Heart Disease and Vitamin K

by Heidi Toy, NTP

The war against heart disease has largely dictated expert dietary advice over the last 50 years. Based on the principle that our diet – saturated fat in particular – predisposes us to heart disease, well-meaning diet dictocrats took to modifying our meals in specific ways to prevent heart disease. It wasn’t particularly successful. We looked to cultures that have low rates of heart disease – French, Italian, Greek – and found them eating lots of saturated fat. We declared that a “paradox” and inferred that some secret ingredient, olive oil or red wine, is protecting them from the butter and egg yolks that must be killing us.

The French/Italian/Greek “paradox” isn’t a paradox at all. Turns out that many of those rich, fatty “sin” foods are abundant in vitamin K2, the only vitamin known to prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.

The popularity of vitamin D supplements might be compounding the heart disease problem. Vitamin D increases arterial calcification when we are deficient in vitamin K2. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from the intestines, which is a good thing for bone health. But then vitamin K2 is critical to the next step, escorting calcium where it belongs – away from arteries into bones.

Vitamin K2 works by activating many proteins that move calcium around the body. Specifically, osteocalcin attracts calcium into bones and teeth. Another protein, MGP, sweeps calcium out of soft tissues like arteries and veins where the mineral is harmful. When vitamin K2 is lacking, the proteins that depend on it remain inactive. The “Calcium Paradox” then gradually rears its ugly head with an insidious decline in bone mineral density and hardening of the arteries. When K2 is plentiful, bones remain strong and arteries remain clear.

It is possible to lessen plaque burden by stimulating more MGP to actively sweep calcium away. Whether your cholesterol is high or low, what really matters is whether calcium-fueled plaque is building up in your arteries, leading to a potentially fatal blockage.

Vitamin K2 comes in two forms:
menaquinone-4 (often expressed as MK-4)
menaquinone-7 (often expressed as MK-7)

The studies showing effects on calcium deposits in the arteries were done with 45 mcg of MK-7. Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults.

Always take the vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Vitamin K1 is most abundant in leafy greens, while vitamin K2 is most abundant in animal fats and fermented foods. The richest sources of vitamin K2 in modern diets are egg yolks and cheese, especially hard cheeses.

Two distinct forms of vitamin K – K1 and K2 – were discovered in the early 1930s as the factors responsible for helping the blood to coagulate – when you cut your finger, you want the blood at the site to coagulate or you would bleed to death. The letter K came from the German spelling of koagulation. But it wasn’t until 1997 that researchers reported that vitamin K2 was recognized as being less important for coagulation, and much more important for healthy calcium deposition in bones and prevention of calcification of arteries. In 2007, the final piece of the puzzle dropped into place: vitamin K2 deficiency is very widespread, and this is having a major impact on human health.

Vitamin K2 appears to be much more effective at preventing pathological calcification than vitamin K1, and humans have a limited ability to convert K1 to K2.

Heidi Toy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and the owner of Heidi Toy Functional Medicine/Educated Nutrition, located in Eau Claire, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on autoimmune, digestive, weight, female hormone, and depression issues.

Cranenburg EC, Schurgers LJ, Vermeer C. Vitamin K: the coagulation vitamin that became omnipotent. Thomb Haemost 2007, 98(1):120-25

What’s Your Pet’s Fitness Paw-proportionality?

By Margaret Meier Jones, DVM, CVSMT, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley

Each year I make a few New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps like many of you, the one that usually tops the list is to get outside and get moving more. I resolve to grab Quinn’s leash and hit the pavement “running,” and as an eighteen-month-old border collie, he’s eager and able to join me on my task. In a study published in June 2017 in the journal BMC Public Health, dog owners on average walked 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog. That’s great news for us humans, but is it equally good news for our four-legged best friends?

In general, whether we are two or four legged, we have to “move it or lose it,” and exercise is one of the best ways to keep our muscles, joints, and even brains healthy. However, with our canine companions, we have to take several things into consideration to ensure we are helping them put their best paw forward. Breed, age, weight, haircoat, past injury, and overall body conditioning has to be taken into account when we consider how much to exercise with our pets. Other considerations, such as the elements, also play a roll. For example, what’s the temperature outside? January in Wisconsin typically means sub-zero temperatures and wind-chills, so even if your dog is bred for Nordic climates, a coat and protective footwear is a must when going outside for any considerable period of time. Animals are susceptible to frostbite and other injury from the elements, so if you need an extra layer to be comfortable, so do they.

Maybe I’m a math geek, but have you ever considered the proportional difference between your stride length and that of your dog’s? If you take the average human’s in-seam of 30 inches and compare that to a dog who’s inside leg measurement may only be 10 inches, that’s a three-fold difference in strides! Add a few extra holiday pounds that resulted from Santa Paw’s stocking stuffer treat binge, and Fido may have to work much harder than you realize just to keep up with you on that walk. It’s best for us, and our dogs, if we gradually work into a more vigorous exercise regime, adding distance and speed as our cardiovascular conditioning improves. As you walk with your dog, paying attention to the effort and rate of their breathing can be a great indicator as to how hard their bodies are actually working on that walk.
Have you been noticing that your dog is lagging behind, breathing harder than before, or even demanding a rest by lying down on your walks? Are you hearing them shuffle across the floor, and you’re just attributing it to getting older? Happily, I can assure you that may not be the case! You’re beloved walking companion may be experiencing the slowdown of his nervous system that occurs when vertebral subluxation complexes (VSCs) accumulate, and regular chiropractic care may get you both back out fulfilling that exercise resolution!

