During my health coaching courses we continuously studied blood health and ways to avoid diseases that come along with aging, namely, Heart Disease and Diabetes. These two diseases are thought of as the most dangerous threats to adults over the age of fifty. I wanted to share some basic information with my online readers and explain, in the simplest terms, what they mean for your health. Not every “prime-timer” has to contribute to a sweeping health statistic; there are several ways to avoid some of the dangers that come along with aging, and you can begin by taking care of your blood.

Heart Disease and Diabetes

Heart Disease and Diabetes are two of the most common diseases that increase the mortality rate of adults in the United States. According to the Heart Foundation, Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States responsible for nearly 787,000 deaths in 2011 alone.[1] And the American Diabetes Association lists diabetes and the 7th leading cause of death that affects 25.9% or 11.8 million seniors in the United States, with 69,071 death certificates listing diabetes as the underlying cause of death in 2010 and 234,051 certificates listing it as the cause of death.[2]

Heart Disease or cardiac disease is defined 85fc1aa4f7679778ba0788881568a8e1by the American Heart Association as a range of conditions that affect the heart. Some of these conditions could include diseased vessels, blood clots, or structural changes or problems.[3]

Diabetes is also a blood related disease that is the result of too much sugar in the blood or high glucose levels.

Blood Sugar and Insulin 

The relationship between blood sugar and insulin are related to several illnesses, especially those that increase with aging. The foods we eat directly affect our cells and the way the are energized. When we eat carbohydrates the glucose levels increase, this means that the pancreas must release insulin to keep our blood sugar at a healthy level in accordance with our bodies’ energy needs. When we over consume carbs, we produce excess insulin (too much for our cells), so they must be stored somewhere else (most likely the belly or liver). If this happens frequently, there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or if the pancreas wears out, then type 1 diabetes.[4]

Diabetes and Heart Disease are related!

Dr. Sears says, “The incidence of just about every age-related illness (including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis) goes up as your blood sugar rises.”[5] The accumulation of excess sugar in the bloodstream and other places in the body where it isn’t needed, results in inflammation, oxidation and glycation. We call these the Shuns (“-tions”) of aging!

This means that if you have diabetes or are prediabetic, you are at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. To decrease the risk, keep your blood glucose (or blood sugar) in check. It is also important to keep your blood healthy to regulate blood pressure and good cholesterol levels, which are also linked to heart disease.

Let Me Explain:

High amounts of sugar are turned into fat, this clogs and narrows blood vessels. It also causes inflammation, or ‘wear and tear’ on the body. In turn, this affects the kidneys because high levels of insulin retain sodium, which leads to high blood pressure and the beginning stages of heart disease.

Prediabetes:

Being prediabetic means you have high blood glucose levels, but it is not quite diabetes, yet! It certainly means that it can and most likely will lead to diabetes if you do not control it or make changes. People who are prediabetic are most likely to be overweight or retain belly fat, which also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. With modest exercise and proper nutrition, the development of diabetes and heart disease can be controlled.

What Now?

Both Heart Disease and Diabetes can be prevented through Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition choices. In most cases, it truly is your choices that shape your health and wellbeing. Having a health plan can help ensure that your prime-time is actually enjoyable! I recommending beginning with making healthy lifestyle and attitude decisions. Find ways to reduce stress and make time for yourself to do what you love and what makes you happy mentally and spiritually. Physically, pay attention to the foods you eat and how much you move. Exercise and Nutrition are two of the most aggressive methods to include in a health plan.

Nutrition:

It may seem obvious, but eating and maintaining a healthy diet is directly linked to the health of our blood! By avoiding or balancing out the foods that negatively impact the glucose and insulin levels in our blood, we can reduce the odds of contracting diabetes and heart disease.

Exercise:

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An exercise schedule or movement plan will also lower the risk of contracting these diseases. Not only does exercise combat belly fat (which is often a sign of being prediabetic), but it also works out the blood! The increase in heart rate during exercise works out the entire cardiovascular system by expanding and contracting your veins to deliver oxygen throughout the body. This process results in a healthy blood pressure and inherently reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Need Help?

Knowledge is the first step in taking control of your health. If you should need an extra hand, do not hesitate to contact me to begin working together to develop a wellness plan focused on aging with health and grace.

 

 


SOURCES:

[1] Heart Disease: Scope and Impact, Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.theheartfoundation.org/heart-disease-facts/heart-disease-statistics

[2] Statistics about Diabetes, Retrieved October 24, 2016, from

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

[3] What is Cardiovascular Disease? (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Resources/WhatisCardiovascularDisease/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Article.jsp#.V5Jvvlf6XLQ

[4] Diabetes and Heart Disease | Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. (2014). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from https://www.drsearswellnessinstitute.org/blog/heart-disease-diabetes-threat/

[5] Diabetes and Heart Disease | Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. (2014). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from https://www.drsearswellnessinstitute.org/blog/heart-disease-diabetes-threat/