Greatest GIFT

Faith, God's Wisdom, journey to healthy living, Life and dreams


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Blood Pressure and Medications

 

systolicHigh blood pressure worries and frustrations in four years time had led me on a mission and a quest to find out about this notorious and scary hypertensive heart disease.

When I gained 35 extra pounds in a matter of five years of quitting my job and relocating, I’ve noticed I became very sluggish and I would feel tired even just after a shower.  I knew that I needed to do something about the changes I was feeling. For one thing, I did not even know that I gained so much weight. I’ve thrown caution to the wind, stopped weighing myself in the morning, enjoyed life and ate out a lot even if there was no special occasion. I’ve eaten sweet desserts way late in the evening, had some ice cream and junk snacks while enjoying internet browsing and watching movies. I was just having the greatest time of my life after working so long and hard in life. It was a time of junk foods that I did not even know were bad for me; and eating out and buying all kinds of processed foods, were part of finally arriving to a period and time that alarm clocks no longer ruled my life. I could be up almost all night, waking up late in the morning with no set sleep schedule. Hey, this was what life was all about after all!

Then came a warning sign. To compensate with bad eating habits, I would do my treadmill workout. At first I was able to still do high speed intensity and uphill workouts. But then one day, I had a bad fall while sort of running on our hallway to catch an important life event on video. It was a bad tumble on a hard concrete flooring, chest first. A few months later, when I felt okay to go back to exercising, I started feeling chest pains while tread milling. I would stop working out for days, and returned back when the pain was gone, but there was still the same nagging chest pains.

One night I woke up with this worse chest pain on my left side that my hubby had to take me to the emergency. Thank goodness, it was not a heart attack. However, the emergency doctor suggested that I see a cardiologist to be safe and sure that my heart is not weakening. The following day after seeing a cardiologist, he wrote me a prescription for Nitrostat to take as needed should I experience chest pains again. The cardio visit led to another visit as he wanted me to undergo some tests. I declined having one of them because of what was written about the possible bad reactions to the test. The doctor mentioned that my blood pressure was in a high range. He suggested that it might be the cause of my chest pains.

Knowing nothing about high blood pressure, I did not know where to start. But it led me to start researching about it. I’ve read that caffeine intake can elevate blood pressure. I stopped drinking tea and coffee, not even decaf, and the chest pains subsided. I read that I should buy a blood pressure monitor to help with knowing my blood pressure numbers at home. My first blood pressure monitor was giving me high systolic numbers but my diastolic numbers ever since was normal.

Getting frustrated and stressed out with worries about the high blood pressure, I finally saw a general practitioner who suggested that I start taking blood pressure medication. The first medication prescribed was Lisinopril. When I went back for 3 months check up, I told my doctor that I was experiencing bad night coughing. He then took me out of that and prescribed Benicar, but I had a bad sore throat and itching from taking it that I had to go back to my GP and he changed the BP prescription to Losartan. I stayed with Losartan for a while. This time I started with a Blood Pressure Log to keep track of my daily BP systolic and diastolic numbers and heart rates. And I bought a better and reliable BP monitor. My numbers were good and stayed in good range.

I make it a habit to take three months worth of BP log sheets each time I see my doctors. I have a white coat hypertension syndrome where my blood pressure systolic reading is higher at the doctor’s office. I used to wonder why, but I know now the reason. Everything is rush-rush in the doctors office. Taking blood pressure measurement should be done after 5 to 10 minutes of rest sitting down doing nothing.  Your upper left arm is at the same height as your heart, placing it on a table. The clinic assistant should not do anything or not talk to you or touch you to take your heart rate etc., while taking the measurement. These are not adhered at the doctors office. They don’t give you a chance to breathe if ever. You’re already stressed out being there and if they call your name right away while filling some paperwork for updates, your heart is already racing. Of course, in turn, your blood pressure reading undoubtedly has skyrocketed. This is what I tell them now after they take my measurement and my reading was high; and I show them my BP log sheets. I am right away vindicated. I don’t give them a chance to tell me to up my BP med dose just because.

Many people find that their blood pressure increases because of subconscious stress from confrontation with medical institutions and the staff working there. This is usually called “white coat hypertension”, that is, elevated blood pressure levels from just seeing the white lab coats doctors wear.
This is a common problem: a full 10-15% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure after measurements taken at a hospital or medical facility, later find that measurements taken in their own home or averaged over 24 hours are normal.

If you’re one of the people with “white coat hypertension”, you have approximately the same risk of heart disease as other people with normal blood pressure. People with “white coat hypertension” don’t need blood pressure-lowering medication – but they often get it unnecessarily! ***DietDoctor.com

lowerbloodpressurenaturally

This time around I started on my plant based diet, reducing simple sugar carbs and saturated fats, started with calorie counting and lost a significant amount of weight. My BMI went down to normal. I also started with intermittent fasting. Anyway with BP med intake it seemed like I finally achieved successful control of my blood pressure, or so I thought.

But then after a few months of taking Losartan daily, I started feeling backaches, cold sweats especially at night and the worse chills like I could hardly breathe at night and would wake me up in the middle of the night. Suffice to say, I had so many sleepless nights. I would have chest pains on top of it that my GP referred me to another cardiologist who is more reliable than the previous one I was referred to at the Emergency Hospital. This time I finally agreed to have a cardiogram test and a nuclear test. My nuclear test had a good result. I do not have any blockage and my heart condition is good and so did my cardiogram result.

