This month is a perfect time to change your routine and pick up a handful of nuts instead of the usual bag of chips, and celebrate Heart Health month.
Nuts are an awesome snack that frequently get passed over for a bag of chips or some other type of junk food. I remember growing up and going to my grandmother’s house, where there was always a bowl of fresh assorted nuts (in shell) and a nutcracker next to the bowl on the table. Not only were the nuts delicious, but it was fun getting them open.
Nowadays, nuts fall under the banner of trendy food that gets buzzed from time to time on one of the many social media channels, but many people still tend to ignore this classic healthy snack that’s nutrient dense with healthy fats, fiber, polysterols, vitamin E, and L-arginine[i].
Many studies have concluded that increased nut consumption is associated with lower cardiovascular risk factors[ii] and lower mortality rates[iii]. In fact, specific types of nuts may be better than others when it comes to lowering cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, as one recent study by Guasch-Ferré M, et al. suggests. In their research they concluded that cardiovascular disease could be reduced by 13% - 19% and the risk of coronary heart disease could be diminished as much as 15% - 23% by consuming peanuts and tree nuts (2 or more times/week) and walnuts (1 or more times/week).[iv]
Why nuts you ask?
Nuts happen to be in the category of super-foods. Mostly known for their protein, but they also have a lot of heart healthy nutrients that can assist in heart health and possibly aid in lowering cholesterol.
Here are two nutrients found in nuts that are clearly supported by research in lowering cardiovascular disease:
Essential fatty acids Nuts are a superb source of “healthy fat” from monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which include Omega 7 and 9. Research has shown MUFAS to be associated with weight loss[v],[vi], lowering total and LDL cholesterol, as well as, influencing insulin levels. The nuts with the highest levels of MUFAS are Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and pistachios. Most nuts also contain n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are also considered healthy fats in extreme moderation. PUFAs also have a positive effect on decreasing LDL and triglycerides.
Dietary fiber Increased amounts of dietary fiber has been related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease[vii],[viii], but these studies did not include fiber from nuts. Aside from the lack of specific studies including nut sources of dietary fiber, nuts are still a great source of this necessary nutrient, which make them a healthy bet.
Nuts are an incredible snack, jam packed with healthy nutrients that fill you up and provide cardioprotective benefits, mainly in the form of cholesterol lowering properties. Eaten in moderation nuts are an important addition to your diet so you can enjoy life longer!
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (FSV), and should be taken with a meal that contains a small amount of dietary fat, because it attaches to the fat molecules, which transport it through the body.
Research shows that vitamin D is better absorbed when taken with the evening meal, which tends to be the largest and fattiest meal of the day. This same study also concluded that serum levels of vitamin D (25(OH)D) were increased by as much as 50% when supplemented in this fashion.[i]
The absorption of vitamin D can be inhibited by other FSV, because they use the same metabolic pathways and compete for the same fat molecules[ii]; so it is best to separate dosages by several hours.
1. Eat right - Diet is crucial in maintaining a healthy state. You want to eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruits in a 2:1 ratio. Include good fats, meat in moderation (free range, antibiotic & hormone - free), limited or no dairy, an anti-inflammatory diet, cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, and legumes. Limit alcohol intake.
2. Manage stress - This is a big problem for Americans, because they love to create stressful situations. Find positive ways to deal with these situations . . . in the moment. This can be done with deep breathing exercises, meditation, physical exercise, calming music, etc. Find what works for you.
3. Quit smoking - Smoking causes vaso-constriction of blood vessels, and limits blood & oxygen flow to the periphery. Two different studies have found that there is a direct correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked per day, the duration of the smoking habit and increased risk of ED. (1,2)
4. Lose weight - If you're over weight, make an effort to drop those pounds and get into shape. Studies show that both smoking and obesity are contributing factors for increased risk of ED. (3)
5. A good night's rest - Good sleep is very important for health in general, but specifically for ED, because it helps maintain optimal levels of testosterone.
4 Exercises to Improve Sexual Health
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What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises help improve the tone of the pelvic floor by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles (PC muscles), which stretch from the pubic bone to the coccx (tail bone). These muscles become weakened and lose their tone with age. They can also be debilitated by prostate surgery, which leads to incontinence.
What’s the function of PC Muscles?
