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7 Strategies to Live a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. When you choose healthy behaviors, you can lower your heart disease risk while also preventing other serious chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and some types of cancer.
 
Here are 7 tips to get you started: 

Learn your health history

Know your risks and talk to your family and doctor about your health history.

Eat a healthy diet

Make healthy food choices like more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugar.

Move more, sit less

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.

Quit smoking

Smoking can decrease blood flow throughout your body and lead to high blood pressure.

Take medicines as directed

If you take medicine to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if the information is unclear. 

Rethink your drink

Substitute water for sugary drinks to reduce calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation by limiting consumption to no more than 1 drink a day for women (2 for men) on days that alcohol is consumed.

Monitor your blood pressure at home

Self-measured blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use, and your doctor can show you how to use one if you need help.


 
Reference:
 
Chronic Disease, Heart Health by NCCDPHP, CDC

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Better Mood with B-Vitamins: B1, B6 and B12

It is widely known that a person’s mood and emotional state are results of situational factors and bodily processes involving elements such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients. The nutrients Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 have been found to play key roles in keeping a healthy mood as explained by the following:

1. Vitamin B1 keeps the brain active and energized  

The brain is considered a metabolically active organ accounting for over 20% of the body’s total energy expenditure. The brain is selective when it comes to its source of energy as it almost exclusively relies on glucose obtained from the carbohydrates that are consumed. The process of converting glucose into energy essentially requires Vitamin B1 or Thiamine.  This makes Vitamin B1 a crucial nutrient to keep the brains energized by allowing the conversion of glucose into energy.

2. Vitamin B6 helps the brain to synthesize the neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals responsible for one’s mood and mental function

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances made by the brain that exert an influence over mood and mental function. Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine contributes to a healthy brain function by being an essential cofactor in the production of a number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), noradrenaline and melatonin. Dopamine plays a role in reactions involved on how pleasure is felt while serotonin contributes to feelings of well-being. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and appropriate levels are needed to regulate or calm brain activity and to help reduce anxiety. Noradrenaline helps in coping with stress and in becoming active while melatonin is important in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle. 

3. Vitamins B6 and B12 help clear away metabolic by-products linked with depression

Whenever the body processes or metabolizes protein, it produces a substance known as homocysteine. Homocysteine accumulation has been linked to the development of depression. It was reported that up to 30% of depressed patients were found to have elevated homocysteine levels. Thankfully, the body is able to naturally clear away homocysteine through reactions involving Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and Vitamins B12 (Cobalamin). Maintaining healthy levels of Vitamins B6 and B12 may therefore be seen as a way to prevent homocysteine buildup. 

4. Deficiencies of B vitamins have been associated with the development of mood problems

Seeing that these B vitamins play numerous roles in keeping a healthy mood, it is no surprise that deficiencies of these B vitamins may lead to mood disorders. The Women’s Health and Aging Study done in 2000 resulted in findings that women with B12 deficiency had twice the risk of severe depression. In another study done in 2008 among older Korean people, it was reported that lower levels of vitamin B12 at baseline were associated with a higher risk of developing depression in 2-3 years. More recently, a study done in 2020 among Japanese yielded the outcome that in middle-aged and elderly women, moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms were associated with a lower dietary intake of vitamin B6.

5. Supplementation with B vitamins has been suggested to support a healthy mood and mental well-being

The results of studies on B-vitamin supplementation to reduce the risk of developing mood disorders have been promising.  In a study done in 2010 on 35,053 older adults in the US, it was found out that higher intakes of Vitamin B6 and B12 were associated with a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms by an average of 7.2 years. In another clinical trial done in 2011, participants treated with vitamin B complex for 3 months were found to experience lower levels of perceived personal strain and sad mood compared to those who were not given vitamin B complex. 

Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 play numerous key roles in the different brain processes responsible for one’s mood, ranging from generating energy, synthesizing neurotransmitters, and even clearance of harmful substances.

Deficiencies of these vitamins have been linked to mood problems, while supplementation have been found to be supportive of a healthy mood. Click here to learn more about Polynerv 1000.

For individuals feeling symptoms of depression, it is always best to seek professional help or to consult a doctor.

