Experts have long suspected that sleep plays an important role in overall health, but new research published in the journal Circulation indicates an especially strong link between getting ample slumber and maintaining heart health. Specifically, individuals with the healthiest sleep habits slash their risk of heart failure by 42%. The condition happens when the heart can’t pump blood as well as it should, resulting in insufficient blood and oxygen to the cells. Patients experience fatigue, breathing challenges, and other health complications as a result.
The study characterizes healthy sleep as an early wake time, a duration of seven to eight hours each night, and no bouts of snoring, insomnia, or excessive tiredness. Markers of heart health included low LDL (“bad” cholesterol), reduced inflammation, and higher HDL (“good” cholesterol). These measures are commonly used to evaluate heart failure risk.
More than 408,000 participants were tracked over a decade, with 5,221 people developing heart failure. The data revealed the following trends:
- People who woke up early had an 8% lower risk of heart failure.
- People who didn’t experience frequent insomnia had a 17% lower risk.
- People who regularly got seven to eight hours of sleep had a 12% lower risk.
- People who didn’t feel sleepy throughout the day had a 34% lower risk.
Although the research couldn’t confirm whether poor sleep led to heart issues or vice versa, the researchers noted that they aimed to exclude people with existing heart failure from the study. Thus, the results in this particular study seem to suggest that poor sleep contributes to the condition, though a bidirectional relationship is possible.
The Potential Link Between Sleep & Heart Health
Other studies have examined a connection between poor sleep and cardiovascular issues, including arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, and coronary artery disease, all of which can contribute to heart failure. It’s also worth noting that two markers looked at in the study—daytime tiredness and snoring—are also potential indications of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While the possible role of OSA in heart failure would need to be studied further, research has already linked it to other cardiovascular issues, including stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Getting enough sleep is important to overall wellness, but it’s also important to consider that too much sleep could present health issues. Sleeping over eight hours was associated with poor cardiovascular health in the study, and other research has also linked it to cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe excessive sleep could also point to health issues such as chronic illness or depression, which could explain the correlation. For this reason, it’s best to aim for seven to eight hours a night.
Tips for Healthy Sleep
In addition to getting seven to eight hours a night, try to wake early and address any sleep challenges, such as snoring, insomnia, or sleep apnea, with a healthcare professional. You can also use the following tips to improve your overall sleep habits:
- Turn off all electronics. At least a half-hour before bed, spend time away from screens. The blue light can disrupt the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Establish a winding down routine. Consider taking a soothing bath, listening to relaxing music, reading a book, or meditating.
- Turn the lights down. This can kickstart melatonin production and communicate to your body that it’s time for sleep.
For more health awareness blogs, please visit stemedix.com/blog.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the body process calcium and supports bone metabolism. Unfortunately, an estimated one billion people across the globe are believed to be deficient in the vitamin. Deficiencies have been linked to depression, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and certain cancers, as well as soft bones.
Certain populations are more prone to deficiencies, including people who are careful about their sun exposure, those with milk allergies, and anyone following a vegan diet. Vitamin D is produced when the skin is directly exposed to sunlight, but it can also be found naturally in select foods, such as egg yolks and some types of fish. Select dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D.
People with dark skin may also have lower vitamin D levels, as melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make the nutrient with sunlight exposure. Individuals with certain conditions, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, may also be deficient, as the digestive tract may not sufficiently absorb the nutrient. Moreover, as we age, our kidneys lose their ability to convert the vitamin into its active form, making seniors more prone to deficiencies.
Could You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Because vitamin D deficiencies are linked to so many adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and MS, as well as cognitive impairment in older adults and severe asthma and rickets in children, ensuring you have ample vitamin D levels is important to promoting overall wellness.
Fortunately, vitamin D levels can be assessed through a simple blood test. A concentration of fewer than 20 nanograms per millimeter (ng/mL) is considered inadequate and requiring supplementation, while less than 12 ng/mL is considered a deficiency.
