3 Simple Tips for a Heart-Healthy Summer

woman_drinking_waterSpending time outdoors this summer is a great way to stay active and naturally boost vitamin D levels, but keep in mind that rising temperatures can take a toll on your heart. Even a healthy heart needs to work harder to cool off in hot weather, so be sure to follow these 3 simple tips for a heart-healthy season:

  1. Exercise Smarter: Plan outdoor activities during cooler hours. Wear light-colored, breathable fabrics and avoid exercising when the sun is at its strongest (typically between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM). Ease into that run or bike ride, and stop to rest if you feel short of breath or lightheaded. Water activities such as swimming may provide cooler alternatives, or check your local rec center for indoor fitness classes.
  2. Hydrate: It is always important to drink enough water, and a good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified (filtered) water daily. However, your body may need even more water on hot days, so be sure to hydrate before, during, and after any physical activity—even low-impact activity such as gardening.
  3. Eat Right: Why put extra stress on your heart this summer? Stick to a diet rich in protein, healthy fats (especially from fish and olive oil), low-sugar fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Eliminate added sugars, starchy carbohydrates, and trans fats.

Finally, take extra precautions if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have an increased risk of heart disease. Remember that your heart has to put in a little more effort to keep you healthy despite the heat, and you can help by doing your part.

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Can We Upgrade Our Gut Bacteria to Help Fight Disease?

bacteriaBetter, stronger, faster. Programming our gut bacteria to detect the early warning signs of disease and help keep us healthy may sound like science fiction, but researchers have already begun developing and testing the new technology—and the results look promising.

Building upon data from a previous study involving E. coli bacteria, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently created a genetically modified version of common type of bacteria found in the human gut called Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. They then tested the modified bacteria on mice.

The upgraded B. thetaiotaomicron bacteria were equipped with microscopic circuits and sensors, as well as a “genetic memory” to help them identify DNA patterns and send a signal when they encounter abnormalities such as inflammation or bleeding. Not only did the alterations allow the bacteria to function as a possible disease detector, but they also helped protect them from being killed by antimicrobial molecules in the gut.

Using food as a control method, the research team was able to activate certain genes within the bacteria and modify their response to their environment based on what the mice were fed. Their hope is that similar modified bacteria may one day be used to help detect and possibly alter the genes involved with certain diseases and conditions (including obesity) to ultimately improve treatment and health outcomes.

Knowing that each individual has a unique microbiome and this new technology may not be a “one size fits all” solution, researchers have already planned additional research to analyze how such modified bacteria may function in different environments.

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