Posts Tagged ‘proper diet’

Top Foods to Prevent Heart Attack

February is National Heart Month. With more than 2 million Americans suffering heart attacks and strokes each year heart health is of vital importance. As a country, our poor eating habits are taking a huge toll on our heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, not one state in the U.S. had an obesity rate under 20 percent in 2010.   Thirty-six states had populations with obesity rates of 25 percent or higher.  Approximately one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese, and about 17 percent of kids aged 2-19 years are as well.  In the last 30 years childhood obesity has tripled, setting children up for future health problems that can dramatically shorten their lives: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.

Embracing a heart-healthy diet can and should be a family affair. Focusing on eating whole, fresh foods instead of processed ones can help your family beat the battle of the bulge without feeling deprived.

Here is a list of top foods to incorporate into your diet to keep your heart healthy and to prevent a heart attack:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – the high fiber content in fruits and vegetables decreases the buildup of plaque in the arteries and less plaque means decreased blockages to the heart.
  • Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pistachio nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do.
  • Oats – eaten daily, oats can clean arteries better than some medications.
  • Salmon and Flaxseed – rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and flaxseed lower triglycerides.
  • Garlic – numerous studies have shown benefits of regular garlic consumption on blood pressure, platelet aggregation, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels.
  • Berries and cherries – these fruits are high in polyphenols, which prevent cell damage that creates unhealthy blood vessels and heart.
  • Quinoa – this tiny seed is an excellent source of magnesium, the mineral that relaxes blood vessels. Low levels of magnesium lead to hypertension, heart disease and arrhythmias.

Thyroid Awareness Month

January is Thyroid Awareness Month and with millions of Americans suffering from either an underactive or an overactive thyroid, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to discuss the foods you should incorporate into your diet to sustain a healthy thyroid.

But first, some background information on the thyroid. As one of the largest glands that produce hormones in the body, the thyroid is critical to your metabolism as well as regulating other functions in the body, including energy and heat production, tissue repair, regulating protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and muscle and nerve action.

Your diet can create a sluggish thyroid that will lower your metabolism and cause weight gain. For example, low-fat diets cause high insulin and leptin levels. You can make a great impact on the function of your thyroid by focusing on toxin exposures, diet and stress levels, which would improve metabolism and allow for weight loss. A diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates and high in vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will give you the nutrients you need to support your thyroid.

There are some studies that show a connection between gluten sensitivity and thyroid antibody production. You don’t have to have Celiac Disease to have sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Many people are sensitive to gluten and may experience bloating, cramps, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, skin rashes when they eat foods containing wheat, rye or barley. Those with sensitivities may make antibodies that cross-react with the thyroid and reduce thyroid function. Consider a gluten-free diet for eight weeks and see if you feel a difference.

Tips for improving thyroid function through what you eat:

  • Incorporate foods high in selenium such as seafood, shellfish, eggs, beef liver and beef kidneys. Sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, garlic and onions are other good sources.
  • Zinc can improve thyroid function as well. This mineral is especially important for middle-aged to elderly people since thyroid concerns and zinc deficiencies become more frequent with age. Good food sources of zinc include beans, nuts, crab, lobster and whole grain.
  • Thiamine is a mineral important to maintain optimum thyroid function. It is found in fortified cereals, milk, enriched whole grains and vegetables.
  • Avoid eating cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in raw form as they can negatively impact an unhealthy thyroid. However, cooking these vegetables reduces the effects of the ingredients that harm the thyroid.
  • If you’re taking thyroid medications avoid eating any dairy products, soy products, walnuts or high-fiber foods within four hours of taking the medication as they can interfere with the medicine absorption. Studies have shown that there is no difference in the effectiveness of thyroid medication if it is taken at night instead of in the morning. Taking thyroid medication two hours after eating at night might be easier than trying to wait an hour to eat breakfast if you’re taking it in the morning. Either way works – it just depends on what works best for you.

