Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Preparing for an operation – Get fit and make good use of the time.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

One of my roles over the years is to prepare some of my clients for surgery.  There are risks to any procedure, but you can make a difference to the level of these risks if you are a healthy weight, have normal blood pressure and boost your immune system.

With the best will in the world, and the best efforts of the NHS, it is still likely that you will be added to a lengthy waiting list for a non-urgent procedure. For most of us this can be a worrying time and the longer you have to wait the more stressful it can become. However, you could look at this period as a positive opportunity, to not only improve your general health, but also reduce the small but nevertheless normal risks of both anaesthesia and post- operative infection.

There are three areas that you can focus on for the weeks or even months before your operation and it is as easy as changing foods in your diet and improving some of your lifestyle choices. It is important to give up smoking and to reduce your alcohol intake. In the two weeks prior to the operation you should stop drinking alcohol completely.

1. WEIGHTLOSS

The nearer you are to your optimum weight the less risk there will be from anaesthesia. There are some practical issues to address. You are going to require more anaesthesia the heavier that you are, and this can affect your recovery immediately following the procedure. If you are very overweight and going to be on your back on the operating table for some hours, the pressure of fat in the chest area will compromise your breathing. The need for intubation is dramatically increased for obese patients as is the pre-operative work up which has to include far more tests than those undertaken for less overweight patients.

If you are scheduled for joint replacement, particularly hip or knee joints, losing weight ahead of your operation will improve your recovery time. For many patients it is the additional stress on the joints from being overweight which has caused the wear and tear in the first place.

2. BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

In the last two or three years there has been a steady decline in recorded numbers of MRSA and other post- operative infections. In many cases the patients concerned have been high risk having suffered long term ill health, being elderly and malnourished, or very young. If you have a number of weeks notice before a stay in hospital then you can take steps to boost your immune system giving your body every chance to not only speed recovery but also avoid contracting an infection. The body requires a very broad spectrum of nutrients to fuel the thousands of chemical reactions going on in the body at any moment in time but there is a specific range of nutrients that are essential for a healthy immune system and I give you an example of some of the foods to include later in the post.

3. REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE AND UNHEALTHY CHOLESTEROL

Modern anaesthesia practices are very sophisticated and if a patient has high blood pressure it will be monitored throughout the operation to ensure the safety of the patient. There are millions of middle aged patients who are currently on blood pressure medication and you should always continue taking that medication right up to the time of the operation and you will be advised of any changes to the dosage when you are admitted to your ward.

Having said that one of the desirable side effects of losing weight before your surgery will be a probable reduction in your blood pressure. The more stable and nearer to normal levels that your blood pressure is, the less risk of complications during and after the procedure. You are also likely to be taking pain medication following your operation and there is always drug interactions to be considered. You must however, not take yourself off any medication without the support and advice of your doctor and you can discuss this with him after losing weight and improving other lifestyle related risk factors affecting your BP.

Usually patients who are suffering from high blood pressure have also elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Reducing your cholesterol to as normal levels as possible will have a knock on effect on your BP.

YOUR PRE-OPERATIVE EATING PLAN

It is likely that you are not at your most active during the weeks leading up to your operation but there are armchair exercises and also breathing exercises that can help you lose weight and your doctor’s surgery should be able to advise you on these. I have a breathing programme that is easy to complete a few minutes each morning and night that does not require you to become over energetic and you can adapt for your particular health issue.

This post tells you more about the benefit of breathing efficiently and the exercises that will help you achieve that: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/lets-walk-a-marathon-internal-fitness-programme-day-two-getting-enough-oxygen-to-walk/

A pre-operative eating plan.

This eating plan is based on 1500 calories per day but if you are male then you will need to add another 300 calories in the form of wholegrain carbohydrates and lean protein. It is better to eat 3 moderate meals with 3 small snacks rather than eat 3 large meals per day. Your body will process the food more efficiently and your metabolism will remain stimulated throughout the day aiding weight loss.

It is very important that during this plan that you restrict your intake of industrialised factory foods completely as most are both salt and sugar laden, even if they say they are fat reduced and healthy. If you find that you have to use prepared food in any way then ensure that it is low salt. Be aware that hams, bacons and other processed meats are very high in salt usually and will elevate blood pressure even further.

Prepare your own foods from scratch and put a level teaspoon of salt in a small dish and this is your cooking and seasoning allowance per day. Try to move away from sugar and sweeteners and if you enjoy honey then try Manuka honey which you only need a very small amount of. Manuka is the subject of ongoing scientific research and has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties.

THE FOODS

This is just an example – any fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein that you enjoy is fine. Cook from scratch and if you are only eating around 20% of your foods from processed sources you should be fine.

Whole grains containing Biotin, Vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, phosphorus and manganese to boost the immune system. Fibre to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Per day

  • At least one bowl of porridge or muesli once a day. (4 tablespoons)
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread (4 if you are male)
  • 4 tablespoons of cooked whole grain rice (6 if you are male)
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables containing Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Bioflavonoids, Potassium, manganese and tryptophan to boost the immune system.

Per day

  • I glass of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 bowl of fresh fruit salad made with pineapples, blueberries, kiwi and fresh apricots
  • 1 banana per day.
  • ½ avocado
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Any dark green vegetables.
  • Walnuts or Brazil nuts
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • Protein containing Vitamin A, Biotin, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Selenium, Zinc to boost the immune system
  • Egg
  • ½ pint of fresh milk Cow’s or goats
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese even a small square or used in cooking.

