Quick Takes: Tips for Better Heart Health Now
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Heart
It’s possible that one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to help protect against heart disease is at home in your bathroom: a toothbrush and dental floss. Although the evidence isn’t entirely clear, periodontal infections, or gum disease, have long been thought to be related to cardiovascular disease. Research suggests that there is a connection between the amount of bacteria produced in your mouth and where it ends up in your body after entering the bloodstream. One study showed that people who had higher levels of bacteria in their mouth were more likely to have plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in the carotid artery.
This bacteria is thought to enter the bloodstream through the gums and adhere to the plaques in the arteries, contributing to the narrowing of the arteries. Another theory is that the presence of the bacteria triggers inflammation, which is the body’s response to foreign substances, that can cause illness. This inflammation and swelling could also contribute to the narrowing of vessels and possibly cause blood clots to form in the arteries. Although the research hasn’t definitively drawn the connection between oral health and heart health, taking care of your teeth can always be considered a healthy activity. After all, no one wants gum disease, cavities, or a tooth extraction. And if the benefits of having healthy teeth and gums might include improving heart health and even minimizing the possible risk of heart disease, there is no reason not to include a regular brushing and flossing schedule in your daily routine.
Garlic Wards Off Heart Disease
A recent study published in the Journal for Agricultural and Food Chemistry has demonstrated that the use of garlic oil may help prevent cardiovascular disease in diabetics. Diabetes remains one of the major risk factors when predicting heart disease; diabetics have twice the risk of presenting with heart disease compared with nondiabetics. They are also especially susceptible to a form of heart disease called diabetic cardiomyopathy, which causes inflammation and weakening of the heart tissue. While some studies have shown that garlic may be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels, none of those studies researched its effects on heart disease. Because blood sugar levels can affect the body’s cholesterol levels, the researchers guessed that garlic oil has a beneficial effect on heart disease.
A group of diabetic test mice that received garlic oil showed positive changes that indicated they would be less susceptible to having heart disease in the future; the mice that received corn oil did not show these positive changes. At the study’s conclusion, the researchers noted that there were many substances in the garlic oil that could have contributed to the healthful outcomes.
Multivitamins and Women
We are bombarded with advertising for multivitamins and nutritional supplements, but do they really help alleviate heart disease? For 10 years, a group of researchers tracked more than 33,000 women to see if there was any connection between taking a multivitamin and heart disease. About 2,000 women in the study had a history of heart disease; the others did not. The women were between the ages of 49 and 83 at the beginning of the study. For the group of women who did not have heart disease, there was a 27 percent decrease in risk for heart disease if they were taking the multivitamin. For the group of women who’d had a heart attack, there was almost no difference in risk of a second event whether or not they took the multivitamin. At the end of 10 years, the women who had been taking the multivitamin had decreased their general risk for a heart attack by 41 percent. However, the results may also be affected by the fact that women who take a multivitamin typically have better health habits, and may be less likely to be obese
or sedentary, or smoke.
Dark Chocolate For Your Heart
You don’t need to deprive yourself of all of your favorite treats, as long as you choose wisely and use them in moderation. When choosing a chocolate, go for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. The flavonols, a type of antioxidant, that are present in cocoa may indirectly help to lower blood pressure (in addition to the fact that milk chocolate has a greater amount of sugar than dark chocolate) and improve blood flow.
Until Next Week….Thank you for reading this weeks letter.
To Your Heart Health,