Icy Baths And Your Health

What good will come from shivering in an ice bath?

The answer is actually astonishing!  It shocks your body and activates your autonomic nervous system thus helping reduce tissue and core body temperature. And, this, in turn, affects bodily functions such as restricting blood flow, activating the endocrine system, and altering your heart rate.

It is called cryotherapy!

It simply involves something as simple as a cold shower, a plunge into an icy pool, or some sophisticated chamber. There is research out there to suggest that regular cryotherapy sessions have a wide range of benefits. This includes reducing pain, reducing inflammation, and speeding up recovery.

Benefits of Cryotherapy

Fights Inflammation

Inflammation is our bodies’ natural response to help with the healing process. Many of us suffer from chronic inflammation, which is a silent killer and at the core of almost all major diseases. Cryotherapy can help retune our inflammatory response, and reduce existing inflammation. Because it helps increase the presence of anti-inflammatory cytokines, as well as reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines.

When we exercise it causes temporary inflammation. With cryotherapy, you can reduce tissue and core temperature by reducing blood flow to areas of inflammation.

Boosts the Immune System

By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, regular cryotherapy optimises our body to fight disease. This is due to the increase in the production of white blood cells (especially lymphocytes and monocytes) and this helps our body to fight off disease.

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress or the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies plays a major role in the wear and tear and determines how our bodies age. However, while we cannot prevent ageing, let’s at least fight it and slow down the ageing process. Studies have shown that it can increase the presence of antioxidants, which helps to decrease oxidative stress. So, while you sweat it out with lots of exercises, cryotherapy will increase an increase your antioxidant levels.

Enhances Heart Health

By plunging our bodies into very cold temperatures, we decrease our resting heart rate, whilst improving stroke volume, and improving heart rate variability. Cryotherapy activates the mechanism that regulates our blood pressure helping to balance and optimise our blood pressure.

Improves Mobility

Cryotherapy helps to improve joint function and arthritis. Studies have shown that cryotherapy helps reduce pain and improve joint mobility in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.  But, even if you don’t suffer from any of these ailments, cryotherapy helps improve joint function by helping muscles recover and reduce inflammation. Result freely and painless movement.

Reduces Pain

Cryotherapy increases the production of antioxidants and endorphins in the body, which in turn helps in the treatment of chronic pain.

Improves Mental State

Cryotherapy may also help you reduce anxiety and depression as it increases the production of endorphins, which cause a happy state of mind.

Improves Quality of Sleep

Cryotherapy is known to enhance the quality of our sleep. Quality sleep is a great healer as it helps our body to heal and recover and also helps enhances cognitive function.

Quickens Recovery

Finally, as always, let me end by saying ‘work those sweat glands…a lot’ with plenty of physical activity! Be it regular walks, jogging, hitting the gym or taking up a sport. However, exercise (especially if it’s new to your body) will cause muscle soreness. But then there’s cryotherapy on hand to save the day!

Athletes use ice baths to help them recover faster and better. This could be a result of enhanced oxygenation of the muscles which lead to greater work efficiency and a reduction in cardiovascular strain.

So, take control of your life, today! Eat healthy by making changes in your diet and nutrition.

In the next article, we are going to talk about obesity. Are we becoming obese silently? How do we know? How do we prevent it? Await our next post to know more. Until then, eat healthy, sleep well and work those sweat glands out.

Disclaimer

Please ensure you consult with your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet,  indulging in any rigorous physical activity or throwing yourself into an icy pool if you suffer from any hypertensive or cardiac-related ailments. Also, it would be best to remember that cryotherapy is not the panacea for your ailments and do consult a professional before you do so.

RightMash develops technology to add intelligence to every food we eat so that we can all have a happy and healthy life. 

Mitigating Hypertension with Better Nutrition

Hypertension and You

Can my food habits help prevent hypertension?

Yes. You may think you’re eating right and exercising enough and are not expressing any symptoms of hypertension, but this condition can be a silent killer and can lead to a myriad of cardiovascular diseases. Even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and organs, especially the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys. Hypertension is quite common and typically develops over several years.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is when your blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure measures the amount of blood passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance it meets whilst the heart is pumping. If your arteries are narrow, the resistance will be higher and so will your blood pressure.

There is hope.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can go a long way in treating your condition. If you have high blood pressure, a few smart eating tactics can help prevent blood pressure spikes and even help reduce your blood pressure.

Let’s look at some foods and how they can help:

Lemon can help soften blood vessels and make them flexible thus keeping blood pressure low. Vitamin B found in lemons can help prevent heart failure.  A glass of lemon juice mixed with warm water every morning on an empty stomach is advisable.

Cayenne pepper helps prevent the blood platelets from clumping and building up in the blood vessels. This helps ensure that the blood flows smoothly. Add cayenne pepper to your vegetable salads, fruits salads or add a pinch to your soups.

Garlic supports healthy cholesterol levels. When crushed, garlic releases hydrogen sulphide that helps promote a healthy flow of blood. Whenever you experience hypertension, eat 1-2 slightly crushed cloves. Alternatively, mix 5-6 drops of garlic juice with 4 teaspoons of water and take this twice a day.

