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Walking more 'would save thousands' of lives in the UK

Tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year in the UK if people got off the sofa and stretched their legs more, say charities.
The "Walking Works" report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support said walking was a free activity which could transform people's health.
Being physically active decreases the odds of heart problems and stroke.
But it also makes a difference in other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and many cancers.
Last week a British Medical Journal study showed that exercise was as good a medicine as pills for some conditions including heart diseases and another study showed walking at least an hour a day significantly cut the risk of breast cancer.

What is moderate physical activity?

UK chief medical officers recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
That's enough to make the heart beat faster while still being able to readily have a conversation.
It includes walking, cycling and gardening.
The latest report said that if everyone, in England alone, did the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise every week it would:
  • Save 37,000 lives each year
  • Prevent 6,700 cases of breast cancer
  • Stop 4,700 people getting colorectal cancer
  • Lead to nearly 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
The two charities run the Walking for Health programme in an attempt to get more people up on their feet.
Benedict Southworth, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: "We're facing a serious crisis of inactivity, but there is a simple solution,
"We need to see greater investment in initiatives which support and promote walking as the most accessible and affordable way for people to get active."
Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "For cancer patients, being active can help manage some of the debilitating consequences of treatment and can even help reduce the chance of some cancers returning.
"Inactivity is a nationwide epidemic that must be tackled now before it is too late."
Public Health England said inactivity had "life threatening consequences".
Its director of health and wellbeing Prof Kevin Fenton said: "Inactivity increases the risk of serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
"It makes it more likely that people will be overweight or obese. Supporting people to get active through walking can be a major part of the solution."

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24396352

6 Quick Heart-Healthy Habits

Cutting your risk for cardiovascular disease doesn't necessarily require a total lifestyle overhaul. Many heart-healthy habits are surprisingly easy to adopt.
"There are plenty of small changes you can make in your day that can have a big impact on your heart health," said Dr. Richard Becker, a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
Here are six quick fixes that can help your heart:

Do Your Ohm Work
Research supports the idea that yoga can help reduce such cardiovascular risks as insulin resistance, high blood pressure and blood vessel inflammation. For the 2.7 million Americans diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in which the heart's upper chambers flutter randomly instead of contracting normally, yoga may be especially helpful.
A new Washington University School of Medicine study found that AF patients who did yoga in addition to taking medication reported half the number of heart quivers compared with patients who only took meds. While not a cure for AF, regular yoga practice -- at least twice a week for three months -- also improved the subjects' heart health by easing anxiety levels and significantly lowering resting heart rates.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be yoga. Any way you reduce stress is good for the heart," Becker said.

Be a Friend
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but togetherness strengthens heart health.
Having a close relationship with another person, be it a friend, lover or relative is so heartwarming it can halve the risk of a heart attack in someone who has already had a heart attack, a 2004 heart study suggests. And one State University of New York at Oswego investigation found that blood pressure dropped when one spent time with a spouse or partner.
Becker pointed out that whether in pairs or in groups, engaging with other people does seem to help the heart, though it's not exactly known why.
"It could be that secure social ties lead to better health habits and less depression," he said. "It could also be due to neurological and hormonal changes that lessen stress and anxiety."
Toxic associations do the heart no favors, though. In one 12-year study, British civil servants in bad relationships were 34 percent more likely to have heart attacks or heart trouble than those in happier relationships.

Indulge in the Dark
It's no accident that chocolate hearts are associated with Valentine's Day.
Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of cocoa. Intake of this anti-oxidant rich substance appears to relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.
Just don't get carried away. Becker said that a single 1.5 ounce serving of the sweet stuff will bestow all its heart-healthy benefits without adding an overabundance of fat, sugar or calories to your diet.

Take a Break
When researchers from the University of South Carolina analyzed the daily movement patterns of adult men, they found that those who were the least active throughout the day had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease compared with men who reported living a less sedentary lifestyle.
Spending too much time rooted to the couch or chair may pack on unhealthy fat around the heart and lead to less desirable levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and waist size, research suggests. This appears to be true even for people who maintain a regular exercise routine.
However, taking even short breaks can counteract some of sitting's negative impact on heart health, one European Heart Journal report found. Becker agreed.
"Taking advantage of opportunities to move has benefits that are well documented," he said. "Any effort is good, and all efforts count."

Have a Hearty Salad
Amp up salads with good-for-the-heart ingredients. Start with a base of leafy greens, an excellent source of vitamins and phytochemicals associated with a lower risk of heart disease and depression. Toss in a half cup of steamed asparagus or a couple of slices of avocado. These are two veggies packed with folate, a vitamin that helps head off blood-vessel inflammation. To lower LDL, or "bad cholesterol," swap out the croutons for a handful of almonds or cranberries. Finally, top it all off with a vinaigrette dressing. Harvard research suggests two tablespoons daily can cut the risk of heart disease in women.

