heart disease

  1. Poor sleep can decrease insulin sensitivity

    What sleep can do to your diabetes risk

    You know how poor eating habits can cause your insulin levels to spiral out of control, leading to diabetes and other diseases.

    But you might not realize that poor sleep habits can do the same with insulin sensitivity-- and if you're constantly burning the midnight oil, I've got some news that I hope will get you back in bed at a normal hour.

    In a new study, seven young men and women spent eight nights in a sleep lab, getting normal rest on half the nights and just 4.5 hours of sleep on the other nights.

    They ate a limited number of calories to prevent those all-night junk food sessions that often accompany late hours. And they were all healthy.

    Well, I should say they were healthy at the start of the study.

    By the end of the experiment, these young men and women suffered a 16 percent drop in insulin sensitivity, with insulin sensitivity in the fat cells plunging by nearly a third.

    Even worse, those fat cells needed three times the normal levels of insulin to activate the enzyme that regulates blood sugar.

    Those are the kinds of numbers normally seen in the obese and even in diabetics -- not healthy young men and women. The researchers behind the sleep and insulin sensitivity study said it's the metabolic equivalent of aging between 10 and 20 years in just eight nights.

    Now, I realize it's a short study with just a limited number of people. But we all have weeks like that from time to time, don't we? And even when you don't, you often simply aren't sleeping very well most of the time.

    Most people average just 6.7 hours of sleep each night -- and I'm sure there are times when you only wish you could get that much rest.

    The effect of all that missed sleep might not be quite as extreme as what we see in the new study, but it's definitely having an impact, and that's why many of the people who get poor sleep face the same risks as the overweight and obese, even if they're slim and trim.

    For starters, poor sleep habits have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, hypertension, stroke, and more. In seniors, poor sleep can also increase the risk of dementia and even an early death.

    That's why it's essential to get the rest you need no matter how old -- or young -- you are. For some, the answer is as simple as turning off the TV earlier. Others will need more help.

    Don't turn to drugs. Visit a holistic physician who can help find the cause of your sleep troubles and correct it naturally, or make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

  2. Sitting down can increase diabetes and heart risk

    Stand up while you read this

    I know it's hard to believe, but one of the worst things you can do to yourself is nothing at all.

    The simple act of sitting down is a major risk factor for disease and an early death -- and a new look at data on nearly 800,000 people who took part in 18 studies confirms that sitting can actually double your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

    Too much sitting down can also raise the risk of kidney disease, especially for women. And to top it all off, people who are sitting down the most have the highest risk of death from all causes, according to the study in the journal Diabetologia.

    Now, I know some people think this doesn't apply to them -- they exercise.

    But that's not quite how it works. Even if you jog, run, or spend time in the gym each day, sitting down the rest of the time will more than cancel out all your hard work -- and the new study proves it: Even people who engaged in moderate or vigorous exercise shared the risk of diabetes and heart disease if they spent most of the rest of the time sitting down.

    And that's why being active means so much more than getting a burst of exercise in the morning or in the evening. It also means getting yourself moving during the day -- simple stuff like standing up for a stretch or a brief walk.

    That's easy enough for couch potatoes. You don't even have to turn off the TV to get a little more movement (although you should). Just get up and move around the room.

    For office workers, it's a little tougher...but it's certainly not impossible.

    Try walking across the office to visit a co-worker instead of solely relying on phone calls and email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. And just get up and stroll the corridor for a few minutes here and there (as long as that trip doesn't end up in front of the vending machine).

    Make getting more movement a priority as if your life depends on it -- because in many ways, it really does.

  3. CoQ10 benefits can help you avoid coronary artery disease

    High levels of coenzyme Q10 can help slash your risk of coronary artery disease -- and low levels may actually cause it.
  4. Lycopene benefits can cut your stroke risk

    A key nutrient found in tomatoes and watermelons can cut your risk of a stroke by up to 55 percent.
  5. Beta-blockers may not work at all

    Heart drugs used by 20 million Americans may not have much of an effect at all, as new research finds no benefit to beta-blockers for many.
  6. Alcohol can cancel out wine's heart benefits

    The best way to get the supposed benefits of wine is to skip the alcohol and go right to the polyphenols.
  7. Smoking increases risk of deadliest stroke

    Smoking can increase the risk of stroke -- and new research shows the habit can increase the risk of one of the deadliest forms of stroke.
  8. Why you need more vitamin C

    The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is set way too low, and researchers are now leading a push to have it increased. Find out how more C can help you.
  9. New risks linked to common chemicals

    Chemicals such as BPA and triclosan are everywhere -- but they're both dangerous, and new research identifies even more risks.
  10. Poor sleep habits raise stroke risk

    Poor sleep has been linked repeatedly to poor health, and new research shows how not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of a stroke.
  11. Brushing your teeth can keep cancer away

    A clean mouth can keep the rest of your body healthy -- and filthy one can ruin it. Now, a new study shows how poor oral hygiene can lead to cancer.
  12. Aspirin therapy can hurt as many as it helps

    New numbers show that aspirin therapy can harm as many patients as it benefits. Try natural approaches to cardiovascular health instead.
  13. Mediterranean diet benefits are physical & mental

    People who stick to the Mediterranean diet have better overall physical and mental health, a new study confirms. Here's what you need to know.
  14. Low magnesium levels can boost your heart risk

    Low levels of the essential mineral magnesium can double your risk of death by heart disease -- and you probably have low levels.
  15. Common chemical PFOA linked to cancer

    The common chemical PFOA used to make things non-stick and heat-resistant may increase the risk of cancer by 170 percent, according to an independent scientific panel.
  16. New attack on chelation is a threat to your mental health

    Exposure to toxic metals is often behind some of today's most common chronic conditions -- and there's one safe, proven, and effective way to rid the body of those metals. So naturally, it's coming under attack.
  17. Too much of this mineral can be bad for the brain

    Most nutrients are not only safe in high amounts, they're necessary -- because too many people simply don't get nearly enough of the essentials from diet alone.
  18. Soda scare: Sugary drinks linked to new heart risk

    Any time I use the words "soda" and "study" in the same sentence, it's never good news for soda. I can't recall a single study that shows soda benefits anything other than the bank accounts of the people who sell it. And the latest research is no exception.
  19. BPA in new disease link

    One of the worst things in your food and drink isn't an ingredient at all -- not in the usual sense, anyway. It's a hormone-like chemical used in the packaging.
  20. 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.

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