cardiovascular health

  1. Mediterranean diet can prevent peripheral artery disease

    The diet that can save your legs

    At this moment, 8 million Americans are struggling with the debilitating pain of peripheral artery disease -- and millions more are on the verge of joining them.

    But there's one step you can take today that will practically guarantee a life free of the misery of peripheral artery disease, in which your leg arteries start to narrow and practically choke.

    And all you have to do is follow the diet I've been recommending all along.

    It's the healthy and delicious Mediterranean lifestyle, and what's especially remarkable about the new study is that it didn't put this diet up against the unhealthy modern diet of processed foods and other junk.

    No, in this case it went head-to-head (and leg-to-leg) with the supposedly healthy low-fat diet that the mainstream pushes on everyone.

    But while the low-fat diet did almost nothing to stop the leg arteries from closing up, the Mediterranean diet kept them free clear. It was so effective that the study of nearly 7,500 adults between the ages of 55 and 80 finds following it closely will slash your risk of the disease by up to two-thirds.

    Seems to me like the time is long overdue for the mainstream to stop "villainizing" all fats -- because clearly, not all of them are as bad as advertised. And there's no lifestyle richer in healthy fats than the Mediterranean diet, which allows you to eat fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds.

    Those essential fats can do more than just protect the arteries in your legs. They can also protect your entire cardiovascular system, which is why a major study published last year found this diet can reduce your risk of major cardiovascular events by a third, and stoke by nearly half.

    But let me get back to peripheral artery disease for today, because diet alone isn't the only cause. You could dedicate yourself to a perfect Mediterranean lifestyle and still suffer, because this disease can also be caused by exposure to metals, especially arsenic.

    And you don't have to be a poisoning victim or work in a factory to have high levels of it inside you right now -- because arsenic is turning up in food (especially chicken) and even tap water. (Read more about this threat in this free report from my House Calls archives.)

    A holistic doctor can test you for arsenic and other metals. If you've been exposed, natural therapies such as chelation can help you to detoxify.

    For complete testing and treatment in the Southern California area, make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.

    Not in the area? I'm also available for telephone advice. Call 855-DOC-MARK to learn more.

  2. Benefits of volunteering can improve heart health

    You gotta have heart

    Help others, help yourself.

    It's simple and old-fashioned -- but it's true, and not just in the sense that helping others will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The benefits of volunteering can actually help you in a much more direct way by improving your cardiovascular health.

    In a new study, 106 Vancouver teens were either assigned to volunteer an hour a week at an elementary school or put on a waiting list for volunteer work.

    After 10 weeks, the teens that did the good deeds had lower levels of inflammation and improvements in BMI when compared to the ones on the waiting list.

    But it's not enough to just show up -- your heart has to be in it, too, because the study found the biggest heart benefits of volunteering went to those who also reported increases in empathy and improvements in mental health as a result of their good work.

    While this study was on teens, I believe anyone of any age can feel like the benefits of volunteering -- especially seniors.

    Along with the very real spiritual benefits of helping others, the benefits of volunteering can also keep you physically active and mentally engaged -- especially if you volunteer at something that keeps you on your feet, moving and interacting with others.

    One recent study found that older people who volunteer enjoy improvements in quality of life, satisfaction, and overall happiness and are less likely to be depressed than non-volunteers -- and the more often you volunteer, the bigger those benefits.

    If you want to volunteer yourself and don't know where to start, contact your local church. They're always looking for some helping hands, and you know the work you'll be doing is good work.

    For other volunteer opportunities, contact a local community center or hospital, or use Google to find organizations close to you. Often just typing in the word "volunteer" and your zip code is enough to get started.

  3. The wrong way to control your cholesterol

    I'm not interested in playing semantics or choosing sides. As you'll see in House Calls, I'm only interested in the safest and most effective treatments for my patients -- and one of the areas where I combine the best elements of mainstream research with safe and natural alternative medicine is cholesterol control.
  4. Chicken thighs and healthy hearts

    Don't feel bad if you've never heard of taurine. Most people haven't. It's an amino acid found in the tastiest part of the chicken, aka the dark meat you've been told not to eat.
  5. Hidden risks of heart scans

    Diagnostic heart scans such as CT angiograms can lead to cancer, kidney damage, false positives and overtreatment -- and they don't even improve outcomes in healthy patients.
  6. Don't go low-cal to fight diabetes

    I can't think of any good reason to ever starve yourself on purpose -- but researchers keep pushing ultra-low calorie diets for everything from longevity to disease prevention. The latest: A new push to brand these extreme and dangerous diets as a "cure" for diabetes.
  7. Meditation boosts physical health

    Culture is a funny thing: In some places, you're considered a little weird if you meditate... in others, you're weird if you don't. Most people here in the West never even consider it at all -- but maybe you should, because a growing body of evidence finds that this practice of the mind can have a major impact on the body, including a serious boost in heart health.

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