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Your heart is so much more than just an amazing pump. For the whole of your life its perpetual beat moves plasma around your body. This fluid, circulating through your arteries, capillaries and veins, contains the oxygen and nutrients needed to nourish every cell in your body, as well as carrying away waste matter and toxins. If your circulatory system were to be laid out it would stretch about 66,000 miles, so one adult’s blood vessels could wrap around the earth 2.5 times.

About Your Circulation

Your circulatory system, also known as your cardiovascular system, includes your heart, blood vessels and blood. It fights disease and sustains homeostasis (the term for the control of your body temperature and pH balance). With each beat of your heart, 2 fluid ounces of blood is expelled, which amounts to just over 1 gallon of blood each minute and 46 million gallons over a period of 70 years.

Blood is tissue in liquid form. Just over half of it is fluid with white and red blood cells making up the remainder. Red blood cells are your body’s cellular lungs, and they carry oxygen to every cell whilst removing carbon dioxide. A sluggish circulation is not considered an illness in itself; it is the underlying cause that needs to be established and dealt with.

Having a robust circulation is vital for good health, so what can you do to ensure the smooth running of that lifegiving force which is your blood flow?

Avoid A Sedentary Lifestyle

There is a new catchphrase amongst medical scientists that ‘sitting is the new smoking.’ This would seem to be borne out by the results of massive studies conducted by both the John Hopkins University in USA and jointly by Loughborough and Leicester Universities in the UK. Their findings conclusively record evidence that sitting for long hours is extremely damaging to your health because while sitting your blood flow slows down allowing fatty acids to accumulate in your blood vessels. Over time this leads to heart disease as well as impacting negatively on other areas of your body.

New evidence is emerging that in the more affluent societies of the world, adults are spending around 70% of their waking hours sitting and this is taking its toll on cardiometabolic health. The NHS have published guidelines on what you can do to minimise the hours each day spent on a chair, sofa, in a car or on public transport. This does not include the time when you are sleeping.

The advice to stand and move about more applies to everyone at any age, other than those who need to use a wheelchair. It even applies to very young children as it is at this stage when many lifelong habits are formed. The temptation for busy parents to allow their children to spend long hours glued to screens is setting them up for health problems and the prospect of having to unlearn strong early life conditioning.

Public Health England recommend that as well as being physically active, adults are advised to minimise time spent watching TV or playing video games. Even when working at a desk, it’s important to get up and have a walk around every 20 minutes or so. To quote from the government publication entitled Health Matters: "Persuading inactive people to become more active could prevent one in ten cases of stroke and heart disease in the UK and one in six deaths from any cause. In fact, it’s often said that if physical activity were a drug, it would be classed as a wonder drug."

Aim for a Healthy Weight

Maintain weight levels to improve heart health.

 

Achieving an ideal weight for your body type and age will help you to maintain a healthy circulation, but what is your ideal weight? The NHS offer an online tool to enable you to find your healthiest weight based on a few pertinent factors.

For anyone carrying too much weight there are methods of approaching weight loss to suit everyone’s needs, and stage in life. Being seriously overweight impacts negatively on the cardiovascular system, so concentrating on dealing with this is important. The NHS have a website with free guidance.

Nutritional Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

It is possible to shed weight without feeling hungry or deprived, having to count calories or subscribe to expensive diet schemes. Much of the process lies in changing habits so that you have fewer food cravings.

Meal Plan

Adjust your daily meal plan to include less refined carbohydrate foods such as cakes, biscuits, cookies, pastries, white bread, white pasta. Also try to avoid highly processed convenience foods and processed meats. These foods tend to be enticingly moreish but empty of nutrients.

Alcohol

Take a break from alcohol for a while or limit it to the status of treat rather than everyday staple. Sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon will hydrate you and cleanse your system of toxins, whereas alcohol will do the opposite.

Carbohydrates

Instead of simple refined carbohydrates choose complex carbs such as wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta, sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa and pulses.

Protein

Include a portion of lean meat protein such as white or red meat, tuna, white or oily fish. Alternatively, choose protein from plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans and chickpeas. If you aim to have a protein portion of any one of these with each meal this will keep you feeling full.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein and the British Heart Foundation have revalued their advice that eggs were too high in cholesterol and should be restricted to 3 or 4 each week. They, and other health organisations, have now confirmed that eggs do not pose a risk to raised cholesterol levels and their use need not be limited.

Vegetables

Increase your intake of vegetables. The dark green leafy kind are valuable to your immune system as they are loaded with antioxidants. All vegetables are great choices, even starchy veg such as potato and parsnip are excellent sources of dietary fibre so will help your digestive system.

Fruit

Fresh fruit is a healthy option and makes an excellent substitute for a sweet dessert. Berries with natural Greek yogurt make a satisfying breakfast. Try sprinkling over some ground flaxseed and walnut for an extra health boost.

