10 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure – Naturally!

November 28, 2017
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

According to the new guidelines just released by the American Heart Association (AHA) this month, nearly half of all Americans are now living with high blood pressure.  So that means that people that were considered “borderline” at 130/80 – would now be diagnosed with high blood pressure (Hypertension). According to cardiologist Dr. Sinatra – healthy blood pressure levels should be under 120/80.

How do you know if you have high blood pressure?

The thing is, high blood pressure often will have no obvious symptoms. So the majority of people with high blood pressure – are unaware that they have it.  But high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” – because the first symptom can be deadly.    The best way to determine if your blood pressure is in a good place is to  have your blood pressure measured.  High blood pressure tends to run in families – so if you have close relatives that have had hypertension, you will especially want to monitor your blood pressure regularly – you might want to consider getting a home monitor.  

What are the dangers of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure can double your risk of a heart attack and is a risk factor for stroke, dementia, kidney failure, & blindness. Learn more about risk factors of hypertension from the Mayo Clinic.

10 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure – Naturally

Please note: If you are taking any prescription medications, or under the care of a doctor for any reason – talk to your doctor about these suggestions before implementing them in case there are contraindications or interactions.  Your doctor may also wish to monitor you in case changes need to be made to your prescriptions. These tips are general in nature and may not be appropriate for everyone. Whenever making changes to your diet and lifestyle – it is recommended to do it gradually to allow your body to adjust. 

1. Sprinkle on some cinnamon.

Cinnamon is a very powerful tool when it comes to blood pressure and blood sugar – lowering both. Cinnamon has other benefits – including fighting bad bacteria in the gut, and revving up the metabolism.  According to a 2006 study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, just 1/2 of a teaspoon a day of cinnamon could be enough to help reduce blood pressure.  You can add cinnamon to oatmeal, smoothies, add it to nut butter, sprinkle it on fruit, and add it to nuts before roasting, you can also add it to coffee.

2. Load up on plant based foods. (Especially vitamin C, potassium and magnesium-rich foods!)  

Did you know that the USDA recommends adults consume 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day? Yes, NINE!!  Sadly, on the Standard American Diet (SAD), most people are not getting even half that – with many people barely getting 1 serving a day.  Plant-based foods are rich in important nutrients and electrolytes that help to balance our blood pressure.  Potassium is particularly important for healthy blood pressure levels – so reach for avocados, bananas, squash, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and prunes.

3. Get Your Omega 3s. 

Best known for their anti-inflammatory effects, omega 3 fatty acids also have blood thinning effects too, which can help to reduce blood pressure. Try to incorporate chia seeds, flax seeds, and fatty fish like wild salmon.  And consider sardines too – not only are they rich in omega 3s, they also are low in mercury, and are high in heart-healthy Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)!  I love making these Flax Raisin muffins – they are grain free, gluten free, low in sugar and high in omega 3 fatty acids- and they are delicious!  Also consider adding some flax or chia to your overnight oats, or making chia pudding.

4. Opt for dark chocolate for dessert.  

For a very long time – experts have pointed the finger at salt as the primary culprit for high blood pressure.  But now experts are saying another white substance may be more to blame – SUGAR. Blood sugar and blood pressure – are closely linked.  Post meal glucose spikes increases blood pressure and the risk for heart attack. So consider skipping dessert, or opting for a square of dark chocolate instead. But make sure to go for dark – the cacao content should be at least 60%. A Harvard study found that dark chocolate lowered blood pressure as well as the risk of heart attack and diabetes.  Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which helps to relax the blood vessels, and it also helps to improve blood flow to extremities.

5. Choose Olive  or Avocado oil.

A recent study showed that when participants used 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily, it lowered blood pressure, with 35% of the participants benefitting so much that they were able to stop their medications! It has also been linked to better brain health too.  Avocado oil is also a healthy oil associated with lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. The other benefit of avocado oil is that it has a high smoke point, so that is the one I recommend for cooking above 300 degrees.

6. Limit alcohol.  

The studies are clear about the link between heavy alcohol use and blood pressure – alcohol raises blood pressure. But what constitutes “heavy drinking” might surprise some – just 3 drinks for women is considered “heavy alcohol consumption.”  Cutting back on the alcohol may not just lower  your blood pressure – a new study found that heavy drinking can also raise the risk of several different cancers – the strongest link being with cancers of the head, neck and throat.  So sticking with no more than 1 drink a day for women, and 2 for men will lower your blood pressure and your cancer risk.

7. Take a daily stroll.

Getting some exercise each day – like taking a walk can help to lower blood pressure.  According to the Mayo clinic, “Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).” If you are concerned with your blood pressure levels or heart health – stick to gentle exercise and talk to your doctor before beginning any strenuous exercise program to be sure your heart is in good enough shape for it.

8. Manage stress levels.

High levels of stress can send your blood pressure soaring.  So trying to keep stress levels under control is important for managing healthy blood pressure.  If you get an elevated reading in your doctor’s office – make sure to check it again – sometimes people can be stressed out at the doctors office – causing their blood pressure to be higher.  Consider acupuncture, meditation, and/or yoga for lowering stress levels.

