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Nutrition

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An easy morning detox for your liver and energy levels

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you are having a great week so far. I've had lots of requests for future newsletters this week - which milk is best? Is cheese ok to eat? What is AF? Are e-cigarettes bad for you? Keep the ideas coming as that's how I get my ideas to do research for each newsletter.

This week is all about an easy morning detox routine you can start and all about what Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is.

Enjoy! Keep you suggestions and questions coming.

p.s If you want daily updates about the latest in health and fitness, as well as up to date facts about the heart, follow us on Facebook HERE (click Like to get our updates).

Food of the week
Apple cider vinegar

For years my friend has been taking apple cider vinegar regularly and as I was visiting this week I noticed it again in her kitchen.  She swears it has helped improve her skin as well as reduced her knee pain so this week I have been looking into how and why it may help.
 
Apple cider vinegar contains several minerals including magnesiumphosphorus,calcium and potassium.  

It has been found that mineral deficiency can worsen joint pain, so a diet rich in essential minerals is an important step to relieving the pain of arthritis. The potassium in cider vinegar may be especially beneficial because it works to prevent acid build-up in the joints, which is linked to joint stiffness.
 
Apple cider vinegar is also rich in beneficial enzymes and acids that improve digestive health. Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal will encourage proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. This is vitally important for those with arthritis or any digestion issues, as poor digestion can lead to deficiencies in minerals and other nutrients. These nutrients are crucial for joint health, so it is imperative that the body be capable of absorbing and using them. With apple cider vinegar, this is made possible even if you have arthritis.
 
Studies suggest that joint pain and arthritis may be linked to toxins accumulating in the joints, since metabolic waste is often stored in connective tissues. At the same time, people with joint pain tend to shun activities that might trigger more pain, and the lack of movement may cause toxins to build-up even more. The pectin in apple cider vinegar helps absorb toxins and move them out of the system, while the acids in cider vinegar work to purify and detoxify the entire body.
 
Unfortunately there has been no concrete scientific research that proves apple cider vinegar helps with joint pain however most doctors conclude that it will not cause any harm and may have a placebo effect. So why not!

 

This is the one that I use - I bought it from a health food shop.

This is the one that I use - I bought it from a health food shop.

How to Use Apple Cider

All of the benefits of apple cider vinegar can only be achieved with vinegar that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unprocessed. Your apple cider vinegar should be ruddy-colored with a noticeable amount of residue floating around in the bottle. This is the natural accumulation of beneficial enzymes and nutrients.
 
The simplest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to mix 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water three times per day, preferably just before meals. You can sweeten the drink with a small amount of honey if you like. 

I'll be honest, the taste isn't amazing, but it tastes....healthy! Mix it with a bit of water and down it like a shot - gets it out of the way!

 

Interactions to be aware of

Apple cider vinegar interacts with the following medications in large doses so be cautious if you take the following:
Digoxin, insulin, diuretics.

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Stress and your heart health - what you need to know

HEART FACT OF THE WEEK

Stress and the Monday morning heart attack

You’re more likely to have a heart attack on a Monday morning than at any other time of the week.

Why?

Because levels of a stress hormone called cortisol peak early in the day. When this happens, plaque that has built up in the arteries of the heart can rupture and block the flow of blood to the heart. Add this to the rise in blood pressure and increased heart rate from the stress of returning to work after the weekend, combined with the body working hard to get rid of the weekend excesses and you have the perfect recipe for a Monday morning heart attack.

That’s why it’s important to reduce your stress levels as much as you can, avoid binge drinking and get enough sleep. Practice yoga, exercise, laugh more and spend more quality time doing the things you love - all of these help to reduce your stress levels and make for a chilled out body. 

Now, what if you're thinking, 'now I'm more stressed by knowing that my stress could be harming me!'? Don't panic - it often takes years of chronic stress for damage to occur to the arteries. The key thing is that every now, take 5 or 6 long, deep breaths, slow your breathing, stop what you are doing and just close your eyes for 10 seconds. Even doing this just a few times a day can dramatically reduce the amount of adrenaline and cortisol running through you and make you feel instantly calmer. Make a note of doing it at certain checkpoints like every traffic light, every tube stop etc. Try it now!