How do I find the PC muscles?
The easiest way to locate these muscles is to perform a simple test: While urinating, interrupt the flow of urine at midstream. Be sure not to tense the buttocks, thighs, or stomach, because they can easily override the PC muscles. To make sure you’ve located the right muscles, you should feel your testicles start to rise when contracting the PC muscles.
How do you do Kegel exercises?
The exercises can be done in any position, but lying down on the floor may be the easiest for a beginner. Locate and contract the muscles, holding them for 5 seconds, then relax for 3 seconds. This constitutes one exercise. While doing the exercise be sure to breathe normally.
At first, only do a few exercises throughout the day until you feel confident you’re doing them correctly. Gradually build – up the number of repetitions you do with the end goal of doing 20 exercises 3 – 4 times every day. Remember, this is like working any other muscle in the body; it takes time to build strength and tone. It may take up to 2 weeks before you see results, and up to 6 weeks to fully strengthen and tone the muscles.
Things to remember when doing the exercise
Kegel exercises are useful in cases of erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, urinary incontinence, and prolapse.
Click here to see an animated video on how to perform the Kegel exercise.
Read more about erectile dysfunction
Discover 4 Exercises to Improve Sexual Health
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
1. Physical activity (aerobic) – A recent study of randomized American men aged 50-85 demonstrated that 30 minutes of physical activity every day can drastically reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) by as much as 43%.[i] Physical activity improves circulation and oxygen diffusion into the blood. Moderate – vigorous activity can include: walking, hiking, golf (carrying or wheeling clubs, using a stair climbing machine, weight training, jogging, bicycling, tennis, etc.[ii]
2. Tai Chi – This is an ancient exercise that focuses on breathing and movement. It also has many health benefits that contribute to improved reproductive functioning such as : improving muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning.[iii]
3. Yoga – Yoga is especially beneficial to health and sexual function, because it calms the nervous system, regulates breathing and other bodily functions, increases stamina, increases circulation in general, but particularly to the pelvic area, and reduces stress. Here are 5 asanas (poses) that can benefit ED: Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation), Vajrasanna (Thunderbolt pose), Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee pose), Paschimotanasana (Seated Forward Bend pose), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle pose).[iv]
4. Kegel exercises – At home, you can do these exercises which help improve pelvic floor tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscle, which supports the bowel and bladder, and has an effect on sexual functions. This exercise is useful in cases of ED, premature ejaculation, urinary incontinence, and prolapse.
Read more about erectile dysfunction
Click here to see an animated video on how to perform the Kegel exercise.
According to the CDC, 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack every year. This breaks down into 525,000 people having their first heart attack, and 210,000 suffering their second attack.
Heart attack symptoms can include:
Comprehensive Cardiac panel includes:
If you think you're experiencing the onset of a heart attack, chew a single tablet of 325mg non-enteric coated aspirin and call 911.
It’s very likely that your doctor didn’t tell you this, but if you are taking a stain drug, especially long-term use, it’s very important that you also supplement with CoQ10 (ubiquinol). The reason for this is due to the mechanism by which statin drugs lower cholesterol.
Statin drugs lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which converts to HMG-CoA, and then mevalonate (from mevalonic acid); which is the precursor to ubiquinone (CoQ10) and cholesterol.
Past research demonstrates that by inhibiting the biosynthesis of cholesterol you disrupt the endogenous production of CoQ10,[i] which is a vital nutrient needed for cardiovascular health. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report that warned the public and doctors of statin induced CoQ10 depletion, and doctors should recommend their patients supplement with CoQ10.[ii]
If a person, especially over the age of 45, is already CoQ10 deficient and they’re taking a statin, there is a greater cause for concern for developing myocardial dysfunction. CoQ10 deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly congestive heart Failure.[iii]
CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant, so it reduces oxidative stress by attacking pro-inflammatory cytokines. It has been found to inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and thereby decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis. It also plays a crucial role in the production of cellular energy within the mitochondria, and for this reason is very important for cells with a high energy requirements like those found in the heart.[iv]
Previous studies have also shown that CoQ10 supplementation increases serum CoQ10 levels that have been reduced by statin drugs,[v] Research has also shown that CoQ10 decreases blood viscosity and reduces hypertension.[vi],[vii]
Even though CoQ10 can be found in dietary sources, the quantity of the nutrient is not sufficient to elicit a therapeutic response. Therefore, it is required to supplement orally with a high quality form of CoQ10 available from your physician.
