What is Homocytein

What is Homocysteine and why should some of us act to reduce our levels?
Since its discovery in 1932, homocysteine’s journey into mainstream medicine has been rocky. For the first 36 years after its discovery little was understood about it. Then in 1968 a Harvard researcher named Dr. Kilmer McCully noticed that children with genetically elevated homocysteine levels experienced heart disease similar to the heart disease found in middle-aged patients. He proposed that homocysteine might be an independent risk factor for heart disease. Like many medical pioneers, McCully’s proposal concerning homocysteine was met with scorn.  McCully’s homocysteine theory has since been proven beyond a doubt: people with elevated homocysteine levels are more likely to have strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, kidney disease, diseases of the eye, erectile dysfunction and especially heart disease (De Bree A et al 2002).

Conventional medicine, however, has still been slow to react to this news. Even today, the message on homocysteine from major mainstream medical groups is murky. Not so for the Life Extension Foundation, which has been alert to the dangers of elevated homocysteine levels since 1981. In that year, the Foundation published an article suggesting that people take aggressive action to lower their homocysteine levels (Life Extension Foundation 1981). It took conventional medicine another 15 years to catch up, when studies first appeared in major medical journals advocating the use of supplements, especially the B vitamins, to lower homocysteine levels.

Scientists have worked hard to understand why our homocysteine level increases throughout life, and how that impacts our health. Homocysteine level is affected by a number of influences, including lifestyle, dietary choices, and genetics. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients decreases. As a result, less of the important B vitamins are available to help metabolize homocysteine. Homocysteine level is also increased by certain pharmaceuticals, an aging metabolism, smoking, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, lack of exercise, obesity, and stress.

There are various interpretations of how much homocysteine is dangerous. The Life Extension Foundation prefers an aggressive stance: based on numerous published studies, we advocate relatively low homocysteine levels to help lower risk of disease. By ages 40 to 42, mean homocysteine levels are about 11 micromoles per litre (μmol/L) in men and 9 μmol/L in women. Even homocysteine levels this low has been associated with disease. The Life Extension Foundation recommends homocysteine level between 7 μmol/L and 8 μmol/L.
For the vast majority of people, a high homocysteine level is related to the gradual breakdown of the body’s ability to metabolise homocysteine. However, some people have a high homocysteine level because of a rare genetic defect. This condition, called homocystinuria, is associated with developmental delays, osteoporosis, diseases of the eye, stroke, and severe heart disease that can occur at a young age
Now that you know some of the conditions associated with high homocysteine levels, we will discuss in detail its effects and how to lower this disease marker.

What You Have Learned So Far:
* An elevated homocysteine level is linked to heart attack and atherosclerosis.
* Other diseases and conditions—including vascular disease, diseases of the eye,  stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, erectile dysfunction, and poor outcome in pregnancy—have also been associated with having elevated homocysteine.
*  Homocysteine level rises as we age, along with the incidence of diseases associated with this elevation.
*  The Life Extension Foundation prefers an aggressive stance on homocysteine, striving for a level between 7 μmol/L and 8 μmol/L.

Homocysteine and Heart Disease: A Clear Connection

The evidence is clear that having an elevated homocysteine level is an independent risk factor for heart disease. One large study conducted among physicians who had no history of heart disease showed that having a highly elevated homocysteine level was associated with a more than three-fold increase in the risk of heart attack over a 5-year period (Stampfer MJ et al 1992).

Homocysteine has a number of direct effects on the arteries that help explain its association with heart disease. It causes thickening of the intima, or inner wall of the arteries. And it encourages blood platelets to accumulate, which may lead to the formation of blood clots (Harker LA et al 1976). In animal studies, homocysteine has been shown to affect the production of nitric oxide, a substance that causes arteries to relax and blood flow to increase (Stuhlinger MC et al 2001).

Having an elevated homocysteine level has been associated with:
*First and second heart attacks (Al-Obaidi MK et al 2000; Matetzky S et al 2003)
*Coronary artery disease (Nygard O et al 1997)
*Total cardiovascular mortality (Anderson JL et al 2000)

*Adverse outcomes after coronary balloon angioplasty (Schnyder G et al 2002)
*Heart failure (Vasan RS et al 2003)

In 1999, the American Heart Association recognised the role of homocysteine in atherosclerosis when it issued an advisory statement emphasising the importance of reducing homocysteine blood levels and of screening people who are at high risk (Malinow MR et al 1999). The New England Journal of Medicine (Oakley GP 1998) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (Tucker KL et al 1996) suggested that vitamin supplements could be used to lower homocysteine levels.