Avoid fruit juice as just one glass gives a huge helping of concentrated fructose (fruit sugar) without the fibre of the whole fruit. This means you can down it very quickly instead of having to chew and digest. Imagine if you had to eat the ten oranges the manufacturers claim to have been squeezed into every glass of their juice, you’d be struggling.

Dessert

If you really struggle to do without a sweet dessert, try having a couple of squares of high cocoa solids dark chocolate and just letting each square dissolve slowly in your mouth so you get the full experience of its flavour.

Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks are a bad source of hidden calories. Lots of sugar finds its way into your bloodstream each time you have a glass of lemonade or coke, and the artificial sweeteners used to make them sound healthy are no better when it comes to nutritional choices.

Good Fat

You need a certain amount of good fat such as that found in avocados, flax, walnuts, olive oil, seeds and oily fish, so be sure to include a little each day. Even cooking your chicken breast in olive oil is good. Try adding a mashed avocado to your slice of wholemeal toast and topping with a poached egg or scattering a few walnuts through your green salad.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is not good news, especially when considering the health of your cardiovascular system. Saturated fat is mainly (although not always) the kind which is solid at room or refrigerator temperature such as butter, lard and the fat on meats. You will find more information in our blog post on cholesterol. Certain saturated fats are used for deep frying or cooking foods which need a high temperature. This is because saturated fat is stable at high temperatures so if you cook with it, be sure to thoroughly drain whatever you are cooking on kitchen paper before eating it.

Water

Drink lots of water. Your body is nearly two-thirds water so you must keep hydrated throughout the day. Aim for a minimum of two litres of water every day.

A 2009 study found that for participants who were overweight at the time of the study, a loss of 10% of their body weight over a twelve-month period significantly improved their cardiovascular circulation. The weight loss also increased the adiponectin levels of those participating. Adiponectin is a protein hormone produced by fat cells and one of its functions is to reduce inflammation and the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries. It also enhances the way cells respond to insulin.

Spend Time with Friends

According to research by social psychologist John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago, loneliness is one of the causes of hardening of the arteries leading to an impaired circulatory system and risk of heart disease. He states that loneliness is one of the triggers for the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, and this impacts upon the circulation, causing the heart to struggle. He recommends that anyone feeling stressed by loneliness should try to connect with old friends or join a club or class to help meet new people. Age UK have helpful advice for those who are finding themselves stressed by isolation and loneliness, and your age doesn’t have to be a factor; the advice is good for everyone.

Cardiovascular Activity to Improve Circulation

Cardiovascular exercise can improve circulation and heart health.

 

Any form of physical activity that raises your heartbeat and makes you slightly out of breath will support your circulatory system. It improves the ability of blood vessels to dilate, and this helps them work more effectively, whilst enabling muscles to receive sufficient oxygen to function better.

There are two kinds of physical movement that helps the cardiovascular system. One is aerobic and the other is anaerobic. Aerobic is the exercise derived from steady walking, swimming, cycling, housework, and gardening. Anaerobic is when you add to your activity short bursts of more intense movement such as weightlifting, sprinting, interval training and fast cycling. Ideally you might do a mixture of both, but any exercise at all is very beneficial.

A review in the journal ‘Circulation’ published by the American Heart Association, sets out some interesting statistics on various forms of physical activity designed to help those who are wondering how to make a start on cardiovascular exercise, possibly from a sedentary or semi-sedentary beginning. It gives the following activity levels with corresponding calories burned:

Calories burned during exercise.

 

The benefits of factoring one or more of these exercises into your life are numerous and once you make a start, you will find the improvement to your circulation will result in you feeling generally less tired, and as you progress, the activities themselves will become easier.

Yoga for a Healthy Circulatory System

Yoga is a low-impact exercise and can be a very good way to achieve a supple and toned body without indulging in more strenuous activities. If you are new to exercise, yoga can be easily incorporated into your daily life. All you need is a mat and some clothing which allows you to bend, stretch and twist. The stretching and bending positions involved in practising yoga have the effect of not only stretching out and toning muscles and joints but of compressing and decompressing your veins, and this improves circulation.

An easy exercise for anyone new to yoga is known as the ‘downward-facing-dog’. This position is great for improving the circulation because it raises the hips and heart above the head and so causes an increased blood flow towards the head.

Yoga is a low impact exercise to improve circulation.

 

Here’s what you do:

  1. Kneel on all fours with your shoulders in a direct line above your wrists and your hips above your knees
  2. Take a deep breath in
  3. Push your hips backward and up into the air as you breathe out
  4. Straighten your arms and legs
  5. Keep your hands firmly on the floor
  6. Breathe in deeply and at the same time lift and press down each heel in turn so you feel the stretch along the back of your leg
  7. Allow your neck to loosen and relax
  8. Remain in this pose for three deep breaths in and out
  9. Slowly allow your hips to lower back into the starting position

Findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology stating that there is promising evidence that yoga can improve cardio-metabolic health.