But I was still being pestered with back pains and all the side effects that came with taking Losartan. I had a little argument at my next visit with my GP. He was getting annoyed that I was complaining about side effects. And asked me point blank why should he prescribe me another BP med when I seemed to complain about side effects all the time. I told him you’re my doctor, you’re supposed to help me. But looking back at it now, I guess he probably would want me to stop taking them period. Both of us frustrated, he prescribed Norvasc or Amlodipine. At this point, I was just about as stressed out with BP meds.

veggies

I then researched on what veggies and fruits and whole grains and other plant based foods that can naturally lower my blood pressure. I’ve adjusted my daily prepared meal to be as close as the Mediterranean diet focusing on lots of veggies and fruits.

After taking the Amlodipine for three months, side effects followed.

amplodipinesideeffects2

I had the worst lower and upper back pains. I could barely sit down for a few minutes because I would have chest pains and back pains. I started getting very tired and fatigue at the end of the day that I had to stop taking it because I can hardly get a good sleep. This time I did not call my GP. I felt good through all the summer last year after quitting Amlodipine. The back pains were going away. I was able to get goodnight sleep again. Without the BP med, I found out that with adding plant based foods and losing weight, my blood pressure numbers are not bad at all. My energy was optimal.

amplodipinesideeffects

But I decided to give Amlodipine another try early this year to make sure that I was just not imagining the side effects. Just three weeks into taking it everyday, my lower and upper back started to bother me again. I started getting dizzy and feeling faint like I would pass out. My legs were starting to swell and ache like I was having a blood clot on both legs. I started sneezing really bad everyday, I could barely function. I lost my energy. I was able to prepare my smoothies and eat plant based foods, but I was so fatigued toward the end of the day that I felt like I was so depressed and feeling run down. I told myself that this is not the way to live a full life! I was having a restless sleep. I’ve prayed so hard and asked God for discernment and wisdom on how I could deal with these trials I was going through with my health.  I was exhausted and tired and sneezing continuously most days that once and for all, I’ve got to stop taking the BP med.

 

Norvasch

Lowering blood pressure helps prevent getting angina, heart attacks and strokes. BP medications can surely lower your BP, but with the side effects that come with taking these meds long term, a person will die of side effects, not of the high blood pressure. And would possibly die of heart attacks anyway. These drugs are awful! I’ve learned to be vigilant with all these drugs doctors prescribe to be used long term and daily. Check out the side effects! Most likely, you will experience those side effects. These conventional drugs will take over your life and lose it in the process. My chest pains were actually caused by these BP drugs!

After a week of quitting the BP med,  I felt better. I’ve been taking Gaba Plus for years, so I started taking them again. I stopped taking my supplements because of fear that they might badly interact with my BP med.  I started taking Fish Oil and Co Q-10 and Vitamin D and calcium again. In my research, I found out that taking Gaba Plus and Fish Oil will lower my blood pressure.

Yesterday, my blood pressure systolic was 127 and my diastolic was 64 and heart rate is 62. I’ve been getting good BP readings even without the conventional BP med. The chest pain is gone and yesterday, I returned to doing a moderate treadmill walk. When I’ve first embarked on changing my eating habits and lost a lot of weight and doing intermittent fasting, I was in the middle or period of taking the BP med. So whatever benefits and nutrients I was getting was helping me somehow,  but the side effects of the BP med were so overwhelming that daily dose of this medication was giving me a poor quality of life.

In a recent 6 month’s visit last week at my cardiologist office, I told the nurse practitioner that was assigned to me that I stopped taking the BP med. I showed her my BP log sheets and told her the side effects I experienced. She was concerned about the BP reading that was taken by the clinic assistant because my systolic reading was high. I told her what I’ve learned about the right ways to take BP measurement. I was surprised she didn’t know. She let me rested for about 5 to 15 minutes and took another blood pressure measurement. It was 135/70 with 64 heart rate.

Blood pressure readings varies each time in a day, it can be lower, in the middle, higher or extremely high depending on how our heart and brain react on things around us. I found out that it is normal. The medical concern really is if our systolic or diastolic number remain high, especially the systolic number and does not change even when we are at rest before doing the measurements.

One of the best websites about hypertension or high blood pressure I’ve read was DietDoctor.com ( https://www.dietdoctor.com/blood-pressure )

An ideal, healthy blood pressure is not over 120/80. This is what young, healthy and lean people have…

Values between 140/90 and 160/100 are considered as slightly elevated blood pressure.
Over 160/100 is said to be moderately elevated.
Over 180/110 is a severely elevated blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is severely elevated (over 160 systolic or over 100 in diastolic), medication is wise. If you have other risk factors for heart disease (like smoking, diabetes or obesity), medication may be recommended even for a slight elevation in blood pressure (over 140/90).

Up until recently there was no evidence that medication improves the health of otherwise healthy people with mildly elevated blood pressure (140-159 systolic and/or 90-99 diastolic). This meant it was unclear whether it was worth risking the side effects of the medication if all you have is a slight elevation.

After losing a lot of weight and eating plant based foods, my daily blood pressure readings are in the mid 120s and low and mid 130s at the most. The Fish Oil and Gaba plus have added extra help in lowering my blood pressure steadily without BP medication. Hopefully, I am at the time now that I have reached the level where my blood pressure is finally well controlled. I’ve thanked God and grateful to Him that He has given me understanding and wisdom in overcoming the maladies concerning high blood pressure. God once again opened my eyes!

