Should You Consider an Omega-3 Supplement?

Should You Consider an Omega-3 Supplement?

Omega-3 supplements are among the most popular supplements taken regularly by Americans, with an estimated 10% of the population taking the vitamin regularly. Yet, research suggests that not everyone will benefit from them. Here’s a closer look at who may benefit from an omega-3 regimen.

In November 2018, researchers presented their findings from the VITAL study at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting. In the trial, more than 25,800 healthy adults were put on a daily Vitamin D and Omega-3 regimen, with a goal of determining whether omega-3 would help to prevent cardiovascular events. Their findings didn’t present one answer across the board, however.

According to the study’s lead author, some groups did benefit from the vitamin, while others didn’t. The supplement didn’t reduce the risk of cardiovascular events overall, but there was a 28% reduction in heart attacks. It didn’t appear to prevent heart issues in healthy people overall, but participants who had less than 1.5 servings of fish per week did experience benefits, including a 40% reduction in heart attacks. African American participants saw the largest benefit, with a 77% reduction in heart attacks, which the study’s lead author says must be investigated further.

A subsequent study, REDUCE-IT, looked at adults who were middle-aged or older and had significant risk factors for cardiovascular events, including elevated triglyceride levels. Participants were given either a high-dose, prescription omega-3 medication, or a placebo. In participants who took the medication versus the placebo, there was a 25% reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease or experiencing a cardiovascular event.

High-dose omega-3 supplements aren’t always recommended, as they do present certain medical risks. Nonetheless, the study author says that for people who are at risk of cardiac events, the benefits of the supplement appear to outweigh its risks.

In general, omega-3 supplements should be reviewed by a medical provider to determine if a patient would benefit and at what dose. Practioner-grade supplements are recommended and if you are interested in learning more, please visit https://www.stemedix.com/vitamins/ or contact us today.

What Can You Do to Improve Heart Health?

What Can You Do to Improve Heart Health?

Whether you’re living with heart disease, actively trying to prevent it, or just seeking ways to boost your overall wellness, there are many habits you can adopt to improve your cardiovascular health. Oftentimes, however, an extensive lifestyle overhaul can feel daunting. While completely revamping your diet or embarking on a new fitness journey can indeed be overwhelming, there are smaller steps you can take that can still have a big impact on heart health.

By implementing these small changes one by one, you may find that the path to a healthier lifestyle is well within reach.

Get Lifting

Lifting small hand weights can help build muscle, which contributes to overall health. Once your weights get too light, move up to a heavier set.

Choose nuts as a healthy snack.

Nuts are filling but rich in nutrients. Next time you’re hungry between meals, reach for peanuts, almonds, or walnuts for your heart health. You can also incorporate them into salads.

Add one fruit or veggie a day.

Instead of focusing on what you should eliminate from your diet, think instead about the healthy choices you can add-in. Aim for an additional serving of vegetables or fruit each day until you’re having them with most meals. You’ll likely make fewer unhealthy choices as a natural result.

Walk for 10 minutes.

A quick walk is a simple, manageable goal you can get started on right away. As you build up endurance, increase the time by five-minute intervals until you’re walking 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.  

Cut out caloric beverages.

Beverages other than water often have extra calories, sugars, and other additives which can impact your health and lead to weight gain. When possible, choose water to keep your diet in check. If you’re craving flavor, add a slice of lemon.

Have a good breakfast.

Start with a nutritional meal and you may find yourself more inclined to make healthy choices for the rest of the day. Aim to include a good source of protein, such as eggs or yogurt, so you’re full and less likely to snack before lunch.

Swap out red meat for seafood.

While you may choose to have red meat in moderation, seafood is a far better nutritional choice. Try to incorporate fish into your meals once per week to boost brain and heart health.

Try deep breathing.

High blood pressure is a major heart health concern. Deep breathing may help to keep you calm in stressful situations, which could contribute to lower blood pressure. 

Wash your hands frequently.

Infections such as seasonal flu and other viruses can take their toll on heart health. Minimize your risk of infection by washing your hands frequently, and especially before eating or touching your face.

Practice gratitude.

Positive emotions such as gratitude have been linked to better overall wellness and longevity. To evoke more feelings of appreciation and fulfillment, start and end each day by reflecting on what it is you have to be grateful for.

For more helpful health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Eating While Bored? Here’s How to Kick the Habit

Eating While Bored? Here’s How to Kick the Habit

Eating habits can be driven by many factors, including stress, boredom, and real hunger. Snacking outside of your true hunger cues can cause you to take in extra calories, and will likely have you reaching for “comfort foods” with little nutritional value. Here’s what you can do to adopt more mindful eating habits.

The Cause of Boredom-Based Eating

Eating during periods of boredom is actually a type of emotional eating. While physical hunger drives a need for sustenance, emotional eating prompts a specific craving. Moreover, with emotional eating, it can take longer to feel satisfied (sometimes, up to 20 minutes). Physical hunger, on the other hand, can typically be quelled quickly. While physical hunger may begin with a rumbling in your stomach, emotional hunger is triggered by the brain.

You might also find yourself eating while stressed. Like eating while bored, eating while stressed acts as a distraction. Cravings are driven by dopamine, the feel-good hormones which are released when you eat something delicious. Boredom or stress can prompt us to go looking for a pick-me-up, or dopamine release, and oftentimes, snacking is the quickest fix.

How to Stop Eating While Bored

Fortunately, there are ways to stop using emotional eating as a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, or other challenges. First, you must start by identifying whether you are indeed an emotional eater. Consider creating a food diary to track your eating habits. Don’t just write down what you ate and when, however. Also write down how you felt: On a scale of 1-10, how physically hungry did you feel at the time? How long had it been since your last meal or snack? Were you experiencing listlessness or any type of stress? Perhaps you had just had an argument with a loved one — keep track of all this information to look for patterns in your eating habits.

If you suspect that you are an emotional eater, the next step is to start practicing mindful eating. This is simply the process of recognizing your emotions and physical state. By bringing awareness to these factors, you can begin asking yourself whether you’re really hungry, or if you’re experiencing boredom or emotional turmoil instead. If you are indeed hungry, pause and observe your body’s natural cues. Legitimate hunger can be satisfied with healthy choices, and especially protein-rich foods such as eggs, nut butter, beans, and lean protein. Round out your meal or snack with a healthy carbohydrate, like whole grain toast, apple slices, or wheat pasta.

As you’re eating, try to take it slowly, savoring every bite. Limit distractions; for instance, try to avoid eating while watching TV or scrolling through social media. Eat until your hunger is satisfied and you feel full.

In addition, you can get out of the habit of eating while bored by planning your meals out in advance. Have ingredients for healthy dishes on hand and prep food early enough so that you’re not feeling famished by the time your next meal is ready. You can also prepare nutritious breakfasts and lunches in advance, such as smoothies, overnight oats, and delicious salads.

Also, make sure you’re staying hydrated. Sometimes, thirst can be confused for hunger. Dehydration can produce signals similar to those of hunger, so drink a glass of water if you’re feeling hungry despite having eaten fairly recently.

Finally, you can also try going for a walk, doing a quick yoga routine, or finding another healthy distraction if you’re really struggling to stay away from the fridge. While these tactics may just seem like other distractions from boredom or stress, they can also help to clear your mind in a healthy way. Learning to practice mindful eating isn’t something that happens overnight. Yet, with patience and reflection, you can become more in tune with your body and its true needs.  

For more helpful Health Awareness articles, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

A Guide to Eating for a Healthy Immune System

A Guide to Eating for a Healthy Immune System

A healthy diet is important for supporting a high-functioning immune system. Nutrient-rich foods give your body the tools they need to fight infections and reduce the risk of chronic illness. While many fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins are good options to consider, certain choices have more immune-boosting benefits than others. Here are some foods you can incorporate into your diet to help keep illness at bay.

Green Veggies

Broccoli has long been hailed for its health benefits, so it’s no surprise that the cruciferous veggie can also support immunity. It’s rich in immune-boosting micronutrients vitamin C and beta-carotene, but its sulfur compounds could also help to defend against free radicals.

Eggs

In addition to providing protein, eggs are micronutrient powerhouses. They contain vitamins E and D, as well as zinc and selenium, to support immune regulation. Eggs from chickens fed a vegetarian diet may be even higher in beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3s.

Yogurt

Another contender from the dairy category, yogurt has probiotics which support healthy gut flora. Research indicates the health of the gastrointestinal tract is directly tied to immunity. Eating probiotic-rich foods could therefore help to support a healthy microbiome, and thus, a strong immune system.

Chicken Soup

The idea that chicken soup could help to banish illness isn’t just an old wives’ tale. While there’s still debate as to whether or not it delivers any immune protection, it turns out the comfort food is actually rich with anti-inflammatory agents. Garlic, protein, and onions offer a blend of healthy nutrients.

Fish

Certain cold-water fish, including salmon and tuna, are also inflammation fighters. They contain omega-3s, which banish inflammatory agents, thus allowing the immune system to direct its efforts on the harmful pathogens which cause illness.

Lean Beef

While you may already know beef is a great source of protein, the meat also has other noteworthy benefits for promoting immune health. It’s got more than half of your daily recommended intake for key nutrients like selenium, zinc, and vitamin B6. Many people struggle to take in enough of these vitamins, and even minor deficiencies could compromise the immune system’s ability to some degree. 

Bell Peppers

Vitamin C is a known immunity booster, which is why citrus fruits are so commonly recommended to fight off colds. Yet, bell peppers are even better sources. A medium red bell pepper has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange, and it also comes with beta-carotene and vitamin E, which are beneficial antioxidants.

A healthy diet is no substitute for practices like immunizations and getting ample sleep, but it can certainly round out a strong defense against illness. Of course, it can be challenging to get all the key nutrients your body needs every day. If you think you might have a nutritional gap in your diet, talk to a specialist about supplements to help boost your body’s immune system. 