There are two forms of CoQ10 available to consumers, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. It’s recommended that you take the ubiquinol form, because it's the form your body uses and is more easily absorbed.
One last note, DO NOT supplement CoQ10 on your own, because there are known drug – supplement interactions, and effectiveness is dose dependent; so please consult with your acupuncturist on these matters, or your treating physician.
If you're interested in buying high-quality COQ10 from a reputable company, we recommend Thorne Research.
Enjoy quick and convenient delivery of pharmaceutical grade COQ10 to your home.
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[i] Smith, Colleen M., Allan D. Marks, M. A. Lieberman, Dawn B. Marks, and Dawn B. Marks. Marks' Basic Medical Biochemistry: A Clinical Approach. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. 635-43. Print.
[ii] Langsjoen PH1, Langsjoen AM. The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors and the associated depletion of coenzyme Q10. A review of animal and human publications. Biofactors. 2003;18(1-4):101-11.
[iii] KARL FOLKERS*, SURASI VADHANAVIKIT*, AND SVEND A. MORTENSEN. Biochemical rationale and myocardial tissue data on the effective therapy of cardiomyopathy with coenzyme Q10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Feb;82(3):901-4.
[iv] Kumar A1, Kaur H, Devi P, Mohan V. Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome. Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;124(3):259-68. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.07.003. Epub 2009 Jul 25.
[v] A.M. Bargossi, G. Grossi, P.L. Fiorella, A. Gaddi, R. Di Giulio, M. Battino. Exogenous CoQ10 supplementation prevents plasma ubiquinone reduction induced by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Molecular Aspects of Medicine.
Volume 15, Supplement 1, 1994, Pages s187–s193.
[vi] Langsjoen P1, Langsjoen P, Willis R, Folkers K. Treatment of essential hypertension with coenzyme Q10. Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppl:S265-72.
[vii] Burke BE1, Neuenschwander R, Olson RD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension. South Med J. 2001 Nov;94(11):1112-7.
How Acupuncture Regulates Blood Pressure
Acupuncture regulates blood pressure by exploiting a complex system known as the neuroendocrine system, which is composed of the endocrine system (primarily the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid / adrenals), and the intricate working relationship it has with the nervous system. The endocrine system regulates hormones and metabolism. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is divided into two arms, a sympathetic branch (fight or flight), which plays a role in helping regulate the vascular tone and blood volume of the heart; and a parasympathetic branch (rest and digest), that regulates body processes like blood pressure and breathing. The central nervous system (CNS) is a two – way communication network consisting of the brain and spinal cord, which processes all the information from the body and external stimuli. Information is collected by the nervous system, relayed through the spinal cord to the brain, and then the brain sends signals to the body through the same mechanism.
In terms of research, there is an ongoing accumulation of data on the regulatory effect of acupuncture on the endocrine system, and how it can restore balance to hormone levels.[i] This includes studies on thyroid hormones, corticosteroids, and reproductive hormones. Modern research has also confirmed the effects of acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in a wide array of studies on (ANS) disorders such as: anxiety, insomnia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), cardiovascular disease, and epilepsy.[ii] Over the last decade, there has been an increase in neuroimaging studies on the effects of acupuncture on brain centers due to advancements in imaging technologies. In one study, electroacupuncture was used to activate specific parts of the brain eliciting a hypotensive effect via the (CNS).[iii]
Recent investigations have indicated that one of the major contributors to high blood pressure is an overactive sympathetic nervous system (SNS).[iv] When the (SNS) becomes over-stimulated or dominant, it can cause vasoconstriction of the arteries in the heart; thereby inducing a hypertensive state.[v] The latest studies show that one of the mechanisms by which acupuncture lowers blood pressure is by down - regulating the (SNS). One such study found that electroacupuncture activates neurons in the brain, which inhibits (SNS) activity by stimulating the opioid system (endorphins, enkephalins) and nociceptin.[vi] Endogenous opioids modulate the baroreflex control system, which is a feedback loop between the heart, brain, spinal cord (CNS), (SNS) and the (PNS.)[vii] When the (PNS) is stimulated in this feedback loop, it inhibits sympathetic nerve activity, and therefore lowers the blood pressure.
