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The Right Diet to Help You Lower Your Risk of Carotid Artery Disease

March 13, 2015

In a recent study, the Mediterranean diet, when followed strictly, was shown to lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women, which can occur as a result of Carotid Artery Disease.

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts, whole grains, fish, lean poultry and a lot of olive oil. It restricts the consumption of red meats, dairy, sugar and saturated fats.

Following the diet strictly could help lower your ischemic stroke the most, which occurs as a result of carotid artery disease, as well as cardiovascular risk factors. So what should you pick up at your next trip to the grocery store? Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

Stock up on Plenty of Fruits and Veggies

Fresh, nonstarchy produce is the star of this diet. Eat 5 to 10 servings a day (a half-cup cooked or 1 cup raw equals one serving).

Choose Healthy Fats

Olives and their oil are cornerstones; go for four to six servings per day (a serving could be 1 tsp. of olive oil, 5 olives or 1/8 of an avocado). Olive oil delivers healthy monounsaturated fats and plant compounds called polyphenols.

Fill up on Seeds, Nuts & Legumes

These are a great source of fiber and protein; nuts and seeds also provide healthy fats and antioxidants. Eat a serving of legumes (1/2 cup, cooked)—found in hummus or lentil soup—at least twice a week and a small portion of nuts daily (about 1 Tbsp., or 10 to 12 almonds or walnut halves).

Focus on Eggs & Fish

Aim to eat a 4-oz. serving of fish (about the size of a checkbook) two to three times a week. Eggs are also on the menu: Whip them into a vegetable frittata. Lean meat and poultry are OK, too, in moderation.

Have (a little) Dairy

Work in dairy from cultured milk (kefir, yogurt, fresh curd cheeses like ricotta); it’s easier to digest and supplies beneficial bacteria that contribute to digestive health. Enjoy one to three servings daily (a serving is 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1 oz. of cheese).

Opt for Whole Grains

Refined carbs lack nutrients and can wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Whole grains are best; have four small daily portions of whole-wheat bread, or try a pasta made from quinoa. And always eat grains with healthy fats and protein. Incorporate sprouted or fermented grains (hello, sourdough!) for easier digestion and better nutrient absorption. Or look for creative ways to swap out grains, such as using spaghetti squash in place of noodles.

Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices

They’re full of plant compounds with antioxidant and inflammation-fighting effects.

Drink Wisely

Make water a go-to. Many Mediterraneans sip espresso after meals to aid digestion. In North Africa, they choose antioxidant-rich green tea combined with mint for the same reason.




What Does Belly Fat Say About Your Health?

March 10, 2015

Belly fat doesn’t just sit idly at your waistline. Researchers describe it as an active “organ” in your body – one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances.

Abdominal fat is believed to break down into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and muscle. When these fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction which increases the production of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. When this happens, insulin can become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance can set it.
 

So Why Is Belly Fat Harmful to your Health? 

 
When blood sugars get out of balance, and fats and clots enter into the bloodstream it sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease and more research also shows that abdominal fat triggers changes in angiotensin, a hormone that controls the constriction of blood vessels, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. 
 

How do You Solve the Belly Fat Problem? 

 
While your genes can somewhat dictate your body shape, the story doesn’t end there. Most belly fat is related to lifestyle choices including physical inactivity and or poor nutrition.

Exercise is one contributor to losing belly fat. Walking, running and biking are a few activities that can help if done on a regular basis. Make a goal to exercise at least 30-60 minutes most days of the week.

While exercise is always important, the nutrition that you give your body plays an equal (and sometimes greater) role. Be sure to pay attention to your portion sizes, and make sure your meals include complex carbs ex. fruits, vegetables and whole grains. When you can, opt for lean proteins instead of some that are higher in fat. Stay away from white bead, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Also, be careful to watch where the fat in your food comes from, replacing saturated and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats may help rid some of your belly fat.

Here are some other simple tips to follow:

Avoid Processed Foods

Ingredients in packaged foods and snacks can be heavy in trans fats, added sugar, and sodium – which are three things that can make it difficult to lose weight.

Read Your Food Labels

Compare and contrast brands for the foods that you purchase. Ex. some yogurts advertise that they are low in fat, but they are higher in carbs and added sugars than others. Salad dressings can also contain high amounts fat and calories.

Work on an Eating Plan instead of a Diet

Pick habits and make a plan that works for you, and something that you can stick to. 
 

Look into Health Screenings 

 
If you have a significant amount of belly fat, it can be impacting your health negatively and putting you at risk for serious diseases.