9. Get plenty of sleep

Getting a poor night’s sleep can do more than make you groggy – it can raise your blood pressure. A 2006 study published in the journal Hypertension found that people who slept 5 hours or less per night were 32% more likely to develop hypertension than those who slept 7–8 hours per night.  Some tips for getting a good night’s sleep – avoid caffeine after 1:00pm, turn off electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime, take a warm bath to help calm the nervous system before bedtime, and take a magnesium supplement before bedtime can also help some settle down to a good night’s sleep.

10. Consider some supplements:

Gradually making the above nutritional and lifestyle changes might be enough to lower slightly elevated blood pressure.  Some people might also find that taking certain supplements could help to get blood pressure into a healthy range.  Again – talk to your prescribing doctor before adding any supplements if you are currently taking medication or speak to your healthcare provider if you are being treated for any condition.

  • Taurine. An amino acid rich in sulfur, taurine has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure. Similar to cinnamon, it also helps to lower blood glucose as well. Taurine may also help support the cells to hold magnesium and potassium, while excreting excess sodium – which means it acts in a similar way to diuretics, but without the stress on the kidneys.  Taurine may also help you lose weight, which is beneficial for blood pressure too.
  • CoQ10– according to Cardiologist Dr. Steven Sinatra, coQ10 is important for cellular health, claiming that “many of my patients who take a water-soluble form of CoQ10 have cut their use of blood pressure drugs in half, while maintaining healthy blood pressure.” He recommends 200-300 mg of CoQ10 for healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Omega 3 fish oils – studies show that omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and thin the blood.  Taking 1 gram of fish oil may help to keep blood pressure levels in a healthy range according to Dr. Josh Axe.
  • Magnesium– shown to relax blood vessels, magnesium can lower blood pressure and is a very important mineral for heart health. Dr. Josh Axe recommends supplementing 500 mg. of magnesium daily for healthy blood pressure.
  • Chromium – Rat studies show that supplementing with chromium can help to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Vitamin C – according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and a study published in Nutrition Journal, supplementing with vitamin C may help to reduce blood pressure.

Suggested Books:

Related articles/resources:

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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“Brain ON” Blue Milk (dairy & gluten free)

August 21, 2017
"Brain ON" Blue Milk

Brain ON Blue “Milk”

It’s Back to School time – which means kids need to switch from summer brain to their focused school brain.  This delicious dairy-free milk gets it’s amazing blue hue from a very special living superfood called blue green algae. Algae is a superfood that supports healthy brain function, mood, and energy.  Learn more about this amazing superfood: E3 Live or E3 Live Brain ON.  It’s a great time to try E3 Live – because they are currently offering free shipping use code: FREESHIP.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of almond, coconut, pea protein or another alternative milk (I often recommend taking a break from cow’s milk/dairy if there are focus & attention or digestion issues)
  • 1 scoop or package of E3 Live or E3 Live Brain ON
  • 1-2 teaspoons of white* chia seeds (optional)
  • Splash of vanilla extract (I like to use alcohol free for smoothies)
  • Optional – 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite natural sweetener – like raw honey, organic stevia, or a couple of pitted dates.
  • pinch of Real Salt (brings out flavors and sweetness)
  • Optional – a couple of ice cubes.  Thickens and chills it.

Directions:

  1. Put the milk and E3 Live into the Vitamix or shaker bottle – swirl around until combined well.
  2. Add the chia seeds and soak for a couple minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt and sweetener, and blend to combine.
  4. Add the ice cubes if desired, blend well.  Serve & enjoy.

Other great additions – 1/2 scoop of vegan protein powder, cinnamon, frozen banana, blueberries, raw cacao, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

*Chia seeds offer ALA omega 3s, fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. I like to use the white chia seeds in kids smoothies – because they blend in invisible.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Mom’s Pumpkin Bread (gluten & grain free)

April 28, 2017
Mom's Pumpkin Bread

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things was pumpkin bread – I would look forward to the fall when my mom would make her famous recipe – it was so moist and delicious.  I still love pumpkin bread – but I don’t eat wheat or gluten any more – so I can’t make my mom’s recipe exactly.

But I di use her recipe for inspiration!  This recipe is based on the pumpkin bread that my mom used to make me when I was a kid – except this one is gluten and grain free.  Instead of regular flour, this pumpkin bread is made with cassava flour – which is a root vegetable that is also known as a yuca root. Cassava is both grain and gluten free!!  Learn more about cassava flour.

Although it does have organic sugar, this recipe has quite a bit less sugar than my mom’s original recipe (and most other pumpkin bread recipes) – and you could probably even reduce the sugar content by swapping some 1/2 cup of the sugar for 2 Tablespoons of stevia (I might try it next time).