There have also been studies showing that acupuncture outperforms Captopril, a commonly prescribed angiotensin – converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE - inhibitor) for high blood pressure. One of these studies that compared electroacupuncture to Captopril concluded that electroacupuncture was significantly more effective than the Western medication at controlling blood pressure.[viii] A German study comparing true acupuncture to antihypertensive medications concluded that blood pressure reductions with acupuncture are comparable to monotherapies with ACE - inhibitors.[ix]
Nerves and Acupoints
When treating hypertension, we select a specific combination of acupoints, which vary depending on the particular clinical presentation of hypertension and any underlying causes. We have many options to choose from on either the front or back side of the body, distal points on the extremities, as well as, points on the ears. When we choose back points, some of which are referred to as back shu points or points that are organ specific, in this case Heart specific, we often choose Jueyinshu - BL 14 or Xinshu - BL15. These two points are specific for the pericardium and the heart respectively. Is this by coincidence? Not so much, because they’re located in the upper thoracic region at the level of T4 and T5 spinal vertebrae; which innervate the heart via sympathetic nerves. Their traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) actions are as follows[x]:
Jueyinshu - BL 14
Xinshu - BL15
Eastern Medicine for Blood Pressure
Eastern medicine is a dynamic system of medicine, which includes numerous forms and variations of treatments that the practitioner can choose from. For this reason, treatment protocols for blood pressure will vary from one practitioner to another depending on the disease presentation, and the style and perspective of the practitioner. Generally speaking, herbal therapy takes precedence in most treatment plans and acupuncture is used as an adjunct. This is because herbs work at a deeper level and continue the treatment while the patient is at home, while acupuncture works at a more superficial level. Together they formulate a cohesive treatment strategy that is very effective at treating the root cause of disease.
For any treatment to be truly effective, no matter what the cause of high blood pressure is, it requires great effort by the patient to make lifestyle modifications that will promote a heart healthy future. This includes:
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
According to a 2011 study, the prevalence of hyperuricemia and gout has increased in both men and women over the past 20 years; effecting 8.3 million American adults.  Gout affects men 4 times more than women, and is seen to a greater extent in men over the age of 30. 
Gout attacks can be quite excruciating, but can be lessened or even prevented with some simple lifestyle changes. Below you will find some recommendations that will improve your quality of life, and reduce the frequency of attacks.
1. Stick to a low – purine diet  - Purines are amino acids that when metabolized create the waste product uric acid. The following foods are high in purines and should be avoided:
2. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet - Gout is an inflammatory disease, so it only makes sense to eat foods that do not invoke inflammation. (see list of anti-inflammatory foods vs inflammatory foods)
3. Avoid refined sugars and high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) - The standard American diet (SAD) is saturated with sugar and sweeteners like HFCS, and are implicated in many chronic diseases. HFCS is a combination of fructose and glucose sugars and directly linked with metabolic diseases. HFCS increases uric acid , and has also been found to cause scarring in the liver where most uric acid is synthesized. 
4. Eliminate alcohol - Alcohol converts to lactic acid, which inhibits the elimination of uric acid.
5. Stay hydrated - This helps flush the system. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to increase the detoxing effects.
6. Restrict caffeine intake - Studies have found a correlation between caffeine intake within a 24 hour period and increased gout attacks in people who already have the condition. 
7. Reduce weight - Obesity puts individuals at higher risk for gout, especially men.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys demonstrated that gout was more prevalent in individuals with a higher body mas index (BMI) score. 
8. Manage stress - No matter what the disease stress has a negative effect on the mind and the body. Stress can trigger a gout attack, so it's important to find productive ways to deal with stress. Here are a few suggestions: meditation, yoga or deep breathing; find what works best for you.
9. Eat lots of cherries or hawthorn berries ( 20 / day) - These contain antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have found that cherry consumption reduces the frequency of gout attacks. 
10. Avoid these medications:
Lifestyle modifications are the most effective deterrent of gout attacks. Visit our Conditions Treated page to read more about the condition of gout
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1. Heart disease
2. Unintentional injuries
3. Respiratory disease
Don't become a statistic . . . Change your life during the National Men's Health Week!