While wearing sunscreen is important to minimize your skin cancer risk, it does inhibit vitamin D production. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from the sun or your diet, talk to your healthcare provider about supplementation. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for the vitamin varies by age and one’s specific medical history so it is important for your healthcare provider to determine the adequate dose.
Many looking to discover what deficiencies and insufficiencies they may have may want to discover Stemedix’s new Precision Health Program. This program is designed to give a more scientific-based health blueprint with recommendations provided by a board-certified provider that can be shared with your current healthcare provider.
What Is BPC-157 Peptide & What Does It Help?
BPC stands for “body protective compound.” BPC-157, in particular, is a synthetic peptide with 15 amino acids. It has been derived from digestive proteins and is largely used to prevent stomach ulcers. Recently, however, the supplement has been shown to offer many other benefits.
For instance, BPC-157 has been found to help stabilize the microbiome or healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. It also controls blood pressure function by interacting with the nitric oxide pathway. In addition, it promotes growth factors, unlocking the regenerative potential to help the body heal and empower its systemic repair response.
Across various bodies of research, BPC-157 has been linked to a wide range of healing benefits. In addition to repairing blood flow, it has been shown to:
- Help with burns
- Increase collagen production
- Aid in the healing of sprains, tears, and other muscle injuries
- Help with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis
- Aid in weight loss
- Repair ligament and tendon-to-bone injuries or damage
- Protect the cardiovascular system
- Reduce damage from drugs and the effects of corticosteroid injections
- Improve responses to allergens and viruses
- Boost brain health and mood
- Protect scar tissue formation
BPC-157 is often taken via oral capsule, especially when its goal is to treat stomach or intestinal issues. It can also be injected subcutaneously or intramuscularly and used as a nasal spray. The best delivery method may vary based on the patient and their unique concerns, so be sure to discuss your goals with a medical professional when deciding to introduce BPC-157 into your supplement regimen.
For more information to discover if this peptide may be a benefit for you, please call our team at 800-531-0831.
The old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has roots that can be traced back to the mid-1800s. Naturally, one might assume that such outdated advice would have little value today. While an apple a day indeed lacks the ability to reduce the frequency of your doctor’s visits, adding the fruit to your diet could improve your health in several ways. Here’s a look at the many benefits of apples.
Apples are highly nutritious, delivering a considerable dose of fiber at just 95 calories on average. They also have 9% of your daily value of vitamin C, which helps neutralize harmful free radicals and works to protect the body against illness. Apples also have antioxidants such as caffeic acid, quercetin, and epicatechin.
Regularly eating an apple could reduce your risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease. Experts suspect this could be due to the flavonoids in the fruit, which curb inflammation and promote heart health. They also contain soluble fiber, which helps to control blood pressure and cholesterol.
The antioxidants in apples, including flavonoids, could help to reduce cancer risk. Eating more apples has been linked to a reduced risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. A diet that prioritizes fruits and vegetables could also help prevent against cancer in the stomach, lungs, colon, oral cavity, and esophagus.
In addition to the benefits listed above, regular consumption of apples supports weight management, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and may prevent against cognitive decline. Apples can also control the risk of diabetes and asthma.
Of course, there’s always the potential to have too much of a good thing, and rapidly increasing your apple intake may backfire. For example, the fiber in apples could lead to stomach issues, such as gas and bloating. Apples are also fairly high in carbohydrates, so people following certain diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may need to avoid or reduce their apple intake.
Ultimately, eating a varied diet with many different fruits and vegetables is likely best if you’re seeking the greatest health benefits. While you can certainly aim to eat more apples, you might also consider swapping them out with other fruits and vegetables as well—especially those packed with nutrients. Bananas, blueberries, carrots, kale, broccoli, grapefruit, spinach, raspberries, peaches, pears, pineapples, and strawberries are all good options to consider.
