An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to many health problems, such as heart problems, obesity, anaemia and osteoporosis. Click on the links below to learn more about specific health problems.
Your heart is a muscle that gets energy from blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. Having a constant supply of blood keeps your heart working properly. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions affecting the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes. Coronary artery disease, for example, develops when a combination of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue (called plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries). The plaque buildup narrows the arteries and prevents the heart from getting enough blood. Click on the links below to learn more about heart health.
Cholesterol is one of the fats in your blood. Your body uses it to make cell membranes, vitamin D and hormones. There are two main types of cholesterol:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol often called bad cholesterol because high levels of LDL-cholesterol in the blood promotes the build-up of plaque in the artery walls
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol called the good cholesterol because it helps carry LDL-cholesterol away from the artery walls Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol, however, they are a type of fat that is found in the blood. High triglycerides are linked with excess weight, excess alcohol consumption and diabetes. Your triglyceride level is usually measured at the same time as your blood cholesterol.Cholesterol, heart disease and stroke High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. By lowering your cholesterol, you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol can lead to a build up of plaque in the artery walls and narrow your arteries called atherosclerosis which can make it harder for blood to flow through your heart and body, putting you at increased risk of circulatory problems, heart disease and stroke.
10 ways to get your cholesterol in check
- Test your cholesterol. Ask your doctor to check it if:
- You are male and over 40
- You are female and over 50 or post-menopausal
- You have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure
- Your waist measures more than 102 centimetres (40 inches) for men or 88 centimetres (35 inches) for women
- You have a family history of heart disease or stroke
- Reduce your fat intake to 20-35% of your daily calories.
- Choose healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, found mainly in vegetable oils, nuts and fish
- Limit your intake of saturated fat found mainly in red meat and high-fat dairy products.
- Avoid trans fats often found in foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, hard margarines, fast foods and many pre-made foods. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
- Use Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating to plan a healthier diet. Eat more whole grains, cereals, vegetables and fruit.
- Snack wisely. Choose low-salt pretzels, plain popcorn or fruit, rather than higher-fat or junk food types of snacks.
- Use lower-fat cooking methods such as baking, broiling or steaming and try to avoid fried food.
- Be smoke-free. Smoking increases LDL bad blood cholesterol.
Get physically active. Being physically active most days of the week can improve good cholesterol levels.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects one in five Canadians. It is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease, so it is very important that it is properly controlled. Yet 43% of Canadians with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it because there are no symptoms. You can’t see it. You can’t feel it. But the good news is that you can control it.
Blood pressure (hypertension) is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels called arteries. The top number represents the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood out (systolic) and the bottom number is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic). Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140 / 90 mm Hg is considered high, but if you have diabetes, 130 / 80 mm Hg is high. Normal blood pressure is below 120 / 80 mm Hg.
Over time high blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls causing scarring that promotes the build-up of fatty plaque, which can narrow and eventually block arteries. It also strains the heart and eventually weakens it. Very high blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the brain to burst resulting in a stroke. With proper diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, you can cut your risk of stroke by up to 40% and heart attack by up to 25%.
Here are some tips to get your blood pressure in check:
Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so have yours checked at least once every two years by a healthcare professional.
If you have been told you have high-normal blood pressure, Canadian guidelines recommend that you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. High normal ranges between 130/85 and 139/89.
If your doctor has prescribed medication, take it as directed.
Eat a balanced diet, be physically active and smoke-free, and reduce your salt and alcohol intake to help lower your blood pressure.
A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by the interruption of flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). The interruption of blood flow or the rupture of blood vessels causes brain cells (neurons) in the affected area to die. The effects of a stroke depend on where the brain was injured, as well as how much damage occurred. A stroke can impact any number of areas including your ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason and read and write.
In a small number of cases, stroke-like damage to the brain can occur when the heart stops (cardiac arrest). The longer the brain goes without the oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood flow, the greater the risk of permanent brain damage. Brain injuries can also result in uncontrolled bleeding and permanent brain damage. This is usually referred to as an Acquired Brain Injury.
Physical activity can be a lifesaver literally. When you’re active 30 to 60 minutes a day, most days of the week, you can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular activity also helps prevent and control risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.
Adding more activity to your daily life may also reduce stress levels, increase energy and improve sleep and digestion. Because physical activity makes you feel better about yourself, you’re more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices and to avoid bad ones such as smoking, overeating or drinking too much alcohol.