Honey can soothe blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. Take one teaspoon of honey per day, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Eating half a banana daily can help control high blood pressure. Bananas have high potassium content and also help with high cholesterol levels.

The best way to stay hydrated is with coconut water. It is tasty, nutritious and can help lower and control hypertension levels. Drink coconut water regularly for the best results. You can also cook using coconut oil instead of regular cooking oil.

Celery contains high levels of 3-N-butylphthalide, a phytochemical that helps control high blood pressure. It also helps reduce stress hormones that lead to high blood pressure.

Watermelon seeds contain a compound called, cucurbocitrin, that widen blood capillaries and improves the functioning of the kidneys. It also helps with arthritis as it reduces blood pressure.

Leafy greens such as, romaine lettuce, rocket, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard contain nitrates that help manage blood pressure.

Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. Studies have found that consuming these compounds may help prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure. You can add these to your oatmeal or granola in the morning or keep frozen berries on hand for a quick and healthy smoothie.

Red beets are high in nitric oxide, which can help open your blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that the nitrates in beetroot juice lowered research participants’ blood pressure within just 24 hours.

You can juice beets or cook and eat the whole bulb. Beetroot is delicious when roasted or added to stir-fries and stews. You can also bake them into chips.

Oatmeal is high in fibre, low in unhealthy fats and low sodium, to help lower blood pressure. Eating oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to fuel up for the day.

Salmon, mackerel and tuna are a great source of lean protein and essential fats. These omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides.

Unsalted seeds are high in potassium, magnesium, and other minerals are known to reduce blood pressure. Enjoy ¼ cup of sunflower, pumpkin, or squash seeds as a snack between meals.

Eating dark chocolate is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that up to 100 grams per day of dark chocolate may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate has less sugar than regular chocolate. You can add dark chocolate to yoghurt or eat it with fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, as a healthy dessert.

Pistachios are a healthy way to decrease blood pressure by reducing blood vessel tightening, and heart rate. One study found that a diet with one serving of pistachios a day helps reduce blood pressure.

Olive oil is an example of healthy fat. It contains inflammation-fighting polyphenols, a compound to help reduce blood pressure.

Olive oil can help you meet your two to three daily servings of healthy fats. It’s also a great alternative to canola oil, butter, or commercial salad dressings.

Pomegranates are a healthy fruit that you can enjoy raw or as a juice. One study concluded that drinking a cup of pomegranate juice once a day for four weeks helps lower blood pressure over the short term.

Exercise is key to wellness

Increasing activity levels by walking every morning, becoming a gym-goer or taking up a sport with help improve your health and wellbeing.

So, make changes to your diet and lifestyle and take control of your life, today.

In the next article, we are going to talk about Obesity. Are we becoming silently obese? How do we know? How do we prevent it? Just await our next post and you’ll understand why. Until then, eat healthy, sleep well and work those sweat glands.

Disclaimer

Please ensure you consult with your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet if you suffer from any hypertensive or cardiac-related ailments. And, it would be best to remember that food is not a magic treatment for your ailment.

This article has been reviewed by Michelle Boehm, a registered nutritional therapist at Live Better Health. Michelle supports busy individuals on their journey to improved health, looking at the root cause of issues. If you would like health advice that is unique to you, contact Michelle 

RightMash develops technology to add intelligence to every food we eat so that we can all have a happy and healthy life. 

Effects Of Food On Your Heart

What does food have to do with a healthy heart, you may ask?

I am eating right you may think. My heart’s in great shape.  Most of us associate heart health with physical activity and keeping in shape.

Did you know that heart disease is the world’s number 1 killer? It accounts for one in four deaths.  Heart disease is the result of a progressive build-up of plaque in the arteries, leading to the narrowing of the inner walls, restricting and ultimately blocking the flow of blood to the heart. This prevents the flow of blood, cuts off the oxygen supply to the heart and damages or kills the heart cells.

And the frightening part is that in many cases, we may not even know it! Thus, leading to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

So how do you keep our arteries healthy and free of blockages?

Food is directly involved in many of the risk factors for coronary heart disease. Paying attention to what you eat is one of the most important preventative measures you can take. Food is also a natural way to clear blockages and prevent further damage.  A number of factors are associated with the build-up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, these include smoking, lack of physical activity and a family history of the disease.

Saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol and heart attack rates, whilst polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats lower the risk of heart attacks. Examine your diet, you may be eating too many of the unhealthy fats.  If you have an ‘apple’ shaped body, then you are at greater risk of heart disease than someone whose body fat tends to settle around their bottom, hips and thighs (a ‘pear’ shaped body).

Regularly check your blood pressure, this should be around 120/80. Hypertension is when the pressure in the arteries is higher than normal. This may be because the arteries are less elastic, there is more blood volume, or more blood is being pumped out of the heart.

A  diet high in salt may increase blood pressure and elevate the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Most of us consume more than ten times the amount of salt we need to meet our sodium requirements (table salt contains sodium and chloride).

