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Health Pearls August 2009


Sugar is sweet to the taste BUT sour for your health. This is because sugar has no significant nutrients, only calories, which most of us need to avoid. In quantities usually consumed in this country, sugar inhibits the immune system, increases blood triglycerides (blood fats), increases blood sugar levels, and robs the body of nutrients. Other sweeteners like raw cane sugar are less refined and retain many of the nutrients found in sugar cane and is more healthful, but they contain the same number of calories as white sugar. Artificial sweeteners are just that, artificial, and are possibly harmful; therefore they are not recommended. If you are looking for a low calorie sweetener that may lower blood pressure and blood sugar then try stevia. New research is suggesting that stevia -- a natural compound isolated from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana may do just that. It’s low in calories and about 30 times sweeter than sucrose, and it’s been used as a sweetener in Japan for decades.” So why not try it for your health's sake! (Comparative efficacy of powdered form of stevia (stevia rebaudiana bertoni) leaves and glimepiride in induced diabetic rats. Sumon, M. H. et al.,Bangladesh Journal of Veterinary Medicine 2008 6(2):211-215.)



Today many substances are used to construct houses which may be harmful to your health, especially if you don't open your windows and let your house “air out” on a regular basis. These compounds are called, volatile organic compounds or VOC. “VOCs are everywhere. Carpet, paint, foam insulation, household cleaners, air fresheners, and even cosmetics contain them. And unfortunately, exposure to these toxins has been cited for causing fatigue, headaches, asthma, and allergies in certain people. House plants help remove these harmful VOC's. Philodendrons, spider plants, and ivy are a few of the plants that absorb VOCs reducing their harmful effects. One plant per 100 square feet is all you need. Another ways to improve air quality in your home is to open the curtains and let in sunshine and open the windows and let in fresh air. (The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps. Watson, B., Smith, L., New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.) Remember, “In the building of houses it is especially important to secure thorough ventilation and plenty of sunlight. Let there be a current of air and an abundance of light in every room in the house. Sleeping rooms should be so arranged as to have a free circulation of air day and night. No room is fit to be occupied as a sleeping room unless it can be thrown open daily to the air and sunshine.” (Adventist Home p. 148)  So open the windows and let the sunshine and fresh air in for your health's sake!”


Glutamic acid, an amino acid found in highest amounts in vegetable proteins, have been shown to lower blood pressure by as much as 3 points systolic and 1.6 points diastolic. This may not seem significant but, “It is estimated that reducing a population’s average systolic blood pressure by 2 [points] could cut stroke death rates by 6 percent and reduce mortality from coronary heart disease by 4 percent,” says researcher Jeremiah Stamler, MD, professor emeritus in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill. The American Heart Association estimates that a 6% reduction in 2009 stroke deaths would be equivalent to saving 8,600 people, and a 4% reduction in heart disease deaths would save 17,800 lives per year.” Person's on a vegetarian diet had a 5% higher intake of glutamic acid compared to a animal protein based diet. The article published in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association July 6, 2009, showed that a nearly 5% higher intake of glutamic acid as a percent of total protein in the diet was linked to lower average blood pressure. So for lower blood pressure get your protein from plants not dead animals; “For your health's sake!”



In The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 22/29, 2009; vol 302: pp 401-411 a study identified six lifestyle steps to reduce the risk of hypertension. “The study followed more than 80,000 women, 27 to 44 years old, who participated in the second Nurses Health Study from 1991 to 2005. All of the women had normal blood pressure levels (defined as a blood pressure of 120/80 or less) and were free of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer at the start of the study. During the 14-year follow up, 12,319 cases of high blood pressure in the women were reported. Researchers concluded that the following six healthy lifestyle factors were associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure:

1)      Healthy weight: body mass index (BMI) of less than 25.

2)      Daily exercise: average of 30 minutes of  vigorous exercise per day.

3)      Heart-healthy diet: following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet based on high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, and low intake of sodium, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats.

4)      Moderate (NO) alcohol use.

5)      Use nonnarcotic pain relievers less than once per week.

6)      Taking a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms. (Getting adequate folic acid in your diet is preferable)

Following all six steps resulted in an 80% lower risk of developing high blood pressure, regardless of family history of hypertension. Obesity was the most closely associated risk factor for hypertension and reducing the BMI to 25 or below, reduced the risk of hypertension by 40%. So why not take these steps “for your health's sake!” (Italics added)


If you are interested in reducing your risk of heart disease, an article in the journal The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 23/30, 2003 identified four foods among others that were especially beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart. They included: Dark green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, etc - these foods are high in folic acid, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-oxidants which all improve heart health. It was recommended to have 1 cup of greens daily. Whole grains like oatmeal because of their high fiber content are excellent for your heart. Other whole grains that are heart healthy include, whole wheat, barley, rye, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice. Blueberries - "Blueberries are not only delicious but are also rich in antioxidants. researchers believe that the antioxidants in blueberries work to reduce the buildup of "bad" LDL cholesterol in artery walls that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Blueberries rank No. 1 in antioxidant activity when compared with 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Researchers recommends a 1 cup serving of blueberries (or other berries a day.) Fresh, frozen, or dried, they can be added to cereal, muffins, or eaten by themselves." Soy Protein - Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals, soy protein is a good alternative for red meat, it's also lower in fat and higher in fiber than many meat choices. In people with high cholesterol, studies show that soy protein, when eaten with a healthy low-fat diet, lowers cholesterol. In fact, researchers found that people who ate a diet of several cholesterol-fighting foods lowered their cholesterol as much as people who took medicine. Both the FDA and the American Heart Association encourage eating at least 1 oz (28 grams) of soy protein daily. You can get your soy from soybeans, soy nuts, soy milk, soy flour, energy bars, fortified cereal, tempeh, and tofu.” So why not eat these food for your heart's sake!”


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