Hypertension increases as a consequence of contemporary lifestyle

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disease that affects millions all over the world.

According to Medical News Today, the number of people living with hypertension is predicted to be 1.56 billion worldwide by the year 2025.

There are several reasons pointed as the triggers of the high blood pressure increased incidence in Europe and in the United States. The contemporary lifestyle choices related to lack of physical activity, increased salt consumption, alcohol and tobacco consumption are pointed as some reasons. Because this is a silent disease with no visible or painful symptoms, alarming numbers of people suffering from it. In order to first treat high blood pressure, patients are advised to make lifestyle changes such as salt restriction and other diet changes.

Those who suffer from hypertension are those who are more likely to suffer from other complications which can be very serious and sometimes fatal, like heart failure, aneurysm, blood vessel narrowing (for example, leading to kidney failure or heart attack).

It is important to keep track of blood pressure specially when people start ageing, as this condition tends to affect more and more people, as they get old.

It is very easy to do it at home or at the pharmacy. Hypertension can be diagnosed after a doctor has measured the patient several times and high values are most of times present. Keeping track of your health condition is important to prevent future diseases, and the best way to do it is to maintain an active lifestyle associated with regular health check-ups. A balanced diet is also very important, and reducing the salt intake is key to lower blood pressure. If you would like to know more about reducing the consumption of salt please read our previous blog post here.



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Eat smart to stay healthy

The month of September usually marks the beginning of new decisions and new goals. It is the month that marks the end of summer and the beginning of new cycles such as the new school year.

With new beginnings comes the desire to define new healthy goals and to live a healthier lifestyle. Some foods can help you get slimmer, make you live smarter and even longer. Depending on your goals, there are plenty of seeds that can be very good for your health.

Those who embrace a healthy diet are also more likely to improve their cognitive skills and fight memory loss that comes with aging. When healthy food groups are preferred over saturated fats or high amounts of sugar, the brain responds positively as people age. A study by the American Academy of Neurology in over 40 countries and lasting more than 2 years concluded that higher diet quality was associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline.

Seeds are among some of the healthiest choices one can make. They are usually rich in protein, low in sugar and saturated fat and they will make the perfect add-on to your favorite snack.

  • Sesame – they have a good satiating effect and they act as a shield to the heart. The best way to eat them is in snacks like yogurts, or in soups, juices and salads. Contain proteins, omega 6 and omega 9.
  • Flaxseed – these seeds are known for regulating the intestinal transit and for being a good substitute of the regular wheat flour (which contains gluten) for traditional flour recipes. Contains omega 6 and omega 9.
  • Sunflower – their action against the early aging of cells and tissues is proved and they go well with salads, juices and soups. Contain omega 6, minerals and vitamin E.
  • Chia – a source of energy and resistance these seeds have become very popular in the last few years. They can be used in salads, juices or added to cereal bowls. They contain fiber and calcium.
  • Pumpkin – these seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. They can be consumed in yogurts and salads.

Adding seeds to the diet is an easy and tasty way to start making healthier choices and to get the best of the food intake. The better the nutrients in our diets, the better our physical and mental health will be.



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10 ways to live longer

Health and lifestyle website Medical Daily, shared their 10 tips that can help everyone to live longer.

Although we cannot predict until what age we will live, there are ways to extend our lives by living a healthier life and having a positive attitude.

These are the 10 ways to live longer:

  1. Manage stress
  2. Exercise
  3. Don’t smoke
  4. Don’t do drugs or drink too much alcohol
  5. Think young
  6. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  7. Keep a Mediterranean diet
  8. Always learn something new
  9. Keep close friends
  10. Stay positive

The key to live longer lies in the attitude towards life and in keeping the right balance between what is healthy and what is not. If there is something you really like, for example, eating fast food, you should have it once in a while, but not regularly. You should keep a Mediterranean style diet, as it is considered the healthiest diet by the World Health Organization, privileging cereals and vegetables over meat. But, sometimes you crave fast food and that is ok, since you keep it sporadically.

Maintaining a healthy life is also about doing what you like the most and feel happy with your choices.

Control your stress levels is also very important for your overall health because when you feel stressed for long periods of time, your immune systems goes down and you become more vulnerable to diseases.

Practicing exercise and avoid a sedentary lifestyle are crucial for a longer life since they rejuvenate your body and prepare it for the days to come. The more active your life is when you are 30, the better prepared your body will be for when you are 60.

Attitude towards life plays a big part in living longer.

This is what Medical Daily says about the importance of a positive thinking: “Whether you’re in college, working, or retired, making goals for yourself and challenging yourself is going to improve your outlook on life, which will make you happier and keep you healthier. At the end of the day, it’s all about being positive, focusing on the good things, and never giving up.”



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How can mindfulness mediation make you happier and improve your brain

Mindfulness is a technique that consists of being able to concentrate in one thing at a time, disconnect from the world around and be fully committed to meditate about a given subject. This can improve concentration levels, but can also make people less stressed, happy, and with improved memory.