Benefits may begin within the first week of regular activity. For example, your blood pressure may start to come down, and you could feel more energetic and relaxed. After three months you may experience better health, improved posture and balance, stronger muscles and bones, more confidence and a more positive outlook on life.
Arthritis is a complex disorder that includes more than 100 different conditions, it can affect people at any stage of life. Arthritis can range from mild forms of tendinitis to crippling forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Gout, fibromyalgia, and ankylosing spondylitis are also types of Arthritis. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which not only affects seniors but also affects infants and adults as well.
There are a few simple ways to “prevent” arthritis pain. Educate yourself and be aware of the early symptoms of osteoarthritis, an early and accurate diagnosis is important for effective treatment. Try to supplement your diet with joint building materials that can help strengthen and lubricate your joints. Avoid activities that may lead to serious joint injuries. Maintain a healthy weight and try to exercise regularly. Studies have found that overweight people who lost only 5 kg reduced their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50%. Click here for tips on how to remain Active with Arthritis
Aches and pains are unpleasant physical sensations that are felt when the body is trying to protect or heal itself. For example, soreness in a joint will ensure that part of the body isn’t used until it has a chance to heal. Pain can be a warning that something is wrong and is important to treat, particularly in children. Physical discomfort can slow healing and cause anxiety regarding future encounters with pain. Try taking a warm bath, or applying a topical pain reliever to the effected area.
Whether you’re sitting, standing, walking, running, bending, stretching or lying perfectly still,your back is essential for nearly every move you make. When it’s healthy, this marvelous structure of bone, muscle and nerves is the quiet core around which our bodies perform the tasks of day-to-day living. It’s no surprise that with so much work, our backs are vulnerable to injury and back pain.Never is the function of the back so acutely felt as when it is in pain.What causes back pain? After the common cold, back pain is the second leading reason Canadians visit their doctors – and it’s no wonder, given the spine’s complex structure. Pain can occur at any point on the spine, but the most common complaint is pain in the lower back,the area that bears most of your weight.
Back pain can be caused by:
Stress or injury from weak,tight, or tense back muscles,ligaments, and tendons. Back muscles may even throb from the strain of supporting a sagging belly.
Damage to one or more of the small, cushiony disks that act as shock absorbers between the spinal vertebrae. When a disk herniates, its soft rubbery center squeezes through a weak point in the hard outer layer, creating a bulge that presses against nearby nerves and causes severe pain.
Sciatica, which is marked by severe pain along the sciatic nerve that extends down each leg from your hip to your heel. It affects about 10 percent of people with back pain.
Normal aging, which can cause fluids in the spinal disks to dry out so that they shrink and weaken.
Arthritis, osteoporosis, or other conditions that affect the spinal nerves or the vertebrae. Relieving The Pain:If you’re among the many people who have not found effective pain relief in an over-the-counter chemical pain reliever, you may want to try a natural remedy, we recommend looking for a back pain relief product that has both White Willow Bark and Devil’s Claw. We also recommend applying a cold pack frequently in the first day or two to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Follow up with the application of gentle heat like a topical pain reliever that contains capsaicin.
Blood is actually a liquid made up of several different cell types. One of the most important and most numerous cell types is the red blood cell. The purpose of the red blood cell is to deliver oxygen to the body. Anemia describes the condition in which the number of red blood cells in your blood is low. For this reason, doctors sometimes describe someone with anemia as having a low blood count. A person who has anemia is called anemic.
Many medical conditions cause anemia. Common causes of anemia include the following:
Muscle pain occurs when your muscles are injured or overworked. General muscle ach
- External bleeding: Loss of blood through heavy menstrual bleeding, wounds, as well as stomach ulcers can cause anemia.
- Iron deficiency: The bone marrow needs iron to make red blood cells.
- Anemia of chronic disease: Any long-term medical condition can lead to anemia.
- Kidney disease: The kidneys help the bone marrow to make red blood cells.
- Pregnancy: Water weight gain during pregnancy dilutes the red blood cells.
- Poor nutrition:Vitamins and minerals are required to make red blood cells.
- Alcoholism: Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins and minerals are associated with alcoholism.
Uncommon causes of anemia include bleeding disorders, liver disease, thalassemia, infection, cancer, arthritis, enzyme deficiency, sickle cell disease, hypothyroidism, toxins, or hereditary conditions.
Nicotine and the toxic substances found in cigarette smoke have a huge impact on the detoxification process of the body. Smoking causes cell damage, which leads to diseases such as cancer, high cholesterol levels, coronary and circulatory problems, respiratory disorders and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Smoking drains the body of many essential vitamins and minerals, affecting your ability to absorb these vital nutrients.
