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Nutrition & Fitness Newsletter

Heart Health Strategies


It's February, does anyone else feel like the new year just started on January 20?  Now that the inauguration is over we can breathe a sigh of relief (at least with our masks on!) and refocus our energies on our own health and what we want to accomplish this year.  Healthwise, how can we make this year significantly better?  February is heart health month, here are few tips on maintaining a healthy heart.  Furthermore, pre-existing heart conditions increase the risk of contracting severe forms of COVID-19 all the more reasons for improving our heart health.

  • Get a Flu Shot - A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people get the flu.  Best to get a flu shot to prevent contracting the flu and for improving recovery from the flu.  The American Heart Association recommends a flu shot for all people with heart disease.  And live a healthy lifestyle to support your immune system with a balanced diet and exercise.  Catching the flu can weaken your ability to fight off COVID-19.  Additionally, plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.

  • Moderate Alcohol Intake - Moderate consumption for: men—one to two drinks per day (experts recommend one drink for men), for women—one drink per day.  No need to starting drinking alcoholic drinks if you don't already.  If breast cancer is a risk factor it’s best to abstain from alcohol completely. 

  • Reduce Sodium in the Diet - There’s an increased incidence of stroke and heart disease with those who are overweight and have a high sodium diet.  The latest dietary guidelines recommend sodium intake be less than 2300mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) per day and even less for those who have prehypertension or hypertension (high blood pressure).  As a more aggressive approach, the American Heart Association recommends a limit of 1500mg per day.  The relationship between high blood pressure (a risk factor for heart disease) and high sodium intake is strong for the majority of the population.  Consider this, the average American adult consumes approximately 3600 mg per day.  Even if you're not using the salt shaker, keep in mind that salt may have already been added to foods.  Canned foods, frozen meals, processed foods and restaurant meals typically have high sodium levels.  Instead of salt, use spices, herbs and citrus to flavor your foods or request lower sodium meals when dining out.

  • Know Your Numbers - Early detection is important for prevention.  Check blood pressure, cholesterol (HDL and LDL), triglyceride and fasting glucose numbers.  High blood pressure, poor cholesterol ratios and diabetes increase the risk of heart disease.  Aim for a healthy weight and lose weight if overweight.  A nutritionist can provide a targeted plan to help improve those numbers.

  • Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels - If you have high cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels you have greater risk for heart disease.  Specifically, LDL is the “bad” cholesterol can be lowered with a high fiber, and limited saturated and trans fat diet.  Yes, saturated is still a "bad fat."  The new studies continue to support that saturated fat from fatty meat, dairy, butter and coconut oil raise LDL cholesterol levels.  Aim for less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat by choosing lean protein and lower fat dairy.  Use exercise to raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol.  High sugar and refined carbohydrate intake may also raise triglyceride levels.

  • Reduce Added Sugars - Added sugars are sugars and sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.  Examples are soft drinks, candy, baked goods and other desserts.  Also check for hidden sugar in ingredient lists such as bread and canned goods.  According to a 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association study, when 17 to 21% of dietary calories come from added sugars there is a 38% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines state that added sugars should be less than 10% of total calories, which is less than 30 grams for a 2000 calorie diet. 

  • Manage Elevated Blood Glucose or Diabetes - Cardiovascular disease risk is high for those with elevated glucose levels or diabetes.  Manage your blood glucose and lose weight if you’re overweight.  Dietary habits and exercise are important for improving blood glucose management.

  • Sit Less - Two recent studies showed that activity breaks every 30 minutes lowered blood triglyceride and glucose levels.  The overall message is to avoid being sedentary, especially if you have desk job.  Be active for 3 minutes every 30 minutes, your risk for heart disease goes down as your numbers go down.  More evidence seems to support being active through-out the day provides more benefit than being sedentary for most of the day and exercising at the gym for 60 minutes.  Or do it even better with both, 3 minutes every 30 minutes in addition to your typical work-out.

  • Exercise 150 Minutes per Week - Set a goal for 150 minutes per week (that averages to 21 minutes per day) or moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity or a combination of both spread through the week.

Here are few reasons to visit with a nutritionist/personal trainer/health coach: relieve tension and stress in the body, properly train or progress in an activity, improve your microbiome, assess nutrient intake, disease prevention through evidence-based diet, and exercise, maximize exercise performance, improve sleep quality, enhance mental clarity, optimize digestion and nutrient absorption, establish long-term healthy habits, meal planning for a whole foods diet and eat in a way to sustain the planet.  Please consider Sheri for nutrition counseling and/or fitness appointments to help you develop a healthier lifestyle for you and the planet.


Our COVID-19 Heroes
This month, let's give a shout out to our heroes.  As our communities have suffered from loss of loved ones, jobs and financial security, the essential workers and volunteers have boosted us up.  These are those that ensure we are well-fed - food processors, grocery store workers and delivery people.  Including the volunteers - food bank workers, chefs and restaurants donating their time to feed those in need.  Let's not forget about the health care workers that are treating COVID-19 patients and all that contribute to vaccine distribution to our communities.  Should you want to contribute to the efforts of these excellent organizations feeding our underserved, here are a few links.

  • Feeding America - - This organization is fighting hunger in America. Due to COVID-19 many Americans have lost their jobs and lost wages finding themselves struggling to feed their families.  Donate to fund their cause, find local volunteer opportunities or locate a Food Bank near you.

  • Northwest Harvest - - A locally based organization feeding the food insecure in Washington state.  You can volunteer, donate food, money or your car to support this organization.

  • Meals on Wheels - - Delivers hot meals to food insecure seniors and those who are home bound.

  • World Central Kitchen - - Started by one of my heroes, chef Jose Andres who has managed to feed people all over the world affected by disasters.  They use food to empower and strengthen communities.  Currently, World Central Kitchen is coordinating distribution of fresh meals to those in need across America, utilizing local restaurants to keep them and their staff in business during COVID-19 struggles.

Sheri is a Certified Nutritionist with a master's degree in nutrition, with over 19 years of clinical counseling experience, an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with advanced certifications in medical exercise, senior fitness and health coaching.  All nutrition consultations include exercise guidance, dietary analysis and meal plans to meet your individual lifestyle, calorie and nutritional needs.

Free introductory 15-minute appointments are also available.

To schedule an appointment with Sheri Mar, email:  or call:  206.789.6440

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