Omega 3

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Telomeres

Have you ever heard about Telomere? [ˈtēləˌmi(ə)r, ˈtelə-] Do you have any idea what it is? I didn’t. However, I was amazed at finding out about this very important part of our beings living within us and determines the longevity of our lives.

X chromosome, red in the center, the concept of infection

I’ve been hearing about Telomeres for about 2 years now, but I could not comprehend how they work in our body. Until I bought the book: How Not To Die. In this book it tackled in parts this amazing compound structure.

“In each of your cells, you have forty-six strands of DNA coiled in chromosomes. At the tip of each chromosome, there’s a tiny cap called a telomere, which keeps your DNA from unraveling and fraying. Think of it as the plastic tips on the end of your shoelaces. Every time your cells divide, however, a bit of that cap is lost. And when the telomere is completely gone, your cells can die. Though this is an oversimplification, telomeres have been thought of as your life “fuse”: They can start shortening as soon as you’re born, and when they’re gone, you’re gone. “telomere shortening aging

“The consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other antioxidant-rich foods has been associated with longer protective telomeres, In contrast, the consumption of refined grains, soda, meat (including fish) and dairy has been linked to shortened telomeres.”

“In a study funded by in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, they found that three months of whole food, plant based nutrition and other healthy changes could significantly boost telomerase enzyme activity, the only intervention ever shown to do so. FruitsVeggies2

The study was published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. The accompanying editorial concluded that this landmark study “should encourage people to adopt a heathy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age related diseases.”

from: How Not To Die/Michael Greger

Telomere3

“Telomerase is an enzyme that lengthens telomeres and keeps them from wearing out too fast or too early. But with constant cell division, telomerase levels are depleted, enabling telomeres to shorten. It stands to reason that if science found a way to increase telomerase production, telomeres would remain long, lengthening life spans and possibly reducing the risk of some diseases.”

“Foods high in vitamins are believed to protect cells and their telomeres from oxidative damage. A diet high in antioxidant foods, like berries and artichokes, can slow down aging and help prevent or reduce cell damage.”

FruitsVeggies3

Seven of the best known ways science knows of now to slow down telomere shortening to live longer:

Don’t ever smoke. Smoking is not only hazardous to your lungs and cardiovascular health, but is also found to increase rate of telomere shortening, which can lead to dysfunction and instability of chromosomes.
De-stress your life. The more stress you have in your life, the greater risk of increasing the rate of telomere shortening and aging more quickly. How to slow it down? As simple as it might sound, the key is to always have a positive outlook on life. Plus, enjoy a vacation once in a while, enjoy friends and social activities, receive plenty of sleep every night, and try meditation.
Exercise regularly. By increasing amounts of physical activity, especially intense physical activity, research shows you could keep your telomeres long and healthy, even buffering the effects of chronic stress.
Get your antioxidants daily. When high amounts of free radicals attack cells (causing oxidative stress), they leave no stone unturned making chromosomes and their telomeres vulnerable to shortening. You can best protect yourself by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet from eating fruits and vegetables daily and supplements.

FruitsVeggies4

Never go without fish oil. Fish oil contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are well-known for being healthy to the heart, but recent evidence has shown that increasing amounts in the diet is associated also with slowing telomere shortening over time. You can get enough by eating fish a couple of times per week and by supplementing with long-chain omega-3s daily.
Get enough of the “sunshine vitamin. Several discoveries have made vitamin D the most popular nutrient of the decade because of its many benefits including an association with longer telomere length. You can make sure you’re getting enough by practicing safe sun exposure and supplementing with vitamin D daily.

Practice safe weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to keep telomeres long.

from: http://www.isagenixhealth.net/seven-ways-to-slow-telomere-shortening/

 

Lose Weight
 “Obesity has an adverse effect on health, causes pre-mature aging, and reduces life expectancy,” says John Morton, MD, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford University Medial Center. “If your telomeres get longer, you’re likely to reverse the effects of aging.”

While this study was conducted on surgical weight loss, we’re hoping future research will be able to replicate it with diet and exercise in humans.

Stand Up
  •  Stand up for anti-aging! We don’t mean take a stand–we mean actually get out of your chair and stand up to protect your telomeres, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. There is growing concern that not only low physical activity but probably also sitting and sedentary behavior is an important and new health hazard of our time.

The researchers found that the less time spent sitting, the longer his or her telomeres. In fact, in this study, time spent standing was even more important than exercise for telomere protection. This is great news because most things you do sitting down (watching TV, checking email, calling a friend), you can do standing up.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11073662/How-standing-might-be-the-best-anti-ageing-technique.html

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Bad Cholesterol is pretty scary!

“LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of your arteries and form plaque, which can narrow and reduce the flow of blood through your arteries (arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart). This plaque buildup can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis —also known as ‘the hardening of the arteries.’”  Source: https://www.repatha.com/high-ldl-causes-treatment/?WT.srch=1

Cholesterolcholesterol-in-artery1Clogged Artery

Recently I heard news from a close friend of mine that her husband had an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder full of gallstones. Gallstones may form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. …
High levels of bilirubin can lead to formation of gallstones. …
In case the gallbladder is not able to empty often enough or if it is unable to empty completely, there may be a concentration of bile. …

I was not familiar with gallbladder which I thought was the same as the bladder that stores urine. They are two different body organs.

Gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac which is made up of a mucous membrane, a fibromuscular coat, and a serous layer. It lies in a depression of the posterior surface of the liver.

