The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Saturday released its latest report on cardiology risk factors and advised patients with heart problems to increase their levels of activity.
According to a statement issued by the ESC, the large study reveals that in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes the risk of heart disease increases.
However, the study found that increasing activity levels is associated with a reduced likelihood of heart events and death.
Author of the study, Dr Esmee Bakker, of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands said: “Previous research showed that improvements in physical activity are beneficial to health. However, those studies were performed in the general population. In our study, we were interested to see if there were similar effects in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.”
The study included 88,320 individuals from the LifeLines Cohort Study and participants underwent a physical examination and completed questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle including exercise. The questionnaires were repeated after approximately four years.
A total of 18,502 (21 percent) individuals had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes at the start of the study. The average age of this group was 55 years.
After adjusting for age, sex, and baseline physical activity, the researchers found that those with a moderate to a large improvement in physical activity were around 30 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or die during follow-up compared to those who did not change their activity level.
The remaining 69,808 (79 percent) participants did not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes at the start of the study.
The average age of this group was 43 years. After adjusting for age, sex, and baseline physical activity, the researchers found that those with large reductions in physical activity had a 40 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease or death compared to those who did not change their activity level.
Bakker said: “Our study suggests that to prevent heart attacks and strokes and boost longevity, healthy individuals should maintain their physical activity levels, while those with risk factors need to become more active.
“The associations we found were even more pronounced in people who were relatively sedentary at the start of the study, indicating that inactive people have the most to gain.”
To prevent heart disease, European guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or an equivalent combination.
Bakker said: “If you are currently sedentary, walking is a good activity to start with. If you are already hitting the recommended amount, try doing 10 minutes more each day or increasing the intensity.”
Tips to stay hydrated and healthy during Ramadan
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk but it is important to get proper nourishment between Iftar and Sahari in order to be prepared for the next day – especially for those who need to work and go to school or university.
Healthy habits during the holy month are also very important in order to avoid gaining weight.
Cleveland Medical Center in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, reports that there are a few simple times to help you stay fit while fasting.
The amount of fluids a person needs depends on age, gender, climate and activity level.
According to Cleveland Clinic, adults, on average, need 2 to 3 liters of water each day. So make sure to drink plenty of fluids before the start of the fasting hours. Unsweetened juices or milk are tasty, low calorie alternatives.
Experts warn against too much coffee and tea and soda drinks outside of fasting hours as the caffeine in them causes increased urination. Cleveland Clinic recommends these drinks be limited during the non-fasting hours.
The clinic also suggests that meals are started with broths, soups or stews. Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, squash or spinach are mostly water and can also help to replace fluids.
Why is this important?
As stated by the clinic, the human body is about 60 percent water and it is vital for bodily functions, including metabolizing and transporting nutrients throughout the body and removing waste.
The amount of water in the body fluctuates – it is lost through urine and sweat and regained from food and drinks.
However, Cleveland Clinic states it is not unusual to become periodically dehydrated while fasting. Dehydration can result in weight loss that is quickly regained when normal eating and drinking habits resume.
Choose healthy options
Hunger tempts us to indulge or eat fast, convenient foods. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, highly processed foods are high in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats, which won’t last long and can increase thirst.
Try a handful of roasted nuts instead of ready-to-eat foods and also try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eat, rest and exercise strategically
According to clinic experts, planning your activities and meals after breaking your fast will help to refuel you and prepare you for the next day of fasting.
Rest is important, but be sure to stay awake long enough to replenish the fluids and nutrients your body needs.
Eat balanced meals including: bread, cereals and other grains; fruits and vegetables; meat, fish and poultry; milk, yogurt or cheese; and healthy fats.
Focus on foods that are digested slowly and release energy over time. These include food that are high in fiber (e.g. whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and foods containing complex carbohydrates (wheat, beans, lentils, rice, etc.).
It is important to stay active too. Find time to take a walk or do some gentle stretching.
Why is this important?
Weight loss occurs when a person uses more energy than they consume. Some studies on weight loss/gain during Ramadan have shown that energy intake remains the same or increases, despite a decrease in meal frequency.
Oranges and their amazing health benefits
Oranges are one of the world’s most popular fruits and are currently widely available on the Afghan market but did you know this sweet fruit is packed with vitamin C – an important substance our bodies need to support a healthy immune system in us all – as well as other important nutrients.
The origin of oranges is a mystery but it is believed they were first grown in southeast Asia thousands of years ago but today they are grown across the world and consumed either fresh or as juice.
As a good source of fibre, oranges are associated with many beneficial health effects and are also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, thiamine, folate (two of the B vitamins), and potassium.
Seven amazing benefits of eating oranges
1. Oranges Keep Your Eyes Healthy and Your Vision Sharp
2. Oranges Reduce the Risk of Stroke
3. Oranges Assist with Appetite Control
4. Oranges Fight Cancer
5. Oranges Promote Healthy Skin
6. Oranges Keep Your Blood Vessels Healthy
7. Oranges Help Repair your Body
According to a US nutritionist, Dr Cynthia Sass, one orange packs about 80 percent of the daily goal for vitamin C.
She says that in addition to supporting immune function, Vitamin C helps produce collagen, reduce inflammation, and boosts the body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source, both during exercise and at rest.
Too little blood vitamin C has also been tied to increased body fat and waist measurements, she said.
Vitamin C also helps boost the absorption of iron, which can enhance oxygen availability and reduce fatigue. This is especially important for premenopausal women who lose iron through menstruation, and those who follow a plant-based diet, since iron is less readily absorbed from plant sources.
Vitamin C also acts as an aging-fighting antioxidant, and it’s needed for DNA repair and serotonin production. The latter helps to promote happiness and sleep, she said.
The other key nutrients supplied by oranges are potassium and folate.
Potassium supports heart function and muscle contractions, and it helps maintain muscle mass.
Sass says this mineral also acts as a natural diuretic, to reduce blood pressure and counter fluid retention.
Folate meanwhile supports the brain and nervous system, and adequate amounts may help protect against depression and memory problems.
Oranges are also antioxidant superstars, says Sass.
Antioxidants in oranges provide anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial benefits. They also defend against oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects.
The antioxidants in oranges may also protect your mental health, says Sass.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher flavonoid intake may be associated with lower depression risk, particularly among older women. A higher flavonoid intake is also linked to the prevention of weight gain and reduced body fat.
Meanwhile, the vitamin C in oranges is important for growing and repairing tissue all over the body.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin C helps heal wounds and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C also supports the production of collagen, which is needed to make cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and skin.
But nutritionists and doctors warn that too many oranges at once are not good.
When eaten in excess, the fiber content can affect digestion, causing abdominal cramps, and could also lead to diarrhea.
Though oranges are relatively low in calories, eating several per day can end up leading to weight gain.
Health professionals recommend a daily intake of anywhere between 1 and 3 oranges a day for healthy adults.
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