Dream On
Too much or too little sleep can hurt your heart.
Findings released last year by Chicago Medical School suggest that people who catch fewer than six hours of Zs a night are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack, and one-and-a-half times more likely to have congestive heart failure, whereas people who slumber more than eight hours a night are more likely to experience chest pain and coronary artery disease.
Not enough shut-eye seems to trigger the nervous system to release high levels of "fight-or-flight" stress hormones that raise blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. Short sleepers also tend to be heavier, which can take a toll on the heart.
While it's not clear why hitting the snooze button once too often affects the heart, some studies indicate oversleepers may be susceptible to depression and unmotivated to exercise. Or they may run out of time and energy to keep up with heart-friendly habits.
"Somewhere around eight hours seems optimal," Becker acknowledged. "But sleep alone won't necessarily impact heart health unless it's put in context with nutrition, activity, stress management and all of your other health habits."

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/

Are There Any Diet Pills That Are Safe For The Heart?

Question: Several years ago some types of diet pills were removed from the market because of side effects. Are there any diet pills that are safe for the heart?

Answer: There are only two FDA-approved diet pills. One is orlistat, which comes in two forms -- it comes in a prescription form under the name Xenical and it comes in an over-the-counter form called Alli. And it basically blocks absorption of fat. And it's generally safe because it isn't absorbed into the body, but it can, if you eat a high-fat diet, give you diarrhea.
The second one is Meridia as the brand name, or sibutramine. It can increase blood pressure. So for people who already have heart disease, they should not use this product. And blood pressure needs to be monitored carefully with the use of this product.

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/

Are There Any Foods That I Should Avoid Because They Might Increase My Risk Of Developing Heart Disease?

Question: Are there any foods that I should avoid because they might increase my risk of developing heart disease?

Answer: The foods that can increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease tend to be those that are high in saturated and trans fatty acids. That means fats of the animal origin -- so, meats, fat that's in meat, fat that's in dairy. There are lots of different alternatives because now we have leaner cuts of meats that are available, which you really should be choosing, and low or non-fat dairy products.
And then the other fat that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease is trans fatty acids. And those tend to occur in foods that are made with partially hydrogenated fat, so those would be your commercially fried and baked products. Fortunately, there is a big effort to decrease the use of partially hydrogenated fats, and also, the FDA has mandated that there's labeling on food packages.
So it's relatively easy at this point to choose foods that are not made with partially hydrogenated fats and choose foods that are lower in fat in terms of animal fat -- meat and dairy -- and instead use vegetable oils that are unsaturated.

Source :  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/

How Many Portions Of Fruits And Vegetables Should I Eat A Day?

Question: How many portions of fruits and vegetables should I eat a day?

Answer: Well, the general recommendation is that you should consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I think, in general, though the serving size is relatively modest; a cup of leafy greens, a half cup of other types of fruit.
So I would shoot for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. If you go up closer to ten, you'll probably be better off; in addition to which, if you're eating more fruits and vegetables, then you're eating less of things that probably you should not be eating a lot of. Things like certain snack food that might be high in calories, salt, saturated fat.
So I would say minimum of five, as many as you can eat, and always pick the ones you enjoy. Don't worry about the specific types at this point.

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/


Best and Worst Foods for Sex

It can take more than just a few candles and a Marvin Gaye song to feel sexy. A healthy lifestyle—from the food you eat to the exercise you do—can make you look and feel better, and improve your sex life, too. At the same time, some foods can be mood- and libido-killers.

"The link between food and sex drive isn’t just wishful thinking" says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of S.A.S.S Yourself Slim. "Studies show that certain foods or nutrients do play a role in boosting libido and supporting a healthy sex life."

Here are a variety of foods that can put some sizzle—or fizzle—in your sex life.

Strawberries (best)

We'll say it: Strawberries are sexy. Here's why. Good circulation is thought to be crucial for sexual functioning in both men and women, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants that benefit your heart and arteries.

What's more, they're rich in vitamin C, which along with antioxidants, has been linked to higher sperm counts in men. Try dipping the berries in dark chocolate, which contains methylxanthines that may activate the libido.

Try this recipe: Merlot Strawberries with Whipped Cream

Avocados (best)

These superfruits are rich in vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties, potassium, and vitamin B6, which may prevent or delay heart disease and promote better blood flow.

They're also a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Anything that helps your heart and circulation can also be critical for a healthy sex life. Men with heart disease are twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction because both conditions can result from artery damage.

Try this recipe: Seared Chicken With Avocado


Almonds (best)

Almonds contain zinc, selenium, and vitamin E, which are vitamins and minerals that seem to be important for sexual health and reproduction.

Selenium can help with infertility issues and, with vitamin E, may help heart health. Zinc is a mineral that helps produce men's sex hormones and can boost libido.

Blood flow is important for your sex organs, so choosing good fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in almonds, is a good idea.

Try this recipe: Salmon with Maple Syrup and Toasted Almonds


Sweet potatoes (best)

Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, which helps fight high blood pressure, which is associated with a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

They're also rich in beta-carotene, providing the body with vitamin A, which is suspected (but not proven) to be helpful for those with infertility.