Three times a week. (Spread over breakfast, lunches and dinners)

  • Chicken or Turkey (four times a week if you are male)
  • Salmon or sardines
  • White fish
  • Calves liver
  • Prawns
  • Lamb or beef
  • Pork

FLUIDS

Start each day with juice of half a lemon and hot water this will help boost the immune system, alkalise the body and get the digestive system kick started.

Apart from fresh juices such as orange, apple and cranberry drink (you can buy some brands that are just juice and you only need a small glass) at least 4 cups of Green Tea per day which boosts the immune system and helps reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol. Also Red tea with citrus or any other herbal tea that tastes good.

Tap water to make fluids up to 2 litres per day.

I hope that if you are facing an operation at some point in the future that you will look on it as an opportunity and by taking action beforehand you can save yourself weeks and possible months in rehabilitation. Getting fit before an operation may also save your life.

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to spread the message as far and wide as possible. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017- Top to Toe Your heart is only as good as the food you eat!


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

Healthy Eating for the Heart.

The aim of this eating plan is to help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of diabetes, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure all of which are contributory factors to heart disease. Ideally you will combine this plan with an exercise programme to maximise the benefits and you will find some links in the weight loss programme at the start of the year. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/weight-loss-reduction-2017/

Firstly, it is more than likely that you already know that certain lifestyle choices you have made may be contributing to heart disease. If you are a smoker you are at a higher risk of developing arterial disease and a heart attack. If you eat too many junk foods, high in saturated fats and sugars, you are risking high cholesterol and probably diabetes. If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol then you are again taking chances with your heart health.

The good news is that eating a healthy heart programme need not be boring. In fact it will mean that you get to spend more time in the kitchen experimenting with all the wonderful alternatives to fats and sugars that are available everywhere. You need not compromise on taste and after a few weeks you will wonder how you managed to eat food that was so fatty, salty and sweet.

The aim is to eat all natural, unprocessed foods that have been touched by no other human hands than the one who picked it, packed it and yours.

I am going to give you a list of foods that have a specific role in preventing artery damage and heart disease. In that list are some foods that are high in potassium, along with the minerals Calcium and Magnesium. Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health and calcium and magnesium are essential to balance the potassium in the body.

You should be careful of supplementing with potassium if you are on heart or blood pressure medications but eating fruits and vegetables that contain this mineral in moderation once or twice a week should not be a problem. It is also important to balance their intake with calcium and magnesium rich foods and I note those in the list.

It depends on the medication so always check with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.

The foods to EXCLUDE in your healthy heart diet

It is easier to detail the foods that you should not include in your healthy heart eating plan as you can eat everything that is natural and unprocessed limiting any other foods to a maximum of 20% of your daily diet. Notice that I say avoid – this does not mean cut out all together as that is impractical – but there is a huge difference between having two biscuits each time you have a cup of tea and having two once or twice a week. Ice cream is delicious and having once a week is not going to be the cause of a heart attack – but it will be if you have every day in combination with bacon, ready meals, cakes, sausages, processed sauces, biscuits etc.

These contain extremely high levels of salt and phosphorus, as well as harmful additives and colorants.

White packaged breads tend to have a great many additives, cheap brown bread that comes wrapped in plastic has probably been treated to a caramel colour rinse as well as having a white flour base. In house bakery whole grain bread is about the best option if you do not want to spend the time making yourself.

Although some margarine may be low fat they contain hydrogenated fats and additives and it is better for your health to have a little butter on your bread and potatoes.

Do not drink fizzy or condensed fruit drinks as they have extremely high levels of sugar and colorants. Also Aspartame is still raising its ugly head despite manufacturers wishing it into the healthy column. There have been some comments from people that they have it on good authority that it is harmless and that it is just hype. My philosophy is to follow the money. There is no financial gain to be made with the argument that artificial sweeteners including Aspartame are harmful to our health. But there is a great deal of money at stake for those who use it across the board in their products.

Moderate your intake of alcohol to no more than two average size glasses of wine per night or one spirit. Better to restrict to a couple of glasses when you are out for a meal at the weekend.

Take a close look at the labels on any mineral water that you drink and ensure that the sodium levels are below 1.0.

Foods that help your heart stay healthy

I am a firm believer in eating foods that are packed with nutrients. If you need to lose weight you need to eat less calories, but that should not be at the expense of nutrition. I have already introduced you to several of these foods in previous blogs. The following ones in particular contribute to a healthy heart and help prevent high blood pressure and elevated and oxidised LDL cholesterol levels. Combined with lean proteins such as eggs, fish including some oily fish and poultry, these foods will help maintain your healthy heart.

dsc_1207aw

Brown Rice Pilaf packed with heart healthy ingredients.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/smorgasbord-health-multivitamin-supplement-or-brown-rice-pilaf/