Omega-3 for Your Cardiovascular System

Omega 3 fatty acids can maintain circulation and a healthy heart.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are good for improving circulation and for the health of your heart generally. The fish you need are salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. For further information on the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids, see review entitled ‘A Fish a Day Keeps the Cardiologist Away.’

If you don’t like fish or if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it is possible to derive a small amount of omega-3 from kale. A cruciferous vegetable, kale is known as a superfood because it contains lots of vitamins and is also very low in fat. However, the small amount of fat which it does contains happens to be an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic-acid.

Drink Lots of Tea

Tea contains flavonoids which have antioxidant properties, and these are thought to be helpful for cardiovascular health, including the circulation. According to a scientific review, both black and green tea provide these benefits. One Study found that drinking black tea can improve blood vessel health and another concluded that green tea consumption could reduce coronary artery disease.

Effects of Smoking on Your Circulatory System

Stop smoking to improve your circulatory system.

The results of tobacco smoke on the circulatory system have been well documented but here’s a reminder:

If you smoke tobacco, stopping is vital. This can be a very difficult habit to kick, but help is available from the NHS both in terms of support, therapy and drugs which can inhibit addiction.

Medical Conditions Associated with Poor Circulation

Diabetes

One of the side effects of diabetes is poor circulation in various parts of the body, and this can result in cramps, particularly in calves and thighs. Sufferers with advanced diabetes may not be able to detect the symptoms of a poor circulation due to a lack of sensation in the extremities caused by diabetic neuropathy.

Raynaud’s Disease

A condition where the small arteries in hands and toes become narrow and less efficient at allowing blood flow. This results in numbness and cold sensations, particularly in cold weather or during periods of stress.

Erectile Dysfunction

One of the most frequently reported problems among men of more mature years is erectile dysfunction, and this is often down the fact that the circulatory system is struggling to get enough blood into the blood vessels of the penis to give a strong erection. Women too can find that sexual arousal is not so easy as the years go by, and this could also be down to a poor blood flow to the sexual organs. Pharmaceutical drugs such as sildenafil (otherwise known as Viagra) is widely acknowledged to help this problem, albeit with a number of side effects which may be experienced by some. In terms of natural alternatives to Viagra, we offer a choice of supplements. You may also find the information given in our blog useful.

Supplements for Circulation

When considering natural supplements to help in the quest for an improved circulation, it is important to have access to evidence-based information about the substances and compounds available. For this reason, we would like to explain why the supplements we offer are able to support you in your quest for a healthy cardiovascular system.

Maritime Pine Bark extract supplied in 150mg capsules providing a minimum of 95% OPCs in a letterbox-friendly pot. Front label

 

Vegan Omega 3 supplied in 625mg capsules providing EPA, DHA and DPA in a letterbox-friendly box. Front label.

 

Co Enzyme Q10 200mg capsules in a letterbox-friendly pot for a natural energy boost. Front label.

 

 

Help and Support

The British Heart Foundation have a wealth of useful information on their website and a support facility with helpline available.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.

It’s part of the outer layer of every cell and without it your digestive system couldn’t function. Without it your body couldn’t make vitamin D or the hormones that protect bones, teeth, and muscles. So, what is the big problem with cholesterol?

What Is Cholesterol And How Does It Work?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made in your liver, along with another fat called triglycerides. Blood fats are referred to as lipids and these lipids become bound together with proteins into spherical particles known as lipoproteins. They are then released into the blood stream and carried to cells where they are either used or stored. Excess lipids are carried back to the liver where they are processed to make bile acid which is then used by the intestines to help break down dietary fats. Some of these bile acids are eliminated as waste but most are reabsorbed into the blood and reused for digestion.

An excess of cholesterol creates a build-up in the arteries, narrowing the artery walls.

 

There are various types of lipoproteins but the main two are LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein):

What Causes Cholesterol Levels To Get Too High?

The liver is not the only means we have of making cholesterol. There are various reasons and causes of our body producing extra, and sometimes more than we need. The main causes of cholesterol levels becoming too high are:

Genetics

Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition responsible for some people being unable to effectively get rid of excess cholesterol. This is because a faulty gene is responsible for their blood fats not being processed in the correct way. According to statistics, it affects an estimated 1 in 200 people in most countries and is thought to be the most commonly inherited condition affecting the heart and blood vessels.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is generally under-diagnosed so if you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks under 50 years of age it is important to get cholesterol levels tested, even for young children, as this condition is very easily treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.