Gallbladder

Urinary bladder is a part of the urinary system that stores urine produced by kidneys until urination takes place. It is found anterior and inferior to the pelvic cavity and posterior to the symphysis pubis. Bladder receives urine through ureters, the small tubes connecting two kidneys and the urinary bladder.

male_urinary_bladder

“Cholecystectomy is the medical procedure that surgically removes the gallbladder. Around 60% of the patients that undergo this procedure experience an improvement in their digestion, but for the 40% patients, they experience side effects and other discomforts. Diarrhea is a common side effect of removing gallbladder. Heartburn can also be experienced by people who have undergone cholecystectomy.
Unexplainable discomfort is usually felt by the patients a few days after the surgery. Bloating is the result of carbon dioxide pumped inside the body and remains there.
Difficulty in breathing. It is important that after surgery, deep breathing is now practiced. Heartburn is the result of improper digestion. Since there is not enough bile in the system, some of the fatty foods remain undigested and these fatty acids and gastric acids will try to regurgitate back to the esophagus, causing pain in the chest, neck, throat, etc.. “ Source: http://www.tandurust.com/digestive-problems/dangers-of-removing-gallbladder.html

Hopefully, my friend’s husband is one of the 60% patients that improve their digestion when the gallbladder is removed.

Anyway, I never realized that too much cholesterol in the body cannot only affect the walls of our arteries, but can cause problems on the other parts of our organs. Pretty scary!High-Cholesterol-Foods

How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
These are the 7 steps you can take to lower cholesterol naturally. And if you follow all of them, you can count on a very high success ratio.

Eat a healthy cholesterol lowering diet. Some fats help lower cholesterol, while others can raise it. So get your fats right.

Reduce overall fat intake, avoid trans fats, limit saturated fats and replace “bad” fats with “good” fats, such as olive oil and those found in whole grains and omega 3 fish.

High fiber foods also help lower cholesterol naturally. They decrease “bad” LDL and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

Do regular healthy physical activity. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to decrease total cholesterol and improve “good” HDL cholesterol levels, while lack of regular physical activity can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels as well as lead to weight gain.

Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can decrease “good” HDL levels and increase “bad” LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Eliminate sweets and refined foods. Few realize that eating sweets and other high glycemic foods increase triglycerides and cholesterol production. These foods are also addictive. Once you eliminate them, you’ll find that fruits, vegetables and whole grains actually taste sweet.

Cut out caffeine and alcohol – drink water. Both caffeine and alcohol have been shown to elevate cholesterol. So it’s best to switch to pure water and, at the very least, follow the “no more than one a day” rule.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form. Smoking damages blood vessels, contributes to hardening of the arteries and is a major health risk for heart disease, stroke and other degenerative diseases.

Practice good healthy stress management. Just like cholesterol, a certain amount of stress is healthy – such as with exercise. But the link between excess stress and high cholesterol production is well established. So take time to relax, let go, meditate, enjoy yourself or do whatever it takes to keep your stress level under control.

Use the 7 steps to lower cholesterol naturally to reach optimum levels of:
Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dl.
Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dl.
HDL “good” cholesterol over 40 mg/dl.
LDL “bad” cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl.

You can greatly reduce your all-around risk of both heart disease and stroke, the #1 and #3 causes of premature death in the U.S. by simply following these guidelines on how to lower cholesterol naturally.   Source: http://commonsensehealth.com/how-to-lower-cholesterol-naturally-in-7-steps/

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List of Foods that Lower Cholesterol Naturally.  

Below is a list of foods that lower cholesterol naturally. You can use this list of cholesterol reducing foods as a guide when eating and should consider having a majority of these foods that lower cholesterol in your home.

– Oat cereal

– Cereals containing flaxseed or psyllium

– Whole grain cereals

– Pecan nuts, walnuts, olives, soy nuts

– Dried or canned beans, peas and lentils

– Corn, fresh, frozen or canned

– Soybean products

– Whole wheat bread

All types of fruits, especially currants, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, apples.

– Canola and olive oils and margarines made from these oils.

All vegetables, especially onion, watercress, leeks, spinach, carrots, artichokes, avocado, broccoli, kale Brussels sprouts and cauliflower

A variety of flavorings, herbs and spices, especially fresh garlic.

– Lean meats and chicken.

– Salmon, swordfish, tuna and trout

Source:  http://www.all-about-lowering-cholesterol.com/foods-that-lower-cholesterol.html

Another method of healing I found on line is Ginger Garlic Apple Cider Vinegar Mix:

1 piece of grated ginger, 1 glove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Liquefy with the use of Nutri Bullet blender. Consume 1 tablespoon of the mixture before breakfast and another before lunch or dinner.  This mixture lowers blood pressure and cholesterol naturally according to the website. Screenshot_20171030-091257.jpg

 


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Coffee, my heart’s enemy!

Change is afoot! I cannot drink coffee, and though I love the taste and smell of it, hands down, I cannot have it! I have to give up even the decaffeinated ones. Since 97% of caffeine has been removed, the remaining 3% still create havocs to my heart and angina sets in until my body eliminates the coffee out of my system.coffee

It’s actually the caffeine that my heart is allergic to and it reacts on caffeine’s entrance in my body’s bloodstream. Even tea is my heart’s enemy because of the caffeine. I’ve come to a conclusion that anything with caffeine added to food, my heart will pitter patter and starts crying out loud! It surely gives me quite a fright. Thank goodness, my heart is in good condition according to my cardiologist.