  • All vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which remove free radicals from the system and also promote the growth of healthy cells and tissue. They can all be eaten freely on your healthy heart diet, but here are some in particular that are very beneficial.
  • Avocados with their healthy fat that actively helps to reduce cholesterol. They also contain potassium.
  • Dried apricots are high in potassium and fibre.
  • Banana has fibre too, which helps clear the system of debris and keeps the arteries clean. Also it contains potassium so important for a healthy heart provided you are not on a potassium restricted diet. Don’t forget to include calcium and magnesium rich foods that help balance the potassium.
  • Beans for fibre to keep arteries clear, potassium, low fat protein and magnesium.
  • Broccoli contains calcium and magnesium to help balance the potassium in your blood stream
  • Brown rice helps keep your cholesterol down and your arteries healthy with its fibre.
  • Brussel sprouts for their antioxidants and potassium
  • Figs for their alkaline effect on the body and potassium levels.
  • Green tea with its antioxidants, which inhibit the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. This not only prevents plaque from forming but also improves the ratio of LDL (lousy cholesterol) to HDL (healthy cholesterol)
  • Kiwi fruit for Vitamin C and potassium
  • Oranges with their fibre to help keep arteries clear and their Vitamin C which prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oranges are also high in potassium.
  • Oats with their fibre called beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol and prevents plaque from forming in your arteries.
  • Olive oil for essential fatty acids.
  • Onions in particular which contain sulphur compounds that along with B6 and chromium help lower homocysteine levels in the blood- homocysteine causes platelets to clump so that they can attach themselves to the walls of the arteries and block them. One of the major causes of high blood pressure.
  • Pears for fibre and potassium
  • Potatoes for kukoamines to reduce blood pressure and fibre.
  • Prunes and prune juice for antioxidants, potassium and fibre.
  • Raisins for potassium.
  • Salmon, halibut, sardines and scallops high in Omega 3 and B6 – has the same effect as walnuts. Also contain calcium and magnesium.
  • Skimmed (semi) milk and low fat yoghurt for calcium, potassium, low fat protein and its possible ability to reduce blood pressure.
  • Spinach for many nutrients but also potassium and calcium.
  • Shitake mushrooms that have so many therapeutic benefits apart from their definite effect on heart health
  • Tomatoes for antioxidants and potassium
  • Tofu as a vegetarian option for low fat protein, calcium and magnesium.
  • Walnuts, most unsalted nuts and seeds with their monounsaturated fat which lowers lipoprotein in the blood. Remember, Lipoprotein causes platelets to clot which in turn can lead to strokes or a cerebral aneurysm. Walnuts also contain B6, which is very important for a healthy cardiovascular system in general.
  • Wholegrains in the form of unprocessed, fresh baked bread and natural cereals, without additives, to provide B vitamins, fibre and magnesium.

As always if you are on prescribed medication check the fine print but it is also important to do your research. Sodium and potassium are very important for the body and you should not or must exclude completely.

Our bodies are designed to extract the nutrients that they need from natural food we consume. It is the additional and hidden levels in industrial foods that are the problem.

Eating a ‘cook from scratch’ diet which is richly varied is the best approach to a healthy heart.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017

Please feel free to share and as always welcome your feedback.  thanks Sally

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited- One of the most dangerous silent killers of men – Stress


men's health

In the first post in the series I identified the main risk factors that are likely to result in serious health issues in men.

Stress is becoming a great deal less gender specific in our modern age as we are all bombarded with dire news from around the world, we struggle with finances, jobs and relationships. However, men still appear to be most effected physically than women.

I usually approach my work from a three dimensional perspective when working with clients. Physical, mental and emotional.  Women are more open to talking through their problems amongst themselves and this is a great stress release valve.  Men not so much.

We have all heard the expressions ‘The Strong Silent Type’ and ‘Real Men Don’t Cry’ or ‘Man Up’.  Unfortunately bottled up stress and emotions are not great for the body physically.

Raised blood pressure, over production of stress hormones leads to poor digestion and absorption of nutrients and if prolonged can lead to serious physical and mental health issues.

So part one today is a recap of stress and the effects on the body and if you recognise some of the symptoms then I suggest you read part two which I will post on Friday.

I have worked with Cathy Blackburn D.Hyp MIAPH for several years and asked her last year to put together a stress busting, self-hypnosis post.  You will find it very relaxing and puts the control firmly in your own hands when faced with stressful situations.

In the third post on stress I have some breathing exercises that you can complete every morning and evening for five minutes a time that will help to increase the flow of oxygen to the entire body and also reduce stress.

Stress

You need stress in your life, does that surprise you? Perhaps so, but it is quite true. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavour, challenge and opportunity to life. Too much stress, however, can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. In recent years several high profile personalities have died suddenly and we recognise that most of them lived highly stressful lives, which finally took its toll. But how many times have we been surprised by the premature death of someone we know, a friend or family member, who on the outside seemed to be healthy and active with a good diet. Unfortunately, what is going on with major organs inside the body tell a different story. Stress is silent and can be deadly.

What causes a stress reaction?

Stress is the modern day equivalent of our ancestral ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that was necessary in the highly competi­tive and predatory world throughout our evolution. There may no longer be sabre-toothed tigers or mammoths in our world but the modern day alternatives can be just as daunting.

A threatening or tense situation triggers this stress response demanding that we take physical action. Unfortunately most modern day stress involves situations that we cannot run away from; such as relationship issues, a demanding job and boss and not forgetting the traffic jams on the way home.

There are two types of stress, Acute Stress and Chronic Stress, and both have very distinctive patterns.

radio stress

Acute Stress is a short-term response by the body’s sympa­thetic nervous system and the response may only last for a few minutes or a few weeks. How many times have you said that your heart stopped or your stomach lurched during a moment of intense stress such as an accident? We have all heard stories of mothers and fathers who have been suddenly infused with superhuman strength and able to lift cars and other heavy objects off their trapped children. They are empowered to do this by the actions of their body in a moment of crisis.

Blood sugar levels rise and additional red blood cells are released to carry strength giving oxygen levels a boost. The pulse quickens, blood pressure rises and the digestive process stops to enable the focus to be entirely on regaining safety.

Chronic Stress is when this acute stress response is repeated on a continuous basis. Whilst the body, after a hundred thousand years, is well able to handle the occasional stress response and in fact uses it positively, if the response becomes a normal way of life, other parts of the brain and body become involved leading to long term damage.