Health Screenings for heart disease are extremely helpful when it comes to early detection. We believe that the power of prevention is essential to a long and healthy life. Here is a list of what our screening entails:

Life Line Screening utilizes state-of-the-art Doppler color flow ultrasound technology. You can count on this equipment for accurate, reliable images for:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
  • Carotid artery disease screening
  • Ankle-brachial index screening (for peripheral arterial disease)
  • Bone mineral density screening (for osteoporosis risk)
  • Full Blood Panel to check for cholesterol and diabetes risk
  • Electrocardiograph (EKG) to detect irregular heartbeat

Do you know if you have risk factors for Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, or other health diseases that could be linked to belly fat?  Take our ONLINE HEALTH ASSESSMENT to find out if you have risk factors and what health screening could be right for you.




Taking Care of Your Kidneys

March 4, 2015

More than 26 million Americans currently have chronic kidney disease (when the kidneys can’t properly do their job of cleaning toxins and wastes from the blood), and millions more are at risk of developing it, yet most people don’t realize it. That’s because kidney disease develops very slowly over many years before any symptoms arise. But left untreated, the disease can eventually require people to spend hours hooked up to a dialysis machine or get a kidney transplant. Even mild kidney problems can double a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as cause anemia and bone disease.

The reason kidney disease has become so widespread today is because of the rise of obesity, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure which all strain the kidneys.

Another factor is the increasing number of people who take multiple medications, which can overtax the organs. People over age 60 are especially vulnerable both because they tend to take more drugs, and because kidney function normally declines somewhat with age.

To help you rate your risk of kidney disease, the National Kidney Foundation has a quick, online quiz you can take at kidney.org.
 

Get Tested

 
Because kidney disease has no early symptoms, the only way to catch it before it advances is to have a simple blood and urine test by your doctor. So, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, a family history of kidney disease, or are age 60 or older you need to get tested. African, Hispanic, Asian and Indian Americans along with Pacific Islanders are also at increased risk.

If you’re diagnosed with kidney disease you need to know that there’s no cure, but there are steps you can take to help contain the damage, including:

Control your blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, get it under 130/80. If you need medication to do it, ACE inhibitors and ARBs are good choices because of their proven ability to protect the kidneys.

Control your diabetes: If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.

Change your diet: This usually means reducing the amount of protein and phosphorus you eat, and cutting back on sodium and possibly potassium. Your doctor can help you determine an appropriate eating plan, or you may want to talk to a dietitian. Also see myfoodcoach.kidney.org where you’ll find lots of kidney friendly recipes and nutrition tips.

Watch your meds: Dozens of commonly used drugs can damage the kidneys, especially when taken in high doses over long periods – most notably NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and generic) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn and generic). Herbal supplements can also be very dangerous. Talk to your doctor about all the prescription, over-the-counter and herbal products you take to identify potential problems and find alternatives.

Exercise and lose weight: If you’re overweight and inactive, start an aerobic fitness routine (walk, swim, cycle, etc.) that gets your heart pumping. This will help lower your blood pressure, control diabetes and help you lose excess weight all of which will help your kidneys.

Quit smoking: If you smoke, quit. Heart disease becomes a much greater risk to the kidneys if your smoke. Smoking also doubles the rate of progression to end-stage renal failure.

 




Help Out Your Heart

February 27, 2015

Your heart works hard to keep your body working and in motion, so it’s only fair that you help it out along the way. In honor of Heart Month, we’ve put together an with important facts and prevention tips.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, making prevention extremely important. At Life Line Screening we value the power of prevention, and offer a comprehensive heart disease screening to assess your personal risk.

LLS_Heart Month_Infographic_v2 (2)




Are You Following the Right Diet for Your Heart?

February 16, 2015

When it comes to taking care of your cardiovascular health, make sure your heart is in the right place.
More than fifty percent of Americans have dieted within the past year in an effort to improve their overall hear health, but are those diets doing the best they can for your heart? The only diet that has been proven to improve cardiovascular health is the Mediterranean diet, but very few people have adopted this method.

So why aren’t more people following this? Unhealthy choices that we make are from all of the confusing “fad” diets that exist, and the convenience of unhealthy foods.

Confusion About Dieting

There are plenty of diets that all say different messaging. Some focus on cutting out carbs, while others insist that fat is the unhealthy aspect in our diets.

However, not all fat is bad fat. Olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat, is a staple in the Mediterranean diet.

The PREDIMED study found that for people at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events by 30 percent.

Convenience Foods Make Heart Health Inconvenient

While we may want to follow a heart healthy diet, we often stray from our diet for convenience reasons. Whether it’s grabbing something on the run, or making a quick visit to the vending machine at work, unhealthy foods are all around us.

Change Your Diet

After you cut through the clutter, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Finding ways to substitute healthier, Mediterranean style foods for unhealthier ones is actually very easy to do. A Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables, fish, fruit, nuts, olive oil, lesser amounts of meat, and moderate wine consumption as well as consumption of whole grains. Repeatedly this combination of foods has shown to protect the heart and arteries.




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