The Role Inflammation Plays in Your Cardiovascular Health

Let me paint a picture – you were chopping vegetables when you accidentally cut your finger. It bled, became red and tender, and then swelled up. This is what we call inflammation.

It’s our body’s natural response and is vital to the healing process.

Acute or temporary inflammation sends signal to the immune cells and blood, which then rush to the injured area and kill the invading organisms. This speeds up tissue repair and might or might not leave a scar behind. Even sunburn is a sign that inflammation is in action.

While temporary inflammation is a healthy function of our immune system; the same thing cannot be said about chronic inflammation. This usually happens when your immune system goes out of control. When the body’s infection-eliminating and healing mechanism switches back and forth due to lifestyle factors such as relentless stress, poor diet and obesity, the body stays in a continuous cycle of inflammation. This increases the chances of your body developing allergies or worst Alzheimer’s disease. It might also lead to hardening of arteries, which can cause a heart attack.

How Inflammation Leads to a Heart Stroke

So, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about a heart stroke?

LDL Cholesterol!

We all think that the reason behind a heart attack is bad cholesterol in the arteries but that’s not it! Here’s what causes a heart stroke:

  • With time and due to our changing lifestyle, we become overweight
  • We start eating a diet that is high in omega-6 fatty acids and sugar
  • We start stressing over every situation

These points provoke chronic inflammation and allow LDL cholesterol to reach the vessel walls through the small fissures. This invasion of foreign substance triggers buildup of cholesterol, more inflammation and more damage. This foreign substance breaks free and a small block forms over the arteries, which results in a blood clot that stops circulation. This is what causes a heart stroke.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Periodontal diseases
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • High sugar diet
  • Obesity

Food Strategies

One of the biggest reasons behind this inflammation is a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids. While a controlled amount of omega-6 fatty acids is good for bone and brain health, and hair and skin growth, too much of it can cause Type-2 diabetes.

Following are some food items that can help reduce inflammation and balance your diet:

  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Broccoli
  • Wild Alaskan salmon
  • Blueberries
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Lifestyle Strategies

Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, it is also important to include exercise in your daily routine. As for managing stress, studies have shown that meditation and yoga can be very helpful.

Leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle involves living a balanced life in every way. While this is easier said than done but by starting small, you can live a healthy life. Begin by making changes in your diet and then move on to your daily routine.

4 Great Methods for Improving Cognitive Function and Memory

When we talk about memory and cognitive function, the first thing that comes to our mind is the Alzheimer’s disease. It always starts small with forgetting keys or blanking on what you were talking about. Most people find an easy solution for these problems such as a calendar on your phone that reminds you of trivial things that you feel you might forget but what about the long term memory?

Now, psychologists are using a number of “brain-training games” that improve cognitive function but that’s not enough! While it may lead to optimizing your brain more but it does maximize neurogenesis. After all, all you are doing is playing game on your laptop.

Engaging Cerebellum and Cerebrum

While it’s easy to engage your cerebrum because we use it daily for thought process and actions, it’s important to give as much attention to cerebellum too. This can only happen when you learn, practice and explore in the 3-dimesional world.

The Cerebellum is known as the “Little Brain” that helps you perform everyday tasks. Although cerebellum makes only 10% of the brain volume, it has more than 50% of the total neurons found in the brain. In short, the cerebellum recruits many neurons to improve cognitive function and it being untapped is how you suffer from memory loss.

Now that we know how the brain works to retain our memory, follow are 4 great methods for you to adopt in order to improve cognitive function:

1.     Exercise Daily

According to a research done by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), there’s a deep connection between physical activity and cognitive function. The study revealed that during exercise, certain hormones are released in the body that helps improve memory. The exercise can be of any type that puts your body in a strenuous position where you sweat.

2.     Be Open to New Experiences

Have you heard about the “use it or lose it” concept? This concept says that as long as you keep using every part of your body, you won’t experience any decline in its function. This does not mean that memory games such as puzzles will keep your brain active. The key is to learn demanding and new skills while engaging in a social network that keeps you energized. Willing to face challenges on your journey is something that will open your mind to possibilities. This will allow you to constantly engage your brain with activities and people that keep you sharp and on edge.

3.     Try Mindfulness Meditation

According to a study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, meditation can help reduce stress, which is one of the biggest factors behind declining memory. The energy that you tap into during mindfulness meditation helps slow down age related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

4.     Brain-Training Games

Yes, we discussed earlier that games are not that productive in improving memory function but certain games that provide a stimulant-rich environment helps in preventing memory loss. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, a brain-training session aimed at older people can improve their memory for a decade. The study conducted showed that after 10 sessions of brain-training, people’s memory improved, which led the researchers to assume that with additional boosters within 3 years, the results would be phenomenal.

So, now that you know what can slow your possible progress of Alzheimer’s disease, why not adopt these methods. This will benefit you in the long run in retaining memories that most people forget with age.

What We Are Never Prepared For – Menopause and All That Comes With It

“I don’t even like myself, but it’s something I can’t help,
I got those God almighty, slap somebody PMS blues.
Most times I’m easy going, some say I’m good as gold
But when I’m PMS I tell ya, I turn mean and cold.”

Yes, this is a song about menopause. Just because this subject is taboo, doesn’t mean we can’t sing about it… that’s probably what Dolly Parton thought. God bless this woman because she just hit the nail on the head.

