons are many, and not necessary to delve into here, just suffice it to say that you almost always have a better chance of wellness by keeping fit and trim. Take the first step, the rest will follow.

Quiet your mind and talk to Self Keeping the mind balanced is probably the greatest key to staying strong in the era of Covid-19. The first, and most important, action you can take is to write down all the knowns and unknowns with regard to this virus. Do the research, look at the numbers. I think this activity is worthwhile, so much that I did exactly that last month with a group of students and clients (ask me how); it was enormous in reducing any anxiety we were feeling and putting things into perspective. The purpose of the exercise is to reduce fear, which can be a killer with regard to healing or worsening symptoms. Chronic fear rarely leads to better healing, so try neutralizing your fears around the virus. I can start you off with one major known: The virus is mostly mild, meaning the vast majority of people recover quickly. Some people do not even know they have it. “Vast majority” is well over 90%. Please put that number into your awareness. Seriously, research the virus, the illness, and the numbers. I am certain that one simple exercise will liberate you.

Finally, take the time to go within yourself: meditate. Quiet your mind and talk to Self – that part of you which is beyond words, thoughts, and ideas. Do this daily. Great inner strength comes from this practice. Add plenty of quality sleep and you will find your peace of mind is enhanced dramatically.

These tips are the absolute best things you can do for yourself in the era of Covid-19: Exercise, eat well, minimize smoking, sleep plenty, and balance your mind. These are the same health-enhancing behaviors I would recommend even outside a world-stopping pandemic. As I have said: some things may change rapidly, but the behaviors that strengthen the body remain constant. The numbers show that, for the most part (>90%), you will be fine. But take the time to increase your chances in that regard. Do the right things for your body and mind, and you might find this lockdown a great blessing.

Wow!  More out of the vitamin-D-has-greater-importance-than-we-ever-thought camp: Low vitamin D levels in the blood lead to unhealthy blood vessels.  You heard right, new research shows a link between vitamin D concentrations and cardiovascular health.

A study conducted by researchers from the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute showed that participants with the lowest D levels had an increased blood pressure, and thus increased risk of heart disease and stroke.  Even more amazing is that when the participants increased their blood levels of vitamin D, their blood pressure went down.  Amazing

Here’s how they found out: The 554 participants in the study were Emory or Georgia Tech employees with an average age of 47 and in general good health.  Blood levels of vitamin D were measured.  The average concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a stable form of the vitamin reflecting diet as well as that produced in the skin) in participants’ blood was 31.8 nanograms per milliliter.  In this group, 14% had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels considered deficient (less than 20 nanograms per milliliter), and 33% had levels considered insufficient (less than 30 nanograms per milliliter).

Researchers monitored the blood vessels’ ability to relax by using a blood pressure cuff.  To allow blood to flow back into the arm, blood vessels must relax and enlarge–a change measured by ultrasound.  The researchers also examined the resistance to blood flow imposed by the arteries.

After controlling for factors like age, weight and cholesterol, people with lower vitamin D levels still had stiffer arteries and impaired vascular function.  Lead author Ibhar Al Mheid, MD, a cardiovascular researcher at Emory University School of Medicine said,

“We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension.”

The researchers believe that vitamin D acts to strengthen the endothelial cells and muscles that surround blood vessels.  Al Mheid also believes that it could be reducing levels of angiotensin, a hormone that drives increased blood pressure, or regulating inflammation.  Wow, I wonder what these results mean for the overuse of statins?

But again, the best part: Those study participants with low blood vitamin D levels that then increased their concentrations by either supplementing or spending more time in the sun, were rechecked after six months and showed improvement to their vascular health measures and lowered their blood pressure.  Booyah!  Forty-two participants with vitamin D insufficiency whose levels later went back to normal had an average drop in blood pressure of 4.6 mmHg.  The study’s findings were reported at this year’s annual American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

What can I say other than “heck yes!“  Why should I care about these results?  Because it makes the universe more understandable to me.  I know with certainty that human health operates within universal laws.  I know that the increased incidence of high blood pressure today is not due to a lack of statin medication.  I also know that health is not random (genetics), and that vitamin D insufficiency is epidemic in North America.  Furthermore, it is not lost on me that blood vitamin D levels are low in many people at a time when dermatologists have scared people out of the sunshine and into big hats and SPF5000.

Here is just some more evidence that sun energy is essential to human health.  Everybody needs unprotected sun exposure on a daily basis, period.  Supplementation helps, but nothing–and I mean nothing–beats the healing energy of our life-giving sun.

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