Posts Tagged ‘blood pressure’
It seems it is almost stylish for people to have a long list of foods they avoid. Some act as if the more foods you avoid, the better informed you must be. This approach is savvy when it comes to packaged items that should not even be called foods, but within the list of natural foods, diversity is best. In my practice, I have observed that limited diets lead to nutrient deficiencies, weaker digestive function and emotional stress.
Beans are a great case in point. Many either intentionally avoid them or do not think to include them in their diets. This is too bad, because research has shown that beans:Slow aging Contain powerful antioxidants Lower blood pressure Prevent cancer Lower cholesterol Reduce food cravings Raise energy and help weight loss Improve the intestinal flora Kill fungus
If you are not eating beans, I’d like you to reconsider. In this blog, I’ll explore each of these claims in some detail. In the next, I’ll address some of the popular objections against beans.
Beans Can Help Slow Aging
Have you heard about red wine and the French’s longevity? It turns out that an ingredient found in wine, called resveratrol, might prevent the DNA damage that leads to aging. Some beans have resveratrol in amounts comparable to wine. Black beans and lentils are among the highest. 
Beans Are Powerful Antioxidants
Free radical damage takes its toll on your skin, immune system and brain. You may know that antioxidants from foods like blueberries, green tea, turmeric and pomegranate can help prevent this damage. Beans have as much or more antioxidants than these other foods. They also have unique antioxidants that can block enzymes, called α-glucosidase and pancreatic lipase, that lead to weight gain and diabetes. Beans highest in these antioxidants include mung and aduki beans. 
Beans Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Over eight studies have been carefully done to see if adding beans to the diet could improve blood pressure. All studies showed that bean intake significantly lowered systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure.  The types studied included pinto, navy, northern, peas and black beans.
Beans Can Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is second only to heart disease when it comes to adult death. The most common types of cancer for adults include breast, liver, colorectal, prostate and gastric. Not only do beans dramatically reduce the risk of all of these types of cancers [4, 5] but an extract of beans, called IP6, is being studied as a possible medicine to combat cancer. 
Beans Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Adding as little as one serving of beans daily can lower the dangerous LDL-C enough to decrease the risk of heart disease by up to 25 percent. 
Beans Can Help Reduce Cravings
Ever struggle with cravings for sweets or snack foods? Beans can help reduce cravings and cause you to prefer healthier foods.
In a study, 42 people had roughly four ounces of chick peas added to their daily diets for four weeks. By the end of 12 weeks, participants were spontaneously eating less food from all sources, especially snack foods made from flour products, like chips and crackers. Bowel regularity and overall digestive symptoms improved significantly for the group. 
Beans Can Help Raise Energy and Help Weight Loss
In another recent study, 35 obese men were randomly assigned to one of four diets for eight weeks, one of which was high in beans. Their weight, body composition, cholesterol levels and metabolic rate were all measured before and after the dietary change. The group on the high-bean diet saw health improvements, such as substantial fat loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a higher rate of energy production over the eight-week period. 
Beans Can Help Improve the Intestinal Flora
You likely know how good bacteria are important to good immune function, skin repair and regular digestion. These organisms help because they produce short chain fats that heal our intestinal lining and lower the risks of colorectal cancer. We get tiny amounts of short chain fats from foods like coconut and butter; however, the vast majority, like butyrate, acetate and propionate, are made by intestinal bacteria when they are given the types of fiber found in beans. One of the easiest ways to keep your good flora strong is to eat beans regularly. 
Beans Can Help Kill Fungus
Processed food, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and stress can all lead to intestinal yeast. Yeast is bad because it can weaken your immune system and create toxins that raise inflammation. Compounds found in beans have been shown to kill fungus and prevent yeast infections. 
Bonus: You likely know how important getting your 5-10 servings of veggies can be. Did you know that beans count as a vegetable? 
The next installment in this blog will discuss the paleo concerns about beans, how to eat them without getting gas and some new ways to work them into your diet. If you want to get started right away, here is a trick you haven’t heard before: Try adding ¼ – ½ cup of cooked and rinsed navy beans to your morning smoothie. I know it sounds weird, but just try it. You won’t taste them, and they make the texture rich and creamy. Beans in the morning are especially powerful to rev up your metabolism for the whole day.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects millions of people around the world, including over 30 percent of American adults. Often referred to as “the silent killer” for its tendency to wreak havoc on the body without producing symptoms, hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease and a leading cause of stroke. If you have any concerns, get checked by your doctor. There likely won’t be any other way of knowing if you’re at risk.
This pervasive and dangerous condition is at the heart of today’s episode of Urban Yogis on The Chopra Well YouTube channel. Ashtanga yoga instructor Eddie Stern has teamed up with fellow instructor Blake Seidenshaw and physical therapy professor Marshall Hagins at Long Island University (LIU) to conduct a study on the effects of yoga on patients suffering from hypertension. As of yet, yoga has not definitively been proven to be an effective treatment for high blood pressure, on its own, though evidence does suggest it may lower blood pressure by reducing stress and increasing flexibility and weight loss. Stern, Seidenshaw, and Hagins came together in the hope of finding clear, consistent evidence to prove what, until now, most yoga practitioners only felt and observed in their own lives without the authority of science to support them. That isn’t to say anecdotal evidence doesn’t carry its own weight – there’s a reason over 20 million people in the United States have practiced yoga.
If science comes to support what practitioners have felt for decades, it could have a major impact on our health. So many of Eddie’s students, like the patients at LIU, have already noticed the positive effects. Likely it has something to do with lifestyle. Though the cause of hypertension remains undetermined, the condition is often associated with lack of exercise, being overweight, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and a diet high in saturated fat and salt. Chronic stress also contributes to hypertension, which may be unwelcome news to people with high-intensity, fast-paced lifestyles.
During stressful situations blood pressure spikes, returning to its normal level after the experience passes. People who are constantly stressed, though, may be at a greater risk of raising their blood pressure in the long-run, especially if they tend to smoke, overeat, or exercise less when they are under a lot of stress. As Eddie’s students can attest to, yoga steps in to provide the tools for self-soothing and mindfulness, so critical to stress-reduction. Hopefully in the near future we’ll know even more about the amazing medical and emotional benefits of a regular yoga practice. But until then, we’ll take the smiles and calm, glowing faces as proof enough.