For example, ongoing stress causes the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which are the master controllers for the body, to release a chemical called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce and release cortisol which disrupts sleep patterns leading to increased levels of stress. Our bodies are simply not designed to live at high alert for sustained periods of time; it just wears it down leading to illness.

How can we manage this modern day stress that is going to be a part of our lives in one way or another?

A major challenge in this stress filled world today is to make the stress in your life work for you instead of against you. Stress is with us all the time. It comes from mental, emotional and physical activity. It is unique and personal to each of us because we all handle it in a different way. So personal in fact that what may be relaxing for one person may be extremely stressful to another.

Too much emotional or mental stress can cause physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, ulcers or even heart disease, whereas physical stress from work or exercise is not likely to cause these problems. The truth is that physical exercise can help you relax and to handle your emotional and mental stress. Following a healthy diet that provides you with all the essential nutrients to help your body manage stress is even more important.

Symptoms of stress can be subtle such as fatigue, insom­nia, depression, headaches, back or neck pain, irritability and sudden weight loss or gain. The less common but more damaging are heart palpitations, shortness of breath, diar­rhoea, nausea, panic attacks, inability to concentrate and chronic fear.

Many people resort to stimulants such as smoking, alcohol or even drugs in the efforts to calm themselves down but in fact they are merely stoking the fires and increasing the levels of stress on the body, which can lead to disease.

A Word about Diet and stress

A healthy diet is absolutely necessary whatever lifestyle we have but if we are under excessive levels of stress then it becomes critical.

Make sure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is a leading physical cause of stress and you need at least 2 litres of fresh, pure water per day and more if you are on holiday or living in very hot climates.

There are some vitamins and minerals which the body needs to handle stress especially as during a stress interval the body will use up additional reserves of many nutrients. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary and here are a few of the particular nutrients that will help you handle the stress in your life.

  • Vitamin A mops up the toxic residue of elevated stress hormone levels. (Liver, fish oils, butter, cheese, Free range eggs, oily fish and Beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A from carrots, green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, orange and red coloured vegetables such as apricots)
  • Vitamin B1 improves your mood and is vital for nerve function. (Whole grains, seeds, peas, beans and nuts.)
  • Vitamin B3 helps you regulate your sleep patterns. (Liver, brewer’s yeast, chicken, turkey, fish, meat, peanuts, whole-grains, eggs and milk.)
  • Vitamin B5, better known as Pantothenic Acid, controls the action of the adrenal glands, which play a vital part in the stress response. (Liver, yeast, salmon, dairy, eggs, grains, meat and vegetables.)
  • Vitamin B6 is essential for the manufacture of the brain chemical serotonin, which is also called the feel good chemical. (Potatoes, bananas, cereals, lentils, liver, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, avocados, soybeans, walnuts and oats.)
  • Vitamin B12 is necessary to help produce brain chemicals such as serotonin (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, for vegetarians in Miso and Tempeh both fermented soybean products)
  • Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that is used up very quickly during a stress reaction and needs to be replaced immediately as a deficiency leads to increased levels of anxiety and irritability. Smokers should take in Vitamin C in their diet and under the supervision of a professional should also take supplemental Vitamin C. (found in all fruit and vegetables but best sources are blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rosehips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.)

Minerals necessary to help the body manage stress

Calcium helps you relax. (Dairy, sardines, canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and soy products such as tofu.)

Magnesium works with calcium and also helps to reduce stress. (Whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish)

Chromium stabilises blood sugar levels that create stress. (Brewer’s yeast, onions, whole grains, shellfish, liver and molasses)

Don’t allow your stress levels today creep up on you unawares in 20 year’s time, deal with it today.

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Some statistics and the posts to come.


men's health

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

I have worked with both men and women in my capacity as a health counsellor.  For weight management, but also pre-operative preparation and post-operative nutritional support. Men in particular will admit to only going to the doctor after several months of worrying symptoms or because they were nagged by their wives.

It is recognised that far too many men are being diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases too late.

There are a number of actually quite valid reasons for this. Some are personal, cultural and genetic! However, over the next few weeks as we revisit the posts from last year; I hope to convince all men to look at this from a different perspective.

If you have a partner and a family you owe it to them to be around for a very long time. If single you owe it to yourself to look after your greatest asset, which is your health. The reasons for not being checked are easily worked around and in my first post  I will show you strategies to do that. Ways to get checked for some of the key indicators to your health. Completely free or at a very reasonable cost, during hours that suit you, often with free expert advice and assistance thrown in.

During the the rest of the series I will post articles on the male reproductive system with symptoms you should be aware of. Prostate Cancer and how early diagnosis and targeted treatment can save your life.  Heart disease and symptoms to be keep an eye open for. Stress and how to manage to prevent your body developing many physical and mental lifestyle related health issues. Diabetes and how you, and the person buying and preparing your food, need to work together to reduce your risk. I also have a six week programme to reduce both Blood Pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

I will be taking a look at some of the silent killers that we invite into our lives. One in particular would seem to be very innocuous.. and 11billion of them are eaten each year in the UK alone.

There are some guest posts lined up from men who have shared their health experiences and those of members of their families. Delighted that Geoff Le Pard, Kevin Cooper and John Maberry have contributed.

I hope that you will join me next Monday for the start of Men’s Health Week revisited and help spread the message to #Getchecked.