Testing Homocysteine Levels
Homocysteine levels are measured directly in the blood. An acceptable level of homocysteine depends partly on your age and gender. It is clear, however, that our homocysteine level rises as we age and that (above a certain level) homocysteine is dangerous.

Homocysteine is an intermediary amino acid; its role in the body is complex, but very important. Homocysteine is a necessary byproduct of a healthy metabolism. Homocysteine is produced as part of the methionine cycle, in which methionine is converted to S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is valuable because of its ability to donate methyl groups during chemical reactions throughout the body. Homocysteine is synthesized when SAMe donates its methyl group. In scientific terms, this means the SAMe has been methylated (lost a methyl group). Methylation is crucial to the health of our cells and tissues by regulating gene expression, protein function, and RNA metabolism.
The methionine cycle is responsible for the creation of all the homocysteine in the body. Most of the resulting homocysteine is bound to plasma and considered stored, or inactive. It may be released into the bloodstream as free homocysteine in response to adverse changes in the body’s biochemistry. Thus, high levels of homocysteine are linked to specific health problems. There is also evidence that homocysteine itself causes damage to the cells within blood vessels.

Homocysteine in the bloodstream is metabolised through two principal pathways. It may be remethylated back into methionine through a process that involves folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12. This is called the remethylation pathway and is responsible for consuming most of the body’s free homocysteine. The remethylation pathway creates more SAMe to support healthy methylation. (Some organs, namely the kidney and liver, are able to remethylate homocysteine directly back into SAMe, but only a fraction of homocysteine is processed in this way.)
Alternatively, some of the excess homocysteine may be used to create cysteine, which is then converted into glutathione. Glutathione is an important and powerful antioxidant. The conversion of homocysteine into glutathione may be accelerated when the body is under oxidative stress. This second process is called the transsulfuration pathway because it produces sulfate byproducts that are flushed from the body in urine. The transsulfuration pathway depends on vitamin B6 to work properly.

There are many reasons free homocysteine levels might rise in the blood. We may be suffering from oxidative damage because of a shortage of glutathione, or our methylation capacity may be decreased, which affects our cells’ ability to grow, differentiate, and function properly.

Homocysteine: Linked to Diseases of Ageing
Although homocysteine’s association with heart disease attracts the most attention, researchers are continually learning more about its effect on other diseases and conditions. So far, elevated homocysteine levels have been linked to the following disorders or diseases:

Stroke – Homocysteine’s effect on the arteries that supply the brain with blood (carotid arteries) is similar to its effect on the arteries in the heart. One study that analysed 1077 people found that overall risk of “silent stroke” or other risk factors for a stroke were strongly associated with elevated homocysteine levels (Vermeer SE et al 2003). Larger, more focused, studies are underway.

Vascular Disease – There is evidence that homocysteine combines with low- density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and contributes to the creation of plaque inside artery walls (McCully KS 1996). Some forms of homocysteine have been shown to damage the inner walls of blood vessels directly (Jakubowski H 2003). Homocysteine has also been implicated in the formation of blood clots, which can cause a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.

Liver Disease – Elevated homocysteine and low levels of SAMe are linked to liver toxicity and cirrhosis (Martinez-Chantar ML et al 2002; Ventura P et al 2005). Homocysteine likely contributes to liver damage, leading to the formation of fibrin, clots, and vascular complications (de la Vega MJ et al 2001).

Kidney Disease – The kidneys filter reabsorb, and metabolise amino acids, including homocysteine. In kidney failure, homocysteine levels rise due to improper kidney filtration (Friedman AN et al 2001). Folic acid, trimethylglycine (TMG; also known as betaine), and vitamins B6 and B12 reduce homocysteine in people with kidney failure. High doses of folic acid can normalise homocysteine levels. Once kidney failure occurs, folic acid is much less effective and high doses of vitamin B12 are required to help normalise homocysteine levels (Righetti M et al 2004).

Thyroid conditions – Elevated homocysteine levels may contribute to accelerated heart disease among people who have hypothyroidism (Morris MS et al 2001).

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia – High levels of homocysteine indicate impaired methylation in the brain. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have elevated homocysteine levels (Joosten E et al 1997; McCaddon A et al 1998).

Depression – Depression has been linked to low levels of folic acid in women (Ramos MI et al 2004). Low folic acid levels have been shown to decrease the effectiveness of the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac®) (Fava M et al 1997), and vitamin B6 may alleviate depression (Hvas AM et al 2004). Deficiencies in these vitamins are also closely associated with high homocysteine levels.

Erectile Dysfunction – Homocysteine has been shown to reduce the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to relax, increasing blood flow to organs and tissues. Folic acid and vitamin B12 may help lower homocysteine levels. In one case study, a man with erectile dysfunction, who also had a genetic defect that caused elevated homocysteine levels, did not initially respond to treatment with sildenafil (Viagra®). However, after treatment with 5000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid and 1000 mcg of vitamin B12, his erectile dysfunction was successfully treated with sildenafil (Lombardo F et al 2004).