Saturated Fat

Eating too much red meat, full-fat dairy products, processed foods and pastries. Red meat contains higher levels of saturated fat than white meat or fish.

Lack of Exercise

Lack of physical exercise prevents blood fats being efficiently burned for energy. Exercise increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and even if you are overweight researchers have reported in the Journal of Obesity that adults who walked, jogged and cycled, as well as following a cholesterol-lowering diet, improved their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Stress

Stress has been found to have an indirect impact on cholesterol levels. Numerous studies have found a positive connection between high stress levels and high cholesterol. This is thought to be due to the body continually releasing the hormones cortisol and adrenaline as a response to feelings of stress, anxiety and fear. The presence of these hormones triggers production of triglycerides which in turn boost levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

It is when stress becomes a constant companion in your life that it can cause health issues, including those associated with high cholesterol. Simply cutting down anxiety and stress levels is not something most of us can do easily but what we can do is learn to manage these emotions so that their negative effect on our health is minimised. One thing that may help, which can often be achieved fairly quickly, is to concentrate a little more on making time for yourself. Something as simple as a leisurely walk out in the fresh air, just looking around gardens or shop windows. Maybe find somewhere to sit where you can watch whatever’s going on so your thoughts are distracted for ten to twenty minutes can provide you with a cathartic break from your own personal rat race. There are more ideas for you in our blog on the natural way to cope with stress and anxiety.

A great technique to ease the kind of stress that can suddenly make you feel you are about to reach meltdown is to take an ‘eleven-second step-aside,’ and this also helps you keep your temper if you can catch it before the flash point arrives. The moment you recognise the feeling that you are about to lose it, just close your eyes and picture the most tranquil scene you have ever experienced. It could be a field of corn waving in the breeze or a walk along the tideline of a beach with sea washing over your toes. It could be sitting by the fire, watching a film or just gazing at the flames. As you visualise your chosen scene, slowly breath in for five seconds, hold your breath for a second or two then breath out over the next 5 seconds. This will help you over that meltdown moment.

Checking Your Cholesterol

Getting a blood test can reveal if high cholesterol is affecting you.

 

Eating too much saturated fat or having a sedentary or stressful lifestyle are not the only causes of raised cholesterol levels. Anyone can have high levels of cholesterol in their blood because sometimes the problem is down to genetics. Even young, fit adults can find they have high cholesterol, and for this reason everyone should have a blood test from time to time to check their levels. There is no other way of knowing if you have high cholesterol because there are no signs or symptoms, but the test is readily available to everyone. Being given the results that warn you of high cholesterol in your blood gives you chance to take action, thereby saving yourself from future heart disease and risk of stroke. It’s a quick, simple test that can save your life.

Medical Treatment To Lower Cholesterol

If your cholesterol level readings are high, you may be offered medication known as statins. There has been a certain amount of controversy regarding statins over the past few years due to some possible side effects (mainly muscular pain and reduced levels of Co Enzyme Q10), but the fact remains that statins are effective in reducing cholesterol and this saves a great many people from life-threatening heart problems. The effectiveness of taking statins is greatly heightened, and in many cases the need to take them can be eliminated, if you are prepared to make a few lifestyle changes. Some tips on making these self-help changes are given later in this blog.

The way statins work is by reducing the amount of LDL-cholesterol made by your liver and because the liver is then not producing so much, it is forced to utilise more cholesterol from your bloodstream to allow it to make enough bile for the job of breaking down fat. This process results in the lowering of levels of cholesterol in your blood.

Another drug you may be prescribed is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor (Ezetimibe or Ezetrol) which works by partly restricting the reabsorption of cholesterol from foods in the small intestine. This means that less cholesterol reaches the liver for re-cycling, so the liver needs to extract more cholesterol from the blood.

Ezetimibe is usually used to treat anyone who can’t take statins or in cases where statins are not bringing LDL-cholesterol levels down sufficiently. It may also be prescribed alongside statins in certain cases. Like statins, Ezetimibe has certain side effects which are usually mild and temporary; these are mainly gastrointestinal disturbance, flatulence and fatigue. When taken together with a statin the most common side effects include muscle pain, headaches and raised liver enzymes.

Heart UK have information on their website for anyone concerned about their cholesterol levels and wishing to get more information on medication.

Self-Help For Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Taking the natural approach to reducing cholesterol, or as a preventative measure, is a preferred option for many people. Dietary supplements are available which contain LDL lowering properties and our heart-health supplements have been developed by natural health experts to not only lower cholesterol but to improve circulation, blood pressure levels and help control fluid retention.

 

Tips To Help You Reduce Your Cholesterol Level

Replacing some of the saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated fats is a good way to lower your cholesterol figures. Foods which have unsaturated fats are:

Use plant based oils to reduce cholesterol.

