Should we put stents in renal (kidney) arteries?


People who have narrowings (plaque) in kidney blood vessels sometimes are referred for angioplasty and stenting to open up the blood vessels and improve blood flow to the kidneys. The kidneys help regulate blood pressure and when the kidney arteries get narrowed people can develop high blood pressure and kidney failure. I actually worked in an angiography lab for years where we performed balloon and stent procedures on renal arteries and had very good results. But does opening up the kidney blood vessels translate into health benefits? What do research studies say about renal artery procedures?

A 5-year study called the ASTRAL Study (published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nov 2009) followed over 800 patients in the United Kingdom. Patients with renal artery stenosis (narrowings) were randomized to medications only or medications plus balloon angioplasty/stenting. Patients who received balloon angioplasty and medication therapy were found to have a slower progression of narrowings but no significant differences were observed in blood pressure or kidney blood work. Patients with severe narrowings leading to flash pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) or rapidly progressing kidney disease were not included in this study. So the health benefits in these patients are not known. But this study suggests that the routine use of balloon angioplasty and stenting for kidney artery narrowings is not recommended. Individual risks and benefits should be discussed with you physician to determine whether this procedure should be performed in addition to taking medications.


Dangers of Fried Fish


We’ve all heart that fish is heart healthy and high in omega 3 fatty acids.  The fish that has the highest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids includes salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and anchovies.  But does the cooking method affect the health benefits of fish?

The Multiethnic Cohort living in Hawaii and Los Angeles followed over 82,000 men and 103,000 women aged 45 to 75 years of age (over 11 years) with a history of heart disease to answer this question.  The amount of fish and soy consumed was tracked as well as the preparation method.  Men and women with higher omega 3 intake had an overall lower risk of death due to heart disease.  Salted and dried fish increased heart disease risk in women.  Fried fish did not provide heart health benefits in men or women.  Baking and boiling fish lead to the healthiest omega 3 levels.  The study also found that adding low sodium soy sauce or tofu to fish enhanced the benefits.  This study did not take into consideration the intake of fish-oil supplementation.

 So enjoy your fish but avoid frying.

(Presented at 2009 AHA Scientific Sessions)

For more heart healthy info visit or our other blog Healthy Living with Heartstrong


You Are What You Drink Blog Talk Radio Show


You Are What You Drink


So you are probably wondering… the beverages I drink really make that much of a difference? They are only liquids, right? Liquids “go right through me” so how much of an ill effect can they have?

You have probably heard the old saying “You are what you eat?”  Well, it is true, but “You are what you drink” also!

 Beverage Guidance Panel

 The Beverage Guidance Panel is a group of nutrition experts from the United States, which formed several years ago.  The purpose of this group was to review the existing research to determine which beverages are considered healthy.  They based their recommendations on the number of calories, energy and nutrients provided and health benefits of different beverages.  The winner hands down was water.  But that doesn’t mean this is the only beverage we should drink.  The Beverage Guidance Panel developed a six-level pitcher for beverages similar to the food pyramid.  (Published in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Available online at

 The average adult should aim to drink 8 glasses of fluids every day.  The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends:

 Water: at least 4 (8 ounce) servings a day for women and 6 (8 ounce) servings a day for men

Unsweetened coffee or tea (iced or hot): up to 8 servings of tea or 4 servings of coffee per day

Low-fat Milk: up to 2 (8 ounce) servings per day

100% fruit or vegetable juice, whole milk, or sports drinks: up to 1 (8 ounce) serving per day

Carbonated soft drinks: up to 1 serving per day

Diet beverages with sugar substitutes: up to 4 (8 ounce) servings per day

Alcoholic beverages: up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men

Liquid or Empty Calories

In the United States about 20% of our daily caloric intake comes from beverages.  The Institute of Medicine recommends men have 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid every day and women have 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid every day. 

 Most experts now believe that part of the obesity problem in this country comes from the increased consumption of calorically sweetened beverages.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2009 issue) suggests that cutting back on liquid calories may actually result in greater weight loss.  The study evaluated 800 adult men and women for fruit and beverage intake and weight changes.  The results were interesting:

Cutting 100 calories a day from liquid intake lead to about a 0.5 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Cutting 100 calories a day from solid food intake lead to about a 0.1 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Eliminating one 12 ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day lead to the greatest weight loss = 1 pound at 6 months and 1.5 pounds at 18 months

 If you are trying to lose weight you must remember to count your liquid calories!!