This recipe even passed the kid test –  my kids loved it and gobbled it up (and they are not always big fans of gluten or grain free recipes)!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/3 cup avocado or coconut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup organic cane sugar  (or you could swap out 1/2 cup of the sugar for 1 Tablespoon of organic stevia – so use 1 cup of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of powdered stevia – I like the brand Pyure)
  • 3 eggsOtto's Cassava Flour
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups cassava flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Real Salt brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon gound nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease 3 mini bread mold tins.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients, set aside.
  4. Cream together butter, oil and sugars – mix until creamy.
  5. Then add eggs one at a time, mixing well until it is creamy and a light yellow.
  6. Mix in pumpkin puree & vanilla.
  7. Add in dry ingredients to wet (about 1 cup at a time) – mixing gently.
  8. Pour into greased mini bread molds.
  9. Put into the preheated 325 degree oven for about 50 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using regular size bread molds, cook longer – about 60 mins.

Prefer banana bread?  You can substitute 3 ripe bananas for the pumpkin in this recipe to make banana bread! 

Articles:

Cassava Flour: The Best Grain-Free Baking Alternative?

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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What is “Skinny Starch?”

February 25, 2017
What is Skinny Starch?

 

Have you heard of resistant starch?  Resistant starch is sometimes called the “Skinny Starch” because it can improve digestion, stabilize insulin and blood sugar, provid longer lasting energy, improved digestion and gut bacteria – all of which could potentially mean flatter bellies and weight loss

Resistant Starch is a type of carbohydrate that “resists” digestion, meaning it passes through the stomach and the small intestine relatively unchanged.  When it reaches the colon, it serves as a prebiotic fiber. A pre-biotic is different than a pro-biotic. A pre-biotic feeds the probiotic (good) bacteria. So you want both – in order to keep the good bacteria (probiotics) in your colon happy – you need to regularly feed them (prebiotics).

Certain foods contain resistant starch naturally such as plant-based foods with a cellular structure that offers some resistance to digestion – like legumes, tiger nuts, and whole grains.  Certain kinds of starch are naturally resistant to digestion in their raw or unriped state – like green bananas, raw potatoes, and green plantains.  Some starches become resistant to digestion after they are cooked then cooled – such as potatoes, rice, or pasta. Note: if you reheat these foods they will lose some of the resistant starch, but will also retain some. There are also man made resistant starches, called “superstarch” – which is a food that has been modified/changed in order to be more resistant to digestion.

When resistant starch reaches the colon – it creates a short chain fatty acid chemical called butyrate – which changes the pH of the colon and has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve intestinal permeability, improve digestion, elimination and the metabolism. It also makes the colon a less hospitable environment for bad bacteria and even for colon cancers to develop. So regularly consuming resistant starch could potentially reduce our risk for colon cancer – the 4th most common type of cancer. (Read more)

Mark my words – resistant starch is pretty cool – I would even call it a “metabolism hack.”

But before you run out and start to load up on resistant starch – realize that like any fiber – especially a prebiotic one – you want to incorporate it slowly, or it could potentially cause digestive upset. So start with a teaspoon or less at first to see how you do first.

One of the best sources of resistant starch in my opinion comes from a small tuber called a tiger nut. You can eat the nuts whole, or use tiger nut flour. I buy Tiger Nut Flour from Organic Gemini. I add a Tablespoon of Tiger Nut flour to my smoothie every morning.

Another benefit of resistant starch is that it can also help some people sleep – so this Tiger Nut & Cashew Horchata drink I created could be a nice thing to have before bedtime.

I also like to make raw desserts with tiger nut flour – like this delicious Skinny Starch Raspberry Tart recipe.

To learn more about resistant starch and get a recipe book (recipes include Cookie Dough Balls and Skinny Thin Mints!), sign up for my online Course – All About Resistant Starch.

All About Resistant Starch

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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This Deficiency Can be Deadly

October 14, 2016
Vitamin B12 containing foods

As someone gets older, they might fall more often, need a cane to walk, or get a little more forgetful. But what if in some cases – those things weren’t actually due to ‘old age’ – but a vitamin deficiency, that was treatable!

Vitamin B12 is important for energy, mood, memory, focus and metabolism of fats and amino acids. A deficiency can cause anemia, memory and focus issues, a sluggish metabolism, and nerve damage.  But in severe cases that are left to progress, vitamin B12 deficiency can even lead to death.

The thing about B12 deficiency – is it is often missed or misdiagnosed as other conditions like Parkinson’s, MS, or dementia. Because it often happens to the elderly, the symptoms can simply be attributed to ‘old age’. But B12 deficiency does not just affect the elderly population, it can even affect babies and young children, and it can mimic the symptoms of autism and ADHD.

Let me share a story – a couple years ago, a young girl mentioned to me that she was getting tingling and numbness in her arm. I asked her if she had seen a doctor about it. She told me yes, but that the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She said they eventually pulled her parents aside and told them that she was “making it up, or just saying it to get attention.”

I was stunned.