Read more here:
http://www.drsinatra.com/heart-attack-risk-factors-rise-on-mondays/

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Mike's journey - week 1

Meet Mike - he's your typical British gentleman, opening doors for ladies, offering cups of tea on arrival and generally an all round nice guy. Only thing is - his confidence has been shaken. Badly. He retired two years ago from running a successful dental practice and was enjoying the new freedom that not having to work brings - games of golf every Wednesday, laps of the pool each morning and visiting old friends in new countries.

Until April this year Mike felt great - everything was going to plan and he had a deposit down for a month long cruise Russia and Japan booked. He didn't look in bad shape for his age (70) and his wife was busy planning their social calendar for the summer.

In late April, however, after a two day dental conference in London (just keeping in touch with old colleagues and on top of new trends), Mike returned home to his house in Surrey and was gripped with a strange sensation when he walked through the front door. At first he thought he was having a heart attack, as something was not right with his heart. Being in the medical profession he has all manor of gadgets in the house and so took his blood pressure and pulse. His blood pressure was pretty good - 130/80, nothing to get worried about. However his pulse was unreadable on the machine. His wife took it manually and found it was very difficult to count. In fact, it was going so fast and wasn't regular at all so she couldn't count it quick enough. 

Mike could feel the thumping of his heart rate in his chest and knew that it was most likely he was in an irregular heart rhythm. A trip to the GP (lucky they could squeeze him in that afternoon) and an ECG showed that Mike was in Atrial Fibrillation. Often called AF, it is the most common heart arrhythmia in the UK, with up to 1 million people in the UK who are affected.

You can read more about what AF is, what the symptoms are and how it can be treated here.

Atrial fibrillation isn't usually life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and often requires treatment.  Treatment may involve: 

  • medication to prevent a stroke (people with atrial fibrillation are more at risk of having a stroke)
  • medication to control the heart rate or rhythm
  • cardioversion – where the heart is given a controlled electric shock to restore normal rhythm
  • catheter ablation – where the area inside the heart that's causing the abnormal heart rhythm is destroyed using radiofrequency energy

Mike was given blood thinners to prevents stroke, a beta blocker to reduce his heart rate and amioderone to control the rhythm. After a few days Mike felt a lot better and started to return to his normal activities. However he never felt confident enough to return to exercise.

After a few months of the AF coming back every few days, Mike decided to have the AF treated with ablation, a procedure that requires a one night hospital stay and two weeks recovery. The procedure was a success and Mike was told he was safe to return to his normal life, including exercise.

That is where I came in. After the ablation, Mike wasn't sure where to start. He had the motivation to exercise, but was missing the confidence and knowledge of how, when and for how long to exercise.

This week was a fact finding session - we did a lot of talking, goal setting and really getting to the nitty gritty of what Mike would like to achieve. He had a lot of questions about the ablation, medications and what exercise would be realistic to return to. 

We now have a plan in place - I'm very much looking forward to helping Mike get up and going. He already has his homework for this week (wear a step counter every day to see how much incidental activity he is doing) and our first session will involve a little bit of cardio and a little bit of weights. Within 6 weeks Mike will feel so much more confident about exercising himself and within 12 weeks he will feel a new man. 

I look forward to keeping you posted on how Mike gets on!

Read all about Week 2 HERE!

p.s this isn't a picture of Mike. Although he does have great teeth!

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An easy weigh to lose weight...

Good morning and Happy Wednesday!

I hope that you are enjoying the warm weather this week and are staying hydrated - where did the heat come from?! British weather hey!?  Predictably unpredictable. Also, it feels like my garden could wither at any moment if it isn't watered every 5 minutes (which once a week is probably the best it gets, sorry plants!).

This week I have put together a guide to portion sizes which should be helpful.  It's difficult if you are having a stir-fry or someone else is cooking but this is a guide for the ideal portion size of each nutrient.  You may need to adjust slightly depending on your activity levels and metabolism.  These sizes are for main meals (lunch and dinner).  Breakfast should be slightly smaller in size.

For snack sizes:

A piece of fruit with a handful of nuts is a great snack mid morning or mid afternoon. Keep to a small handful – around 10-15 unsalted/unroasted nuts.

Sticking to these portions should help you to lose weight!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all about what portion is right for you.

Have a fantastic week and see you soon!

 

Use your hands to gauge the correct portion sizes for you.

Protein: Size of your palm (bigger hands = bigger portion, sorry small hands!).

 

Vegetable portion size: two handfuls of non starchy vegetables

 

Carbohydrate portion size: small palm (when cooked) - this could be wholegrain pasta, brown rice, cous cous, quinoa, potato, oats, starchy vegetables (potato etc) 

 

Good fats: pinch or one thumb sized portion – avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts

 

Your plate should look like this:

 

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Have a great week! 

Kind regards,

Angela Hartley

Cardiac Specialist Nurse, Nutritionist, Exercise Coach

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What are my top 5 HEART HEALTH TIPS?

Good morning and Happy Thursday! I hope you've had a great week so far. We've had a busy week here at Clinical Exercise - lots of new enquiries, a HUGE batch cooking session on Monday (fish pie, fish chowder and fish cakes - yes a lot of fish this week!) and an old client has returned from overseas and is getting restarted on his exercise programme.

This week I'm talking all about Heart Health - obviously I'm always talking about heart health but I wanted to really focus on what you can do to ensure you are reducing your risk of having future heart problems.

There are so many do's and don'ts to look after your heart - below are the top 5 things you should be doing to ensure your heart is in tip top condition.

Also, a simple exercise that you can do any time of day to tone up the back of your arms - easy!

Looking after your heart
(It's the only one you've got!)

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the world’s biggest killer, causing over 17 million deaths a year and many of these deaths are preventable through lifestyle changes.

Most people know someone or have themselves been directly affected by heart disease and a lot of times it is avoidable by changing lifestyle habits. If you've had heart problems in the past it's never to late to make improvements to improve your health for the future.

Simple changes in diet by reducing your salt intake and eliminating processed foods from your diet and trying to get a couple of hours of exercise a day can make a huge difference.
 
A healthy diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the introduction of a healthy diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s not too late to start eating healthily.
 
To help prevent heart disease here are five ways to change your lifestyle and take better care of your heart.


 
1. Follow the Mediterranean diet
 
A 2013 study showed the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30% and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s NEVER too late to start eating healthily. Recent attention has been drawn to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet by cardiologist Aseem Malhotra who has recently filmed the ‘Cereal Killers Movie’ about his quest to find out the secret to a long life in the Mediterranean. Check it out here.

2. Reduce salt
 
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Reduce your consumption of crisps, take aways, packaged snack foods and processed sauces. As a cardiac nurse this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have – they think if they don’t add salt to their food then their diet is low in salt.  However salt is hidden in so many things you wouldn’t even think – cans of tuna, ham, tomato paste and roasted peanuts.  Always check the label – if a serving size contains more than 10% of your daily recommended intake, avoid or reduce the amount you have.

3. Say no to processed foods
 
There are lots of hidden saturated fats, sugars and salts in processed food, fast food and ready meals.  Even foods that may appear ‘healthy’ traditional meals such as lasagne are usually made with cheap ingredients and are laden with salt. I would strongly advise people to check the content of the ingredients of any food they buy and start cooking from scratch together – it’s more fun too!

4. Quit smoking


 
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to have heart disease with all the health issues it causes it is the most important thing you can do for your heart. Try a nicotine replacement to reduce your cravings – electronic cigarettes, patches, gum or lozenges are a great help when you’re quitting.

5. Exercise more

The heart is the most important muscle and just a small amount of exercise will keep it functioning properly. Exercising for as little as ten minutes a day can make a huge difference. If you haven’t exercised for some time start out with gentle walking and build up – we should be aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.

Aim to improve in one of the above areas each week and you’ll soon be on your way to a healthy heart.

Let me know if you have any specific questions at all!

 

 

Exercise of the week - Tricep Dips


1.  Sit up straight on the long edge of a stable, heavy chair or a bench. Your legs should be slightly extended, with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your hands on both sides of the bench just outside your thighs. Your palms should be down, fingertips pointing towards the floor.
3. Without moving your legs, bring your bottom forward off the bench.
4. Steadily lower yourself. Beginners: Bend your elbows 1-2 inches and push yourself back up. Advanced: When your elbows form 90˚ angles, push yourself back up to starting position.
5. Repeat up to 10 reps, rest and then repeat up to 2-3 times.

Some people find that this exercise is too much on their wrist joints. If so, you may need to change the exercise to overhead triceps extensions, which we will cover in the next couple of weeks.

Do let me know if you have any questions at all!

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Coffee - pros and cons

Good morning and Happy Wednesday!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. What a glorious few days and let's hope it stays this way. I cycled for a couple of hours and it was so much nicer having blue skies and dry roads. Barbecue weather is fast approaching – we use it a lot on summer nights as it is quick and requires hardly any cleaning (gas barbecue all the way!).

This week I looked into the pros and cons of caffeine. There seems to be quite a lot of proof both ways, however the research is usually conducted on a high intake of caffeine (4 cups+ per day). I would recommend that the less caffeine you have the better, as your body starts to rely on it. It's most important to listen to your own body however, as some people can tolerate it much better than others. See below for the benefits and drawbacks.

 

Positive effects of caffeine:

  • Increased alertness, productivity and concentration through the release of adrenaline.

  • May improve memory and cognition.

  • Improved performance in athletes.

  • Has been shown to help prevent Type 2 diabetes in some people, however may make the blood sugar levels of those with diabetes worse.

Negative effects of caffeine:

  • Caffeine can cause physical dependence, requiring more to get the same effect.

  • Withdrawal:  you’ll likely develop withdrawal symptoms like extreme fatigue and splitting headaches (caused by ­constricted blood vessels).

  • Disrupted sleep: Generally it takes about 6 hours for the caffeine to clear your system, although it varies from person to person.

  • Too much caffeine is associated with reduced coordination, insomnia, headaches, nervousness and dizziness.

  • Ingesting excessive amounts can also put a strain on the heart and is linked with increased blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol in large amounts.

  • Coffee may increase osteoporosis - coffee can cause the body to excrete calcium in urine, and loss of calcium can lead to osteoporosis.

  • Disrupts blood sugar levels – can cause the same highs and lows as consuming sugar.

Calories and caffeine content of different drinks (taken from Starbucks, other cafes/home preparations will vary):
 

  • Espresso: 30-40 calories, 150 mg caffeine

  • Tall cappuccino semi skim milk: 100 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall latte, semi skimmed milk: 143 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall chai tea latte, semi skim milk: 180 calories, 75mg caffeine

  • Tall hot chocolate (no cream): 222 calories, 20mg caffeine

  • Tall Americano no milk: 11 calories, 150mg caffeine

  • Tall breakfast tea with splash of semi skim milk: 20 calories, 50mg caffeine

  • Instant/powder coffee with splash milk: 20 calories, 60-90mg caffeine

  • Green tea: 0 calories, 40-60mg caffeine

There is no strict recommendations for the safe amount of caffeine to have each day, other than for pregnant women, which is 200mg.  General advice is that 300-400mg of caffeine per day is safe and shouldn’t cause adverse effects.  However it is important to monitor how caffeine makes you feel and assess whether your intake may be higher than you think.  For me, 1 strong coffee will have me bouncing off the walls and unable to sleep if I have it after midday. Even hot chocolate keeps me awake :(

If coffee makes you feel jumpy, gives you palpitations, keeps you awake or you are relying on it every day, perhaps it is time to cut down. Try switching to tea initially, then down to herbal tea or nothing as you need it less.

 

Some alternatives:

1. Switch to black or green tea
High in antioxidants and polyphenols, tea has been shown to reduce rates of heart disease and cancer. Green tea in particular has been shown to have anti-cancer properties (although the amount needed for this effect is 5+ cups per day).

2. Try herbal tea!
Ginseng has been considered the king of energy tonics for several thousand years in Chinese medicine. Unlike coffee, which stimulates the central nervous system, ginseng elevates energy gently. Ginseng has also been associated with a stronger immune system and an overall sense of well-being. Other teas that are caffeine free include rooibos (redbush), chamomile, peppermint and fennel.

3. Eat some goji berries
Goji berries are remarkable for having one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of just about any plant in the world. In addition to their high antioxidant activity, these superfood berries have energy-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Eat them straight, or sprinkle into your trail mix, cereal, or salads.

4. Sign up for our FREE 7 Day More Energy Programme - find out all about it here.

Let me know if you have any questions at all!

Angela

 

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It's getting hot - coping with the heat when you have a heart condition

Wow! It's hot in here. It's hot on the train, it's hot inside, it's hot outside... It seems like we've been waiting for this moment for MONTHS and now... it's TOO HOT!

Just joking, I know it will only last a few days so I shouldn't complain.

Here's an article from the front of the Aussie news making fun of our 'hottest day': http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/its-summer-in-the-uk-and-brits-cannot-handle-the-heat/news-story/38fb25e1559d07714347c0ca8ef25c27

This week is all about keeping your cool in the hot weather. This is especially important if you have any health condition, especially high blood pressure, angina or heart failure.

Let me know how the heat affects you and if you have any specific questions about your exercise regime when it's hot.

 

 

Keeping your cool during summer

When the weather is hot you sweat to cool down, but this means that you lose more fluid than usual from your body. This can drop your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. This is not a problem for most people as long as they drink plenty of fluids, like water or other sugar-free drinks to keep from getting dehydrated.

However, if you have a heart or health condition, extreme heat may place an extra burden on your heart and circulation, so it’s particularly important to stay cool and look after yourself. 

What can you do to keep cool?

  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other sugar-free drinks (Though if you've been told to restrict your fluid intake for medical reasons you should speak to your GP)  
  • Avoid drinking too many alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.  Caffeine-based and alcoholic drinks can cause you to lose more fluid from your body.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
  • Make sure your home is cool when you're staying indoors. Close curtains during the day to keep the heat out and then open when the sun sets to let cool air in. Use a fan with a wet cloth draped over to cool the room down.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Stay out of the heat in the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion. Perform any exercise sessions at the coolest part of the day or in an air conditioned room.

 

HEART FACT OF THE WEEK

Hot weather and heart conditions

Angina

If you have coronary heart disease, you may find you start to experience angina or your angina worsens during hot weather, because hot weather increases the workload on your heart and the demand for oxygen, especially when you are more active. 

Heart failure

It’s particularly important to stay cool if you have heart failure - where your heart doesn't pump as well as it should. If you’ve been told to restrict your fluid intake, speak to your GP about other ways to keep cool during summer.  If you take water tablets and start to feel dizzy or light headed let your doctor know. Your dose can then be reduced or stopped for a little while, if needed, until you feel better.

Heat stroke

Losing too much body fluid can increase your internal body temperature, which could be life-threatening if left untreated. 

Symptoms of heat stroke include sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, heat rash, oedema (swelling) in the ankles, shallow or fast breathing, nausea and vomiting. 

If you suspect that you or someone else has heat stroke, get medical attention immediately.

Who is most at risk?

Elderly people and very young children have more difficulty in regulating their temperature and so can be more at risk from extreme temperatures. In hot weather, check on your friends and relatives regularly to make sure they are cool and comfortable.

Let me know if you have any questions at all!

Stay cool and have a great week!

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Sunshine, strawberries and do's and don'ts of exercise

Good afternoon and Happy Wednesday! What a weekend - I hope you had a good one and enjoyed watching Murray win Wimbledon again! What a great match and a great pick me up for the country.

Speaking of Wimbledon, this week's food of the week is the strawberry. We are now in strawberry season, which means that summer feeling is finally here.  As the season goes on, the strawberries get better and sweeter.  Check out http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk to see what other fruit and vegetables are in season at the moment.

Strawberries have been eaten since Roman times, when they were also used medicinally to help with digestive ailments, discoloured teeth and skin irritations. Strawberries are considered to be one of the healthiest fruits. They are packed with antioxidants, can help to lower blood pressure and protect your heart. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, they are also sodium, cholesterol and fat free.  There is around 54 calories in 1 cup of strawberries which is 1/3 the amount of calories in a banana.
 
There are several health benefits to strawberries:
 
Can help to boost short term memory:  The anthocyanins in strawberries can help to boost short-term memory
Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease : Flavonoids which are responsible for the colour and flavour of strawberries have been found to help reduce damage to the lining of the arteries.
Promotes bone health : Strawberries contain potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium which are important for bone health.
Anti-aging properties: Strawberries contain biotin, which helps to build strong hair and nails. They also contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which protects the elastic fibers in our skin to prevent sagging.
Good for weight loss: The compound nitrate found in strawberries which promotes blood flow and oxygen in the body helps with weight loss.
Promotes eye health:  Eating three or more servings of fruit like strawberries may lower the risk of macular degeneration.  

Enjoy them with some natural yoghurt rather than cream to make it healthier.

NEW!!!
HEART FACT OF THE WEEK

Exercise and your heart - do's and don'ts
When you have any type of heart condition - whether it be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a previous heart attack or stroke, an arrhythmia or any other type of heart problem, you may have been told that you should exercise more to help improve your heart's fitness. However do you know which exercises are good and which ones you should avoid? I've summarised the 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' below. Please ask me for further information if you aren't sure about something.

Do's - What exercises are good for my heart?

  • Walking - yes you've heard it before but walking is one of the best activities you can do - it helps to build up your fitness gradually and studies have shown that walking can help to heart attack, stroke and cancer (read more here). Aim to build up gradually - buy a step counter (this one is great), make a note of how many steps you do on a normal day (around the house, at work etc) and add 10% each week.
  • Resistance exercise - building stronger muscles helps the heart to work more efficiently. Resistance exercise also helps to reduce bodyfat, strengthen the bones, improve blood sugar levels and increase your metabolism. Exercises to include are:
    • Squats - pretend like you are sitting back into a chair, lower yourself down keeping your bottom back. Push through the heels to return to standing. Repeat x 10.
    • Wall press. Stand 30cm from the wall. Place your hands against the wall, a few inches lower than your shoulders, a few inches wider than your armpits. Bend your elbows out to the side until your nose is a few inches from the wall. Press into the palms of your hands to straight the elbows. Repeat up to 10 times.
    • Other aerobic activity that you enjoy - choose swimming, cycling or dancing (or anything that you enjoy). The key is to always warm upwith 5-10 minutes of walking/marching on the spot to ensure you don't start any activity with cold muscles.

Don'ts - What exercises should I avoid?

  • Any activity that feels too hard, makes you uncomfortable, gives you pain or is not enjoyable. The key to any exercise is that you should always be able to hold a conversation, without feeling like you are too breathless. If you feel like you can't catch your breath, slow down, rest and restart slower.
  • Any exercise that makes you hold your breath - exercises like the plank or holding one position for a prolonged period. Holding your breath puts your blood pressure up very quickly.
  • Using weights that are too heavy for you. You should be able to complete at least 10-15 reps. If you are struggling to push the weight then you are more likely to have poor technique and hold your breath (see last point).
  • Moving from lying to standing very quickly - exercises like burpees, down/ups, press ups then jumping up etc. By moving from lying to standing very quickly your blood pressure has to make a rapid change to cope with the increased demands. It then increases rapidly and can make you feel dizzy/unwell. 

Do ask if you have any specific exercise you are worried about.

Have a great week!

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Healthy food myths....busted!

Good morning and Happy Tuesday!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Please do keep sending me new ideas and questions for my weekly email as it is very useful to base these on your queries. Thank you so much for your fabulous reviews - I feel honoured to have helped so many people and am glad that you've found me so helpful :)

There are many different views, stories, myths and scare tactics amongst the media when it comes to food. One week coffee is good, the next week it is bad.  I thought I would put down a list of some of the myths and questions that come up and what the latest research shows.

 

Does olive oil prevent heart disease?

Short answer: Yes. The health benefits of olive oil come from the presence of polyphenols, antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. But to get these healthy compounds, consumers should buy good-quality, fresh "extra-virgin" olive oil, which has the highest polyphenol content.  Try having a sprinkle on your salads to increase your intake of good fats.

Do drinks high in sugar lead to diabetes?

Short answer: Yes. The majority of health research has shown soft drinks and high sugar juices to be bad to our health. A 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who drank one or more sugary drinks per day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 83% compared to those who consumed less than one of these beverages per month.

Do nuts make you fat?

Short answer: No. As much as 75% of a nut is made up of fat.  But eating fat doesn't necessarily make you fat.  The bigger factor leading to weight gain is portion-size.  Luckily, nuts are loaded with healthy fats that keep you full and (hopefully) prevent you from overeating.  They're also a good source of protein and fiber. Stick to 10-15 nuts in one serving, which is around 150-300 calories, depending on the type of nut (cashews are one of the lowest, macadamias are the highest).

Is walking as effective as running?

Short answer: Yes. Studies have shown that how long you exercise is more important than how hard you exercise.  Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you. A six-year study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended. Walking the same distance is as good as running, it just takes longer!

Is drinking fruit juice as good for you as eating fruit?

Short answer: No. Calorie for calorie, whole fruit provides more nutritional benefits than drinking the pure juice of that fruit.  That's because when you liquefy fruit and throw away the pulp, many ingredients like fiber, calcium, vitamin C and other antioxidants are lost. For comparison, a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 120 calories and 30 grams of sugar but only 0.3 grams of dietary fiber and 16 milligrams of calcium, whereas one orange contains 60 calories, 12 grams of sugar but has 3.1 grams of fiber and 60 milligrams of calcium.

Are all wheat breads better for you than white bread?

Short answer: No. Not all wheat breads are created equal. Wheat breads that contain all parts of the grain kernel, including the nutrient-rich germ and fiber-dense bran, must be labeled "whole grain" or "whole wheat." Some wheat breads are just white bread with a little bit of coloring to make the bread appear healthier, so keep an eye out for the words ‘whole grain/whole-wheat’ to ensure you receive all the benefits. In fact, give most breads a miss altogether - have you looked at the ingredient list lately? 

Does coffee cause cancer?

Short answer: No. Coffee got a bad reputation in the 1980s when a study linked drinking coffee to pancreatic cancer, however research since then has disproved this.  More recently, health studies have swung in favor of the caffeinated beverage. Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver cancer.  One to two coffees per day is fine, any more and you start to rely on caffeine for your energy levels, can cause your blood pressure to rise and adversely affect your sleep.

Do eggs raise cholesterol levels?

Short answer: No. Although egg yolks are a major source of cholesterol, researchers have learned that saturated fat has more of an impact on cholesterol in your blood than eating foods that contain cholesterol. Healthy individuals with normal blood cholesterol levels should now feel free to enjoy foods like eggs in their diet every day, the lead researcher from a 25-year on cholesterol concluded. One to two eggs on several days per week is a healthy addition to your diet. Try having scrambled or poached eggs for breakfast when you have more time, have an egg sandwich for lunch one or two days or make an omelette for dinner one night per week.

Can yogurt ease digestive problems?

Short answer: Yes. Our digestive tract is filled with microorganisms — some good and some bad. Yoghurt, especially natural yoghurt, contains beneficial bacteria, which helps to maintain a healthy balance in the gut. Probiotics can also relieve several gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and diarrhoea.

Is red wine better for you than white wine?

Short answer: Yes. Red wine contains much more reservatrol than white wine, which is an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes that has been shown to fight off diseases associated with ageing.
Here is a link to some more myths and old wives tales - http://www.realbuzz.com/articles/10-health-myths-busted/

Have a fantastic week and do keep your suggestions coming! 

Angela

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An easy morning detox; what is AF?

Good morning and happy Monday! Wow this must be the first time I've been organised enough to get an email out on Monday morning - must be the fact that I'm on holidays! All is well in the sun, we are keeping active (I've joined the gym for 2 weeks), walking lots and swam in the surf a few times.

I've added a new section to my weekly emails - Heart Fact of the Week. As my interest is all things cardiac and heart related, I'm going to put more info up for you about how to keep your heart healthy, signs and symptoms to be aware of, and how to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. Let me know if you have any ideas or requests.

Food of the week
Apple cider vinegar

For years my friend has been taking apple cider vinegar regularly and as I was visiting this week I noticed it again in her kitchen.  She swears it has helped improve her skin as well as reduced her knee pain so this week I have been looking into how and why it may help.
 
Apple cider vinegar contains several minerals including magnesiumphosphorus,calcium and potassium.  

It has been found that mineral deficiency can worsen joint pain, so a diet rich in essential minerals is an important step to relieving the pain of arthritis. The potassium in cider vinegar may be especially beneficial because it works to prevent acid build-up in the joints, which is linked to joint stiffness.
 
Apple cider vinegar is also rich in beneficial enzymes and acids that improve digestive health. Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal will encourage proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. This is vitally important for those with arthritis or any digestion issues, as poor digestion can lead to deficiencies in minerals and other nutrients. These nutrients are crucial for joint health, so it is imperative that the body be capable of absorbing and using them. With apple cider vinegar, this is made possible even if you have arthritis.
 
Studies suggest that joint pain and arthritis may be linked to toxins accumulating in the joints, since metabolic waste is often stored in connective tissues. At the same time, people with joint pain tend to shun activities that might trigger more pain, and the lack of movement may cause toxins to build-up even more. The pectin in apple cider vinegar helps absorb toxins and move them out of the system, while the acids in cider vinegar work to purify and detoxify the entire body.
 
Unfortunately there has been no concrete scientific research that proves apple cider vinegar helps with joint pain however most doctors conclude that it will not cause any harm and may have a placebo effect. So why not!
 

How to Use Apple Cider


All of the benefits of apple cider vinegar can only be achieved with vinegar that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unprocessed. Your apple cider vinegar should be ruddy-colored with a noticeable amount of residue floating around in the bottle. This is the natural accumulation of beneficial enzymes and nutrients.
 
The simplest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to mix 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water three times per day, preferably just before meals. You can sweeten the drink with a small amount of honey if you like. 

I'll be honest, the taste isn't amazing, but it tastes....healthy!

 

Interactions to be aware of


Apple cider vinegar interacts with the following medications in large doses so be cautious if you take the following:
Digoxin, insulin, diuretics.

NEW!!!
HEART FACT OF THE WEEK


Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. Certain cells in your heart make electric signals that cause the heart to contract and pump blood. These electrical signals show up on an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. Your doctor or cardiac specialist nurse can read your ECG to find out if the electric signals are normal.

In atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF), the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) don’t beat the way they should. Instead of beating in a normal pattern, the atria beat irregularly and too fast, quivering like a bowl of jelly.  The heart will still pump blood around the body, but it won't be as effective.  You may also experience symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, or feel dizzy.

Your heart has a natural pacemaker, called the “sinus node,” that makes electrical signals. These signals cause the heart to contract and pump blood. With atrial fibrillation, random electrical activity interrupts the normal conduction rhythm. This prevents the atria from properly contracting.

It’s important for the heart to pump properly so your body gets the oxygen and fuel it needs. 

How do I test for AF?

If you have any symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations (feeling your heart pounding in your chest), dizziness or faint, have your doctor perform a full cardiac check including an ECG. You can perform a simple pulse check on your wrist to feel if your heart is regular (normal) or irregular (possible AF).  Watch this video here to see how it's done. 

What happens if I have AF?

There are many different treatment options for AF, including a range of medications, cardioversion and catheter ablation. The treatment recommended to each individual is based on their symptoms, length of time they have been in AF and response to medication. You may need to take anticoagulation to prevent stroke.

To find out more, read here or ask me for more information.

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