Smorgasbord Women’s Health Revisited – Cardiovascular Disease – Heart Attacks and Strokes


smorgasbord health

Welcome to another of last year’s posts featured in Women’s Health Week.  Many health issues are shared by men and women equally but there are some diseases that are either female specific or in the case of cardiovascular disease becoming more prevalent in women than every before.

Most of us dread hearing C for cancer but we should really be concerned about C for cardiovascular disease. The signs can be subtle and it is only when there is a catastrophic event that a condition might come to light. Understanding how your body works and keeping an eye out for abnormal tiredness, breathlessness and unusual heart rhythms is very important.

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Some facts about this silent killer.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart disease and stroke – is the biggest killer of women globally, killing more women than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

  • Heart disease and stroke cause 8.6 million deaths among women annually, a third of all deaths in women worldwide. Of this:
  • 3.4 million women die of ischemic heart disease
  • 3 million women die from stroke each year
  •  Remainder 2.2 million women die primarily of rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and inflammatory heart disease
  • Not just a male disease
  • Women in low- and middle-income countries fare worse than men, experiencing a higher proportion of CVD deaths than men
  • Women with diabetes have higher CVD mortality rates than men with diabetes
  • Younger women who have a heart attack have higher mortality than men of the same age
  • Women are more likely than men to become more disabled by stroke
  • Immediately following stroke, women are more likely to experience serious problems compared to men
  • However, women are less likely to be prescribed aspirin in prevention of a second attack, less likely to receive sophisticated pacemaker models and less likely to be recommended for potentially life-saving cardiac surgery

Under-recognition of the risk

  • Women do not perceive CVD as the greatest threat to their health.
  • Young women still feel more threatened by cancer than they do by CVD

Risk Factors

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are largely similar for men and women.

    • Factors such as age and family history play a role, but it is estimated that the majority of CVD deaths are due to modifiable risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes
    • A woman who is obese, even if physically active, increases her risk of coronary heart disease by 2.48 times, compared to a woman of normal weight
    • Women who engage in physical activity for less than an hour per week have 1.48 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to women who do more than three hours of physical activity per week
    • Women who smoke double the risk of stroke. The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk
    • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of dying from heart disease by 15 per cent in women

Women with high blood pressure have 3.5 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to women with normal blood pressureIn the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

blood pressure

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Ideal Blood Pressure for your age.

blood-pressure-chart-by-age1

Symptoms of a heart attack differ between men and women and here is what to be concerned about.

These six heart attack symptoms are common in women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men. …
  • Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw. …
  • Stomach pain. …
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. …
  • Sweating. …
  • Fatigue.

It is also important to recognise the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or in others.

If any of these five symptoms appear suddenly, you may be having a stroke:

  • numbness or weakness of the arm, face, or leg, especially on just one side of the body.
  • confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
  • trouble seeing in one eye or both.
  • trouble walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination or dizziness.
  • Unable to raise arms above your head.

In both cases call Emergency services immediately or get someone you are with to do so.

Both of these outcomes can be avoided by regular checks for the Key Indicators.

For further information visit this link.

http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/fact-sheets/cardiovascular-disease-in-women/

Infographic http://www.idealbloodpressure.com

For further information on the circulatory system there are a number of posts in the Health Directory in the menu.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Even if you read this post last year, it would be terrific if you could share to your wider readership base to get the message out there.. Thank you Sally

 

Smorgasbord Pet Health – Massage for your pet that benefits you too.


I first posted a version of this early last year and as part of an ongoing process of resharing those that might now find a new audience, here it is………

cropped massage

I first discovered that Sam our rough collie enjoyed a massage when he was still only a few weeks old. I would lie on the floor on my side and he would come and lie down in my arms resting his head on my shoulder while I gently massaged his shoulders, back and down his legs. He would fall asleep and be totally calm and relaxed when he woke up.

Even when he was ten years older and weighed 40 kilos he still loved his daily massage. Whilst out on our daily walks he would run in front of me and almost somersault into a prone position.   A rolling eye was the clear invitation for me to begin a laying on of hands and he would be more than content to lie there for 20 minutes receiving this lavish attention.

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His favourite spot for his spa treatment, was down on the beach front, under the trees in the late afternoon with a lovely sea breeze cooling him down. Now tell me it’s a dog’s life.

In fact his massages benefited me too. Apart from laughing at his antics as he threw himself to the ground in his attempts to get his massage, after only a few minutes of working to relax his muscles a number of physical changes would be occurring in my own body. Heart rate would decrease, as well as blood pressure levels. Muscles would relax and after about 20 minutes I would be as relaxed as Sam was. Apart from the carpal tunnel syndrome that is.

As an added benefit, if you begin this massage routine when your dog or cat is young, you will find that it strengthens the bonds between you as well as offers another way to communicate.  If your pet is not well you will be able to spot this much quicker if you have built up trust in your touch..

As dogs and cats get older they don’t move around as much and a daily massage can be very effective in preventing stiffening joints and muscle strains. You need to be aware of a few social dos and don’ts when massaging a pet, particularly if your dog or cat rules the roost and thinks you are taking liberties. A mother animal uses the skin of the back of the neck, not only to carry her young but also to chastise. Gently massaging this spot releases endorphins in the same way as they would have been released during their very early weeks but they can also see this as an effort to dominate them. If you watch dogs meeting on a walk, one will always try to put his neck over the other animal’s to tell him who is the boss.

Massage techniques are very similar to acupuncture in as much as they stimulate certain energy points and channels in the animal and release pain relieving endorphins into its system. There are some very simple ways to ensure that both you and your pet get the most out of what can be a very relaxing and rewarding experience.