That is not something a child would make up!  Neurological symptoms should never be ignored or dismissed. I mentioned B12 deficiency to her mom, and guess what? They tested her and she was deficient. She is doing well now on B12 supplements. In fact, if she stops the supplements, the tingling and numbness comes back.

But what if she hadn’t gotten tested or supplements? The sad thing is, there are many people in a similar situation – who are being misdiagnosed or told it is “in their heads” every day.

A deficiency in B12 can cause neurological issues, fatigue, dementia, depression and other mental illnesses – even psychosis. It is linked to anemia, infertility, autistic symptoms, learning and motor delays, elevated homocysteine, clumsiness, frequent falls, and so much more. B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed as MS, Parkinsons, dementia, and more. If left untreated, severe B12 deficiencies can even lead to death.   It can take years before symptoms of a B12 deficiency show up.

Who is at Risk?

Because B12 is only available in animal products, vegans and people who eat very little animal proteins are one of the higher risk populations for deficiency. People with inadequate levels of stomach acid, digestive issues, or who have had gastric or intestinal surgery are also higher risk for deficiencies.   People who have genetic mutations which limit their bodies ability to convert B12 to the active form can be deficient, as well as those with autoimmune conditions like pernicious anemia.

The Form of B12 Matters.

If you are currently taking a B12 supplement in your multivitamin – go take a look and see what form it is. Is it cyanocobalamin? That is one of the most common and cheapest forms – so that is why many multivitamin companies use it. But conversion of B12 in the body is not a simple mechanism, and some people are not able to convert cyanocobalamin into the useable form (such as anyone with a genetic MTHFR mutation). So the optimal forms of B12 for absorption and bioavailability are methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, or hydroxycobalamin.

Curious if B12 deficiency could be affecting you or a loved one? Get tested*! You want to ask for a Serum B12 and a urinary MMA. Other tests to consider are homocysteine, serum iron, and ferritin. Find the complete list of tests to consider in the book Could it Be B12? Also, find more information and a complete list of symptoms on this site: B12Awareness.org.

Some people with digestion/ absorption problems, low stomach acid, or very low B12 levels – will benefit from B12 injections, a sublingual, or a liquid form of B12.

The B vitamins work together synergistically, so it is a good idea when supplementing to take a high quality multivitamin with the full B complex, or taking a B complex vitamin along with your multivitamin.

*Note: if you are already supplementing with B12, realize that your test results may not accurately reflect a deficiency. So if you are not supplementing and suspect a deficiency – try to get tested right away, before beginning to supplement.

Read more: Inexpensive Vitamin Treats ‘So Many Diseases’ It Threatens Big Pharma

Note: Tingling and numbness in extremities can also be a sign of diabetes, but it is important to rule out a B12 deficiency as well.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Sara’s Green Lemonade

March 8, 2016
Sara's Green Lemonade

There is nothing more refreshing and energizing in my mind than a freshly pressed detoxifying green juice!!

This green lemonade recipe is my go-to favorite juice – it features alkalizing lemons & greens, warming & soothing ginger, a little sweetness and detoxifying malic acid from the granny smith apples, heavy metals-detoxifying parsley, and the celery adds organic sodium – a very important electrolyte for proper hydration and muscle/nerve support.

Metabolism-Boosting Green Lemonade

Ingredients (makes about 24 oz. of juice):

  • 1-2 organic granny smith apples
  • Peeled ginger (I like mine to have a strong ginger flavor – so to use about a 3 inch piece)
  • 1-2 organic lemons (most of peel removed – including some of the peel adds in vitamin C and a stronger lemon flavor)
  • 6-7 organic kale leaves
  • 1 organic romaine heart
  • a small bunch of organic parsley
  • 1 small organic cucumber
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • 1 teaspoon of avocado oil, or 2 teaspoons of chia seeds (stir in and allow to soak)*

Directions: Put everything (except the avocado oil/chia seeds) into the juicer.* Pour desired amount into a glass, save the rest in a glass jar in refrigerator up to 1 day. Stir in the avocado oil (or if using chia seeds – stir and allow them to soak 3-5 minutes before drinking).  *If you don’t have a juicer – use your blender and strain out the pulp if you like!

*Why add the chia seeds or avocado oil to this drink?
Many of the vitamins in a green drink are fat soluble, so in order for them to be properly absorbed, there needs to be a carrier – a fat source. The fat also helps to keep the blood sugar stable, which is important for a healthy metabolism. You could also have this juice with a handful of almonds, half an avocado, or you could take your fish oil supplement too!

Read more: The Key Ingredient Your Green Juice is Missing.

**Note: when making juice – I highly recommend using only organic ingredients – because each 8 oz. serving can contain 2 pounds of produce – and conventional fruits and vegetables can be treated with pesticides (especially important for the Dirty Dozen and anything that you do not remove the peel).  Also – make sure to rinse (or peel) your ingredients before juicing. **

Sara Vance Juicing

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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New Guidelines for Preventing Heart Disease

July 8, 2015
Time Magazine - wrong about fats
Thought of as a man’s disease, heart disease doesn’t discriminate – it is the #1 cause of death in both women & men. In fact, since 1984, more women have died from heart disease than men (Read article in Forbes magazine).

