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Ready, Willis and Able – Warnings change with every heartbeat (Feb. 17, 2016 issue)

It’s that time of year when we see red hearts everywhere. Well, maybe not exactly everywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen any valentines in the presidential primary coverage. But recently, I read an intriguing article regarding the primary organ in our body, the human heart. It seems that rules come and go when it comes to medicine and what the pundits – oh, I’m sorry – I mean what the medical community says we need to do to keep our hearts healthy.
Even the old rule that said we should take an aspirin a day to keep our heart healthy has been booted out of office. Scientific evidence now indicates that diet, exercise, and our mental outlook are the keys to a healthy heart. The thinking on what constitutes a heart healthy diet has all but changed parties in some instances.
Even the vote on saturated fats has changed. It is now politically correct – oops, I mean all right – to eat full-fat dairy products as well as moderate amounts of red meat. But don’t get too excited. It seems those fluffy, refined carbohydrates we were consuming when the low-fat message was carrying the vote are out. And we’ve discovered that processed foods that contain trans fats are really low energy. Studies show they can damage the heart. The FDA is even planning to ban them. And any foods with partially hydrogenated oil in them just may also end up as losers.
When it comes to calories, you have to consider your calories’ food affiliation. It appears that if your calories come from what we call junk food, they may be high energy in the beginning, but can turn tail on you in a hurry. And you can end up really low energy. The tinkered-with carbohydrates in these seeming goodies can mess with your insulin level and cause you to eat more in an attempt to get back to high energy.
And when talking about junk calories, we also need to remember our hearts. We mustn’t ignore the new thinking on our cholesterol levels. Scientific research is indicating that some prescriptions once used to lower cholesterol levels should be replaced with newer drugs now on the market. In other words, clean house, throw out the losers.
You know the old saying about nothing being free in this world. So guess I had better credit my source for the scientific information in this column. It came from an article titled The New Rules of the Heart, by Alice Park and Jeffrey Kluger in the Feb. 8, 2016 issue of Time Magazine. I also want to thank the mountain folks in the south end of Unicoi County who taught me that life may be tough and it may be downright ridiculous, but it helps to see the humor in whatever it throws our way. They must have known before scientists confirmed it that humor keeps the heart healthy.