 

 

If you are already receiving treatment for high cholesterol, it’s important to discuss with your doctor any natural supplements you are planning to take to ensure they are complementary to your prescribed medication.

A Word About Trans Fats

Avoid trans fats to maintain health cholesterol levels

 

Many foods which have long been regular additions to the family shopping trolley, favourite snack bar treats and fast-food outlet meals contain unhealthy fats known as trans fats and these are extremely bad news for heart health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a ban on the use of trans fats world-wide, but this has yet to be fully implemented.

Trans fats are when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil to make it more solid. They are mainly found in commercially processed baked goods such as biscuits, doughnuts, pastries, cakes, pies, some margarines and vegetable oils, certain brands of ice cream and some fast foods cooked in deep fryers.

A statement three years ago published by WHO reads: In the UK, the latest national diet and nutrition survey shows average intake of trans fats is well below the recommended upper limit of 2% of food energy, at 0.5-0.7%. Although companies manufacturing processed food in the UK do not use trans fats any more, the fats are in some cheap foods imported from other countries.

Although UK food producers have agreed to cut trans fats from their ingredients, and, according to the British Heart Foundation this has helped greatly, it is still a good idea to check labels and be on the look-out for and avoid ingredients listed as ‘mono and diglycerides of fatty acids’ particularly in imported goods.

Help and Support

The British Heart Foundation have a wealth of useful information on their website and a support facility with helpline available.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.

It’s not easy to exercise when you’re feeling exhausted and there are times when curling up in a comfy chair with a good book may well be the best therapy. But despite the lure of the couch, remember that when energy levels are low, physical movement is your saving grace. Exercise is what causes the heart to pump blood around the body and into those flagging muscles.

Looking After Your Heart and Getting More Energy

If you’re wondering where your get-up-and-go has gone, it could simply be that you haven’t done as much physical activity recently and muscles have forgotten their jobs. Maybe you’ve eaten a bit more than usual too, and treated yourself to a few extra glasses of wine, as well as the odd chocolate bar - we all need to release a few endorphins from time to time. As life hopefully begins to get back to a more normal rhythm, the way to get back some energy is to make some permanent and healthy changes to your lifestyle.

Here are a few ways to safely recapture your vitality:

  1. Get moving. It sounds wrong somehow to say be active when your body is saying rest, rest, rest. But it works. Now, if anyone tells you to do a two-hour workout in one day, just ignore that advice. The way to start is slowly. Even a steady walk of ten to twenty minutes is fine for starters, and you can build from there as you begin to feel more energised.
  2. De-Stress. Dealing with stress is so important. If it’s allowed to run riot it can rob you of your happiness as well as your energy. Make sure you include things in your life which you truly enjoy. We’ve all had to spend time away from friends and loved ones and that’s been hard, so make the most now of meeting up with those who matter to you. Value them and take time to spend with them. Try to avoid the more negative ways of managing stress such as over-indulging in food, alcohol and stimulants such as coffee and nicotine. Maybe try some meditation, or simply enjoy talking with a good friend.
  3. Shed excessive weight. If you’ve recently gained a few pounds, or if you’ve been carrying too much for a while, you’ll find life much more comfortable if you can lose it. The only sure way to achieve this is to eat less calories than you burn, but to also do some exercise. Avoid faddy or expensive diet schemes; they may work in the short-term, but they are not a long-term good bet. The truth is you don’t have to count calories unless you find it helps. Simply incorporate into your everyday diet plenty of low calorie but nutrient rich foods - lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and wholegrain carbs such as good bread, pasta and rice. Cut out sugar, white flour goods, fatty and processed meats, fizzy drinks (apart from sparkling water) and you’re onto a winner.
  4. Quality sleep. Everyone is different when it comes to how much sleep they need. A rule of thumb is that most adults need around seven hours, but some need more, and some manage with less. It’s a good idea to ensure you don’t suffer from sleep apnoea which is where heavy snoring wakes you every few minutes and you stop breathing for a few seconds. This can put you at risk of heart problems and stroke. If you are overweight sleep apnoea is more likely to be an issue. Read more about sleep.
  5. The right kind of fuel. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. These foods are packed with vitamins and minerals which are vital for your health. Avoid eating large meals which are laced with too much salt, sugar, and saturated fat. If you get used to having smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods this will help your blood sugar levels, your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels to be within the healthy range. Try to remember to drink more water.

Just by following these five steps you’ll make yourself feel much more energised and also decrease your risk of heart disease.

 

Three Heart-Saving Foods

Science has found certain superfoods to have amazing properties when it comes to heart health, and with that will come much more energy. Here are the three top players:

Flaxseed

Flaxseed (also known as linseed) is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and phytoestrogens which, when combined, provide optimal benefits to heart health. The best way to eat them is in their milled or ground form. You can buy or make loaves of flaxseed or linseed bread. Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to mayonnaise as a dressing on sandwiches or salads. Blend ground flaxseed into smoothies or sprinkle on cereal or porridge.

Leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach whose leaves are dark green are rich in micronutrients and they are also a good source of vitamin K which helps protect the health of your arteries. Steamed young stalks and leaves of kale make an excellent vegetable dish and are lovely sprinkled with a little lemon juice and a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Add spinach leaves to your stir fry dishes just before serving when the heat of the food will wilt the leaves enough to incorporate them into the dish. You can sneak handfuls of spinach into bolognaise sauce, moussaka, vegetable or meat chilli and shepherd’s pie too. Spinach is also great blended into a smoothie.

Good Fats

We’ve been told for ages that fat is to be avoided, but there are different kinds of fats, and some are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Avocado and nuts (particularly walnuts) contain good fats which our bodies need.

Walnuts contain good fats to maintain heart health.

 

Extra-virgin olive oil has been found to have a protective effect upon the heart as well as artery walls. This is because it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. It is also rich in antioxidants. A little extra-virgin olive oil drizzled over salad or pasta or used as a dip for some freshly baked flaxseed bread will give your heart and your energy levels a welcome boost.

If Your Heart Is Struggling

The medical term for when your heart is not pumping blood as efficiently as it should is heart failure. This sounds pretty alarming, but it doesn’t mean that your heart is about to give up. What it does mean is that your heart is having a hard time in meeting your body’s needs, particularly when you are trying to engage in physical activity.

Some of the early signs of heart failure are feelings of constant and unusual deep fatigue. Energy levels may dip so that everyday actions, such as climbing stairs and lifting shopping bags, become very uncomfortable. This happens when there is a reduction in the blood which flows into muscle tissue, and this is because your heart is not pumping as well as it once did. When the going gets tough, the body has an emergency system where it diverts blood away from leg and arm muscles and instead makes sure it goes to the major organs such as the heart, brain, and kidneys. This results in feelings of discomfort during spells of physical activity.

Another reason for a decrease in energy levels is when your body is failing to get rid of waste as quickly as necessary. There are certain other reasons for feelings of excessive tiredness such as thyroid malfunction or anaemia so it’s important to tell your doctor how you feel so that the appropriate blood tests can be carried out.

Self-Help for Heart Failure and Energy Boosting Tips

Making certain lifestyle choices can improve heart health and energy levels.

 

The good news is that there is much you can do to help yourself in terms of avoiding or reversing the progress of heart failure. If you can commit to making the appropriate lifestyle changes these will prove highly effective alongside medical treatment.

The kind of changes you may need to make involve such things as alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, stress relief therapies and exchanging certain foods for more heart-healthy choices.

A few adjustments to your diet are essential if you are to avoid heart disease or to manage an existing condition:

Salt

Reducing salt in your diet will help lower blood pressure. Salt is necessary in the body but only in tiny amounts and most natural foods contain enough so we don’t need to add extra. Most people have grown accustomed to salty foods from childhood, so when we taste foods which have not been laced with salt during the cooking process or even sprinkled with it at the table, we find those foods bland.

An excess of salt also causes calcium loss and a resultant drop in bone density and in cases of heart failure, it causes the body to store excess fluid which accumulates in the tissue. It can also cause lung congestion, causing shortness of breath.

A few ideas to wean yourself off salt:

Saturated Fat

Cutting down on saturated fat will protect your arteries from the build-up of plaque known as cholesterol which gives your heart a very hard time pumping enough blood around your body and leaves you feeling permanently exhausted.

Alcohol

Alcohol can be a comforting habit and it has been established that a glass of red wine can relax your heart muscle, slowing the pulse and lowering blood pressure. This is due to a polyphenol compound called resveratrol and is the reason why a small amount of red wine has been found to help prevent coronary heart disease.

Unfortunately, where alcohol is concerned it’s a fine line between enough and too much. For anyone with a heart condition, too much alcohol can raise pulse and blood pressure. The most usual recommendation is no more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day. For anyone with serious symptoms they may need to give up alcohol altogether.

Potassium

Potassium is needed by the body to function efficiently but for anyone taking diuretics for heart failure, much of the potassium gained from diet may be lost. You may be advised to supplement your diet with foods rich in potassium:

Exercise to Boost Cardio Function

By walking every day your heart will have to pump blood into your muscles as well as your major organs. Your muscles have their own memory and will begin to become accustomed to the extra work and gradually become stronger. If weak and aching joints are making a daily walk something of an unpleasant experience you may find our Co Enzyme Q10 will support you in your quest for more energised and pain-free exercise.