 

Heart Disease’s Fast Track to #1:

Heart disease hasn’t always been the #1 killer.  In fact, if we look back a little over a hundred years ago – just before the turn of the 19th century – heart disease was virtually non-existant, occurring in a small % of the population.  But by 1921 – it had become the leading cause of death!
How could this have happened, so quickly? Researchers set out to find the answers – and one man by the name of Ancel Keys had a theory.  He believed it was due to consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol. He set out to prove his theory – and published his 7 Countries Study – which showed that for the people living in these 7 countries – there was a correlation between heart disease, and intake of cholesterol and saturated fats.

 

There were two problems with the 7 Countries Study:

  1. Keys had actually studied 22 countries – but he selected the 7 countries that fit his theory.  Several of the countries that he conveniently choose not to include in his results – actually disproved his theory!
  2. His research was based on correlation, not causation.  This is an important distinction.  Correlation means that there is an association – only.  It does not prove causation.  Kind of like umbrellas are correlated with rain, and band aids are correlated with cuts.   In fact, it could have been an entirely different food or environmental factor that was the real culprit behind the rise – more about that in a sec.

 

But despite these flaws, Key’s 7 Countries Studies started a nutritional revolution.  The American Heart Association told the public that cholesterol and saturated fats would raise our risk of heart disease, and later, the USDA published guidelines to limit them both from the diet.  And every year after that for many decades – Americans believed that low fat meant healthier and reduced risk of disease.

 

It is an interesting story. I write extensively about the history behind the “Low Fat Myth” in Chapter Two (“Fix Your Fats”) of my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan. I also I highly recommend this fascinating must-watch documentary featuring a number of doctors and experts that discusses these “dietary villains” – The Heart of the Matter – this is part 1 (approx. 30 mins long).

 Heart of the Matter

 

Why is Heart Disease Still #1?

So if we have made so many advances in prevention and treatment of heart disease – why is it still the #1 cause of death?  In addition to heart disease, the incidence of diabetes has tripled since the 1980s (the height of the low fat era).   Plus, we are seeing an increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, and Alzheimers disease – which is now being referred to as “Type 3 diabetes” (because the plaques in the brain are so similar to the diabetic plaques). All of these diseases do share a common link, more about that later…
Fortunately – the way heart disease is being diagnosed, treated, and prevented is beginning to evolve.  There have been some pretty significant changes in the past few months:

 

1. Dietary Cholesterol Exonerated

The long-standing recommendation to limit the amount of dietary cholesterol has just recently been officially lifted from the nutritional guidelines.  This is huge, and has been a long time coming. Despite being told that there was good scientific evidence to back it up – the scientific studies actually did not show a causative link between dietary cholesterol and heart attack!  One study looked at 130,000 people and found that nearly 3/4 of patients hospitalized for heart attack had what was considered to be normal cholesterol numbers. In fact, research shows that in the elderly population (over age 81) – lower cholesterol levels actually raised the risk of mortality, and equated to lower memory scores.

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Heart DiseaseDr. Mark Houston, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell you About Heart Disease says that “elevated cholesterol is not a sure sign of heart disease, any more than low levels are a sure sign of heart health.”  Dr. Houston says in his book that heart disease begins with endothelial damage or dysfunction, which progresses through 7 different pathways (inflammation, oxidative stress, autoimmunity, dyslipidemia, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and obesity).  The good news?  Many of the above pathways can be affected by nutritional and lifestyle factors. I highly recommend Dr. Houston’s book if you want to understand how to get control of your heart health naturally.

2. Saturated Fats Not to Blame Either

Experts are also calling into the question the recommendations on saturated fats – because like cholesterol, there is a lack of scientific evidence linking saturated fats to heart disease.  But the push to remove the saturated fat limit is still being met with a lot of resistance, so it will likely not be changed in the official nutritional recommendations until the next time they are changed – which is in 5 years.  Don’t believe me about saturated fats not being bad for you?  Read this Time Magazine piece titled “We Were Wrong About Saturated Fats.” (Notice that is Ancel Keys on the left hand cover).

Time Magazine - wrong about fats

3. Trans fats banned. 

Another exciting development that happened recently – is the FDA finally took a stronger stand against trans fats.  Back in 2013, they removed the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) classification, because of the link between trans fats and coronary artery plaque formation.  And just last month they took it a big step further – they banned the use of trans fats in foods entirely.  This is great news, but since there is a 3 year grace period for compliance – we all need to be aware of all the places trans fats are hiding in the meantime.  Basically – the majority of trans fats in our diets come from “convenience foods.”

Trans fats are liquid fats that have been altered by partially hydrogenation, making them solid/more stable at room temperature.  Trans fats extend the shelf-life of a product, so that is why manufacturers love them.  An interesting historical note is that Crisco – which is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil – was brought to market in 1911.  Check out this Illustrated History of heart disease for other interesting facts and historical notes (from 1825-2015). 