The Secret Life of Sperm

By Jenny Block
Published December 02, 2010 |

We know where it comes from and what it does. But sperm is an amazing thing, with more secrets than most of us would have guessed.

And we’re not just talking trivia here (although these fast facts might help you win a bar bet or two…) But upping your sperm IQ can help you to protect your health and your reproductive interests. And, who knows, you just might impress your partner with your sperm know-how.

Dr. David Shin, the Chief at the Center for Sexual Health & Fertility in the Department of Urology at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, offers up 13 facts about the little swimmers that may surprise you.

  1. Sperm are produced in the testes and take 10 weeks to mature.
  2. Mature sperm can wait up to two weeks in a holding area called the epididymis before they make their debut. The epididymis is a storage reservoir for sperm. It is an organ that sits on top of the testicle.
  3. Sperm only contribute 5 percent of the total semen volume. The rest is comprised of fluids, which provide nutrients and protective medium for the sperm as it travels through the female reproductive tract.
  4. Healthy men make 70-150 million sperm a day.
  5. Sperm can live up to five days in a woman’s uterus, which explains why women can get pregnant over several days each month based on when she ovulates.
  6. The Y sperm, which are sperm that makes males, swim faster than X sperm, which are sperm that makes females. The Y chromosome is smaller and has less genetic material compared to the X chromosome, so the Y carrying sperm can swim faster because it has less weight to transport compared to the X carrying sperm.
  7. Human sperm measures 55 microns (micrometers or one millionth of a meter)
    long. The average width of a human hair is 100 microns.
  8. Sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma meaning “seed.”
  9. Sperm can only swim forward and not backwards.
  10. Normal sperm have a head, mid-piece and a tail. Abnormal sperm can have two
    heads or two tails.
  11. In the United States, sperm counts (which refer to the number of sperm present per milliliter of semen at the time of any given ejaculation) are the highest in New York. This is according to a study published in the journal “Fertility and Sterility,” although researchers have no idea why. They do know that men in New York have 50 percent higher sperm counts than men in Los Angeles.
  12. Extended time in hot tubs or saunas can decrease a man’s sperm count, as heat adversely affects sperm production.
  13. Lubricants, lotions and saliva all result in decreased sperm motility. In a study published in “Fertility and Sterility,” researchers noted that many lubricants tended to be ‘toxic’ to sperm, despite labeling. The researchers found it was the ingredients in the lubricants, such as glycerin, and that the slight acidity created poor conditions for sperm.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, giving sperm a leg up can be achieved through:
* Taking a multi-vitamin daily
* Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
* Reducing stress
* Getting regular exercise
* Watching your weight
* Steering clear of toxins, tobacco use and illicit drugs
* Limiting alcohol

In other words, having a healthy body can help one to have healthy sperm. And, ladies, you want your man to have healthy sperm if you’re trying to get pregnant, which is a lot less precarious a feat than many think.

“Human reproduction is surprisingly inefficient and quite complex,” said Dr. Alicia Stanton, an OB-GYN based in Glastonbury, Conn.
Even fertile couples having unprotected sex only have a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant, according to Stanton.

Why you ask? Well, because sperm have a long journey to accomplish and the majority of the little guys simply are not up to it.

The average sperm travels about 1-4 millimeters per minute, which would make the 175mm trip to the egg in the fallopian tube take between 45 minutes to almost 3 hours.

“It can take up to three days before a sperm reaches the egg,” Shin added.

“Of all the sperm ejaculated, only 25-50 percent is actually moving forward well,” Stanton explained.

Add to that the fact that at the young age of 25 the quality of a man’s sperm begins to decline, it truly is a miracle that any of them ever reach the finish line.

Sperm are amazing. But they are only as good as the body who produces and takes care of them. So, you can use these tidbits to help you with your next game of Trivial Pursuit or maybe if you get the phone call from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

But, you’d be better served to use it to inspire you to find out more about all things sex. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She is the author of “Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.” Her work appears in “One Big Happy Family,” edited by Rebecca Walker and “It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters,” edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her website at or check out her blog at