Diseases of the Eye—Homocysteine’s ability to damage blood vessels also has implications for the tiny blood vessels in the eye. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with serious eye conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration. A study showed that homocysteine levels of 11.6 μmol/L were the average concentrations in patients who had central retinal vein occlusion; the average level was 9.5 μmol/L in control subjects (Vine AK 2000).

Why Homocysteine Levels Rise
Homocysteine levels are responsive to a wide range of influences. They rise naturally as we age. Genes also play a large role in the body’s metabolism of homocysteine. However, there are many lifestyle factors that can also cause homocysteine levels to rise. For instance, excessive coffee and alcohol consumption have been shown to increase homocysteine levels (De Bree A et al 2002).

Dietary choices affect homocysteine levels. Eating foods that contain large amounts of methionine, such as red meat and chicken, has been shown to increase blood levels of homocysteine. Similarly, low intake of foods rich in vitamin B, such as green leafy vegetables, may also increase homocysteine levels (Devlin TM 2002).

In addition, the following pharmaceuticals are associated with elevated homocysteine levels:
Fenofibrate – Used in the treatment of high cholesterol (Dierkes J et al 1999). Niacin – Used in the treatment of lipid management (e.g. Cholesterol & Lipoprotein).
Metformin – Used to treat diabetes (Carlsen SM et al 1997).
Antiepileptic drugs – Used to control seizures (Schwaninger MC et al 1999). Levodopa -Used to manage Parkinson’s disease (Muller T et al 1999).

Methotrexate – Used to treat cancer, psoriasis, arthritis, and lupus (Haagsma CJ et al 1999).

There is a much more distinct correlation between cardiovascular disease and homocysteine levels than Cholesterol yet in the UK it is very difficult to get it tested. If they know that it is lowered by these medications surely they should test for the levels at regular intervals but experience with clients has told me this is not the case. Why – it’s too expensive. Many other countries have now adopted homocysteine testing but even if you are prepared to pay, it’s not available through most GP surgeries.
Article Science info & Studies

Healthy Oils Your Body Will love

You have many options when it comes to selecting fats and oils for cooking.
But it’s not just a matter of choosing oils that are healthy, it’s whether they stay healthy after having been cooked with.

The Stability of Cooking Oils
When you’re cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidise or go rancid easily. When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that you definitely don’t want to be consuming. The most important factor in determining an oil’s resistance to oxidation and rancidification, both at high and low heat, is the relative degree of saturation of the fatty acids in it. Saturated fats have only single bonds in the fatty acid molecules, monounsaturated fats have one double bond and polyunsaturated fats have two or more. It is these double bonds that are chemically reactive and sensitive to heat. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are pretty resistant to heating, but oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided for cooking.

The Winner: Coconut Oil
When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is your best choice.
Over 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. This oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid. Coconut oil also has powerful health benefits. It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens.

The fats in coconut oil can also boost metabolism slightly and increase feelings of fullness compared to other fats. Make sure to choose virgin coconut oil. It’s organic, it tastes good and it has powerful health benefits.

Butter
Saturated fats used to be considered unhealthy, but new studies prove that they are not when used in moderation. Saturated fats are a safe source of energy for humans. Butter was demonised in the past due to its saturated fat content but there really is no reason to fear real butter. It’s the processed margarine that is the truly awful stuff, they are one molecule away from plastic. Real butter is good for you and actually fairly nutritious. It contains Vitamins A, E and K2. It is also rich in the fatty acids Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Butyrate, both of which have powerful health benefits. CLA may lower body fat percentage in humans and butyrate can fight inflammation, improve gut health and has been shown to make rats completely resistant to becoming obese. There is one rule for cooking with butter. Regular butter does contain tiny amounts of sugars and proteins and for this reason it tends to get burned during high heat cooking like frying. If you want to avoid that, you can make clarified butter or ghee. That way, you remove the lactose and proteins leaving you with pure butterfat. Make sure to choose butter from grass-fed cows. This butter contains more Vitamin K2, CLA and other nutrients compared to butter from grain-fed cows. (Kerrygold grass fed cows unsalted butter is in most supermarkets)

Olive Oil
Olive oil is well known for its heart healthy effects and is believed to be one of the reasons for the health benefits of the mediterranean diet. Some studies show that olive oil can improve biomarkers of health. It can lower the amount of oxidised LDL cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.