Spotting Trans Fats –

Just because a label says “no trans fats” does not mean it doesn’t contain them.  That is a label loophole, and just means that there is less than half a gram of trans fats per serving.  Just know, if it says “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient list – it has trans fats.

Trans fats are found in:

  • Coffee creamer packets – I call these little packets of trans fats. You are better off with a splash of real Foods with trans fatscream, or better yet – go black.
  • Margarine – I remember when I was a kid, all of sudden our butter got really yellow.  How ironic that we were actually told that these sticks of trans fats were actually healthier! Just get back to real butter (go for grass fed).
  • Refrigerator pie dough, biscuits and rolls – Yep, convenience foods.  From scratch made with plain real butter is better.
  • Processed & grocery store bakery items, donuts
  • Many fried/fast foods
  • Canned frosting
  • Some frozen confections
  • Many reduced fat items
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Frozen dinners 

Heart Health Connected to Our Gut?

There is a lot of really exciting research that has been happening about the human microbiome (the bacterial cells in and on our bodies).  With some new research linking  the heart to the microbiome in the gut. Check out these articles to learn more about the connection:

Could Autoimmune Disease be to Blame for Some?

There is emerging research to support a link between autoimmune diseases and heart disease.  It is well-known that there is a link between chronic/systemic inflammation and heart disease.  So it makes sense that having an autoimmune disease, which leads to chronic and systemic inflammation – could be one potential underlying cause/contributing factor for heart disease.  Because of this, it is a good idea for anyone with heart disease to be tested for celiac disease/gluten sensitivity (especially if there are other potential symptoms of autoimmunity – such as psoriosis, eczema, or other skin conditions/rashes, sun sensitivity, thyroid disease, chronic aches & pains/arthritis, stress fractures, slow wound healing, low white blood cell count, etc).

So back to the question – if cholesterol and saturated fats are not the culprits in heart disease, then what is?  

There is a lot of overwhelming evidence pointing to poorly controlled blood SUGAR.

Although not likely the whole picture – excess sugar increases inflammation, and is linked to increased risk of heart attack and death.  Chapter One of my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan goes into detail about how sugar impacts our metabolism and health – and all the sneaky ways it is getting into our diet.

AHA Recommends Added Sugar Limits

Because of the link between sugar and heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to less than 9 tsp for men, and 6 tsp for women.  But with 75% of all packaged foods containing added sugars – this is not easy to do.  Sugar is sneaking into our diets all day long – even in seemingly healthy choices like cereals, yogurts, salad dressings, sauces, snack bars, etc.  You do not have to eat one cookie, one spoonful of ice cream, or one soda to get more added sugar than the recommended limit.  It is no wonder that the average American gets about 3 times more than the recommended amount every day (and I personally think that number is underestimated).

Skip the Sodas & Sweet Drinks

One of the fastest way to get too much sugar is by drinking it. One 12 oz. soda has about 10 tsp of sugar, and a 9 oz. frappuccino has about 8 tsp.  One medium FruiTea (organic green tea from Wendy’s) has 18 tsp!!  That drink alone is 3 times the amount a woman should have all day long!!  And before you run out to buy diet sodas – know that two or more diet sodas a day has been linked to a 30% increase for a heart attack (read this article to learn more).

Read these articles for more info:

Testing:

One way to stay on top of our heart health is to get some tests run.  But which ones? Contrary to popular belief – just knowing your cholesterol levels is not enough – as more than half of all heart attacks happen in people who have what are considered normal cholesterol levels.

The Spectra Cell Cardio Metabolic test is a comprehensive test to help you assess your risk of metabolic syndrome.  Learn more about the test here  – or ask your family doctor or cardiologist to run these tests for you.

The Healthy Heart Summit – July 13th (it’s FREE)

There is an exciting opportunity to learn from over 30 of the top experts in the area of heart health next week!   The Healthy Heart Summit (begins on July 13 and it is free!!). Register here today, and attend each day for free.

Healthy Heart Summit

In addition to attending the Summit, I also highly recommend the following books:

  • What Your Doctor May Not Tell you About Heart Disease.  – by Dr. Mark Houston, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology, and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at St. Thomas Medical Group.  In this innovative and well-written book, Dr. Mark Houston helps readers discover the real causes of heart disease, and how to prevent and treat its debilitating effects via nutrition. He also discusses nutritional supplements, exercise, weight management, and lays to rest to various heart health myths based on numerous scientific studies and medical publications.
  • The Great Cholesterol Myth. By Dr. Steven Sinatra & Jonny Bowden.  This is a fascinating book that dispels some of the common myths of heart health, and many ways to support a healthy heart.  Dr. Steven Sinatra is a board-certified Cardiologist with 40 years of experience.