The Huffington Post explains in a recent article the four different ways our lives can be improved by using mindfulness, and thus being able to live a happier life.

Mindfulness helps people to become more aware of their inner self and that is helpful for general wellbeing.

The first way that mindfulness can help is distracting our minds from negative thought loops: Mindfulness meditation is a form of rigorous training of the mind which helps us to become more familiar with the nature of the mind and more skilful in noticing when our minds are getting caught up in these unhelpful patterns of thought. When we learn to observe this, we can actually choose to disengage and move our attention in ways that support us rather than pull us down.”

The second aspect is making people feel more connected to others: “Mindfulness can deepen and enrich our relationships as we bring a quality of present moment attention to the people around us.”

The third aspect is helping people to reconnect with their inner contentment, which is the inner ability to be happy with oneself: “(…) help us cultivate a sense of inner wellbeing which allows us to feel content and well without needing to obtain anything from the outside world.”

The last way that mindfulness can improve people’s lives is enhancing gratitude: “mindfulness can infuse our lives with gratitude and enhance our appreciation of the ordinary things which can so often pass by unnoticed.”

These four different ways seem to leverage our overall ability to be happy and to feel happiness with the small things in life that many times are undervalued.

A recent study by Harvard University connected mindfulness practice with improving the brain and boost memory and empathy and reduce stress. The study concluded that practising mindfulness for 8 weeks can make a significant change in the grey matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Read more about the study here.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness techniques, read our previous blogpost here and read about our mindfulness program here.



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There are 6 types of obese people, according to new study

A new study published in the Journal of Public Health from Oxford University classifies 6 types of obese people. This study aims to help healthcare providers to better understand obese patients and the differences between them.

The study starts by analyzing a group of people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 30, which are considered obese. The limitation of BMI is that it considers everyone with a BMI over 30 to be obese and doesn’t take into account the heterogeneity of such group.

Researchers wanted to create subgroups within obese people that would take into account the differences between them: “BMI is a classification of weight and height, not of people, who are only similar in terms of their BMI category. Using a single classification for obesity will fail to recognize the variation between the individuals who are obese.”

To study and classify types of obese people is important because, according to the researchers: “Failing to acknowledge the population-level heterogeneity among those classified as obese may restrict the effectiveness of interventions or treatments offered by clinicians, since approaches may need tailoring depending upon the health practices associated with individuals involved.”

Six different types of people with a BMI <30 were identified:

  1. Heavy drinking males: these are less likely to manage their weight well;
  2. Young healthy females: who are more likely to take weight loss steps;
  3. Wealthy healthy elderly: these people tend to have higher blood pressure;
  4. Physically sick but happy elderly: people with a good mental health and a good sense of well-being;
  5. Unhappy anxious middle aged: mostly women who may suffer from psychological issues and;
  6. Poorest health: this group has de highest prevalence of chronic health conditions and doesn’t engage in healthy behaviors.

The goal of the study was to show that within obese people there are major differences: different attitudes towards life, well-being notions and behaviors, and predisposition to take action to lose weight. This study more than identifying and categorizing obese people, tries to show the importance of understanding the reason for the excess weight and the entire context around obese people to better help them achieve a more healthy weight.

Our weight-loss programs are designed to specifically understand the underlying reasons for excess weight and based on that decide the best approach for an effective and long term weight loss. If you would like to know more about Medical Port’s weight loss programs, click here.

Read the full article about the 6 types of obese people here.



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Reduce sugar intake should be a nutrition priority

Last week we discussed the importance of reducing salt intake for a better health and nutrition. This week’s post is about reducing sugar intake.

The World Health Organization has recently updated the recommendations on the amount of sugar adults and children should consume every day. The intake of free sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day.

Free sugars are monosaccharides like glucose and fructose and disaccharides like table sugar that are added to foods and drinks and are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. Sugars present in fresh fruits, vegetables or milk aren’t part of this recommendation as there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.

The way we consume sugar is disguised in the processed foods present in our diet. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 1 teaspoon of free sugars. And a can of soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of free sugars.

In the words of Dr. Francesco Branca, the Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, “We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay”.

The consumption of high amounts of free sugars leads to increased weight and to higher rates of dental caries. It is also believed that the consumption of free sugars increases the overall energy intake, reducing the need for foods that provide more nutritionally adequate forms of energy.

The discussion about the health benefits and the disadvantages of sugar isn’t new and many myths appeared over the years. The following video from Business Insider deconstructs 5 myths of sugar: artificial sweeteners are healthier, sugar brings satisfaction, the sugar present in foods is bad, organic sugar is healthier and sugar free diets are the answer. The video is quite educative and answers many relevant questions.


Read the entire WHO recommendation here.



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Dangers of consuming too much salt

Salt is present in almost every single ingredient in the food we eat. There is the very bad habit to enjoy overly salty foods or to add salt for extra flavour. And adding too much salt can be harmful for your health.