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First choose a place that you are both going to be comfortable. Don’t lie on the floor if getting up is going to cause more damage to you than you need. Perhaps if you normally share some quality time on the sofa in the evening, or perhaps when you are out in the garden or on a walk where you can let you dog off the lead safely away from distractions or traffic.

You can sit down and have them sit between your legs with their back to you. Start gently moving your hands down from their neck along their spine to the tail. Apply gentle pressure and you will soon know if your pet is enjoying the sensation as they will usually push back into your hands.

You know your pet well, some do not like their heads being touched, but most love to have a gentle movement from above the eyes, over the head and down to the neck. The velvet edges just on the inside of the ears are also a favourite spot and will also reflect different areas of the body that are being affected. Also as in humans the area each side of the neck gets tense and a gentle massage either side is bliss for them.

If they are lying on their side you can gently take their leg in one hand and with the other gently run your hand down the front side and backside of their leg. When you are moving your hands across your pet’s body learn to feel areas that are either hotter than anywhere else or produce a reaction in your pet. This could be an indication, particularly around the joint areas that there is some arthritis or inflammation that you need to take care of.

If you pet begins to hiss or snarl then leave your hand gently in place and let them settle. Avoid that particular spot and begin to massage another area that is less sensitive such as the length of the spine. This may be an indication that there is a problem in that area and a visit to the vet might be in order.

Regulate your breathing so that it is deep and slow and make your movements slow and deliberate. You can use your fingers gently to relax any particular knots that you find but do make sure you are very gentle. If you are feeling stressed and irritated do not think about massaging your pet. They pick up on it and will be stressed to. Sam was very partial to music at any time including on long car journeys when he slept soundly all the time it was playing and often waking up and complaining if it stopped! Soothing music and low lights are not only for romantic evenings with your partner they also encourage your other pets to relax too.

My advice is to start slowly. Each day spend a little longer rubbing and massaging your pet.

Do not massage an animal straight after it has eaten it needs to digest its food and needs a couple of hours of quiet time. Do not massage the back and stomach of a pregnant dog or cat because you might induce premature labour. You might find like mums in labour that they enjoy having their feet rubbed gently.

You may find that you simply have to ask other members of the family to take on the therapy if you are too busy and as you can see they too will have just the right touch.

Hope that you found this useful and thanks for stopping by.

 

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Artichoke Extract and as a food.


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I used to find it very daunting when invited to dinner with friends to discover a wonderfully fresh and fragrant artichoke heart on a plate in front of me. It is one of those more fiddly  foods to eat and certainly it is a job for your fingers rather than your knife and fork. As a vegetable the artichoke is very nutritious and has been used since at least Roman times as a digestive aid. It was not however, until the 16th century that the therapeutic benefits for the liver and in particular jaundice were fully appreciated.

As doctors became more intrigued with the older herbal remedies they began to experiment with the bulb of the artichoke and other parts of plant that had not been eaten previously and used them to create extracts. The leaves of the artichoke were found to be particularly potent and they were prescribed for jaundice patients successfully. Since then the extract has been found to be effective for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels too.

It is understandable that today when we go to the doctor they are going to prescribe a pharmaceutical product rather than a bottle of herbal tincture… After all there are no patents available on plant medicine; you have to add a unique ingredient. However, most of our modern day medicines still use derivatives of plants for their manufacture and it is worth consulting a qualified herbalist to explore the original format as an option.

Artichoke is a phytopharmaceutical and has been the subject of quite extensive research with clinical effects being documented. It is recognised as an antioxidant that protects the liver, bile production and cholesterol lowering. It is entirely possible that the natural form of this plant may be just as or more effective than a synthesized product.

One of the main active components of the leaves has been identified as Cynarin and was the first to be extracted in the 1930s. It is only a trace element in the fresh leaves but undergoes significant changes as the leaves go through the drying and extraction process. The potency of the artichoke however, does not come from just one component and other elements such as chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant have been identified as being equally powerful.

The main use of the extract is to improve the digestive process and to enhance liver function and more recently as a natural way to lower high LDL cholesterol which is the more unhealthy type. Cholesterol has an important role to play in the body including hormone production and brain health but if our diet is unhealthy, the LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein becomes oxidised (usually from a high sugar diet) and its smaller particles attach to the walls of the arteries and form clumps that block blood flow. The dual effect of the artichoke extract is to not only act as an antioxidant preventing the oxidation by free radicals in the first place, but also to lower the level of the LDL.

The Liver

Our liver is the largest waste organ inside our body and as such comes under enormous pressure if we have a poor diet. We as humans are built to deal with many toxins. In the early part of human evolution we ate a lot of foods that were contaminated or possibly toxic; our livers are very proficient in removing these dangerous additives as quickly as possible. The digestive system is designed so that the stomach acid dissolves the food and as you will know if you have ever suffered from food poisoning there is usually a very quick response to contaminated food!

However, some of the toxin might still get through as far as the liver and it needs to be excreted from the body as effectively as possible. This is where bile enters the formula. It is manufactured in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. You may be surprised to learn that the liver produces around about 2 pints of bile per day and this is secreted into the small intestine where it processes the fats we have consumed and ensures that fat soluble vitamins are absorbed effectively. Bile is also essential for detoxing the liver as it carries the toxins away into the intestine to be eliminated from the body.

There are a number of clinical studies ongoing into the benefits of artichoke extract and it will be interesting to see the results of these in coming years.

In a nutshell.

Artichoke extract can be used to stimulate bile flow from the liver which may help reduce the symptoms of heartburn, protect the LDL cholesterol from oxidation and lower levels, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), improve kidney function, fluid retention, bladder infections and improve liver function.