Lose Weight with Highland Fitness’s Weight Loss Challenge

Highland Fitness, with three locations in the Chippewa Valley, has been involved with community weight loss programs and challenges for the past seven years. As we all know, January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, and many companies sponsor challenges to inspire folks to achieve their habit-changing resolutions. Since one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight (especially after the holidays), their weight loss challenges have proven popular.

This year, 2018, their second annual Eau Claire Weight Loss Challenge will take place. The challenge is open to the public, and all weigh-ins will be at the Eastridge Center location starting January 2 through January 5. All participants will receive a gift bag that includes a T-shirt, water bottle, and vendor coupons worth hundreds of dollars. The Early Bird Registration is open now through November for $20.

Participants will weigh in monthly.

During the challenge, Highland Fitness will host guest speakers, offer healthy recipes, and provide trainer tips. On February 10 their Healthy Heart Medley event will feature food, classes, training sessions, and massages—all of which will be open to the public!

Highland Fitness promotes weight loss, health, and fitness and supports the community by providing over $25,000 worth of prizes and auction items to benefit various area programs. At the Eastridge Center location there is a donation box to support the health and fitness programs of the local Boys and Girls Club.

“Get Fit & Lean in 2018”

1st Place Wins $1000

$20 Earlybird Special • Register Today!

eauclaireweightlosschallenge.com

Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

by Corbin Burkard, head trainer, Burn Boot Camp

Here you are again, wonderful holiday season. That magical time of year when you loosen up a notch on your belt and prepare yourself for the scale to move anywhere from 10–20 pounds, depending on the year. However, this time around you are ready for lasting change. You are ready to fulfill the commitment you set out on last New Year’s. Here is your survival pack for this holiday season!

  • When going out to any sort of holiday party, offer to bring a dish. It is a good way for you to protect yourself from being stuck with a lame veggie tray, or without any healthy options whatsoever!
  • Don’t forget about moderation. Track those calories and stay within your allotted budget. Allow yourself some “cheats,” but keep it all within moderation…which brings me to alcohol. Stick to water as much as you can, and when you do choose to have a drink, keep it at just one or two.
  • Stay with your regular exercise routine. It is super easy, especially as you get busier and busier around the holiday season, to get away from your normal workout routine. Stay consistent, because the more consistent you are with your exercise, the more you will stick to stronger nutrition.
  • Maintain a strong support system. Whether that is enlisting the support of your significant other, or as a family you have decided to make better decisions this year. Either way, this is always something that is really challenging to do. Do it together!

Cheers to staying with your goals this holiday season!

Eat Your Way to a Healthier You

By Victoria Vande Zande, MD, Prevea Health Internal Medicine

 

There are many benefits of a healthy diet including increased energy, improvement in overall health, mood stabilization and overall feeling better. Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin or depriving yourself of foods you love. There are many simple things that you can do to start eating better.

  • Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption to five servings per day. This helps to increase your fiber and vitamin intake, as well as increase complex carbohydrates.
  • Decrease your calorie intake by replacing liquid calories with water.
  • Eat real food. Replace fast food, food from convenience stores and processed snacks with food that you prepare. This takes some extra planning but will definitely make you feel better.
  • If portion size is an issue, try using a smaller plate or a plate which shows how much of each thing you should have.
  • People who count calories have the most success with weight loss if that is what you are striving for.

 

Not matter what you do, it is important to get the proper balance of foods including lean protein, fat and carbohydrates. Evidence shows that higher protein diets decrease hunger, increase weight loss and increase percentage of fat loss. Fats are important as an energy source and for cell function. Trans fats, found in processed and deep fried foods, should be avoided. Carbohydrates are the most abundant molecules on earth and are an important source of fuel for your body. They are necessary for a healthy diet, but it is important to choose correctly. Choose fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates and avoid simple carbohydrates (sugar, processed foods).

 

Now, the holidays are right around the corner and it can be difficult to eat healthy during this time of year; Americans gain approximately one to two pounds throughout the holidays. This can add up over the years. In preparation for a holiday feast, remember:

  • Don’t skip meals. Hunger will cause you to overeat.
  • Eat breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast consume less during the day.
  • Use a smaller plate. This encourages proper portion sizes.
  • Start by eating salad and vegetables first. You’ll be filled up and eat less.
  • Drink a large glass of water prior to eating. Again, you’ll be filled up and eat less.
  • Don’t devour your meal. Eat slowly and savor each bite, and wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds.

 

Controlling cravings over the holidays can also be problematic. Too much processed carbohydrates, sugar and sugar substitute can increase cravings for sweet foods. It has been proven that the more you restrict yourself, the more you are going to get cravings for those foods. Allowing yourself a small amount of the things you crave will not leave you feeling deprived. When you are allowed these foods you are less likely to binge or feel guilty for eating them. One tip – put a barrier between you and the food you crave. Put the food farther away. The less convenient a food is to obtain, the less likely you are to succumb to the craving.

A Weight  Loss Program That Works

For some, a more strict diet is necessary. For these people, Prevea Health offers Ideal Weigh. Ideal Weigh is a medically-supervised weight loss program that uses Ideal Protein foods along with vegetables, protein and supplements to achieve weight loss. With Ideal Weigh, carbohydrates are limited to push your body into ketosis. During ketosis your body burns fat first. Since you are eating more protein your body doesn’t burn muscle. In fact, patients on Ideal Weigh have improved body composition (decreased fat and increased muscle) and lose inches. Additional benefits? Patients with diabetes and high blood pressure are often able to decrease the medications they are on, or discontinue them altogether. Patients who have difficulty with fertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can have improved fertility. Patients with muscle and joint pain will often have improvement due to decreased inflammation when they decrease their simple carbohydrate intake. To learn more visit prevea.com/weightloss.