Alright, so let’s talk about menopause.

The Start

Most women go through menopause in their mid 40’s or 50’s. It starts small and then turns your life upside down. There are a dozen symptoms that you will experience, which may last a few months or an entire year.

What Is Menopause?

To tell you the truth, it’s the most dreadful time in a woman’s life. It’s when you stop ovulating and go without having a period for 12 months, means you have entered menopause. It’s completely natural and part of our aging process. What it signifies is a new life, which for some is filled with roses and for some with thorns. Talking about 12 months… this brings us to our next topic:

Peri-Menopause

First in line to wreak havoc is peri-menopause, which is the 12 months period you go through. This involves a fluctuating menstruation cycle, hot flashes, diminished sex drive and more that we will be discussing below.

Menstrual Changes

When you are trying to get pregnant, your ovaries play a huge role in the process. The ovaries release 2 hormones called progesterone and estrogen. The latter is released by the ovaries to prepare the uterus lining for pregnancy. Then, a mature egg is released by the ovaries, which increases the progesterone level. This process is called ovulation. If there is no sperm in the process, both hormone levels start to decrease, which triggers menstruation.

When the peri-menopause phase begins, there is a huge change in the hormone levels. Less estrogen is produced, which stops ovulation from occurring. As a result, the body gets confused and skips a period. When this happens on a regular basis, your periods start getting lighter or heavier. After some time, 12 months to be exact, they stop and you enter the menopause phase.

Symptoms of Peri-Menopause and Menopause

  • Breast tenderness
  • Mild skin problems
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered libido
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hair thinning

The Bane of Our Existence during Menopause – Hot Flashes

The most common symptom of menopause is hot flashes. This causes a rise in the body temperature that usually affects the upper half of the body. The skin turns red and becomes blotchy, and you experience a rush of heat that causes feelings of dizziness, heart palpitations and sweating.

Hot flashes usually happen twice or thrice a day and continue until you have completely entered the menopause phase. Triggers that cause this include:

  • Eating spicy food
  • Consuming caffeine or alcohol
  • Being somewhere hot
  • Feeling stressed

While there’s no way of stopping this process, you sure can make some lifestyle changes to ease into it. The peri-menopause and menopause phase together last 2 to 3 years. A few changes that you can make is eating healthy and exercising daily. The rest will come along as you age gracefully.

The Phenomenon of the CH3 – Why Methyl and Homocysteine Support Is Important

For most people, their brain’s health is the key to living a long and strong life. Sadly, while we do monitor our other organs, we do not pay much attention to our brain. If we talk about health numbers, there are certain ways you can track it such as by monitoring your sleep hours, calculating height-to-waist ratio, BMI, blood glucose level, vitamin D, C-reactive protein and more.

So, what is it that you are forgetting? Your homocysteine level! For this, first, you need to know about methylation. It’s possible that you might have never heard of these terms. So, let’s get started:

What is Methylation?

Methylation is not just a buzzword. This process is extremely important for the overall functioning of our body. It is basically the removal and addition of a methyl group to a compound. Methyl is denoted by the letters CH3. In layman terms, the process of methylation is like activation and deactivation of a gene. When the methylation process is disturbed, it leads to impairment in Folate (a class of B vitamins) metabolism.

Benefits of Methylation

Methylation reactions impact our health’s crucial components such as:

  • Citric acid cycle
  • Protein synthesis
  • DNA replication (supports red blood cell formation and growth)
  • Gene expression
  • Detoxification (removal of excess hormones, neurotransmitters and homocysteine)
  • Brain health
  • Energy production
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Helps normal nerve and brain function
  • Supports normal mood balance

What is Homocysteine?

The active form of Folate 5-MTHF helps convert remethylate homocysteine into methionine. Decreased concentration of Folate results in elevated levels of homocysteine, which is a biomarker for various health concerns.

Again, in layman terms, homocysteine is an amino acid that occurs naturally and is produced by the methylation process. By now, you know that both processes are related. When methylation fails, the increase in the homocysteine level leads to serious health problems, two of which are Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Problems that Can Be Avoided With Maintained Levels of Homocysteine

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Heart problems (heart attacks, coronary artery disease and stroke)
  • Cognitive problems (dementia)
  • Developmental and skeletal abnormalities
  • Elongated limbs
  • Behavioral problems (ADHD and autism)
  • Mental abnormalities (bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety)
  • Birth defects
  • Aches and pains
  • Anemia
  • Slowed development

How to Regulate Homocysteine Levels

Decrease in 5-MTHF leads to depression, which is the first sign of the methylation process not working properly. This impairment is mostly caused by your lifestyle choices such as alcohol and diet. Deficiencies of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Folate, Trimethylglycine (TMG) And Dimethylglycine (DMG) are what lead to an increase in the homocysteine level. Following are some guidelines on how you can regulate homocysteine levels:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits
  • Reduce coffee intake
  • Lose weight
  • Eat organic meat
  • Supplement with betaine

As long as you are maintaining a healthy diet, you don’t need to worry about your homocysteine levels. One of the most prominent causes of the methylation process not working is inflammation. When you feel that your energy levels are getting low day by day, then you need a change in diet. The moment you start living healthy, your body will experience the change pretty fast.