Gallstones and gallbladder disease is not uncommon especially as we get older and have not had the best diet. It can also be a familial condition and we have it in our family. Artichoke may prevent the formation of gallstones and improve bile flow which is very important for the removal of toxins and long-term health.

Some cultures also use artichoke extract for lowering blood pressure and blood sugar or as a tonic.

As a food Artichokes contain many essential nutrients.

FOLATE: FOLIC ACID; Folic acid is a B vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It helps form the building blocks of DNA the body’s genetic information which is why it is recommended prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to ensure the rapidly growing and replicating cells of the foetus are normal. This helps prevent low birth weight and abnormalities such as Heart defects or lip and palate malformations. It also helps prevent complications during pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia

It is essential for transporting co-enzymes needed for amino acid metabolism in the body and is necessary for a functioning nervous system.

VITAMIN C: ASCORBIC ACID; An antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) from oxidative damage, leading to hardening of the arteries. May also protect against heart disease reducing the hardening of arteries and the tendency of platelets to clump together blocking them. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, which acts like glue strengthening parts of the body such as muscles and blood vessels. It aids with healing and is a natural anti-histamine.

It is essential for the action of the Immune system and plays a part in the actions of the white blood cells and anti-bodies. It protects other antioxidants A and E from free radical damage and is involved in the production of some adrenal hormones

VITAMIN K: PHYLLOQUINONE; Necessary for proper bone formation and blood clotting, preventing calcification in our blood vessels and maintaining a healthy neurological system including in the brain.

MANGANESE: Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage. It is also needed for the efficient metabolism of cholesterol, amino acids and fatty acids. It may aid in weight loss as our body more efficiently processes the foods that we eat.

POTASSIUM: This is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms and to keep Blood Pressure within a healthy range.

So as you can see plenty of great reasons to eat artichokes at least once a week and if like me you find the preparation and eating of this nutritious vegetable a bit of a problem then here is a ‘How To’ from Youtube.

Thanks to Shadow of Juniper Hill

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

You will find other posts in this series here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/medicine-womans-treasure-chest-herbs-and-spices/

Thanks for dropping by and I am always delighted with your feedback and please feel free to share the information.

 

Size Matters (Especially when you weigh 330lbs.) – Diary of a fat woman – Serialisation


I am not tied into any other publisher or Amazon so I am fortunate enough to be able to share part or all of my books here on my blog. When I wrote my first book it was as a journal during the 18 months it took me to lose 11stone (154lbs.)

After many failed attempts to lose weight over the years, I had finally taken matters into my own hands and grabbed books on the human body and nutrition. This provided me with the basic knowledge to change my diet and lifestyle and I later went on to complete a diploma course in nutritional therapy.

Size Matters was not just my journal, but when published, was a way to spread the message that obesity kills and that you could change that outcome, by making some very simple decisions and changes to your lifestyle.. I realised very early on that respecting my body did not mean starving it but feeding it.

When I returned to Ireland from Belgium in 1998 I bought a health food shop and in the back office I opened the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre. over the next three years I saw over 1000 clients who were either overweight or suffered from lifestyle related health issues such as elevated blood pressure, too much of the unhealthy LDL cholesterol or pre-diabetes. At the end of the post I have included some of their comments about the programme I designed and still use today with some small tweaks tailor made for my age and activity levels.

Size Matters was published by Trafford Publishing in 2001 and received a lot of national press as it was one of the first ‘weight loss’ stories. Updated version two of the book was one of our first as Moyhill Publishing in 2004.

For the last 18 years my goal has not changed. To try and spread the message about healthy eating as far and wide as possible in articles, radio programmes, books and of course here on the blog.

To that end I am serialising Size Matters over the next few weeks freely on the blog. I hope that having read my own story, you will feel you can share with others and perhaps encourage them to take that first step towards a healthier life. First the introduction and then coming up soon Chapter One.

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Introduction

This is the fourth edition of Size Matter and although I have continued my nutritional studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating, I still believe that this basic weight loss programme works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book. Our emotions, mental attitude and our physical health are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

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I used to be 330 lbs. and was given a death sentence twenty years ago. I had very high blood pressure, cholesterol levels through the roof and my blood was awash with sugar. I took this swift kick up the backside to heart and did something about it, losing 154 lbs. and regaining my health in the process.  Here is a different me… in 1999 in our home in Madrid.

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I am now 62 years old, have an active and busy lifestyle and, thankfully, do not need medication other than the odd supplement when required. I still continue to write books, radio programming and a daily health blog. Most mornings I get a couple of miles under my belt on my treadmill outside overlooking the garden. Mid stride, whilst listening to a bit of Status Quo, I think about those days 20 years ago, when even climbing the stairs to bed were a challenge and left me breathless.

There have been times in the last twenty years when I toppled and nearly fell back into old ways… Stress, slipping back into the old sugar addiction and simply taking my eye of the end game… easy to do when life intrudes.

My story, and the programme that I have adapted over the years, is still relevant today, as we face a massive increase in obesity and in the associated health problems – Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and Dementia.

I hope that you will find the following chapters of help to you as you take back control and responsibility for your weight and your health.

As you read this book you will realise that I am very anti crash and fad dieting. I starved my body into submission for over thirty years and my body responded by storing everything I ate. I will explain this process in more detail later in the book but for the moment I just want to reassure you that this programme is about eating and not starving. You need to provide your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to function and be healthy. This means eating the right food, and plenty of it.