According to the World Health Organization “1.7 million deaths could be prevented each year if people’s salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level of less than 5 g per day”.

Salt’s main component is sodium, a mineral essential to human health that “helps to regulate fluids by letting the body know when it’s time to replenish or dispose of water”, according to a Medical Daily article.

Salt can harm your health in many ways, from the brain, kidneys, bones, heart and skin. Salt can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease, leading in many cases to death.

“Sodium plays a key role in balancing the levels of fluid in our bodies by signaling to the kidneys when to retain water and when to get rid of water. A high-sodium diet can interfere with this delicate process and reduce kidney function. The result is less water removed from the body, which may lead to higher blood pressure.”, according to Medical Daily.

The World Health Organization recommends reduce salt consumption by not adding salt or other salty sauces to food preparation, nor having salt on the table and limit the consumption of salty snacks. The organization also states “people are often unaware of the amount of salt they consume. In many countries, most salt comes from processed foods (e.g. ready meals; processed meats like bacon, ham and salami; cheese and salty snacks) or from food consumed frequently in large amounts (e.g. bread).” Most of the people aren’t aware of this, resulting in high daily salt intakes per person, including children.

If you would like to know more about how to sustain a balanced and healthy diet and to prevent future diseases, Medical Port can help you. Contact us to know more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Read the full World Health Organization recommendation here.



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Professional Golf Association names Portugal one of the 5 great golf destinations

Golf lovers around the world have their dream golf trip, a place where they can practice their skill, enjoy the good weather and meet fellow golfers for exciting games.

According to PGA, most golf players will name Scotland and Ireland as their dream golf trip, as they “provide some of the world’s most treasured golf experiences”.

The golf association wanted to give golf other options of great places to play golf around the world and they named the best 5 places to do so: New Zealand, Canada, Wales, Portugal and Spain. These are the golf destinations “For those who want to broaden their horizons and venture to other parts of the world, there are several enticing locales that offer spectacular courses and scenery and a plethora of off-the-course activities and pursuits.”

In a short description why Portugal is one of the great golf destinations, the article highlights the “Stunning postcard-like settings, superbly designed golf courses, exceptional cuisine and fine wines”. Also says that in the Algarve there are more than 50 golf courses along the 250-mile coastline, surrounding the golf courses by the white sand beaches, turquoise waters and the cliffs. Besides the Algarve, there are a series of golf courses around the country, most of them along the coastline also.

The fact that Portugal enjoys more than 330 days of sunshine per year and the temperatures are mild all-year round (including mild winters without snow) makes it a great destination golf lovers. Famous golf course designers like Robert Trent Jones Jr., Joe Lee, Ronald Fream and Rocky Roquemore have designed courses in Portugal attracted by the scenery and design possibilities.

For those who are still not convinced to choose Portugal the Professional Golf Association article adds: “Inland, the coastal plains are dotted with fig, olive and eucalyptus trees. When you place more than 20 golf courses amidst this awesome backdrop, you’ve instantly created one of the most desirable places in the world to tee it up.”

Read the full article here.



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Mediterranean diet benefits

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well known and it is largely agreed that a balanced diet based on the Mediterranean style is the key to live a healthy life.

Extensive research on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet has been made throughout the years and medical associations of various fields support the diet. The American College of Cardiology has been releasing extensive research on the benefits of the diet, associating it with a healthier heart condition. One of its latest releases is the association between diet and stroke prevention where they highlight five points to remember, which are:

  1. “Stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, costing an estimated 36.5 billion annually” and “A Mediterranean dietary pattern may reduce risk of stroke.”

  2. “Both olive oil, tree nuts, and peanuts are associated with risk reduction for stroke. Three or more servings of nuts per week are also associated with approximately a 10% reduction in risk.”

  3. “Regular consumption of fish is also associated with reduction of stroke risk.”

  4. “(…) low levels of alcohol consumption associated with the lowest stroke risk.”

  5. “(…) red meat consumption is associated with increased stroke risk.”

Because the Mediterranean diet doesn’t cut any food groups, you don’t have to give up on the food you like the most. The secret is to create the right balance between what you should eat more often and what you should keep for special occasions only. On the top of the pyramid there are sweets and red meat. It means you can have them, but not often. On the bottom of the pyramid, there are the vegetables and grains that should be present in every meal, every day of the week. For those not used to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, start with small amounts and increase the intake as you get used to and see the benefits in your body functions.

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Source: oldways.org

Two points are in common with every diet: drink water and exercise. No matter how restrictive is the diet, water is essential to keep the body hydrated and to eliminate toxins. Exercise is key to keep the body’s metabolism going and to prevent diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Portugal is a perfect place to start the adoption of the Mediterranean diet. Medical Port offers you the possibility of having a complete health check-up done in Portugal as the starting point for the adoption of the Mediterranean diet.