Should you drink wine?

Is it healthier to drink decaffeinated coffee or tea?

Does grapefruit juice really interfere with some medications?

Can diet soda really make you fat?

Is grape juice as good as red wine in preventing heart disease?

Can vegetable juice help promote weight loss?

Is organic milk really healthier?

These are just some of the questions we answer in our eBook….

 The above is the introduction to our new eBook called “You are What You Drink: A Healthy Beverage Guide” available on smashwords at

This eBook contains information on the health benefits and adverse health effects of water, coffee, tea, milk, calorically Sweetened Beverages (soft drinks), non-calorically sweetened beverages (diet soda), fruit and vegetable juices, alcoholic beverages, sports and energy drinks, how to read a nutrition label on a beverage and lots more…

You can visit for more info (Cheers)

Whole Grains May Help Control Blood Pressure



 Previous research has shown that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure.  But the impact of whole grains on men’s blood pressure was unknown. 

 A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2009) followed over 31, 000 men for 18 years.  Men with the highest daily whole grain consumption were 19% less likely to develop high blood pressure versus men who ate the least amount of whole grains.  The lower blood pressures were found regardless of weight, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake.

 So whole grains can help control blood pressure in both women and men.  The current dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 3 ounces or 85 grams of whole grains daily.  Whole grains are richer in nutrients because they retain their bran and germ unlike refined grains.

 “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit

Men More Likely to Have Undiagnosed Diabetes


 A study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine (November 2009) reports that men were twice as likely as women to have undiagnosed diabetes.  Over 6,700 patients from the United Kingdom aged 52 to 79 were evaluated.  Nine percent of the total patients had diabetes.  Previously unrecognized diabetes was found in 22% of the men and 12% of the women in this study.

 Some of the warning signs of diabetes include:

 Frequent urination

Unusual thirst

Extreme hunger

Unusual weight loss

Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Frequent infections

Blurred vision

Cuts/bruises that heal slowly

Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet

 Both men and women need to make sure they have regular screenings for diabetes, especially if they are overweight or if they have relatives with diabetes – this increases your risk.  If you do not know your risk for diabetes why not talk to your healthcare provider this month – November is American Diabetes Month!

 Diabetes is a strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Looking for some healthy lifestyle information visit


Healthy Holiday Travel



 The holiday season is upon us, which means lots travel, unhealthy food, memorable moments, and our famous excuses such as, ”I’m traveling, there are no healthy options!” and “I’ll work it all off when I get home.” A typical American may gain upwards of 15 pounds during the winter months, including holidays. Why put you and your body through this when there are simple tips and ways around the holiday bulge?

 Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, the only things moving are the means of transportation.

 When traveling by car, I suggest the following tips:

–          Stop to eat instead of sitting in the car and going through the drive-thru.  For the budget conscious, this doesn’t have to be at a restaurant, there are some great sandwich shops that offer healthy and affordable meals!  

–          Take a break from the long drive and walk around for 10-15 minutes, this short amount of time can be a great benefit to your health.  

–          For close destinations, pack a picnic.  This is a great way to get the family involved and find a great place to pull over and eat on the way. 

 When traveling by train:

–          Get up, walk around and stretch as much as you can. 

–          Bring snacks to avoid over eating the full, typically, unhealthy foods trains provide. Trail mix and nuts are some of the best options to bring!

–          Bring a book! The train is the perfect place to relax and stimulate your mind.

 While traveling by plane:

–          Power walk in the airport! Don’t worry, you won’t look weird, usually others who are late to their flights are doing the same so you’ll fit right in!

–          Make sure you plan ahead.  If you are traveling internationally check to see if they offer a vegan menu or bring your own food to eat that you know you’ll enjoy.  

–          Snack frequently, never allowing yourself to over eat or binge at one sitting.

–          Keep alcohol to a minimum while traveling, as well as caffeine, and sodium. All tend to dehydrate the body, and while flying it is important to stay hydrated, plus it helps prevent the dreaded jet lag!

 With these simple tips, you can help keep the pounds off while traveling this holiday season! Remember, being prepared is the key to traveling success!

 By Shauna Johnson, Culinary Instructor at Wellspring Weight Loss Camps. (