My journey began in despair, with a long road stretching ahead of me. Luckily I had a wonderful team to support me and I would have achieved very little in those first few months without my husband’s love and support. My family, friends and my dog loved me whatever weight I have been but I know that they were tremendously relieved when I gave up my self-destructive behaviour and changed my life so drastically.

I now communicate with people around the world who have severe obesity problems as well as those people who want to improve the standard of their health or support their body as it deals with certain medical problems. I believe passionately in the power of food to help you lose weight and regain health and I am on a constant mission to learn more about all the wonderful varieties that are available to us.

This book is not just about promoting a healthier lifestyle. It is a personal story that I hope will inspire other people who are desperate to find a solution to their weight or health problem.

This was my journey and I hope that after reading the first few chapters you will relate how I felt, to your own story, and be motivated to take control of your weight and health. Whether you need to lose 14 lbs. (6 kg), 50 lbs. (23 kg) or 150 lbs. (68 kg), it is still necessary to understand how you managed to become overweight in the first place.

There are mental, physical and emotional reasons that affect our lifestyle and remembering those difficult, formative times in our lives can sometimes be painful. I was lucky, in that I had many happy memories too. When you finally succeed in making all the jigsaw pieces fit it gives you an amazing buzz and that feeling persists for me today.

Along the way I have climbed a very steep learning curve. For instance, I came to appreciate the power of that little word NO. Instinctively we want to fit in, to have people like and accept us, and so we say YES, but trying to please everyone is stressful and unrewarding.

The satisfaction of eating a bar of chocolate is nothing compared to the satisfaction I feel now when I say NO to eating one. I can now say NO to many things that have caused me harm, though I have had to learn to say it graciously without offending well-meaning family and friends.

My reason for sharing some of the most challenging and also the brightest moments of my life is to show others who have a self-destructive problem such as obesity that you can say NO and transform your life. Furthermore, saying NO to dieting and YES to eating is a lot more fun!

I believe in working with people on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a group, helping them to achieve their desired weight loss. In a way that is also achieved as you read this book or follow my daily health blog. The program that many now follow forms the second part of this book. Everything is there for you to design your own healthy eating program around your personal likes, dislikes and lifestyle.

If you are overweight, you need to take back control of your life and your eating habits, and this program is a tool to do just that. No gimmicks, pills or special diet foods, just good healthy eating, several times a day, with some walks thrown in. Nothing hard about that. We all possess the ingredients to ensure the success of this program – determination, willpower and patience. All that remains is to discover how to activate those particular skills and start using them.

My life has been transformed, and there is no way in the world that I will go back to the old life. The new life is too exciting and rewarding. If this book makes a similar difference for just one person, then it will have been worth it.

If I can communicate a single message to you it is that obesity, and the misery attached to it, need not be for life.

Here is the book trailer which was a kind gift from Catalina Egan http://thebridgeofdeaths.com/

Comments from some of my clients over the years.

I came to see Sally Georgina in November 1999. My weight at the time was 336 lbs. and to be honest I was feeling tired and unwell in myself. I was put on a food plan suited to me and I have lost over 98 lbs. in eleven months and feel great. (L.B.)

Over the past twenty years I have tried everything that came on the market in order to lose weight, spent a fortune and still ended back in the yo-yo dieting syndrome. In the last ten weeks my life has changed. I have lost 28 lbs. Doing what? Eating! – Eating properly and regularly, and exercising sensibly. The hard part … remembering to eat all that I’m supposed to. (M.M.)

I have had a weight problem since I was pregnant with my first child nine years ago. The weight ballooned up with each pregnancy since. I have tried many diets. They work for a little while and then it is back to square one. I called into the advisory centre with the idea for a quick diet in my head and was told there was no such thing. When I heard this I was very disheartened but I made an appointment three months ago and I have never looked back. It has been a life-saver to me because I thought there would never be a way back to the old me who was happy in herself and not always making myself feel like an outsider. (M.B.)

I lost 38 lbs. eating six times a day on the Cronin Program. With an easy, healthy, eating plan – and support from Sally Georgina – I achieved my weight loss for the first time in fifteen years. I was shown how to stick with it and have patience. Believe me, if I can do it you can. (H.L)

For the first time I have lost 14 lbs. and I feel great, full of energy and very healthy. I recommend this approach to losing weight. (M.W.)

I have tried all the diets available, had some weight loss but no change in my dietary attitude or behaviour. Until the Cronin Weight Reduction Program. Wow, it is really something! I have lost over 23 lbs. to date with a few more to lose, but my idea of ‘eating’ has changed for the positive. My health has improved and my energy levels are those of a woman at least twenty years younger. It is brilliant. (F.R.)

I think it is very good. I have lost 42 lbs. in three months. I feel much better, I am getting my confidence back and I have loads of energy. It has changed my life. I would recommend it to anybody who finds other diets difficult. It is great to see that you succeed at something when you really try. (J.K.)

Since starting the program in October I have lost 17 lbs. I thought that I would never do it. I kept to the program and it really works. It was the first time I ever kept to a program and it was not so hard. I feel a lot better and have lots of energy. I would recommend anyone to do this. You never feel hungry when you eat six times a day. I feel good. (M.K.)

I was 205 lbs. when I came to see Sally Georgina. I walked out feeling a different woman after just one hour of talking. It has changed my life and it is the best I have felt in twenty years. (G.C.)

Next time Chapter One…Life or Death… I am told by a doctor that at 42 it is likely that my obesity related health issues would make it unlikely I would reach 45.

©sallygeorginacronin 2001

Please feel free to comment and share this and the upcoming chapters.  Thank you Sally