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610,000 people in the US die of heart disease per year – 1 in every 4 deaths. Whilst some of these are inherent problems, many develop later in life due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you want to protect this vital organ, here are just a few of the changes you can make to keep your heart happy.

A hearty meal

Heart problems are generally the result of too much fat, salt and sugar in our diets. Some foods are obvious offenders such as fried meats and cakes. Others include soda, margarine and powdered coffee creams. Eating more organic foods is often the best way to look after your heart, using more natural sugars from fruit and more natural salts from meats. Trading in fries more often for boiled potatoes, pasta and rice can also help.

Pumping iron

Exercise helps to strengthen heart muscles, keep blood pressure low and keep blood flow high. This includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Weight lifting has been viewed as bad for your heart in the past, but recent studies have shown that a bit of weight lifting can actually be very good for this organ as it builds those heart muscles up. The general rule of thumb is to stay active and not lead a sedentary lifestyle that will only cause your heart to become lazy.

Beating stress

Stress is also bad for our hearts. The overproduction of adrenalin and cortisol and increased white blood cell production creates an imbalance in our hearts that causes heart attacks. Taking steps to limit stress isn’t always easy and may require counselling. If work is to blame, consider whether the paycheque is worth the years that could be deducted from your life.

Packing in smoking

Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack than those that have never smoked. This is due to a number of reasons. It firstly damages the lining of the arteries by leading to a build-up of fat. Carbon monoxide in cigarettes meanwhile reduces the amount of oxygen in our blood, so that the heart has to beat harder. Nicotine meanwhile increases blood pressure by pumping adrenalin into the heart and causing it to pump unnecessarily faster. All in all, it’s much better for your heart to quit.

Already have a heart problem?

For, those that have already been diagnosed with a heart problem, the risks are heightened. The previous rules need to be followed strictly. Technology meanwhile can help reduce the likeliness. Foremost’s Refurbished AEDs are useful to have as an emergency option. Apps to measure one’s heart rate are also worth downloading and making use of.

There are fortunately many surgery options out there nowadays that can help get rid of heart problems such as bypass operations and stents. For those cases where surgery isn’t an option, a health adviser can be useful for maintaining a healthy regime.


Researchers have found that a certain type of bacteria that live in the gut have been used to reverse obesity and Type-2 diabetes in animal studies.

Research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that a broth containing a single species of bacteria could dramatically alter the health of obese mice.

It is thought to change the gut lining and the way food is absorbed.

Similar tests now need to take place in people to see if the same bacteria can be used to shed the pounds.

The human body is teeming with bacteria – the tiny organisms outnumber human cells in the body 10 to one.

And there is growing evidence that this collection of bacteria or “microbiome” affects health.

Studies have shown differences between the types and numbers of bacteria in the guts of lean and obese people.

Researchers have found that a certain type of bacteria that live in the gut have been used to reverse obesity and Type-2 diabetes in animal studies

Researchers have found that a certain type of bacteria that live in the gut have been used to reverse obesity and Type-2 diabetes in animal studies

Meanwhile gastric bypass operations have been shown to change the balance of bacteria in the gut.

Researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Belgium, worked with a single species of bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila. It normally makes up 3-5% of gut bacteria, but its levels fall in obesity.

Mice on a high fat diet – which led them to put on two to three times more fat than normal, lean, mice – were fed the bacteria.

The mice remained bigger than their lean cousins, but had lost around half of their extra weight despite no other changes to their diet.

They also had lower levels of insulin resistance, a key symptom of Type-2 diabetes.

Prof. Patrice Cani, from the Catholic University of Louvain, said: “Of course it is an improvement, we did not completely reverse the obesity, but it is a very strong decrease in the fat mass.

“It is the first demonstration that there is a direct link between one specific species and improving metabolism.”

Adding the bacteria increased the thickness of the gut’s mucus barrier, which stops some material passing from the gut to the blood. It also changed the chemical signals coming from the digestive system – which led to changes in the way fat was processed elsewhere in the body.

Similar results were achieved by adding a type of fiber to diets which led to an increase in the levels of Akkermansia muciniphila.

Prof. Patrice Cani said it was “surprising” that just one species, out of the thousands in the gut, could have such an effect.

He said this was a “first step” towards “eventually using these bacteria as prevention or treatment of obesity and Type-2 diabetes” and that some form of bacteria-based therapy would be used “in the near future”.