“The reason for the angina: Vasoconstriction, it is the narrowing of blood vessels. When vasoconstriction occurs, blood flow is slowed down or partially blocked. It can occur in response to psychological conditions or drugs, such as decongestants, pseudoephedrine or caffeine.”

“By limiting your caffeine intake, you may be able to avoid vasoconstriction and decreased blood flow in the brain. The study published in “Human Brain Mapping” found that those who consumed high levels of caffeine had less cerebral blood flow, when compared to low and moderate caffeine users. In the study, 45 milligrams per day was considered low dosage, 405 milligrams per day was considered moderate and 950 milligrams per day was considered a high level of caffeine.”

Excerpts from:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/395736-does-caffeine-constrict-blood-vessels/

I had never been in the habit of drinking coffee like other coffee lovers do. I never did. I’d have a cup once in a while in my younger years, but it was never an ongoing leisure. I drink it then only to perk me up in the morning on the way to work, if I did not get a good sleep the previous night. The desire to be constantly metabolized, in short, energized by coffee everyday was never my thing. Therefore, I did not know then that my heart reacts to caffeine except when I was taking diet pills moons ago. Caffeine is one of the ingredients in diet pills. I definitely did not put two and two together.

Not until I’ve gotten the luxury to be able to stay home. My hubby loves coffee and the coffee aroma got me entangled with the idea of a cup of joe in the morning would be a welcome change. Three days with coffee gave a sudden chest pain. I’d stop drinking it and the pain would go away. Unbeknownst to me, the caffeine raised my blood pressure, too.

As of late, I’ve given coffee a last try by trying some decaf. It didn’t do no good to my heart either especially if I have it every morning, even in small amount. It was alright if I only have it once in a blue moon. But no chance everyday. Coffee is acidic and an acidic body can cause inflammation and increases the chance of diseases thriving in our bodies.

Pros and Cons of coffee ~~ According to this website,

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-coffee-pros-cons.html

The goods on coffee are: Can reduce the risk of diabetes, fights free radicals, improves memory and cognition.

The negative effects of coffee: can increase Osteoporosis, can cause wrinkles, weight gain, conventional coffee is laden with pesticides.

On this website: http://www.healthassist.net/blog/general/pros-and-cons-of-coffee/

The site particularly discussed about heart disease as part of the negative effects of drinking coffee and high blood pressure. If I continue drinking coffee, regular or decaf, there’s a possibility that my heart may give up on me  due to high blood pressure, which is another side effect of coffee drinking. “Recent Italian study found that coffee drinking can slightly increase the risk for development of sustained hypertension in persons with elevated blood pressure.”

I guess coffee is no longer in my future. As much as I love the smell and aroma of newly brewed coffee, I have to think of the many cons associated with getting addicted to it.

Goodbye coffee, it’s been nice knowing you at Starbucks, especially. coffee2And I am no longer a fan of Starbucks for years now. Talking about pesticides and toxins in their coffee!

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A Question Remains

I recently received a sad news that one of my relatives died suddenly without a warning sign. Just like that, he was gone. In pictures he recently posted, he seemed fit as a fiddle. I saw some tinge of sleep deprivation or lack of good sleep in the current and casual photo shoots, but I could be wrong. He was young, seemed full of life and maybe had great ambition.

It was a puzzle to me and everyone that knew him of his passing at 39 years old, with no serious known illness. He did not make it alive to the hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival and diagnosed that he suffered a mild stroke.

I was told that he went to bed with a full stomach. Just right after he ate a big dinner, he went to sleep, physically tired from a day’s work. In the middle of the night, his wife awaken from his loud snore. She tried to wake him up but he did not respond. They rushed him to the hospital but it was too late.

So many things came to my mind of what might have happened to him from the time he went to bed and got into a deeper sleep.

  • He slept with a full stomach 

fullstomach

According to Livestrong.com

When you go to sleep or go into a reclining position, gravity no longer pulls everything in your abdomen straight down. If you have a full stomach, this can cause acid reflux, potentially resulting in long-term damage to your esophagus. If you have digestive problems when you lie down after going to sleep, you should talk to your doctor and consider making changes to your lifestyle.

Stomach Digestion   Wordmedref_picture_of_stomach_revised

When you eat food, your stomach churns to help mix the food with gastric acid and break it down. The top of your stomach is lined with a ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle prevents the contents of your stomach from traveling up into your esophagus. However, when partially digested food presses up against the lower esophageal sphincter, it can relax. When you have a full stomach and lie down, more food can press against the sphincter, allowing the contents of your stomach to re-enter your esophagus.

Stomach Acid Problems

Lying down on a full stomach can cause significant discomfort, but it can also lead to serious health problems. If the lining of your esophagus is regularly burned by stomach acid, your esophageal cells will gradually change, resulting in a phenomenon known as Barrett’s esophagus. This increases your risk of developing esophageal cancer. Chronic acid reflux can also cause your esophagus to narrow or develop open sores.

  • He was snoring loud enough to disrupt his wife’s sleep     

Sleep-Apnea

According to MayoClinic.Org

Normal snoring, called primary snoring, is harmless to the snorer although annoying to anyone who sleeps with that person.

Sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation.

