Tag: alcohol

American Heart Month

The month of February is synonymous for the heart driven holiday of love, this month is also American Heart month. In honor of this observance, it’s important to find out if you and your family members are at risk for this preventable disease.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. Although health disparities based on geography, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or genetics cannot be altered, lifestyle changes are the easiest way to gain control of your health and avoid potential risk factors.

You have heard it many times, eat your veggies and exercise to keep your heart strong and happy, diet is a big player in Cardio vascular disease prevention. A balanced diet of nutrient rich foods can have the biggest impact on your heart. Adults should have at least 5 servings a day of fruits and veggies, eat foods low in trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and increase high fiber foods. Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and control blood pressure. Be sure to include varied physical activity such as cardio, strength training, and flexibility modalities at minimum 150 minutes a week into your lifestyle.

Smoking and/or alcohol consumption combined can lead to higher chances; moderation or cessation is key. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes harm the heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis (artery narrowing)—even if you smoke only once in a while. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

Diabetes has recently been added to the list of factors according to the National Diabetes Clearing House, “If you have diabetes you are twice as likely as someone who doesn’t for the disease.” Over time, high blood glucose levels (blood sugar) can increase the deposits of fatty materials in artery and blood vessel walls, increasing the chances for artery narrowing and hardening (atherosclerosis). Scientists have discovered that all cholesterol is not the same, aim to get your cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 hrs. The so called “good” cholesterol –HDL- is actually protective against heart disease, it can help reduce inflammation, which contributes to heart health. HDL lower than 40 mg/dl increases your risk of heart disease, while HDL above 60 mg/dl may offer protection against heart disease.

As you begin your journey keep a few things in mind to keep you on track; Partner up, the journey is more fun. Don’t get discouraged, you will create unnecessary stress on your heart, and try not to get overwhelmed with vast information, the smallest steps are the most important.

Keep a clear head, and a properly functioning body, by refraining from alcohol.

We are all familiar with the common effects that alcohol has on our body. Many people enjoy its sedating influence and it’s hard to deny that it does play a vital role in many of society’s traditions and practices. One effect alcohol has, which is not widely discussed, is its impact on body composition. In its purest form, supplies seven calories per gram, almost twice as many as proteins and carbohydrates, bumping up ones total energy balance whenever it is consumed. Although, unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage.

In general, alcohol consumption affects rational thought, emotions, mood, judgment, speech and muscle coordination. Alcohol is specifically detrimental to athletes and can inhibit recovery, protein synthesis, hydration, motivation, and nutrient intake. It interferes with many of the processes so important to success: focus, performance, recovery and rebuilding. Although alcohol is absorbed rapidly, it is metabolized very slowly and its effects may still impact performance up to 48 hours after the last drink.

As little as 2-3 standard drinks can directly:

  • Decrease strength, limiting workout intensity and muscle growth and development
  • Impair reaction time
  • Impair balance and hand/eye coordination
  • Increase fatigue
  • Interfere with body temperature regulation
  • Cause dehydration
  • Deplete aerobic capacity and negatively impact endurance for up to 48 hrs after the last drink
  • Impact cellular repair, lowers testosterone and increases estrogen
  • Impact fat oxidation, meaning fat burning stops all together. The Kreb cycle which normally involves burning fat will instead be burning the alcohol off to detoxify your body. So not only will you not be burning fat but you’ll be consuming extra calories which lead you to put on more fat
  • Impact cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure.
  • Disrupt sleep
  • Cause vitamin and mineral depletion
  • Impair digestion
  • Cause cognitive impairment and lessened inhibitions

As you can see a simple drink has far reaching consequences especially if you are attempting to improve your physique. Your performance in the gym and your recovery and nourishment from food are severely impacted. Try not to negate all of the discipline and hard work you devote to improving your health and reaching your goal. Keep a clear head, and a properly functioning body, by refraining from alcohol when looking to improve your physical fitness, or in other cases, at least be aware of the trade off you are making!