Animal Fats – Lard, Tallow, Bacon Drippings
The fatty acid content of animals tends to vary depending on what the animals eat. If they eat a lot of grains, the fats will contain quite a bit of polyunsaturated fats.
If the animals are pasture raised or grass-fed, there will be more saturated and monounsaturated fats in them. Therefore, animal fats from animals that are naturally raised are excellent options for cooking.
You can buy ready-made lard or tallow from the store, or you can save the drippings from meat to use at a later time. Bacon drippings are especially tasty.

Palm Oil
Palm oil is derived from the fruit of oil palms. It consists mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. However, some concerns have been raised about the sustainability of harvesting palm oil, harvesting these trees means less environment available for Orangutans, which are an endangered species. so when you buy anything with palm oil it should be Red palm oil and from a sustainable source. Palm oil is a good choice for cooking but only when it is Red Palm Oil (the unrefined variety). It is also rich in Vitamins E, Coenzyme Q10 and other nutrients.

Avocado Oil
The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated with some saturated and polyunsaturated mixed in.
I suppose it can be used for the same purposes as olive oil. You can cook with it, but only at low temperatures. Just like olive oil it should be used cold. It may be best as an addition to salads or foods after they have been cooked.

Fish Oil
Fish oil is very rich in the animal form of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are DHA and EPA. A tablespoon of fish oil can satisfy your daily need for these very important fatty acids. The best fish oil used to be cod fish liver oil, because it is also rich in Vitamin D3, which a large part of the World is deficient in. However with the heavy metals now found in our oceans it is not a good choice anymore. The liver is a big detoxing organ which filters our toxins like heavy metals that can harm us and stores it until it’s safe to pass through our water system. Therefore we would not want to eat the fish’s liver. Fish oil should never be used for cooking due to its high concentration of polyunsaturated fats. It can however be used as a supplement – the best one being krill oil.  However there is now a great way to get the Omega 3 that we look for in fish from the Algae the fish eat to get their Omega 3.  Go to our Super Supplement section and read about Juice Plus Omega Blend.

Nut Oils and Peanut Oil
There are many nut oils available and some of them taste awesome. However, they are very rich in polyunsaturated fats, which make them a poor choice for cooking. They can be used as parts of recipes, but do not fry or use in high heat cooking. The same applies to peanut oil. Peanuts technically aren’t nuts (they’re legumes) but the composition of the oil is similar. There is one exception, however, and that is macadamia nut oil which is mostly monounsaturated (like olive oil). It is pricey, but it tastes awesome. If you want, you can use macadamia oil for low or medium-heat cooking.

Canola Oil
Canola oil is derived from rapeseeds but the uric acid (a toxic, bitter substance) has been removed from it. The fatty acid breakdown of canola oil is actually fairly good, with most of the fatty acids monounsaturated, and contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 in a 2:1 ratio, which is perfect. However, canola oil needs to go through very harsh processing methods before it is turned into the final product. I personally don’t think these oils are suitable for human consumption.

Seed and Vegetable Oils
Industrial seed and vegetable oils are highly processed, refined products that are way too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. Not only should you not cook with them, you should probably avoid them altogether.  These oils have been wrongly considered “heart-healthy” by the media and many nutrition professionals in the past few decades. However, new data links these oils with many serious diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

Avoid all of them:
• Soybean Oil
• Corn Oil
• Cottonseed Oil
• Canola Oil
• Rapeseed Oil
• Sunflower Oil
• Sesame Oil
• Grapeseed Oil
• Safflower Oil
• Rice Bran Oil

One study also looked at common vegetable oils on food shelves in the U.S. market and discovered that they contain between 0.56 to 4.2% trans fats, which are highly toxic.  It’s important to read labels. If you find any of these oils on packaged food that you are about to eat, then it’s best to purchase something else.

How to Take Care of Your Cooking Oils
To make sure that your fats and oils don’t go rancid, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Don’t buy large batches at a time. Buy smaller ones, that way you will most likely use them before they get the chance to damage. When it comes to unsaturated fats like olive, palm, avocado oil and some others, it is important to keep them in an environment where they are less likely to oxidise and go rancid. The main drivers behind oxidative damage of cooking oils are heat, oxygen and light. Therefore, keep them in a cool, dry, dark place and make sure to screw the lid on as soon as you’re done using them. Temperature gauge for cooking oils!
Omega Oils
Should not be used at all for cooking for more information on these essential oils go to :- www.thehealhthubclub.org Super supplements

Heart Disease

What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About!

Heart disease remains one of the top two killers in the UK today.
Every year, more than 160,000 people die from cardiovascular disease – that’s more than 435 living, breathing human lives lost every single day! Stated differently, that’s 18 deaths every hour of every day, 365 days of the year! In the US, it’s even worse with 800,000 deaths each year.

Literally thousands of gold-standard medical studies performed at the world’s most cutting- edge research institutes have shown – beyond any shadow of doubt – that you can…
Prevent, Reverse Heart Problems – Without…

• Taking dangerous prescription drugs that may actually damage your heart and even trigger a life-changing or deadly heart attack or stroke!
• Resorting to risky surgical procedures that flat out FAIL in some cases… and may even kill you! In fact, the amazing advances now are making some dangerous drugs obsolete – by working better… faster… cheaper… and with ZERO side effects! These same breakthroughs are outperforming common and costly (not to mention dangerous!) surgical procedures, in some cases… as you’ll see further down this page.

Why Cholesterol Isn’t The Biggest Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease.

Most conventionally-trained doctors are closed-minded when it comes to natural remedies and treatments. They give you only two options: drugs or surgery. Also most doctors are slaves to big-money drug companies. If a drug company can’t patent a product, they can’t mark it up for the obscene profits they’ve come to expect.

You’ve probably heard it dozens of times: Having high cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. You’ve probably heard that it increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes… and other cardiovascular related problems.

So what should you do? If your doctor diagnosed high cholesterol, he probably gave you a prescription for one of the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs on the market. Statins are one of the best ways for lowering cholesterol, but they come with a list of side effects as long as your right arm and studies show they deplete levels of the heart-protecting substance in your body, Coenzyme Q10. Or… you could turn to punishing diets… exercising every day… or take expensive supplements to help bring down your cholesterol levels.

These are all good options. But the problem is, lowering your cholesterol is virtually useless for preventing heart attacks! Despite the obsession among doctors and the media about cholesterol, there’s a TON of evidence that proves that cholesterol isn’t the deadly demon it’s made out to be. For instance, did you know that half of all heart attack patients admitted to hospital with a heart attack had no previous symptoms… and had cholesterol levels in the normal range. Well, according to a study published in the prestigious American Heart Journal, it’s true. The first symptom they actually experienced was a heart attack!

Moreover, studies also show that most people with high cholesterol almost NEVER have a heart attack. If they did, heart attack rates would be TRIPLE what they currently are! Further, did you know that your body actually needs cholesterol for a number of important bodily functions? It’s true. It helps keep the cells of your body strong… it helps transport vitamins throughout your body… and it’s one of the most important building blocks of crucial hormones in your body – most notably testosterone and oestrogen. And perhaps most striking of all, did you know that your liver makes as much as 2 grams of cholesterol a day? It’s true. That’s more than 5 times the amount you could eat in a single day!

FACT: Treating cholesterol is BIG business. Literally billions of pounds every year is made from the treatment of cholesterol. This includes prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins and many more billions are pouring into the coffers of devious food manufacturers through scores of “cholesterol-lowering” foods and other products.

FACT: Doctors, greedy drug companies and food manufacturers are placing the blame for the global heart disease epidemic on cholesterol… and are completely IGNORING the three biggest risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes… and more!

Cholesterol on its own is not the problem – it is damaged cholesterol caused mostly through eating a bad diet of processed, fast and other inflammatory foods. This causes the cholesterol to change and become trapped in the endothelium. The endothelium is a cell layer lining the blood luminal surface of vessels. The LDL cholesterol is more susceptible to damage than HDL – so it lowers the risk if we have less LDL in our system. However If we eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and berries it will help protect our cardiovascular system and reduce our body’s inflammatory load.

If you want to know more download our booklet on “Cardiovascular Wellness”

Circulatory System Facts, Function Diseases

Circulatory System: Facts, Function & Diseases

Circulatory System Facts, Function DiseasesThe circulatory system is a vast network of organs and vessels that is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other gases to and from cells. Without the circulatory system, the body would not be able to fight disease or maintain a stable internal environment — such as proper temperature and pH — known as homeostasis.

The circulatory system is a vast network of organs and vessels that is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other gases to and from cells. Without the circulatory system, the body would not be able to fight disease or maintain a stable internal environment — such as proper temperature and pH — known as homeostasis.

Description of the circulatory system

While many view the circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, as simply a highway for blood, it is made up of three independent systems that work together: the heart (cardiovascular); lungs (pulmonary); and arteries, veins, coronary and portal vessels (systemic), according to the US national Library of Medicine. (NLM).

In the average human, about 2,000 gallons (7,572 liters) of blood travel daily through about 60,000 miles (96,560 kilometers) of blood vessels, according to the Arkansas Heart Hospital        .  An average adult has 5 to 6 quarts (4.7 to 5.6 liters) of blood, which is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In addition to blood, the circulatory system moves lymph, which is a clear fluid that helps rid the body of unwanted material.

The heart, blood, and blood vessels make up the cardiovascular component of the circulatory system. It includes the pulmonary circulation, a “loop” through the lungs where blood is oxygenated. It also incorporates the systemic circulation, which runs through the rest of the body to provide oxygenated blood, according to NLM.

The pulmonary circulatory system sends oxygen-depleted blood away from the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs and returns oxygenated blood to the heart through the pulmonary veins, according to the  Mayo clinic.

Oxygen-deprived blood enters the right atrium of the heart and flows through the tricuspid valve (right atrioventricular valve) into the right ventricle. From there it is pumped through the pulmonary semilunar valve into the pulmonary artery on its way to the lungs. When it gets to the lungs, carbon dioxide is released from the blood and oxygen is absorbed. The pulmonary vein sends the oxygen-rich blood back to the heart, according to NLM.

The systemic circulation is the portion of the circulatory system is the network of veins, arteries and blood vessels that transports blood from heart, services the body’s cells and then re-enters the heart, the Mayo Clinic noted.

Credit: Ross Toro, Livescience contributor

Diseases of the circulatory system

According to the American Heart association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Because of its vastness and critical nature, it is one of the systems of the body most prone to disease.

One of the most common diseases of the circulatory system is arteriosclerosis, in which the fatty deposits in the arteries causes the walls to stiffen and thicken the walls. For example, 2.6 million people in the UK suffer from narrowing of the heart arteries. According to the Mayo Clinic, the causes are a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other material in the artery walls. This can restrict blood flow or in severe cases stop it all together, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

Stroke involves blockage of the blood vessels to the brain and is another major condition of the circulatory system, according to Mitchell Weinberg of the North Shore-LU Health system.  “Risk factors include smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol,” he noted.

Another circulatory disease, hypertension — commonly called high blood pressure — causes the heart to work harder and can lead to such complications as a heart attack, a stroke, or kidney failure, the NLM noted. Around 75 million American adults, or one in every three adults, have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for disease control and Prevention.

An aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta is damaged and starts to bulge or eventually tear, which can cause severe internal bleeding. This weakness can be present at birth or the result of atherosclerosis, obesity, high blood pressure or a combination of these conditions, according to Weinberg.

Peripheral arterial disease (also known as PAD) typically involves areas of narrowing or blockage within an artery, according to  Jay Radhakrishnan , an interventional radiologist in Houston, Texas. In addition, chronic venous insufficiency (also known as CVI) involves areas reflux (or backward flow) within the superficial veins of the lower extremities.

PAD is diagnosed with noninvasive testing including ultrasound, CT scan and/or MRI. Ultrasound is the least expensive of these methods, but also gives the least amount of detail, as CT and MRI show a much higher degree of anatomic detail when identifying areas of narrowing/blockage within an artery. CVI is diagnosed with ultrasound as the venous reflux can be measured accurately by ultrasound, which ultimately guides treatment.

Dark-Choclolate-Cardio-vascular-disease-and-Polyphenols

Cardiovascular Disease & Polyphenols

Dark-Choclolate-Cardio-vascular-disease-and-PolyphenolsAstoundingly, even small amounts of dark chocolate polyphenols, 30 mg a day or the amount found in a quarter bar of premium dark chocolate, may protect against high blood pressure, according to an 18-week study published this year in JAMA, the flagship publication of the American Medical Association.8 In individuals with mildly elevated blood pressure (130/85 to 139/89 mmHg), those receiving dark chocolate had a small decrease in average blood pressure, by 2.9 mmHg systolic and 1.9 mmHg diastolic. The percentage of this group classified as hypertensive also decreased from 86% to 68%. The group receiving white chocolate had no significant changes.

Although these blood pressure changes may seem small, they could translate to lower rates of stroke and heart attack and improved survival. When the investigators pooled information from their own and other published studies, they found compelling evidence that cocoa helped lower blood pressure.9 Some studies showed a dose-response effect, with greater improvements accompanying intake of larger amounts of dark chocolate polyphenols.9,10

In a Japanese study, individuals with high cholesterol had improvements in beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which protects against cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, as well as reduction in detrimental LDL when consuming a cocoa drink daily for four weeks.

The most important thing is eat it in moderation and with a very healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, berries  and omega 3s. berries are most important because most of them especially the red and purple varieties are rich in polyphenols.

Facts About The Cardiovascular System

Facts About The Cardiovascular System

Introduction Facts About The Cardiovascular System

Facts About The Cardiovascular SystemThe cardiovascular system includes the heart, blood vessels and blood, and is vital for fighting diseases and maintaining homeostasis (proper temperature and pH balance). The system’s main function is to transport blood, nutrients, gases and hormones to and from the cells throughout the body.

Here are 11 fun, interesting and perhaps surprising facts about the circulatory system that you may not know

The circulatory system is extremely long

If you were to lay out all of the arteries, capillaries and veins in one adult, end-to-end, they would stretch about 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers). What’s more, the capillaries, which are the smallest of the blood vessels, would make up about 80 percent of this length.

By comparison, the circumference of the Earth is about 25,000 miles (40,000 km). That means a person’s blood vessels could wrap around the planet approximately 2.5 times!

Red blood cells must squeeze through blood vessels

Capillaries are tiny, averaging about 8 microns (1/3000 inch) in diameter, or about a tenth of the diameter of a human hair. Red blood cells are about the same size as the capillaries through which they travel, so these cells must move in single-file lines.

Some capillaries, however, are slightly smaller in diameter than blood cells, forcing the cells to distort their shapes to press through.

Big bodies have slower heart rates

Across the animal kingdom, heart rate is inversely related to body size: In general, the bigger the animal, the slower its resting heart rate.

An adult human has an average resting heart rate of about 75 beats per minute, the same rate as an adult sheep.

But a blue whale’s heart is about the size of a compact car, and only beats five times per minute. A shrew, on the other hand, has a heart rate of about 1,000 beats per minute.

The heart needs not a body

In a particularly memorable scene in the 1984 film, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” a man rips out another man’s still-beating heart. While easily removing a person’s heart with your bare hand is the stuff of science fiction, the heart actually can still beat after being removed from the body.

This eerie pulsing occurs because the heart generates its own electrical impulses, which cause it to beat. As long as the heart continues to receive oxygen, it will keep going, even if separated from the rest of the body.

People have studied the circulatory system for thousands of years

The earliest known writings on the circulatory system appear in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical document dating to the 16th century B.C. The papyrus is believed to describe a physiological connection between the heart and the arteries, stating that after a person breathes air into the lungs, the air enters the heart and then flows into the arteries. (The work makes no mention of the role of red blood cells.)

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians  were cardiocentric — they believed the heart, rather than the brain, was the source of emotions, wisdom and memory, among other things. In fact, during the mummification process, Egyptians carefully removed and stored the heart and other organs, but ripped out the brain through the nose and discarded it.

Physicians followed an incorrect model of the circulatory system for 1500 years

In the 2nd century, the Greek physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamon came up with a believable model for the circulatory system. He rightly recognized that the system involves venous (dark red) and arterial (bright red) blood, and that the two types have different functions.

However, he also proposed that the circulatory system consists of two one-way systems of blood distribution (rather than a single, unified system), and that the liver produces venous blood that the body consumes. He also thought the heart was a sucking organ, rather than a pumping one.

Galen’s theory reigned in Western medicine until the 1600s, when English physician William Henry correctly described blood circulation.

Red blood cells are special

Unlike most other cells in the body, red blood cells have no nuclei. Lacking this large internal structure, each red blood cell has more room to carry the oxygen the body needs. But without a nucleus, the cells cannot divide or synthesize new cellular components.

After circulating within the body for about 120 days, a red blood cell will die from ageing or damage. But don’t worry — your bone marrow constantly manufactures new red blood cells to replace those that perish.

Self-experimentation led to circulatory breakthroughs

Cardiac catheterization is a common medical procedure used today and involves inserting a catheter (a long, thin tube) into a patient’s blood vessel and threading it to the heart. Doctors can use the technique to perform a number of diagnostic tests on the heart, including measuring oxygen levels in different parts of the organ and checking the blood flow in coronary arteries.

German physician Dr. Werner Forssmann invented the procedure in 1929 — when he performed it on himself.

He convinced a nurse to assist him, but she insisted that he conduct the procedure on her instead. He pretended to agree, and told her to lie on an operating table, where he secured her legs and hands. Then, without her knowledge, he anaesthetized his own left arm. He then pretended to prepare the nurse’s arm for the procedure, until the drug took affect and he was able to insert the catheter into his arm.

Insertion complete (and nurse dismayed), the pair then walked to the X-ray room on the floor below, where Forssmann used a fluoroscope to help guide the catheter 60 centimeters (24 inches) into his heart.

Human blood comes in different colors — but not blue

The oxygen-rich blood that flows through your arteries and capillaries is bright red. After giving up its oxygen to your bodily tissues, your blood becomes dark red as it races back to your heart through your veins.

Although veins may sometimes look blue through your skin,  it is not because your blood is blue. The deceptive color of your veins results from the way different wavelengths of light penetrate your skin, are absorbed and reflect back to your eyes — that is, only high-energy (blue) light can make it all the way to your veins and back.

But that’s not to say blood is never blue. The blood of most mollusks and some arthropods lacks the hemoglobin that gives human blood its redness, and instead contains the protein hemocyanin. This makes these animals’ blood turn dark blue when oxygenated.

Living in space affects the circulatory system

Here on Earth, a person’s blood tends to pool in the legs because of gravity (the leg veins have valves that help to maintain blood flow from the legs back up to the heart).

Things are different in space. Blood instead pools in the chest and head (a phenomenon called fluid shift), causing astronauts to have stuffy noses, headaches and puffy faces. This fluid shift also causes the heart to enlarge so it can handle the increased blood flow in the area surrounding the organ.

Even though the body has the same amount of fluid as before, the brain and other body systems interpret the fluid shift as a sudden increase in overall fluid. In response, the body uses several different processes to get rid of excess fluid, resulting in an overall reduction in circulating blood volume.

Powerful Polyphenols

Powerful Polyphenols

Berries Powerful-polyphenolsAs with all antioxidants, a polyphenol deficiency can lead to excess oxidative stress, which causes cellular ageing. In the long term, this increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.

Recent compelling evidence reveals that a powerful way to protect ageing arteries is to consume more plant polyphenols.

Published studies show how polyphenol compounds help improve endothelial function, which is a critical factor in preventing atherosclerosis. Polyphenols have also been shown to inhibit the abnormal platelet aggregation that cause most sudden heart attacks and strokes, while fighting inflammation and supporting healthy blood lipids.

Throughout history, wellness enthusiasts have celebrated the medicinal potential of plants, looking to these botanical allies to promote vitality and restore good health. Modern science has borne out these theories, showing that edible plants are to be valued not only for their high vitamin and fibre content but also for their rich store of polyphenols—antioxidant compounds that give plants some of their colour, flavour, and healing qualities. Polyphenols are found in fruits and vegetables such as the blueberry. A number of studies show that consuming polyphenols from a variety of sources may be more beneficial to your health than limiting ourselves to plants foods typically found in the Western diet.

A recent study on a trial anti-inflammatory drug, canakinumab, reported a 15% increase in protection against recurring heart attach or other cardiovascular related illnesses.  It was said that it could be the biggest breakthrough since statins! However some scientists are questioning its efficacy and get this – in the trial it showed an increased risk in potentially fatal infections! So not so great maybe. I certainly will not be rushing to give it a try, Just compare this risk to the beginning of this blog. If we eat food containing POLYPHENOLs they will give us a 30% increase in protection against cardiovascular disease. So once again Hypocrites was right we should let food by our medicine and medicine be our food. We all need these amazing polyphenols more than ever, and we need to have the whole variety to get the best protection. Frozen berries are great for the dark colours but the best way to get top protection is to take a whole food supplement with a great variety as a foundation and to bridge the gap in what we do actually  eat every day.

Once Again Juice Plus+ capsules come out top? How do we know because Juice Plus+ Vegan capsules have been tested and they contain over 600mgs of polyphenols.  There are more in the berry blend but several studies have shown that the polyphenols found in white fruits and veg help increase the power and the benefits of the polyphenols from berries.   The more science reveals and the more we understand about nutrition and health. At each new set of information we get confirmation that variety is the key. we need thousands of minute amounts of nutrients not  large amounts of a few. This is why Juice Plus+ comes out on top and is a  powerful tool to help us attain and sustain great health

What Are High Triglyceride Levels?

Trigliceride Levels

Do you have high triglyceride levels? If you do, you’re hardly alone. Overall, more than a third of adults in the U.S. have high triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood.

Although it’s a common problem, many of us don’t know the first thing about high triglyceride . Studies have consistently linked high triglycerides levels with heart disease, heart attacks and stroke, especially in people with low levels of “good” HDL Cholesterol and in those with  Type II Diabetes.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can do on your own to lower triglycerides and improve health.

First, find out if your triglycerides are high. Then, find out what to do about it.

Know Your Triglyceride Numbers

Here are the levels, based on a  fasting blood test.

  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
  • Very High: 500 mg/dL or above

When your triglyceride levels are too high, you may not have symptoms. It’s a “silent” problem with big implications, such as a four-fold increase in the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke.

A simple blood test is all it takes to check your  triglyceride levels. If they’re too high, you can get them back under control, often by changing your daily habits.

If you already know that your triglyceride levels are too high, the actions you take now might even save your life.

Triglycerides and Blood Sugar

Having high triglycerides could be a sign that you’re becoming insulin-resistant, which means your body isn’t using insulin  (a hormone that controls blood sugar properly.)

When insulin doesn’t do its job, glucose can’t get into your cells. That raises your sugar levels, which can lead to pre-diabetes and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.