lf you’ve live in an old house (or mature house) for a long time, you probably understand the frustration of having to repair leaky pipes, rusting pipes, root strangled pipes, or rotting wood, termite-infested wood, peeling paint on wood, or possibly loose roof shingles, hail-damaged shingles, or critter chewed shingles. You get the picture, right? After years of wear and tear our bodies also start to leak, ooze, slow down, strain, pain, creak and groan. Aging is inevitable, but certain medical tests can help alert us to the danger that is yet to come so we can better improve our nutrition and/or lifestyle.
Put these six tests/exams on your “to do” list and help prevent some potentially dangerous medical conditions.
- High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is commonly referred to as the silent killer. You might have high blood pressure and not feel any symptoms. But hypertension could be causing lots of damage without your knowing it.High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood passing through blood vessels is above normal. The increase in pressure forces the blood to hit the blood vessel walls. It is usually a result of a combination of stress, high cholesterol, inflammation and sticky blood platelets. Insulin resistance—also known as metabolic syndrome—and too much body fat are major contributing factors, and heavy metal toxicity is another culprit.
The circulatory system is made up of the heart, blood and blood vessels. Arteries carry blood away from the left side of the heart to capillaries—the smaller vessels—throughout the body. The veins carry “used” blood from the capillaries back to the right side of the heart via the lungs, where the blood is oxygenated. This fresh blood is then pumped back to the left side of the heart, and the cycle continues.
When your doctor takes your blood pressure, he/she is measuring the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. The heart contracts and relaxes during each heartbeat. When it contracts, the blood is being pumped out of the two ventricles (chambers) and your blood pressure goes up. Systolic pressure (the top number in the blood pressure reading) is the peak reading of the pressure produced by this contraction. When the heart relaxes, blood fills the ventricles and your blood pressure goes down. The diastolic pressure (the bottom number in the blood pressure reading) measures the pressure between the beats as the heart relaxes.
What’s normal blood pressure?
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (a division of the Institutes of Health), normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less.
|Categories for blood pressure levels in adults (in mmHg, or millimeters of mercury
What can go wrong with your circulation?
Arteries can constrict due to inflammation, build-of plaque, constriction of blood vessels, and the formation of blood clots leading to:
- Heart attack
Natural remedies to support healthy blood pressure and circulation:
- Vitamins B6, B12, C
- Vitamin E complex
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
2. When is the last time you had a full-body dermatology screening? Your skin is the largest organ in the body and is constantly bombarded with pollutants from air, water, cosmetics, and radiation from computers, TVs, and UV radiation from the sun. Please make an appointment with a dermatologist soon! Don’t put it off. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can strike unexpectedly and spread quickly. A dermatology exam might very well save your life. It’s a good idea to ask your friends and family for a referral. Dermatologists might get a similar education, but the technique for doing biopsies can vary greatly from one doctor to another. A doctor my friends and I used to see would get “scalpel happy” in removing tissue, warts, moles, etc., which sometimes left a painful incision or unsightly scar. Newer, less invasive techniques are available, so do your homework before you let anyone take a scalpel to your skin.
Natural ways to support skin health
- Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, especially orange and yellow which are rich in beta-carotene
- Vitamins C, E and A curb the damage caused by free radicals
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke
- Use sun protection (hats, long sleeves, sun block) and avoid mid-day sun during the summer
3. Get an annual eye exam. Eye conditions can put you at risk for permanent vision loss and other serious illnesses. Regular checkups will help your doctor detect common eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, making them more treatable.
Taking care of the eyes throughout your lifetime will not only extend the ability to see clearly, but having regular eye exams is vital to ensure overall health. There are many diseases which are not of the eyes, but will exhibit symptoms which affect vision. Diabetes and hypertension can adversely affect the eyes. And other diseases such as thyroid disease and certain autoimmune diseases, as well as medications like Viagra®, can cause eye-related issues.