  • Sleep position. Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity’s effect on the throat narrows the airway.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring may also be associated with obstructive sleep apnea. In this serious condition, your throat tissues partially or completely block your airway, preventing you from breathing. Sleep-Apnea2
  •  

    Risk factors that may contribute to snoring include:

    • Being a man. Men are more likely to snore or have sleep apnea than are women.
    • Being overweight. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to snore or have obstructive sleep apnea.
    • Having a narrow airway. Some people may have a long soft palate, or large tonsils or adenoids, which can narrow the airway and cause snoring.
    • Drinking alcohol. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, increasing the risk of snoring.
    • Having nasal problems. If you have a structural defect in your airway, such as a deviated septum, or your nose is chronically congested, your risk of snoring is greater.
    • Having a family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea 

    Habitual snoring may be more than just a nuisance. Aside from disrupting a bed partner’s sleep, if snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnea, you may be at risk for other complications, including:

    • Daytime sleepiness
    • Frequent frustration or anger
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • A greater risk of high blood pressure, heart conditions and stroke
    • An increased risk of behavior problems, such as aggression or learning problems, in children with obstructive sleep apnea
    • An increased risk of motor vehicle accidents due to lack of sleep

    I was told that the deceased was not a smoker nor was an alcohol drinker and mostly was not doing drugs.  Narrowing it down, he was a man, may have a narrow airway, had a nasal problems or might have a family history of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious condition if not treated. His diagnose was he had a mild stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea, that he might unknowingly was suffering from, had block his airway during deep sleep and he was unable to breathe which caused a mild stroke as the air to the brain was constricted which caused the mild stroke. WordBrain

    WordStrokeBrain2

    I don’t know the distance from their home to the hospital, but if he got medical help sooner than later, he would still be alive as it was a mild stroke. Our neighbor, who suffered from mild stroke, is well and back on her feet. Our emergency hospitals here, which we have quite a few, are about ten to maybe fifteen minutes away. She’s a lot older than my nephew and thank God, she survived. Hers was mostly stress related. WordStrokeBrain

     

     

    Whether these were the causes of my nephew’s untimely death, it was very sad that he was gone. I feel for his mother and siblings, especially his wife left with five young kids to take care of.

    There are no permanent things in life. Life is so precious and being knowledgeable about how our body works is a must.

     


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    White Coat and White Bloat Syndrome

    I saw my cardiologist yesterday for my six months check up. The medical assistant was amazed that I’ve lost weight. She told me that my weight was 126 in May 2015. I told her that I was 121 that day she weigh me in. She said that different scale has different results. I was very surprised with her response because she did not point out that everything from my clothes to my shoes add up to the weight reading on the scale. I mentioned that to her and told her that when I weigh myself in the morning, I don’t have any clothes on to get my correct weight. Whitebloatsyndrome

    Yesterday, I had to remove my sweater and my sandals so that at least my weight at the doctor’s office is not way too off from my weight in the morning. Being my appointment was in the afternoon, I had already eaten and had drank some water already. At least, the difference in my weight was about 4 pounds. The doctor’s office scale indicated I was 109 pounds, while my morning weigh in was 105.6 pounds.

    I’ve realized, too, that when they take my blood pressure at my cardiologist office, my blood pressure was way too high. Yesterday my BP reading was 200/80. WhiteCoatHypertension5That was too high and inaccurate. The medical assistant and the doctor said that I may have a white coat hypertension. When I think about it now, I may surely be suffering with that kind of hypertension, but only at the cardiologist office. Another medical assistant took another reading and the systolic level went down to 168 which was still high. At my regular doctor, I never get that kind of very high blood pressure reading.WhiteCoatHypertension4

    According to Wikipedia:

    White coat hypertension, more commonly known as white coat syndrome, is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they don’t exhibit it in other settings. It is believed that the phenomenon is due to anxiety that those afflicted experience, during a clinic visit.

    The patient’s daytime ambulatory blood pressure is used as a reference as it takes into account ordinary levels of daily stress. Many problems have been incurred in the diagnosis and treatment of white coat hypertension.

    The term “masked hypertension” can be used to describe the contrasting phenomenon, where a patient’s blood pressure is above the normal range during daily living, although it isn’t above the normal range when the patient is in a clinic setting.

    Diagnosis

    In studies, white coat hypertension can be defined as the presence of a defined hypertensive average blood pressure in a clinic setting, although it isn’t present when the patient is in other settings. Diagnosis is made difficult as a result of the unreliable measures taken from the conventional methods of detection. These methods often involve an interface with health care professionals and frequently results are tarnished by a list of factors including variability in the individual’s blood pressure, technical inaccuracies, anxiety of the patient, recent ingestion of pressor substances, and talking, amongst many other factors. The most common measure of blood pressure is taken from a noninvasive instrument called a sphygmomanometer. “A survey showed that 96% of primary care physicians habitually use a cuff size too small,” adding to the difficulty in making an informed diagnosis. For such reasons, white coat hypertension cannot be diagnosed with a standard clinical visit. It can be reduced (but not eliminated) with automated blood pressure measurements over 15 to 20 minutes in a quiet part of the office or clinic.WhiteCoatHypertension6

    Mayo Clinic explanation of white coat hypertension here at:

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/white-coat-hypertension/FAQ-20057792

    There must be something that is stressing me out every time I see my cardiologist. Thank goodness that I have a daily log of my blood pressure readings and my daily weight that I can show to my GP and my cardiologist for the correct BP readings at home. It’s frustrating because now doctors can email their patients their medical records and the patients will see what they have recorded at their end. I hate to say it, they are mostly wrong information and limited in scope. Mine showed a wrong height, wrong BP reading info and seem that it did not show what my cardiologist and I had conversed about my health progress.