References: 

Young LM et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2232. Published 2019 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/nu11092232

Stough C et al. The effect of 90 day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011;26(7):470-476. doi:10.1002/hup.1229

Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy -A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. Published 2016 Jan 27.doi:10.3390/nu8020068

Seppälä J et al. Association between vitamin b12 levels and melancholic depressive symptoms a Finnish population-based study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:145. Published 2013 May 24. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-145

Sangle P et al. Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression Cureus. 2020;12(10):e11169. Published 2020 Oct 26. doi:10.7759/cureus.11169

Immune Boosting Healthy Lifestyle in the New Normal

In this pandemic, everyone tends to adopt with ease and embrace the community’s new normal. While waiting for definitive medical interventions such as vaccines and drugs for COVID-19, the focus should be on promoting and sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO), UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Non-Communicable Diseases and the Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine (PCLM) published information and articles online and emphasized some important lifestyle interventions that will boost immune response and give healthy lifestyle outcomes. Below are some practical tips that may help in adjusting healthily to the new normal.

Proper nutrition for the immune system

          • Eat a variety of food.
          • Eat nutritious food like fruits and vegetables and have a balanced diet to keep the body healthy. A well balanced whole-food and plant-based diet is known to enhance immune function in contrast to a meat and refined carbohydrates diet. Eat at least 400g or 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
          • A regular intake of food high in resveratrol, an antioxidant that combats pathogens like bacteria and fungi is encouraged. Grapes, peanuts, soy and berries were found to modulate immune properties.
          • Eat legumes such as lentils and beans and whole grains such as unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice.
          • Choose the right vitamins and minerals. Essential vitamins known to boost immune response are Vitamins A, E, D, C, and B complex. Important mineral supplements include Zinc, Selenium, Copper and Iron. Recent studies showed that these vitamins and minerals have positive effects in the symptom resolution of respiratory diseases and in improving the immune function. Keen knowledge and careful appreciation of the correct supplements and the amount that should be taken are vital in boosting immunity.
          • Cut back on salt and sugar.
          • Avoiding sugary food and beverages is extremely important to prevent suppression of immune responses. Limit intake of free sugars to less than 10% of the total daily energy intake which is equivalent to less than 50g or around 12 teaspoons of regular powdered sugar each day.
          • Limit salt consumption to less than 5g of salt or 1 teaspoon each day. Iodized salt may be used.
          • Eat a moderate amount of fats and oils.
          • Avoid processed food, meat products and refined carbohydrates which alter gut immune processes.
          • Eat less than 30% of the total energy intake from fats. Unsaturated fats like fish, avocado and nuts are preferable. Reduce consumption of saturated fats like butter, palm and coconut oil and cheese and trans fats like processed food, fast food and margarine.
          • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The body requires water in the majority of its chemical processes.

Ensure sufficient sleep

          • As much as possible, avoid modest loss of sleep because this alters the immune function. Modest disturbance of sleep produces a reduction of natural immune response thus resulting in an increased risk of viral infection.
          • Avoid using light-emitting diode (LED) such as electronic devices before bedtime because it may contribute to or exacerbate sleep problems. Exposing the eyes to the blue light spectrum suppresses the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin.
          • Get good sunlight exposure in the morning. This is one proven way of improving sleep.
          • Avoid eating heavy meals at night. This is associated with the deterioration of sleep quality especially among women. Having a light meal during dinner will help in attaining a good quality of sleep.

Engage in adequate regular physical activities

           • Do regular moderate physical activities. This helps improve the function of immune cells.
           • Avoid sitting, reclining or having low energy use during most of the day. A sedentary lifestyle is closely associated with an elevated risk of insomnia or sleep disturbance and cardiometabolic diseases. Furthermore, this ultimately affects the immune response.
           • Avoid strenuous and exhaustive exercises. This will decrease the natural killer cells and their immune response activity.
           • Seated exercises and stationary walking are encouraged. These are good examples of exercises that can be done at home especially during quarantine.


Stop cigarette smoking and avoid alcohol

            • Stop smoking. It impacts certain pathways of immunity and plays a complex role in causing numerous diseases such as cancers, allergies and heart and lung diseases.
            • Avoid alcohol. It disrupts immune pathways in complex ways the result of which is the impairment of the body’s defense against infection. Alcohol also interferes with gut microorganisms which are essential in normal gut function.


References:


Acero Michelle. 2020. Immune Boosting Lifestyle Intervention for COVID-19. Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine.

World Health Organization. 2020. Healthy at Home.

World Health Organization. 2020. Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases