Heart Health: Part III – regeneration, genetics and supplements

heart health

Wear and tear, cell regeneration and impact on heart health

Most people pretty much accept the inevitable decline in heart health as they age, believing that the heart (just as the rest of the body) wears out with time.  It is almost expected that your heart, as you get older, will start changing for the worse – the cardiac muscle is expected to thicken (and weaken at the same time), arteries – to stiffen and overall cell regeneration process – to slow down.  The implied lack of exercise at an older age makes these processes accelerate even further.

This grim picture, however, doesn’t have to be your reality.

It is true that myocardium cells may not possess the same remarkable regenerative capacity as liver cells, for instance (although they do, of course, regenerate following normal cell death), but as long as you can prevent current cells from dying too quickly – you can extend the lifespan of the whole heart.  The rules we discussed in relation to overall aging prevention apply equally when trying to prevent premature aging of the heart.

As with most organs, aging of the heart means the loss of ability of myocardium cells to divide and replicate (at least, at a rate that surpasses the rate of normal cell death).   And the factors that drive this are the same as what we have previously discussed – excessive free radical damage, inflammation and muscle atrophy.  If you prevent these generally (by making slight adjustments to your lifestyle and diet) – you will keep your heart young, strong and healthy.

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Supplement selection pitfalls – and things to keep in mind

Herbal supplement bags

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to check out and comment on a certain supplement stack she found online.  This supplement claimed to contain about 200 different active herbal ingredients and, as a result – cure what seemed to be every malaise possible under the sun.  Fatigue, too much body fat, too little muscle mass, bad sleep, depression, slow metabolism, hormone disruption – you name it.  All of this was delivered in a convenient size and was claimed to be “super-concentrated” at a somewhat affordable price.

Seems like a great deal, right?

But, however tempting it sounds, we are not going to discuss this particular one supplement.  Instead, we are going to have a bit of a more general discussion about how to sort through claims made by supplement manufacturers and separate truth from fiction.

If you don’t know how to do this – you will be paying MEGABUCKS for supplements that are questionable at best – and often detrimental in the worst-case scenario.

So let’s look at a few important considerations when picking a supplement from a health store.

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How to Gain Muscle Mass Naturally – 5 Key Variables for a Ripped Body

Female muscle building

So you want to know how to gain muscle mass fast.

That’s fair – whether you are a gal or a dude, growing lean muscle often means vastly improved  health markers and overall quality of life – and although your gender will ultimately determine the end result ( it is all but impossible for a woman to easily morph into a massive mountain of muscles, unless she has equally massive help from steroids) , the path to the end goal is the same.

We have previously discussed the benefits of bigger muscles multiple times, so the assumption is that at this stage you don’t need convincing and are just looking for the answer to “how”, rather than “why”.

There are two ways you can go about accelerating muscle growth.  You can spend a lot of time drooling over different “new and improved” tips on how to gain muscle mass in a wide variety of glossy magazines featuring ripped bodies on their cover and constantly switch between different workout routines  and new super-potent miracle supplements in search of something extraordinary.

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The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals – Part V (Selenium, Zinc and Iron)

Minerals (selenium, zinc, copper)

(Continued from Parts I, II, III and IV)

SELENIUM

Benefits of Selenium

Selenium supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis, and protects from oxidative stress.

It is responsible for regulating the delivery of zinc (see below) to zinc enzymes throughout the body for proper zinc metabolism.

Selenium also supports cognitive function, immune system and fertility for both men and women. Studies have confirmed strong positive correlation between selenium and testosterone levels in males (good for both muscle building and sex drive).  On top of that, selenium increases sperm count and enhances sperm quality.

Severe selenium deficiency in adults is pretty rare, though minor deficiency is common and can have some unpleasant effects on our health.