    He asked me what did I do to lose weight. I explained what regimen I have done which I have posted here on my blog. He seemed to be writing down the information. And he agreed that diet and the type of foods I have eaten in the past months helped me tremendously. He also concurred that blood pressure goes down when a person loses weight. He repeated that my heart is in good shape, very healthy according to the echocardiogram and the nuclear tests in May 2015; and he added that the pain I might have experienced in the past was probably gas from indigestion, which made sense. He commended me for taking a proactive role with my health.

    There were minor findings from my nuclear test that he needs to monitor, so he wanted to see me in six months for another echocardiogram. I guess I only suffer white coat syndrome at the cardiologist office and not with my Primary Care Physician or come to think of it, if they don’t ask me to take a test or two for preventive care. I think I may have to pass this up next time they told me I’m due for a preventive assessment review.

    Maybe because my cardiologist and his office are not in sync with my current health updates, I guess I feel frustrated and it is stressing me out in the back of my mind. Especially, when I viewed my current medical record with them yesterday. It looked like nothing has changed in my condition except my weight. I guess they do not have time to build a relationship with their patients being pretty busy with other patients. I guess I might just have to take this whole thing with a grain of salt.wpid-screenshot_2015-08-07-20-37-20-1.png

    My overall health is really in my hands. I cannot depend on conventional doctors to take care of my health. I have to accept the facts that their medical records about me would be erroneous because no one really pay attention on correcting them and they based things on what their medical instruments tell them whether it’s wrong or not. I just have to leave it at that.  I have to take care of myself by continuously being proactive with my healthy eating habitsasparagus, reading articles about health from functional and alternative doctors and learn from them. If I keep on eating the right foods wpid-screenshot_2015-08-28-07-30-36-1.pngand eating less and do my daily intermittent fasting, intermittentfastingstaying away from most of the processed foods, drinking water, have a good night sleep schedule; my conventional doctors would just be saying on the back of their heads: “there goes my business!” Just leave them in wonderment. Really, when you’re ill and naïve about your health and uneducated, it’s easy for  conventional doctors to whip up any kind of diagnosis. It’s really trial and errors with them because they don’t really know you and your body personally.wpid-screenshot_2015-08-04-15-07-28-1.png

    http://www.ehow.com/how_5013527_avoid-white-coat-syndrome.html

    According to ehow.com, there’s a way to avoid White Coat Syndrome:

    • From the evening before you go to the doctor, stop drinking water. If you have less water, you will have lower blood pressure. The only reason you’re not drinking water is so you can have a few uneventful doctor’s visits without the high blood pressure speech. If you do this, make sure you test yourself so you know you don’t have high blood pressure.
    • On the way to the doctor, listen to pleasant music. Smile. Enjoy life. Drive slowly. Do everything to be relaxed on the way to the doctor. Ignore the stresses of your life. Do not think or worry about white coat syndrome. What’s on your mind can have a huge effect on blood pressure, so it’s best to be relaxed as much as possible.
    • Walk slowly into the doctor’s office. Excessive physical exertion will raise blood pressure.
    • Stay relaxed the whole time at the doctor. Meditate. Smile at the world. Close your eyes. If you have somebody with you, fall asleep while you wait, which will make you very relaxed and lower blood pressure
    • After you get a normal blood pressure reading and avoided the high blood pressure speech, congratulate yourself on a job well done. You’ve conquered White Coat Syndrome on this visit.WhiteCoatHypertension3
    • Tell your doctor about your white coat syndrome. This is the most important step.The doctor’s job will be to determine how pervasive your white coat syndrome is. He calls it white coat hypertension, which is still just as serious as regular hypertension or high blood pressure. On one hand, your blood pressure may be normal during the rest of the day, which means blood pressure meds will give you hypotension (low blood pressure). On the other hand, high blood pressure during other stressful parts of the day (other than the doctor’s visit) may warrant treatment of white coat hypertension. In many cases, the doctor will still want to prescribe you blood pressure meds anyway because if you’re stressed from doctor’s visits, you’re probably suffering hypertension during the other stressful parts of your life. If you have other factors such as heart disease or overweight, your doctor might err on the side of caution and diagnose white coat hypertension. Your doctor will do what’s right for you. If he prescribes you meds anyway, it’s not a defeat. He’s doing you a favor in treating white coat hypertension.

    And take a deep breath!


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    An Eye Opener

    The more I read about the connection between gaining excess weight and high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the more I realized why my blood pressure skyrocketed for the last 2 years! The first year, I did not even know it was high. There were symptoms but I was not paying attention. I knew I was gaining weight and I got tired fast. I even was accepting I’m getting older, it’s part of life. That was not the right frame of mind. Now I realized that wherever I am in my stage of life, I have to be proactive and maintain a healthy weight. We live and we learn.

    Looking back at my blood pressure chart for blood pressure monitoring at home, my systolic readings were way high in October and November 2014. My systolic readings were 168, the highest and the lowest was 141. My average systolic reading was 146.39. No wonder I was not feeling so good! Thank goodness, my diastolic readings have always been low.  My doctor started me with a blood pressure med when I decided to seek help last year. But I refused to take more drugs as I go along. Something has to go; it’s either the BP med or my excess weight. It really did not dawn on me that yes, it’s the excess weight that has to be dealt with. I read that just a modest weight gain can increase our blood pressure, even in lean, healthy people. This is especially true if we tend to gain weight in the belly area.

    According to  Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic ~ “with even a small weight gain like 5 pounds, there is a significant increase in the overall risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. While these findings are important on an individual level, the impact of these findings is multiplied as more and more adults fall into the overweight or obese category, Somers said.“This is important to see on an individual level, but on the overall population as well,” he said. He said that an increase in weight also comes with an increase risk of high blood pressure, which opens us up to a slew of heart health risks.”