For more health awareness blogs, please visit stemedix.com/blog
Your immune system is your body’s most powerful line of defense against infection and illness. It comprises cells in many different areas of your body which must all work together in harmony. The immune system is affected by many different factors, including your diet and overall lifestyle. Here are some natural approaches to help you maintain strong immunity.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
Plant-based foods deliver nutrients your body needs to support strong immune function. For instance, key nutrients such as zinc, folate, selenium, iron, and B12, many of which can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, help the immune system do its job. Certain herbs and spices, such as cumin, oregano, thyme, and cinnamon, also have antiviral and antimicrobial properties to help keep infections at bay. Of course, vitamin C is also a well-known agent for strengthening immunity, which can be found in citrus fruit, red bell pepper, and many cruciferous vegetables. You’ll also want to get plenty of protein to supply your body with amino acids that help the body resist infection.
When the body is consistently stressed, it releases the stress hormone cortisol. On a short-term basis, this phenomenon helps the body react to the issue causing the stress by putting the immune system on hold. Over a long-term basis, however, it prevents the immune system from doing its job effectively. To combat chronic stress, try calming exercises such as journaling, meditating, or finding an enjoyable hobby, such as reading.
Insufficient sleep prevents your body from producing and distributing the cells that regulate immunity. It also raises cortisol levels, further compromising the immune system. In one study, people who didn’t sleep enough were more susceptible to the flu virus, even if they’d been vaccinated. Aim to get seven hours of quality slumber each night, and use tactics such as sleeping in a cool room and turning off electronics an hour before bed to get rest.
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of both chronic illnesses and acute infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Activities such as walking and cycling are ideal, but you can also mix in strength training to keep the muscles and bones strong.
Avoid Smoking & Alcohol
High alcohol consumption has been linked to diminished immunity and longer recovery times, while smoking also interferes with immune system function. If you do drink, do so in moderation, and avoid smoking or make a plan to quit.
For more health awareness articles, please visit stemedix.com/blog and search “health awareness”.
Is a Low-Fat, Vegan Diet Healthy?
Diets that avoid animal products have been the subject of debate for decades. Although their health benefits have been called into question, new research suggests a low-fat, vegan diet can boost wellness in many ways. Thus, if you’re considering limiting or avoiding animal products, improved health is perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to make the switch.
How Do Low-Fat, Vegan Diets Benefit Health?
According to a study published in JAMA Network Open in November 2020, this dietary approach helped overweight and obese individuals lose just under a pound a week over the course of four months. Compared with the control group who made no dietary changes, the vegan group consumed 355 fewer calories on average each day.
According to the study’s lead author, Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., the calorie reduction and weight loss are likely because the participants who went vegan replaced high-fat, high-cholesterol animal products with plant foods, which are packed with fiber and antioxidants.
In addition to weight loss, results from the study further demonstrated improved health across three key areas: increased metabolism, reduced-fat inside cells, and better insulin sensitivity (how effectively the body converts sugar into energy). All of these markers are key indicators of health and play roles in serious health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Even before this most recent study, many experts have been recommending plant-based diets to improve health. For instance, in 2016, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND) recommended vegan, vegetarian, and similar dietary approaches to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, heart disease, and obesity. They state that a vegan diet, in particular, can:
- Reduce diabetes risk by 62%
- Reduce heart disease risk by 29%
- Reduce cancer risk by 18%
Moreover, a low-fat, vegan diet appears to be more effective for weight loss than other approaches. In a study of more than 60,000 participants, vegans had the lowest body mass index (BMI) of 23.6 on average, which falls within the recommended range of 18 to 24.9. Vegetarians had a BMI of 25.7, while nonvegetarians had the highest, at 28.8.
Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
Completely ousting animal products from your diet all at once may be overwhelming. Instead, you might consider making slow, gradual changes. For instance, you could start with the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and plant-based oils, as well as nuts, legumes, and whole grains. The approach also allows for lean protein and fish, instead of processed or red meat.
You could also start to slowly remove animal products one by one. Some people have success focusing on replacements instead of extractions. For example, you might use sweet potato and black bean filling for tacos instead of ground beef, or make a hearty vegetable chili. Tofu also works as a substitute for many meat dishes. Even if you don’t become a strict vegan or vegetarian, Dr. Kahleova notes that a diet that focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and other whole foods is a good approach to take.
For more health awareness topics, please visit: https://stemedix.com/blog/