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Circulatory system needs exercise
Health advice
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Getting older is the pits! I injured my leg four weeks ago and have had to spend a lot of time elevating it. The inactivity hasn’t helped my aging body — especially my arthritis. And because my puppy, Raven, has been missing his daily walks, he now sneaks out on unsupervised neighborhood rendezvous, during which he seems to lie down and roll around in things that give off very obnoxious odors. My body may be aging, but my sense of smell is excellent.
My Kindle and my laptop have become very important “appendages” during this sedentary period. I’ve read everything from mysteries to several interesting studies on the body’s aging process. Particularly interesting to me were the studies that reported that taking 500 milligrams of olive leaf extract twice per day may naturally lower blood pressure in Stage 1 hypertensive patients. It is supposed to work similarly to prescription ACE-inhibitor drugs. The authors of several studies noted that extracts from leaves of the olive tree have been used since ancient times to combat high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes and for other medicinal purposes.
Additionally, some researchers found that groups of subjects taking olive leaf extract demonstrated significant improvements in triglyceride levels, a positive benefit not seen with the pharmaceutical group. Although the specific blood-pressure-lowering action of olive leaf extract is not known, researchers believe it is related to an active compound in the leaf called oleuropein. Oleuropein reportedly acts synergistically with other chemicals in the plant to exert both ACE-inhibitory and calcium-channel-blocking activities.
It would be smart to watch for additional information on these studies, but don’t start your olive-oil regime yet. Let this research continue before you plant olive trees in your backyard.
The results of a study published in the journal “Hemodialysis” showed that taking daily folic acid supplements dramatically reduced the thickening of the carotid artery wall, a standard marker for stroke-risk analysis. Individuals taking 10 milligrams of folic acid three times a week for a period of two years were shown to have a 25 percent lower risk of having a first stroke. Folic acid reduces blood levels of homocysteine that are associated with arterial-wall hardening. This is something you can start doing because other studies also point to a link between folic-acid levels and a decrease in Alzheimer’s disease.
Research published in the journal “Stroke” concludes that drinking the equivalent of three cups of green tea each day could prevent the onset of ischemic stroke. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins that reportedly help lower blood pressure by naturally increasing levels of nitric oxide in the blood.
Other information published recently in the Journal of the American Heart Association said that stroke, along with heart disease and cancer, now is categorized as another preventable lifestyle disease. The article maintained that first-time stroke incidence can be lowered by 80 percent by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And, as you know, it’s never too late to start improving your lifestyle by eating better and exercising.
Just like our muscles lose tone, flexibility and endurance without exercise, so do our hearts and circulatory systems. If you suddenly stopped using your arms, you eventually would find it difficult to move them or pick things up. The same is true for our bodies. If we don’t exercise our bodies (and hearts), it eventually will become difficult to breathe and move.
When we’re healthy, our arteries are muscular and elastic. They stretch when our hearts pump blood through them. How much they stretch depends on how much force is exerted by the pumping blood. Healthy lifestyles make for healthy bodies and improve our circulatory systems.
A healthy lifestyle means eating right and eliminating or limiting things that put us at risk for disease, such as tobacco and alcohol. Try to limit stress, get sufficient rest and exercise often. These are things that are known to limit disease risks and make us feel fit and well.

Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.

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