5 Helpful Tips for Exercising with an Autoimmune Disorder

5 Helpful Tips for Exercising with an Autoimmune Disorder

The benefits of regular physical activity simply can’t be overstated. From controlling weight to boosting energy, improving mood, and reducing the risk of chronic illness, it’s among the best things you can do for your health, especially when coupled with sound nutrition. Yet, what happens if you already have a preexisting condition that makes exercise difficult?

For people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus, certain types of arthritis, and fibromyalgia, among many others, periods of flare-ups can make exercise challenging. When low energy levels, widespread pain, and other challenging symptoms manifest, it’s understandable that the last thing you’d want to do is exercise.

Nonetheless, while more movement might seem counterintuitive to controlling pain, it turns out physical activity could actually help control your symptoms. In fact, people with certain autoimmune disorders who exercise regularly may experience a milder disease course, improved mobility, and better cardiovascular wellness. Plus, exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and can reduce inflammation and anxiety.

Of course, to get moving while you’re in pain is a delicate balancing act: too much of a good thing can certainly backfire. For this reason, low-impact exercise is best for people with autoimmune disorders, especially during flare-ups. Here are some recommendations for working out in a way that works for you and your autoimmune condition:

Be mindful of your personal needs.

The symptoms of autoimmune conditions can vary significantly from one person to the next. Moreover, you’re likely to experience good days and bad days. Before you plan a workout for the day, check-in with yourself, and make an honest assessment of how you’re feeling. If you’re too drained or in pain to work out, don’t stress over a missed workout. 

Recruit the experts.

While you can certainly establish a workout regimen independently, it doesn’t hurt to get input from your medical specialists, and perhaps even some physical fitness pros. Whether you work with physical therapists who specialize in joint conditions or a trainer at your local gym who can help you perfect your form, getting expert advice may help you avoid injury and find an approach that best suits your needs.

Go for low-impact exercises.

Explosive, plyometric moves like box jumps and burpees aren’t for everyone. If just the thought of these moves gets your joints aching, don’t fret. There are still plenty of low-impact moves that can elevate your heart rate and provide a quality workout. Cycling, swimming, rowing, yoga, treadmill walking, and Pilates are a few joint-friendly exercises to consider.

Track your workouts.

It’s easy to be consumed by numbers such as calories burned and minutes worked out. Instead of focusing on these metrics, look instead at how you feel before, during, and after a workout. Check for patterns that may help you better understand which types of exercise are best suited for your body and when. For instance, if you feel particularly sore after one type of workout, it may be best to scale back next time or skip that activity altogether. If, on the other hand, you feel loosened up and relaxed afterward, consider adding that type of exercise to your regular regimen.

Fuel your body appropriately.

For people with autoimmune conditions, good nutrition isn’t just about staying healthy. It’s also an important component of controlling inflammation, a common concern in autoimmune diseases. An anti-inflammatory diet in which you avoid red meat and heavily processed foods while prioritizing lean protein, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids could help you feel even better after your workouts.

Can Herbs Help to Boost Immunity?

Can Herbs Help to Boost Immunity?

A strong immune system requires good nutrition, ample sleep, and regular physical activity. While nothing can replace these healthy behaviors, it’s possible adding certain herbs to your diet could help give your immune system an extra boost. In fact, you may already be using many of the following herbs to flavor your favorite dishes. Here are a few to consider for their beneficial immune-boosting properties.

Stevia

A natural sweetener commonly used to replace traditional sugar, stevia can be used to combat blood clotting and indigestion. It can also help to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as blood pressure. The stevia plant is also believed to have antibacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-septic properties, all of which could help to strengthen the immune system.

Tulsi

More commonly known as holy basil, tulsi is considered an immensely powerful herb for its robust healing capabilities. Its medicinal properties include the ability to protect organs from stress caused by heavy metals and pollutants, among other types of damage. Many proponents of the herb also use it to address migraines and indigestion.

Fenugreek

This herb is commonly added to Indian dishes. In seed or powder form, fenugreek has a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. These powerful agents are known to control blood sugar, but they can also help to combat constipation. In studies, high doses of fenugreek have also been linked to up-regulation of immune-related genes and antioxidant enzyme genes, suggesting the plant’s ability to improve immunity.

Mint

Often found in tea varieties, mint has long been known for its ability to curb stomach ailments. Besides its soothing effects, however, it may also help to calm allergic reactions and respiratory illnesses. Most importantly, the plant is rich in antioxidants, which makes it a simple and natural way to power up your immune system.

Coriander

Coriander leaves, also known as Chinese parsley, have powerful antioxidants. In particular, the herb is associated with controlling digestive issues, such as diarrhea and indigestion. It may also help to control high blood lipids. Plus, the plant has been shown to fight inflammation throughout the body, an important underlying factor in many chronic illnesses.

For more helpful Health Awareness articles, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

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