 

This article is not to be construed as medical advice.  I highly recommend that you discuss the information presented in this article and at the Healthy Heart Summit with your medical provider.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Pineapple Mint & Coconut Smoothie

May 4, 2015
Pineapple Mint Refresher

I had a big bunch of mint and a fresh pineapple, and some coconut in the freezer – so this morning I whipped up this pineapple mint smoothie – it was absolutely delicious and refreshing, it made me feel like I was in the tropics!!  Pineapple, mint, coconut and chia seeds all support healthy hydration and digestion. I think this will be a new staple for Summer/Spring for me, and I hope for you too.  This recipe is dairy-free, vegan and gluten free. 

Pineapple Mint Coconut Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of coconut water
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple* chunks
  • 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen coconut flesh (find inner eco frozen coconut in freezer section – use 1 packet, or you can sub 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, or 1 Tablespoon of coconut manna).
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (or combination of fresh mint and baby spinach)
  • 1-2 big pinches of high quality salt – like pink Himalayan
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Ice as desired to thicken/chill.

Put the coconut water and chia seeds into the blender – allow to soak.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend to combine.  Add in a handful (or whatever amount desired) of ice cubes and blend.  Serve immediately!

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Pineapple: One of America’s top two favorite tropical fruits – second only to the banana – pineapples are in peak season from March through June. One cup of pineapple also provides a full day’s supply of vitamin C, is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of fiber and a number of other nutrients including vitamin B6 and copper. Pineapple is also rich in bromelain, which is an enzyme that can be helpful to digestion and provides anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mint: A wonderful herb for digestion, mint also has antiseptic qualities and can be used as a mouth refreshener. Steep mint leaves to make a tea that is calming to the digestion. Fresh mint is a wonderful addition to iced tea as well. And the oil of the peppermint leaves has a number of uses ranging from digestion to relaxation.
  • Coconut – the flesh of a coconut provides a wide array of nutrients – from vitamins and minerals to healthy fats – which help to stabilize blood sugar, increase satiety, and supports the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. The fat in coconut is high in medium chain fatty acids, which is more easily converted to energy. Coconuts are also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which helps to cleanse and detox. Coconuts are rich in electrolytes – which makes them a useful tool for hydration.
  • Chia seeds: One of the reasons I became a Nutritionist – I could not believe how much just adding this one seed to my diet could change my energy, digestion, hydration, and more.  Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies because they boost the fiber, protein, healthy fat, and omega 3 content of the smoothie.  Chia fiber is unique in that it soaks up about 10 times it’s weight in water, creating a gel.  Chia gel helps the body to hold onto hydration, slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, and helps to keep you fuller/satisfied longer. If you have sensitive digestion – start with less chia seeds – and make sure they are well hydrated before eating them. Read Pre-hydrate with Chia to learn more about this amazing seed.

*Note: If you are prone to getting canker sores from pineapple, you might want to substitute mango for the pineapple in the smoothie recipe.

Save your pineapple core in the refrigerator or freezer – I am posting a recipe tomorrow that will make use of the core!

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=102

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-mint.html

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Announcing the Perfect Metabolism Plan!

February 27, 2015

book-blog-image

Are you one of the millions of people that is doing everything you have been told to do to lose weight, but nothing seems to work?

Or maybe you can manage to lose a few pounds, but just can’t seem to keep it off for the long term?

It is not your fault – it’s your metabolism!

We wouldn’t put a broken arm in a sling without resetting it first, so why should we try to lose weight without resetting the metabolism?

DIETING AND CALORIE COUNTING ARE TEMPORARY SOLUTIONS, THEY WILL LAST ONLY AS LONG AS OUR WILLPOWER LASTS. 

And when the metabolism is out of whack – our willpower, hunger hormones, insulin, and cravings are all working against us. It is an uphill battle. Just like we need to reset a broken arm, the real secret to lasting weight loss is to get to the root of the problem –and reset the metabolism.

I wrote The Perfect Metabolism Plan because I knows so many people are working hard to get healthy, they are counting calories, cutting fat, eating less and exercising more. And they are blaming themselves when it doesn’t work. But the truth is – many of these approaches are exactly the opposite of what we need to do to reach/maintain a healthy weight, and are very likely making our metabolism AND OUR OVERALL HEALTH worse! I was there myself too –for years I felt like a failure because I just could not control my weight or cravings.

The Perfect Metabolism Plan provides the information you need to get to the root of the issue and get your metabolism working for you again. It is organized into 10 keys that are needed to reset and reboot the metabolism (plus an extra chapter with some “hacks”).

The 10 Keys to a Perfect Metabolism:

  • Break Up with Sugar – balance blood sugar
  • Fix Your Fats – eat healthy fats, avoid harmful ones
  • Heal Your Gut – boost digestion and balance gut bacteria
  • Identify Food Intolerances – foods that could make you foggy, fatigued, sick, and fat
  • Lose the Toxins – in foods, household products, body care products,etc.
  • Put Out the Fire – reduce inflammation
  • Stop the Madness – lower stress
  • Ditch the Convenience Foods (even the so-called healthy ones) – key nutrients for the metabolism
  • Hydrate! – Dehydration is making us sick and fat
    Exercise Smarter (not harder) – the right and wrong kind of exercise for the metabolism.
  • Plus Metabolism ‘Hacks‘ – some tricks of the trade to hijack the metabolism and kick it into gear.