Smoking causes most problems for vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the body’s main antioxidants. Antioxidants are linked to the prevention of a number of diseases. The more you smoke, the more vitamin C you lose from your tissues and blood. But your body needs more vitamin C to counteract the damage that smoking causes to your cells. To make up for this disturbance, a smoker needs to increase their vitamin C intake to around 2000mg a day. This can’t be achieved by diet alone, so a supplement is needed. Smokers should also try to increase their intake of antioxidants, mainly from fruit and vegetables. That said, no amount of supplements or antioxidants can protect the body against the damage caused by smoking. The only real solution is to quit smoking.
Creating a healthier indoor home air environment is important for anyone, but especially for those affected by asthma. To be successful, you’ll need help from the whole family. There may even be some expense involved; however, this investment will yield a wonderful dividend-fewer asthma flare-ups and, hopefully, a decreased need for asthma medications.
For starters, it is important to know that a condition or stimulus brings on most asthma attacks. Examples include: allergens (mold, pollen, pet dander, dust mites), irritants (tobacco smoke, room deodorizers), infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD) and even emotions (being anxious or scared). A primary care physician or allergy specialist can help identify your child’s precise triggers.
Once you have this information, you are ready to take back your home. You will need to control or get rid of these triggers. The best place to begin is the bedroom, where a child spends a large part of her or his time.
Deal with the dust mites.
Dust mites feed on shed flakes of human skin. They can be found on pillows, bedding, mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture, carpet and even Fluffy, your child’s stuffed toy. We actually breathe in the mites’ fecal matter and decaying body parts. Certainly gross to think about, but for those with asthma who are sensitive to these allergens, dust mites can cause genuine trouble. In order to get control of these critters, here are some suggestions:
Use mite-proof encasings for box springs, mattresses and pillow covers. Wash bed linens, blankets and stuffed toys in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill the mites). Replace upholstered furniture with wood, vinyl or leather. Remove carpets and install polished flooring.
Clean up the mold and mess.
It is not unusual to have lots of crumbs, clutter and moisture in your kitchen. Thanks to these treats, cockroaches, odors and mold love this area. To combat these asthma triggers, keep the area as clean as possible by putting away all food, removing the trash and wiping the counters down at the end of each day. To combat mold, check under cabinets, behind the refrigerator, around the trash can to dry up any spills left behind.
Bathroom, Basements, Crawl Spaces and Attached Garages: Combat Mold, Moisture, Poor Ventilation and Chemical Fumes.
Chemical irritants in the form of pesticides and household cleaners, allergens from dust and mold, as well as the build up of fungus and bacteria are all possible in poorly ventilated areas. It is important to keep these areas clean, dry and well ventilated, as well as making sure any cleaners or pesticides are in properly sealed containers. Also, don’t lay carpet on concrete floors as this creates a perfect environment for the growth of mold and fungal allergens.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which an individual has a below normal bone mass combined with a gradual deterioration of the structure within the bone. This leads to a general fragility in the skeleton of an individual most often in the hips, spine, and wrists. Osteoporosis is most devastating in the hips and spine, where fractures of the bone are very serious. A fracture of the hip bone requires immediate hospitalization, as it can paralyze the individual and also damage internal organs. A fracture of the spine is even more serious, as it can lead to nerve damage which can be fatal.
The only way to assuredly detect osteoporosis is through a bone density test. This can detect osteoporosis before a possibly life-threatening fracture can occur, predict the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in the future, and also monitor progress of bone structure restoration. The prevention of osteoporosis is not simply consuming more calcium; it also requires other nutrients that help the body utilize and integrate calcium into the bone structure along with the activity to induce the body into using that calcium. To stop osteoporosis from ever developing, one should consume plenty of calcium and vitamin D, have a generally healthy lifestyle, without smoking and moderate to little alcohol consumption, and also commit to weight-bearing exercise. This last precaution is one that is often ignored, as many people believe that consuming adequate calcium and vitamins is enough to make the bones strengthen themselves. However, without weight-bearing exercise directly stressing those bones, the body will never feel that is has a need to strengthen those bones whatsoever. Therefore, without the exercise to call upon the consumed calcium and vitamins, those nutrients will simply go to waste. Many individuals have weakened bone structure without ever being aware of it because they do not commit to also doing the exercise needed to keep their bones strong.