    According to Healthline.com, high blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 67 million American adults, or 1 in every 3, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not even half — only 47 percent — have their high blood pressure under control. The common condition is characterized by higher than normal pressure from blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Early stages of high blood pressure cause no symptoms, so it is also known as “the silent killer” because of the damage it can cause before diagnosis. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart, raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. Losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your blood pressure and your heart disease risk. To successfully and healthfully lose weight—and keep it off—most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week.

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    August of 2012 at Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada – I’ve lost 10 pounds here but still on the chubby side.

    I’ve started concentrating on losing weight in May 2011, lost 10 pounds in 2012 and I was able to keep off those 10 pounds until the Christmas holidays in 2014. This year, I’ve finally put my foot down and focused on losing more weight by calorie counting and intermittent fasting, which I’ve been blogging here for extra motivation and accountability on my part.

    wpid-2015-09-07-11-11-17-429.jpg

    this morning, my BMI is 22- blood pressure was 113/60. The pair of shorts I’m wearing is a size 5. Old shorts I used to wear in the early 90s! I kept these with hope that I can wear them again!

    My hubby has lost a lot of weight since we started calorie counting on June 2015. He is 6’1 and weighing now at 194. Aside from doing calorie counting, he is also on intermittent fasting and brisk walking around our neighborhood with some jogging. In a matter of six months, he was able to normalize his blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Before this, our doctor told him six months ago that if he did not change his lifestyle habits, he may have to start with statin drugs. His good blood test counts recently are testaments that we can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally, by eating healthy foods like veggies and fruits, whole grains, good fats, lean meats, poultry and fish and eating less and exercise.

    This morning, my blood pressure reading was 113/60 which is considered normal. My BMI is 22.


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    Waist Measurement

    HeartHealth

    When I see my doctor, the nurse assistant measures my weight and my blood pressure. I never paid so much attention about these routine checks until I was told that my blood pressure was slightly higher. I took that as a warning sign. It made me pay attention to possible health risks that may start in the very near future.

    Since my last checkup, I have lost 11.1 lbs. and my BMI (body mass index) went down to 22.5 which is considered normal weight.

    According to the UK site NHS choices– while body mass index (BMI) is a good way to tell if we are on a healthy weight, BMI doesn’t tell the whole story. Our health greater risk depends on where we store the spare body fat —  when it’s under the skin and also around the vital organs in our abdomen, this cause for concern abdomen because it means more health problems.

    According to an article I have read, concerning the size of our waist, said that 90% of those whose waists were 35 inches or more had at least one major risk factor for heart diseases, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Plus, a large waist is a risk factor for diabetes, another heart threat. The article continued to say that waist size forecasts heart health better than our weight or body mass index. It’s an indicator of dangerous fat deep in our abdomen, even if we are not overweight. Losing just an inch can improve all of our heart health numbers.

    As I continue to lose more weight, I have to make sure to measure my waist every thirty days, to see if it’s improving. waistmeasurement2 I am at a high risk at 36 inches.

    From NHS choices — in regards to measuring our waist, this is their advice:

    To find your true waist, feel for your hip bone on one side.

    Move upwards until you can feel the bones of your bottom rib. Halfway between is your waist. For most people this is where their tummy button is.

    Use a mirror the first time to see what you’re doing and to make it easier to measure.

    From WebMD website: Your waist size is a clue to whether you’re at high risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.To measure your waist circumference, use a tape measure. Start at the top of your hip bone, then bring the tape measure all the way around, level with your belly button. (your abdomen is where your belly button is) Make sure it’s not too tight and that it’s straight. Don’t hold your breath while measuring.waistmeasurement3

    Of course, another sure way to know where you stand with your blood sugar/glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol is to have blood test taken every six months.

    My blood pressure has gone down to a much better level, thanks to a diet of plant-based foods (veggies and fruits), nuts, good fat intake, whole grain and fish with less red meat intake and less chicken and few seafood. Eight glasses of water has helped lower my blood pressure and so does a great sleep schedule. I exercise moderately and I always tend my garden. I try to always move around the house and do housework and cooking and preparing our daily meals; and not to stay put or sit for a long period of time, if it’s not necessary.  And my cholesterol level is now okay with my doctor. I only take one medication and it’s for my blood pressure and I intend to not have more than one medication if I can help it.  I went further into buying a blood pressure monitor and I check my blood pressure every morning. This morning my blood pressure reading was 118/64 with a heart rate of 54.

    A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that nearly 1 in 3 Americans suffers from high blood pressure and more than half don’t have it under control, and don’t even know they have it. According to the report, most people with uncontrolled high blood pressure have health insurance and had actually seen a doctor at least twice in the previous year, yet their condition remained unmanaged.

    I think it’s because they see their doctors for an emergency or they are running a fever or cold that won’t go away. Most of the time when they are told that their blood pressure is high, the doctor or the nurse or medical assistant would assume that it’s because they are not feeling well. In turn the patients don’t follow up because of being busy from their work, family and personal life.

    And if their eating habits are not up to par, and they eat all kinds of junk foods and processed foods, they are headed to all kinds of health problems.

    I was one of those people, although I had read books about health most of my life, I did not connect the dots until I was told that my blood pressure was elevated.

    I am now a firm believer of this phrase from Hippocrates: Let your food be your medicine, your medicine be your food.