The Perfect Metabolism Plan also includes over 50 recipes and a plan for putting it into action. It bust the myths that have gotten so many of us into a state of low energy, poor health, and weight gain – and teaches people what really works to reach and maintain a healthy weight and improve their overall health.

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Are We Overwhelming Our Kids’ with Sugar & Processed Foods?

January 24, 2015
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Categories: ADHD, Kids, Nutrition, Sugar

Thank you to Coronado SAFE for inviting me to speak at your 3rd Annual Parenting Conference!

Recently someone whose child has been dealing with a bunch of health issues asked me “Why does kids’ health have to be so complicated nowadays?”  He has a point:

  • 1 in 10 kids currently has fatty liver disease (40% of obese kids).
  • Adult onset diabetes is now called Type 2 Diabetes, because it is increasingly affecting kids.
  • 1 out of every 2 Latina or African American girls is expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime.
  • 1 in every 3 kids has one of the 4 “A”s (asthma, autism, allergies, ADHD).
  • Thirty percent of kids today are overweight or obese.
  • We are seeing more autoimmunity, metabolic issues, skin conditions, digestion issues, hormone imbalances, anxiety, depression and other health issues in today’s youth.

The statistics are so grim that  experts worry that in a few decades there may not be enough healthy individuals to take care of the sick individuals.  In fact, this may be the first generation of kids which may not outlive their parents.

I think the question we all have to ask is –  What’s food got to do with it? 

Take a walk down the aisle of your average grocery store, and you will see hundreds and thousands of brightly colored and flavor-blasted sodas, chips, cookies, cereals, bars, yogurts, candies, energy and sports drinks, mac n cheese cups, frozen pizzas and dinners, refrigerator doughs, ice creams, and a wide variety of foods specifically designed and marketed towards….our kids.

Seventy four percent of these foods contain added sugars.  And far too many of these foods contain artificial colors, flavorings, flavor enhancers, preservatives, monosodium glutamate, trans fats, GMOs, and other ingredients that we don’t recognize or know what they are there for.

The question remains – is this even food?  Or is it a science experiment?  And do we want our kids to be lab rats in a giant experiment?

I know all too well how tempting all this junk food can be for a kid.

 

Sara eating ice cream, age 12Can you guess who that girl is in this photo?

Yep – that was me. I think I was around 12 years old then. Some of my favorite foods were hot dogs and ice cream.

If you had told that girl that she would one day write a book, speak in front of large audiences, and go on TV regularly – all to share her knowledge about nutrition and health – she would have laughed herself silly. You see, when I was that age, I didn’t realize that what I ate affected everything – from my energy, to my moods, brain function, digestion, immune system, and my weight.  All I cared about was how food tasted.  And I frequently reached for things like hot dogs, candy, sodas, cookies, cakes, and chips.

Sure, they might taste good – but in the long term all that junk food can cause tremendous mental and physical pain.

But I am one of the lucky ones – because the majority of overweight children grow up to become overweight/obese adults.

The thing is – it doesn’t have to be this way.

NO ONE HAS TO BE A STATISTIC.

I am living proof.

So what can we do to stop this trajectory?  The answer is surprisingly simple:

Eat Real Food. 

Although it may be simple, it might not be so easy.

Because if you are eating packaged and processed foods, you are getting a lot more sugar, chemicals and GMOs in your diet than you realize.

Here are 5 Tips to Help you Improve Your Family’s Diet: 

1. Cut way back on added sugar – read Are Our Kids Eating Toxic Amounts of Sugar? for more info.

2. Avoid anything with partially hydrogenated oils (this means there are trans fats).

3. Get the artificial colors out.  If it has a color and a number after it, it is an artificial color.  Artificial colors have been found to affect attention and behavior in some kids.  In fact, in the United Kingdom – if a food has an artificial color, it has to have a label on it that says:

‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’

So instead of putting on that label, most manufacturers will use natural colorings instead.  For example, if you buy Kraft mac n cheese in the UK, it is made with natural colorings, while the blue box in the US contains artificial colors.  There are many other examples of this kind of double standard.

4. Avoid chemicals in foods like mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), flavor enhancers, and preservatives.    If you can’t pronounce it, or don’t know what it is – it probably is a chemical.

5. Eat more plant-based foods – especially vegetables.  Studies show that eating more plant-based foods can lower your risk of disease and prolong your life.  Shoot for between 7 and 9 servings of plant based foods every day.  Or try to fill up half your plate at least twice daily.

 

Want to learn more about nutrition and health?

Below are some additional resources:

Videos/Ted Talks:

Websites:

Apps:

Documentaries:

Other:

Books:

Articles:

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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