Monitor the level of sugar in your blood. If you’re consuming a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, your body might be losing its sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. This may lead to type 2 diabetes,  chronically elevated blood sugar levels.  Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the artery walls and contribute to coronary heart disease.

Let’s look at some foods that can help keep your arteries healthy.

 

Oily Fish

Certain types of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and tuna, are rich in the polyunsaturated fat, Omega-3, which can help clear the arteries. This heart-healthy fat can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol  (the “good” cholesterol), whilst reducing triglyceride levels, decreasing blood vessel inflammation and the formation of blood clots in the arteries, and can even lower blood pressure. Consuming baked, steamed or grilled oily fish at least twice a week can help reduce plaque build-up.  Try to avoid tinned versions as these can contain toxins. Opt for wild-caught, organic, fresh fish. For vegetarians and vegans, walnuts, flaxseeds and olive oil contain  omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol.

Turmeric

Use turmeric liberally in your cooking. It can be used in many dishes, both sweet and savoury.  Add to a glass of warm milk every day. And, if you’ve never cooked with it before, now’s the time to get creative for your health!

Curcumin found in turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is a major cause of the hardening of the arteries. Turmeric can reduce damage to arterial walls, which cause blood clots and plaque build-up. Turmeric also contains vitamin B6, which helps to maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, a broken-down protein. High levels can cause plaque build-up and blood vessel damage.

Whole Grains

Switch to whole grains right away, these include whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and oatmeal. These grains contain soluble fibre, that binds excess LDL cholesterol in your digestive tract and removes it from your body. Whole grains also contain magnesium, which dilates blood vessels and can help keep your blood pressure at regular levels.

Broccoli

Add broccoli to your plate. Broccoli is a versatile vegetable—it tastes great grilled, roasted or steamed and is a tasty side dish.

This wonder vegetable is rich in vitamin K, helping to prevent calcium from damaging the arteries. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, a sulphur-rich compound, which helps the body use protein to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a great food to cleanse your arteries.  Steam it, roast it, grill it and even eat it raw in salads.

Filled with fibre and minerals, it helps lower blood pressure and may prevent blood clots that can lead to serious cardiovascular illness. It works within the veins and arteries to alleviate inflammation that may have accumulated over time. It boosts the body’s production of glutathione, an antioxidant that fights inflammation and prevents damaging oxidation that can cause clogged or blocked arteries.

Avocado

Avocados are a delicious replacement for mayo on a sandwich, or as a salad topping, and of course, in guacamole.

Avocado helps reduce the “bad” cholesterol and increase the “good cholesterol” that helps to clear the arteries. It contains vitamin E, which prevents cholesterol oxidation, oxidised cholesterol builds up on the artery walls. It is also rich in potassium, helping to lower blood pressure.

Nuts

Nuts make a great snack option, salad and porridge topper. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fibre and protein. The magnesium in almonds can help prevent plaque formation and lower blood pressure.

Watermelon

This summertime favourite is a great natural source of the amino acid, L-citrulline, boosting nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide causes the arteries to relax, decreases inflammation and can help lower blood pressure. Watermelon also helps to modify blood lipids and lowers belly fat accumulation. Less fat in the abdominal area lowers the risk of heart disease.

Spinach

This dark, leafy green is filled with potassium, folate and fibre, helping to lower blood pressure and prevent artery blockage. One serving per day helps lower homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Eating it raw retains more of the nutrients, so try it in salads, smoothies and on your omelette.

Green Tea

Antioxidants found in green tea can help prevent the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries. The antioxidants may also act as an anti-blood-clotting agent and improve blood vessel dilation to allow increased blood flow

Alcohol

Alcohol in moderation may have some potential health benefits. For instance, red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, helping to fight cell-destroying molecules in the body.  Alcohol also increases the HDL cholesterol, moving the cholesterol to the liver for processing and elimination from the body.  However, high intake of alcohol increases blood pressure and also tends to increase triglycerides in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Garlic

Allicin, a compound found in fresh garlic, has shown to lower blood cholesterol. Garlic is great with roasted kale or raw in homemade hummus.

Physical activity

Exercise is the key to heart health. Brisk walking can reduce heart disease risk by 30 per cent.

Can you believe how changes in your diet and nutrition can help improve your heart health?. Luckily, these options are delicious and there is endless scope for new recipes and creativity. Take control of your heart and life, today!

Proper nutrition is not a ‘magic bullet’ to decrease the risk of developing heart disease, a healthy diet and sufficient exercise can help tremendously.

In the next article, we are going to talk about blood pressure.  Every year, tens of thousands of people of all ages die of preventable hypertension. Did we say preventable? Yes, preventable. In our next post, we’ll explore how.  Until then, eat healthy, sleep well and work those sweat glands.

Disclaimer
Please ensure you consult your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet. 

This article has been reviewed by Michelle Boehm, a registered nutritional therapist at Live Better Health. Michelle supports busy individuals on their journey to improved health, looking at the root cause of issues. If you would like health advice that is unique to you, contact Michelle 

RightMash develops technology to add intelligence to every food we eat so that we can all have a happy and healthy life.