Sesame seeds (best)

Zinc is thought to be good for sexual health (it can help testosterone and sperm production in men) and the No. 1 source is oysters. But really, how often do you eat oysters? Another source: Sesame seeds, says Sass.

Mix them into granola or sprinkle them into a healthy stir-fry, she says.

Some breakfast cereals also contain zinc, such as Kellogg's All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes. One serving (3/4 cup) has more than 100% of the recommended daily intake.

Try this recipe: Sesame Seed-Crusted Salmon Burger with Yogurt Sauce


Watermelon (best)

This popular summer fruit is low in calories, but also high in potentially libido-boosting phytonutrients.

In 2008, Texas A&M research suggested that the lycopene, citrulline, and beta-carotene found in watermelon may help relax blood vessels, and provide a natural enhancement for revving up your sex drive.

Try this recipe: Grilled Watermelon, Mint, and Feta

Steak (worst)

While meat does provide protein and zinc, meat also tends to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. A meat-heavy diet is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, health conditions that can affect blood circulation and sexual function.

What's more, a small study published in 2006 in Chemical Senses suggested that eating meat, may result in, ahem, a less attractive body odor. In the study, 17 men ate either a meat or non-meat diet for two weeks and then switched. Women were asked to rate their attractiveness based on smell alone (from armpit pads worn by the men), and they tended to prefer non-meat eaters.

Fatty foods (worst)

Many fried and fast foods have high levels of "bad fats," such as saturated and trans fat, which can negatively affect your heart and impede blood flow due to a a build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries.

What’s more, fried potatoes, such as French fries, have been associated (along with other foods) with a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, which is known to cause sexual health problems in both men and women.

Sass says the type of oil used to fry the food is key. "If it’s fried in partially hydrogenated oil it would have trans fat (worse than saturated fat)," she says. "If it was fried in a liquid plant oil, the (food) may be very low in saturated fat."

 Source: http://www.health.com/



5 Reasons to Try a Vegetarian Diet

Even if you're not interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of reasons to up your intake of plant-based meals. In my private practice, more of my clients are experimenting with meatless cuisine than ever before, and they're reaping the rewards. Here are five powerful benefits to embracing your inner herbivore–even part-time. 

Reasons to Try a Vegetarian Diet

Weight loss
In an Oxford University study of nearly 38,000 adults, researchers found that meat-eaters tended to have the highest body mass index (BMI) for their age and vegans the lowest, with vegetarians and semi-vegetarians in between. Another published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared over 10,000 vegetarians and nonvegetarians, and found that BMI values were higher in nonvegetarians in all age groups for both genders. In addition, weight gain over a 5-year period was lowest among people who adopted a diet containing fewer animal foods.
The reason? Plant-based meals tend to be richer in antioxidants and fiber, which are both tied to weight loss, and researchers have seen an increase in calorie burn after vegan meals. Just be sure your veggie-derived meals are made from whole, nutrient-rich foods, not processed "junk food" like vegan versions of hot dogs, cookies, and donuts. 

Better health
A study out this year, the largest yet to compare heart disease rates between vegetarians and meat eaters, found that a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease (the No.1 killer of both men and women) by a third. Another 2013 study, from researchers at Loma Linda University, followed over 70,000 adults in their mid to upper 50s, and found that over a six year period, the death rate from all causes was 12 percent lower for vegetarians than for meat eaters. And according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, vegetarian and vegan diets significantly reduce cancer risk, including stomach, colon, pancreatic, breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
In addition to these long-term health benefits, I've seen immediate improvements among my clients in cholesterol profiles, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, immunity, and digestive health. Many have also reported fewer aches and pains, likely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of consuming more plant foods, which may also fight aging, as well as conditions like Alzheimer's.

Improve your mood
In addition to transforming your body, eating more plants can have a powerful impact on your mind. In a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, nearly 300 young adults completed daily food diaries for three weeks, which included mood ratings. Scientists found that a higher intake of produce resulted in more energy, calmness, and greater feelings of happiness, effects that positively impacted the volunteers not only on the days they ate fruits and veggies, but also throughout the following day.
According to the latest data, roughly 75 percent of Americans fall short of the minimum recommended five daily servings of produce. Eating more plant-based meals can help fill the gap, and then some.

Look better
In my previous post about how to get gorgeous skin, I shared research about how a higher intake of produce can literally create a healthy glow, because antioxidants improve circulation, and alter skin pigment.
Eating more fresh, raw veggies can also help you avoid nasty substances called advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, which are produced when food is cooked to high temperatures using dry heat. AGEs have been tied to premature aging, wrinkles, and in a recent animal study, an increase in belly fat.

Better sex
Eating more veggie-based meals can help you shrink your shape, and studies show that losing just 10 pounds is enough to boost sex hormones and improve your love life. In addition, the most powerful libido-boosting foods are plant-based (check out our list of libido-boosting foods). And avoiding meat may be the key to improving your "aromatic appeal."
A Czech study compared body odor pads collected from meat-eating and non-meat eating men, and found that samples from the latter group were rated as significantly more attractive and pleasant.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.