The heart is more than just a love symbol!
The heart is so much more than a symbol of love. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to keep that heart “ticking”.
It is common knowledge the cardiovascular system plays an important role in the very foundation of life. It is also common knowledge that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, and continues to grow despite advances in pharmaceutical intervention and early screening / intervention. In a Centers of Disease Control (CDC) report it was stated that heart disease killed 611,105 people in 2013, that is 1,674 people a day die from complications of cardiovascular disease.
So what can you do? This article will provide you with 3 steps you can take in your daily life, that will have an impact on your heart health.
Step 1: DIET, Step 2: EXERCISE , Step 3: NATURAL REMEDIES
Stick with me this isn’t the same information you have read since the 80’s I promise!
More and more evidence is pointing to a totally different approach to diet and heart disease, so hear me out for just a few. One of the major villains in cardiovascular disease has been cholesterol, and its role in Atherosclerosis. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia describes Atherosclerosis as “When fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques. Over time, these plaques can block the arteries and cause problems throughout the body.” One of the major problems this build up can cause is heart attacks and strokes! Cholesterol has for the last 30 years been artificially lowered with Statin drugs in order to reduce atherosclerosis. The problem with this approach is tri-fold. First, cholesterol is an important component of normal physiology, cholesterol is essential to hormone production and transportation among many other things. Secondly, cholesterol is not the root cause of the issue, but nearly a by product of an inflammatory process. In an article titled Clinical Cardiology: New Frontiers the authors state “Atherosclerosis, formerly considered a bland lipid storage disease, actually involves an ongoing inflammatory response. Recent advances in basic science have established a fundamental role for inflammation in mediating all stages of this disease from initiation through progression and, ultimately, the thrombotic complications of atherosclerosis.” Lastly, Statins are not as safe as once thought. What does this mean? WE HAVE BEEN GOING ABOUT THE TREATMENT WRONG FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS! The two major dietary recommendations for managing cholesterol is reduced/no fat diet and a high fiber diet. Why? Because fats increase cholesterol, and fiber binds to it and helps the body excrete it. Seems reasonable, except when you factor inflammation into the equation. There are many well known Anti-Inflammatory foods, some of those foods include Avocados, Olive Oil, Salmon, Flax Seeds, Almonds, Coconut oil etc. What are all of these foods full of? They are full of fat! They are the very foods that can help reduce your inflammatory load and help prevent cardiovascular disease, however, our traditional approach is to remove patients from these beneficial fats along with the less desirable fats with little to no consideration for what good fats can do. The other major misstep in traditional management of high cholesterol is increase your consumption of grains because they are fibrous and will bind to the cholesterol and help you excrete it.
The BIG issue here is the number one consumed grain is wheat, which has a multitude of issues in and of itself.
It is rare that a problem is as simple as saying grains are inflammatory, however, that is not enough. There are a couple of reasons increasing your grain (specifically wheat) consumption is bad. The first reason, our wheat today is not the same wheat that even your parent’s parents use to eat. The vast majority of the wheat on the market today are called dwarf wheat, they are a wheat that has been genetically manipulated to be more hearty and yield more wheat per crop season. It was such an advancement that it won the Nobel prize in the 50’s. However, this advancement did indeed feed the world as it was intended, but it came with some side effects that we are just now beginning to really understand the effects of. Mainly, they are significantly more starchy than its predecessor and thereby increases its glycemic load and triggering inflammatory cytokines. “Food for thought” Two pieces of bread raises your blood glucose by more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar. Secondly, GLUTEN, GLUTEN, GLUTEN! Gluten has got a bad rap as of late and rightfully so. You will find many naysayers online that will claim gluten is not a problem unless you have Celiac disease. However, on the contrary, significant evidence dating back 20 years supports that Gluten is, in fact, inflammatory to the vast majority of the population not just patients with Celiac disease.
The diet I recommend in my office is a Paleo / Mediterranean Diet in most cases. As always, consult with your doctor to determine what diet is best for you. Both of these lifestyles are proponents of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds berries, good fats and animal proteins. The concept here is if you can hunt, grow or gather the food you are eating then you can eat it. If it’s made in a factory and only resembles food, it’s not food, so stay away from it!
No kidding right? Same old song and dance, but in reality the first step in treating heart disease is prevention. Heart disease is a lifestyle disease and is propagated by our western diet and sedentary lifestyle. A simple Google search will yield result after result of peer-reviewed journal results for the reduction of cardiovascular risk in the active and fit population. In an American Heart Association Article, they stated “Scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to various measures of cardiovascular health. The prevailing view in these reports is that more active or fit individuals tend to develop less coronary heart disease (CHD) than their sedentary counterparts.” So simply put, get moving, coordinate with your doctor on how much exercise you need and get out there and get moving. Motion is life! It may be as little as 10 min a day that you can do initially, but you will progress over time, so do not get discouraged.
Supplements are either hailed or villainized in our culture but I will attempt to offer up some insight on which supplements have the greatest cardiovascular benefits and support that with peer reviewed literature. However, supplements are just that, they are meant to supplement a healthy diet and exercise. You must do the foundational changes discussed above.
One indicator for cardiovascular health is your Blood Pressure (BP). Hypertension or high blood pressure is defined as 140 mmHg over 90 mmHg. One of the natural products I use in my office to lower blood pressure is a product by the name Bio-CardioSirt BP. This product is a patent pending blend of 7 micro-nutrients, that have been clinically proven to lower blood pressure. In a study at the Hypertension Institute in Nashville, this product was shown to lower both Systolic (top number of your BP) and Diastolic (the bottom number of your BP) by 15.9 mmHg and 11.35 mmHg respectively after 4 weeks of use with no other lifestyle intervention. In the journal article titled: Updated meta-analytical approach to the efficacy of anti-hypertensive drugs in reducing blood pressure. The authors looked at the the top anti-hypertensive drugs on the market and the best ones lowered the Systolic BP by 22 mmHg and Diastolic by 11 mmHg over an 8-12 week prior. This natural remedy showed results nearly as good as the best pharmaceutical drug on the market just 4 weeks after its use as opposed to 8-12 weeks! With that said I would expect at the 8-12 week mark we would continue to see a positive change in BP using Bio-CardioSirt BP, and the gap between natural and pharmaceutical intervention would diminish.
The next biggest bang for your buck is Fish Oil’s, more specifically Omega 3 Fatty Acid’s. The positive effects Omega 3 fatty acids have on Cardiovascular health have been well studied. Omega 3 fatty acids have two main components, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). These have the greatest effect on cardiovascular health. When you are looking at fish oils you must consider a few things. The first is how much EPA and DHA does it have? In my office I generally recommend no less then 2000 Mg of combined EPA and DHA, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the individuals medical history, this is a generally safe and therapeutic dose.
I hope this has provided you with a few ways you can positively impact your cardiovascular health. Please remember to always consult your physician before making any lifestyle changes. If you would like to discuss your cardiovascular health with Dr. Johnson please call Family Care Chiropractic and Wellness Center at 610-644-1191.