PhotoIn an effort to stay heart healthy, researchers from the University of Georgia have explored how different daily habits affect our arteries.

The researchers studied different metabolites as a means of understanding how what we put in our bodies can affect overall functioning.

“Metabolomics can accurately measure the amount of exposures entering the body,” said researcher Changwei Li. “In this study, we identified many metabolites relating to coffee drinking, alcohol drinking, Southern foods, dietary supplements and even pesticides.”

Preventing heart disease

The researchers explained that our risk for heart disease increases when our arteries are stiffened, but the causes behind that stiffening remain unclear, and so this study stemmed from the researchers’ interest in discovering how our own daily practices can influence our heart health.

The study involved 1,200 Bogalusa Heart Study participants, all of whom had their blood taken and analyzed to see how their day-to-day actions affected their arteries. The blood samples revealed nearly 30 new metabolites that were linked with artery stiffness, and the researchers now have clear, concrete ways for consumers to stay healthy.

“We were able to identify some environmental and lifestyle related-metabolites, build metabolite networks to show how the body reacts to the environmental exposures, and more importantly, tested the effect of those metabolites on arterial stiffness,” said Li.

In addition to two peptides used to add flavor to commonly used kitchen ingredients, the researchers also found that health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can play a role in consumers’ likelihood of experiencing artery stiffness.

Moving forward, Li and his team are interested in doing more work in this area to see how things like diet and environment are affecting artery health over the long term.

Information is key

As this study made clear, being informed about heart health is key for consumers to make the best choices, and hopefully prevent any future health concerns.

Recently, researchers found that the majority of Americans aren’t aware of the severity of heart disease, which is troubling for physicians because a large majority of cardiovascular issues can be prevented.

“Primary care physicians are a first line of defense in helping prevent, and potentially reverse, the disease through more comprehensive risk assessment, better education and health coaching that together lead to long-term lifestyle changes in patients," said Dr. Andrea Klemes.

The goal of both of these studies is to arm consumers with the knowledge necessary to lead long, healthy lives.


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