As your strength builds you can incorporate bursts of faster walking into your session and might even like to try the Scandinavian style of walking with a walking pole in each hand so that you also work the top half of your body, shoulders and arms.

There are other forms of physical activity which are good. Swimming and aqua fit are both non-weight-bearing exercises and both excellent for giving your heart and other muscle groups a workout.

Bike riding can increase cardio function to help with energy and heart health.

 

Cycling is a good sport for heart health. Either out on a cycle path away from traffic or in the gym on an exercise bike. Many gyms have exercise bikes with built-in video screens so you can choose a scenic route and incorporate a few little hill climbs when you feel ready.

Supplements for Heart Health and Energy

Supplements can offer a natural boost to energy levels and support heart health. Visit out Energy category for more information.

Help and Support

The British Heart Foundation have a wealth of useful information on their website and a support facility with helpline available.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.

Are you fortunate enough to recall your great-grandparents? Or if not, you may have seen sepia photographs of them? What you will almost certainly have noticed was that they appeared much older for their age than do the elders of today. Things are so different now; we strive to make our senior years as enjoyable and healthy as possible, but sometimes there’s no getting away from it, it’s a struggle. The good news is that medical science has discovered a natural substance which can help us attain a greater quality of health and fitness as we age, not to mention the prospect of a longer life.

Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate - Study Reveals Longevity Benefits

Exciting new evidence has been found following a controlled study conducted by the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing into a natural, safe, side-effect free, substance which can give a longer, healthier life. This study, which was carried out using mammals (mice), represents the first scientific proof of the effectiveness of a non-drug substance capable of promoting an extended, healthier lifespan, the effects of which may be valid for humans. According to a report from Science Direct, ‘AKG may increase lifespan and DRAMATICALLY increase healthy years.’

What is Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate?

Ca-AKG is a stable form of the naturally occurring substance, alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) which is produced by our bodies up until the age of approximately 40, after which it radically decreases. During the earlier phases of life AKG is manufactured by our body during the energy-producing process, which takes place within our cells. We have amino acids called glutamine and glutamic acid; AKG is the nitrogen-free element of these acids and it provides fuel for our cells, giving a protective effect during our years of growth. It also supports our body at times of injury, particularly injury to muscular tissue. The cellular fuel it provides also helps our digestive system and kidney function as well as assisting with the building of bone tissue.

How Does it Work?

AKG restores cellular energy and facilitates cell renewal, thereby inhibiting the onslaught of age-related illnesses and frailty. It protects from many of the negative aspects of ageing, many of which are caused by age-related inflammation and loss of bone mineral density. It also gives protection to patients undergoing heart surgery by reducing metabolic abnormalities and giving improved myocardial protection.

Taking Ca-AKG as a Supplement

It is possible to obtain AKG with various other compounds such as arginine and ornithine, but it is important to note that it is only Calcium-AKG that has been proven to give health benefits. By supplementing your diet with Ca-AKG, you can potentially put back the rejuvenating benefits naturally derived from the substance during your earlier life.

The ingredients in the supplement are 500mg Calcium Alpha Ketoglutarate (21% calcium), Magnesium Stearate (10%) and Aquamin TG (100mg). Also contains unmodified maize (corn) starch.

What is Aquamin and why is it included with Calcium-AKG?

One of the important ingredients in our Ca-AKG supplement is Aquamin, a highly bioavailable multi-mineral complex sourced from red marine algae. The sea plant resembles more a coral than a form of algae and bears the Latin name of Lithothamnion calcareum. Its cellular honeycomb-style structure allows for storage of 72 trace minerals from the sea, including calcium and magnesium. For this reason, the calcium in Aquamin is more bioactive than calcium carbonate, which is produced from limestone.

red marine algae aquamin

Harvested from the North Atlantic where the Gulf Stream meets the icy waters of the Arctic, the mineral has been the subject of studies into its efficacy in helping with the chronic and progressive condition of osteoarthritis. One of the very encouraging findings from these studies is that supplementing with Aquamin can allow sufferers to reduce their non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). This also means that side effects caused by long-term use of these forms of medication can be avoided. Some of the side effects of NSAID are gastrointestinal distress, ulcers and cardiovascular disease, so finding a natural substance that will do the job without the side effects is very good news indeed.

What Calcium-AKG Can Do to Turn Back the Clock

Study results have shown that when taking Calcium-AKG (Ca-AKG) as a supplement, it gives positive support to the following issues:

Age is not Necessarily Measured in Years

Everyone hopes that the quality of their advancing years is such that they can continue to be active in very many ways. Feeling well and having the energy to enjoy life well beyond retirement is something to strive for and can hugely enhance the quality of life. This means having the desire and fitness to keep interested and active in relationships, careers, hobbies and social lives, which in turn helps you to stay physically and mentally fit.

There is a science-based process which can calculate your biological age, sometimes known as the physiological or functional age, as opposed to your chronological age, based on various factors. For instance, a man or woman of between 55-60 might have a biological age of 45. With the right kind of lifestyle choices, you can knock a decade or more off your chronological age.

Some of the factors, apart from the obvious ones such as year of birth, gender and ethnicity, which are used to calculate biological age vs chronological age are:

You will get the message from these key points that looking after yourself in terms of diet, exercise, work/life balance etc will bring down your biological age quite significantly. This, in turn, will open the door to a much more energetic and healthy life as your chronological age increases. That ticking clock may even rewind if you concentrate on making the right choices for yourself.

How to Lower Your Biological Age

There is no upper limit on when you can make a start on improving your biological age, and there are many things you can do which will make a very significant and positive difference. Here are just five ideas to get you started:

Physical Activity

It doesn’t have to be madly strenuous to make a real difference. A daily walk is excellent. For anyone suffering with joint pain or arthritis, a few sessions in the swimming pool each week is perfect because the water supports joints whilst giving resistance to every movement and thereby increasing its good effect. Most leisure centres and health clubs offer aquafit sessions which provide gentle but effective workouts for every part of the body. Cycling is also a great non-weight bearing activity and it’s possible to find cycle paths that are free from traffic and other hazards.

active elderly couple on bicycles

Exercise for everyone is essential. It improves heart and lung function, which in turn increases stamina and this means you are not always feeling exhausted. Here are a few pointers to developing an anti-ageing exercise routine:

Strive to Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight you are more susceptible to various health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even some forms of cancer. Being too thin is not healthy either.

Choose More Foods With A Low Glycemic Index Value

There is a verified link between what you eat and your biological age. Low GI foods will benefit your muscles, bone density and major internal organs, helping you to keep fit for many more years. The kind of foods you should be choosing are whole fresh fruits, plenty of vegetables and salad, beans and lentils, high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, oily fish, especially wild salmon, and natural dairy products such as yoghurt, but instead of choosing the sweetened varieties, try plain natural yoghurt and chop some fresh fruit into it.

Reduce Your Intake of Sugar

It’s important to reduce your intake of refined flour and sugary products such as pastry, cakes, biscuits and white bread – just keep them as occasional treats. Full-sugar fizzy drinks are not good but why not buy sparkling water and use it to dilute a little freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice? Or maybe opt for some of the healthy and delicious fruit, flower and herbal teas (tisanes) which come ready blended and convenient to use. Just making these tweaks to your diet will help lower and stabilise blood sugar.

Drink Plenty of Water

Choose the best quality water you can find, either bottled or filtered, and keep some nearby throughout the day. It will help your digestive system, your skin, your weight and it will even help your energy levels to stay high.

Anti-ageing Superfoods

To give your body the best possible food, resolve to include regularly in your diet some of the top rated, vitamin-packed and antioxidant-rich foods known to man. Certain foods are particularly beneficial in the quest to remain fit and healthy. The term ‘superfood’ has come to mean foods with a high nutrient value, meaning they contain high levels of vitamins and minerals. They should also be rich in antioxidants because these protect your cells from the signs of ageing as they are able to combat oxidation and inflammation.

You will be on the right track if you look for foods which have bright, deep colours, such as berries, fruits, green vegetables and glistening fresh seafood. To help you know you are making the right choices, and so you are sure that the foods you are eating contain the best possible amounts of vitamins and antioxidants, the National Institute on Ageing has a laboratory testing and grading system which is known as ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity).

Including the vitamins and minerals found in the following foods or supplements in your regular diet will help in the quest for health, fitness and high energy levels long into those senior years:

Blueberries, raspberries and dark chocolate: rich in vitamins and antioxidants

 

Salmon is rich in the antioxidant astaxanthin that prevents oxidative stress.

 

Pomegranate is rich in Vitamin C that helps to protect you from free-radical damage.

 

A Final Word on Anti-Ageing

If you are serious about wishing to increase longevity and embrace the prospect of good health with enough energy to enjoy your senior years, consider taking a daily supplement of Calcium AKG. The discovery that AKG is effective in lengthening lifespan is a huge positive, but its dramatically enhancing effect on healthspan (wellness in later years), thought to be a boost of up to 40%, means that Ca-AKG can help support health in later life, giving back much of the protection and freedom from age-related illness normally only enjoyed by the young.

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Our long-established, family-run business sells the highest quality supplements with no nasty additives, chemicals or fillers, so you can be confident you're getting 100% natural products at affordable prices, UK wide.
logo supplement place 1592368025 44830.original

Our long-established, family-run business sells the highest quality supplements with no unnecessary fillers or additives, so you can be confident you're getting clean, natural products at fair prices. Available worldwide.

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