Nutritional support for the eyes
- Vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids all play a role in eye health. They can help prevent cataracts, clouding of your eye lens. They may also fight the most-likely cause of vision loss when you’re older: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are rich in antioxidants that protect against eye damage from sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. These leafy greens are loaded with two of the best for eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Get a full panel blood screening including the following:
4. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is an inflammatory biomarker that can be predictive of future risk of heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and the development of peripheral arterial disease. Individuals with elevated levels of CRP have a risk about 2 to 3 times higher than the risk of those with low levels.
Natural ways to reduce CRP
- Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables,
- Foods high in fiber
- Coenzyme Q10
- Tumeric, an excellent anti-inflammatory
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3-fatty acids
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is made in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. The problem is, if you live at latitude of 42 degrees (a line approximately between the northern border of California and Boston) the sun’s rays are too low between November and February for your skin to get the sunlight needed for cutaneous vitamin D synthesis. If you live at latitude below 34 degrees north (a line between Los Angeles and Columbia, South Carolina) your body can make vitamin D from sun exposure year-long. However, it’s important to expose a large portion of bare skin (like your midriff) to mid-day sun for at least 15 minutes every day. Most people are unable to fit this into their schedule, so vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended, especially since so few foods contain it.
The highest levels of vitamin D are naturally found in farmers who spend a lot of time outdoors and in people who take vacations or live in areas that are sunny and warm in winter. But most people, and especially the elderly, are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is especially common in the elderly. Researchers have found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and low mood, depression and worse cognitive performance in older adults. In a recent study, 1618 patients who averaged 73.8 years old were tested for vitamin D deficiency. Those with severe vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to suffer from depression.
Adequate vitamin D is believed to play a role in the reduction of falls, as well as supporting cardiovascular health, a strong immune system and cognitive function. Higher vitamin D intake is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to research done at the Angers University Hospital in France. Another recent study at the VA medical center in Minneapolis found that low vitamin D levels among older women are associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and a higher risk of cognitive decline. Babies born with low levels of vitamin D may be more likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life than babies with higher levels of vitamin D, according to a study published in the November 30, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease, cognitive function.Recent studies have suggested that women and men who increase their vitamin D intake above 400 IU of vitamin D a day reduce risk of developing multiple sclerosis by approximately 40%. Also, scientists theorize that one of the reasons that influenza occurs in the wintertime is that we do not manufacture enough vitamin D, and the resulting vitamin D deficiency might promote our susceptibility to the flu virus.
How much is enough?
*According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition (March 9, 2009) adults need at least four times the current recommended dose of 600 IU of vitamin D. In 2008 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doubled its recommended minimum intake for infants, children and teens from 200 IU to 400 IU per day.
6. Zinc – is a mineral that occurs in animal tissue, and in plants when they grow on rich soil. It is important for various enzyme reactions, for the reproduction system, and for the manufacture of body protein. Zinc is vital to a healthy immune system, and yet, most Americans are deficient in this important antioxidant nutrient which:
- is necessary for protein synthesis and wound healing
- is vital for the development of the reproductive organs, prostate functions and male hormone activity
- governs the contractibility of muscles
- is important for blood stability
- maintains the body’s alkaline balance
- helps in normal tissue function
- aids in the digestion and metabolism of phosphorus
A deficiency of zinc may result in delayed sexual maturity, prolonged healing of wounds, white spots on finger nails, retarded growth, stretch marks, fatigue, decreased alertness, and susceptibility to infections. So make sure you are getting enough zinc in your diet.
Foods high in zinc
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Wheat germ
- Sesame seeds (tahini)
If you choose to take a zinc supplement, make sure it contains some copper. Zinc and copper work together to help control metabolism and rid the body of free radicals.
How much to take?
Men and women men respectively need 11 and 8 milligrams of zinc daily, according to the Linus Pauling institute, and all adults need 900 micrograms of copper.
So do yourself and your loved ones a big favor. Be vigilant and responsible for your health. Your life and your family depend on it.