With my father-in-law Paul becoming the first centenerian in the family, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the factors that increase the likelihood of making it to a 100 years, inclusive of a sound body and peaceful mind. In this blog, I focus on 5 blood levels to aim for. They may not all be easy to attain but at least are easy to remember because they all contain the number “100”. The earlier you start in life, the better.
- Aim for a systolic blood pressure (SBP) in the low 100 range. The systolic pressure (top number) reflects the force of blood pushed through your main artery (aorta) during heart contraction. A normal systolic pressure ranges between ~100-110 mmHg with hypertension now defined by an SBP of at least 130 mmHg. For each 20 mmHg increase in SBP, the risk of heart related issues double. If you have high blood pressure for many years, discuss with your physician the best level for you bringing your systolic down to the low 100 range may be too low if you have had many years of high-very high blood pressure. In these cases, lowering systolic to ~120-130 mmHg (or higher depending upon other factors), may be more suitable.
- Aim for a fasting blood glucose (FBG) below 100. A normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL, levels between 100-125 mg/dL represent “prediabetes” and FBG exceeding 125 mg/dL signifies diabetes. If you have been recently diagnosed with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes and are overweight, losing 5-10% body weight through lifestyle changes (such as a low carb diet and increased physical activity) may help to bring these levels down to a normal range. The longer you have Type 2 diabetes, the greater the risk of heart related issues. Ten years represents the tipping point after which time, annual risk rises more sharply.
- Aim for an LDL (bad cholesterol) below 100. At birth, LDL cholesterol levels are typically ~30 mg/dL and a normal or “physiologic” level of LDL in adulthood is well below 100 mg/dL. As LDL levels increase, the risk of heart related issues also increases; most importantly, lowering these levels also reduces risk.
- Aim for a triglyceride (blood fat) level below 100. Triglycerides are less well known than LDL though both are measured when a cholesterol or lipid panel is drawn. In one of our earlier research studies we found that a triglyceride level below 100 mg/dL was associated with a 50% lower likelihood of future heart related events.
- Aim for an HDL (good cholesterol) at or above 100. This will be the hardest to attain but is included because we recently discovered that a high HDL is most protective to the heart when all other factors are normal. In other words, a high HDL is better than a normal or low HDL when levels of blood pressure, fasting glucose, LDL and triglycerides are also normal.
- For natural ways to reduce blood pressure, glucose, LDL and triglycerides check out “Heal Your Heart“
- Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” has been Amazon’s Top Rated book in heart disease for the past 3 years.
During our recent travels through North Africa, I couldn’t help but marvel at the plush landscape as well as perfect terrain for growing some of the most nutritious foods on this planet. With the Atlas Mountains in the background, we were amazed by the extensive number of almond trees passing in front of our eyes. In fact, Morocco ranks 5th among the world’s top producers of almonds after the United States, Spain, Italy and Iran. Suffice it to say that almonds are among the sweetest and heart healthiest nuts on the planet… here are 5 reasons why we should take advantage of them.
- Lowers blood glucose levels: Just 12 almonds (1/2 handful or 1/2 ounce) significantly reduces blood sugar levels.
- Suppresses appetite. Eating a handful of almonds daily increases satiety (or a sense of fullness) that can effectively reduce the urge the overeat. Try 1/2 handful twice daily when hunger pangs set in such as between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner in order to limit overeating during these meals.
- Reduces cholesterol and body fat: Again, try 1 handful of almonds a day and you may find up to 5-10% lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides (blood fats) and reduction of body fat.
- May blunt memory decline: As we age our memory declines. Antioxidants in almonds may help to slow the decline as revealed in animal studies.
- Improves Mood: Almonds contain selenium, magnesium and zinc, elements that boost neurotransmitter chemicals, serotonin and dopamine to improve mood.
- BOTTOM LINE: Up to 1 handful of almonds each day to reap the benefits!
- Dr Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” with all book proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.
In “Heal Your Heart” and in previous posts, I’ve featured a number of herbs and spices to improve your health and overall well-being. But there are only a select few that have such wide-ranging benefits that you simply cannot afford to miss out. Among these is turmeric, India’s “golden spice” and one of the world’s top natural health treasures.
Just a spoonful of turmeric (each day) and you won’t need any medicine to go down! But make sure to add ~1/4 teaspoon of black pepper per teaspoon of turmeric to allow proper absorption and processing of turmeric.
Here are 5 reasons why you should treasure turmeric.
- Reduces Aging: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric root is a powerful anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that help to slow down aging of blood vessels that otherwise promote adverse heart, kidney and brain conditions.
- Improves Skin Health: Recent studies suggest that ingestion or topical application may improve skin health. However, because research with topical applications is limited, I would recommend that you discuss such measures with your physician/dermatologist before you consider this route of administration.
- Boosts Memory & Mood: A newly published study found that the near equivalent of 1 teaspoon of turmeric (200 mg) each day not only improved memory and mood but also slowed buildup of compounds that promote Alzheimer’s.
- Slows Age Related Eye Changes: A number of age related eye changes such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy may improve when turmuric is added to the diet.
- Reduces Weight & Belly Fat: Another recent study found that the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of turmeric daily for 30 days resulted in reduction of belly fat and weight loss of up to a 5%.
- Dr Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” with book proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.
When it comes to finding happiness, there are many simple things that raise your positive emotions quotient (PEQ).
Here are 5:
- Own a pet: Turns out that pet ownership not only raises your levels of happiness or PEQ but is also likely to reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and reducing obesity.
- Have a mid-day snack: Sometime between 1-3 PM is typically when the level of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin falls and drive down mood so why not pick it up with a heart healthy snack. My favorite recommendations that not only boost mood but also lower cholesterol and blood pressure include a medium sized apple, a handful of your favorite nuts or a serving of dark chocolate.
- Do small deeds for loved ones: Doing small deeds for loved ones will not only raise endorphin levels but over time may reduce aging of your blood vessels. Small deeds might include helping your spouse around the house, filling up her car with gas and bringing her a warm towel on a cold morning.
- Enjoy laughter everyday: Laughing is among the single best activities that promote happiness and good health and my friends who practice laughter yoga tell me that they rarely develop illness and have generally never felt better.
- Appreciate yourself: Enjoy your own downtime each day by taking at least 20 minutes to recharge. That means no distractors, including cell phone, radio or TV. It might turn out to be the most restful and meaningful part of your day!
- Dr Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. You can read more about health, happiness and PEQ in his latest book: “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“. All book proceeds are donated to the American Heart Association.