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The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals – Part III (Magnesium and Calcium)

minerals-magnesium-calcium-others

(Continued from Parts I and Part II)

This installment of the series starts the discussion on minerals that are essential for your health and deserve special mention. Starting with calcium and magnesium (and moving on to other minerals in subsequent articles), we will cover how to make sure you get the most out of them, what their adequate intakes are and some of the caveats with their supplementation.

Before we start, however, let’s look at a few factors that are important to consider.  These factors are common for many of the minerals we will discuss and need to be understood before their absorption and the effect they have on health is discussed.

Factors affecting mineral absorption and availability

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The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals – Part II (Vitamin C and the B Family)

Vitamin C and others

(… Continued from Part I)

VITAMIN C

Benefits of Vitamin C

Just like vitamin E, Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, or ascorbate) is also an anti-oxidant and, thus, protects from free radical damage.  Free radicals accelerate aging and are believed to cause, among other things, cancer, arthritis and heart disease.  In addition to that, vitamin C also triggers the production of intracellular glutathione – a master antioxidant in your body that has many beneficial effects, including pathogen deactivation

Vitamin C also aids in growth and repair of tissues (it forms a protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels), helps in healing wounds and is required for a range of essential metabolic reactions.

One of the most commonly known function of vitamin C is protection from common cold, however, the results of some studies actually suggest that Vitamin C shortens the duration of the common cold symptoms once they occur, but may do nothing to prevent it.  Still, if you already caught cold, loading up on vitamin C may be a great strategy.

Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, with such symptoms as bleeding gums, gingivitis, splitting hair, swollen joints, and decreased immunity – but the likelihood of such deficiency is very  low even if you don’t consume a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits that contain it and don’t specifically supplement, because it is so prevalent and is usually added even to processed foods and drinks.  However – especially when you need to a lot of it (such as when you need to fight an illness or if you are exposed to events that increase free radical production – such as smoking or constant stress, for instance) – it is also unlikely that you will get enough from whatever food sources you select – so make sure you read the “Recommended Intake” section

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Nourishing good bacteria to improve health

bad and good bacteria

How bad and good bacteria influence everything in your life

You have 100 trillion bacteria in your gut.  This is 10 times the number of all other cells in all your other tissues combined.

You may not think much of bacteria and, in fact, try to eradicate it when you get a chance (using anti-bacterial sanitizers, soaps and shampoos to clean yourself up and gobbling up antibiotics when you get sick) – the symbiotic relationship of your gut bacteria with the rest of your biology has some people argue that we are nothing more than just vessels and vehicles for bacteria that control what we do, how we eat and how long we live – all as a part of a devious plan to ensure their survival and domination.

While this sounds a bit too much like science fiction, the reality may not be very far from it when you start considering a few facts.  We mostly think of our intestinal flora in the context of digestion problems, gas and stomach pains (and an odd yogurt advertised on TV), but it is so much more than just that.

In fact, your microbiome (gut bacteria) are responsible for a wide variety of functions, such as:

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How to build muscle – the right way (Part II – supplements)

(Continued from Part I – Rest, Recovery and Nutrition)

Bodybuilding supplements for muscle growth

You may be impatient to get to the exercise part, but exercise by itself would do little if you don’t address other pillars of building muscle.  We talked about the importance of nutrition and recovery in Part I.  We will discuss exercise last, in Part III, where we will cover the science behind muscle growth, common misconceptions in bodybuilding and sample protocols.  But for now let’s talk about a few important supplements.

We’ve already discussed protein supplementation in Part I.  Can you build muscle without protein powder, simply consuming whole protein sources?  Probably – but it’s going to be extremely hard to do when you consider necessary food volumes, cost-effectiveness, convenience and other factors.  From that perspective, it is pretty much a necessity.

There are several dozens of protein powder supplements on the market.  They come in the form of concentrates, isolates or hydrolysates.  In terms of protein type – the powders can be derived from whey, casein, egg, even beef.  Vegetarian protein powders are predominantly made of pea, rice, soy or hemp.   What to choose?

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