by Mark J. Kaylor
Let’s get right to it — heart disease is largely preventable and reversible. Heart disease is the number one killer in America, for both men and women, and has been for some time. While the stats have improved some recently, almost 400,000 people die every year from coronary heart disease (CHD). The creation of arterial lesions and plaque buildup occurs over decades* and is a fundamental contributor to an array of cardiovascular issues. The good news is that “heart disease is largely preventable and reversible.” Here are suggestions from four key categories that are likely to have the biggest, quickest and, hopefully, best impact.
In the Beginning — Diet
There are thousands of diets out there, but there is one that stands out in the research that is actually quite simple, a plant-based diet. It’s as simple as that; eat a whole food, plant-based diet. Numerous studies conﬁrm that this simple yet effective approach can not only prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), but reverse and repair the damage from it. A whole foods plant-based diet reduces our risk for CVD, reduces inﬂammatory markers and free radicals, improves endothelial (lining of the arteries) dysfunction and probably most importantly of all — reduces our risk of dying from CVD. One food group of special note is nuts (especially walnuts). Nuts are research supported to reduce risk for CVD, improve endothelial function and lower cholesterol.
One big step is to eliminate, as much as possible, all the reﬁned carbohydrates and sugars that make their way into our diet. How impactful is eating reﬁned sugars? Consuming 25% of your calories from sugar almost triples your chance of developing CVD. While we are cutting back on our sugar intake, we can use things like the Maitake SX-Fraction (to lower blood sugar and insulin levels), chromium and PGX fiber.
All-Star Heart Health Tonics
There are two natural remedies that stand out for supporting overall cardiovascular health in what I consider a holistic manner, the traditional heart herbal Hawthorn and Reishi.
Hawthorn - long used in Europe for all things cardiovascular, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase oxygen and blood supply to the heart, improve heart energy production and strengthen the contraction of the heart muscle.
Reishi - shown to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, while reducing systemic inﬂammation and free radical damage (preventing oxidation by macrophage — a key step in the build up of plaque), lessen myocardial collagen cross-linking and enhance heart mitochondrial activity. It has also demonstrated heart-protecting actions against several toxins including alcohol and Adriamycin. On the holistic side, it supports liver health and function. The liver is where cholesterol is synthesized and is responsible for ﬁltering and replenishing the blood, all the while helping the body to respond to stress in a healthier manner.
Key Remedies for Heart Health
If there was a germ that was killing one American every 83 seconds, we would undoubtedly have declared war on the bug and eliminated it. However, this is precisely what is happening with the highly preventable coronary heart disease and yet the deaths continue to accrue. The difﬁculty is that the primary answer to this epidemic requires us to change our diet and we all know how resistant we can be to that. On top of this, you have huge ﬁnancially-vested interests that want to keep you eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) way. Let’s change this today and make this the beginning of the end for CHD by changing our eating habits.
Ensuring that our cardiovascular system is receiving all the nourishment it needs is obviously a starting point, but there are a few nutrients that are especially impactful.
Magnesium - diets deﬁcient in Magnesium are associated with atherosclerosis, heart attacks and CVD. Unfortunately, it is a nutrient most of us are deﬁcient in. Magnesium is useful for prevention and treating CVD and plays a key role in myocardial energy production. It also inhibits platelet aggregation and promotes vasodilation, while supporting endothelial function.
CoQ10 and Carnitine - These two synergistic nutrients are essential. CoQ10 deﬁciency is associated with CVD and plays a key role in the mitochondrial production of energy. Keep in mind the heart is a muscle and is absolutely dependent upon this process. It has shown promise for cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmias and hypertension. Carnitine also plays a key role in myocardial metabolism. It is important in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. Studies suggest potential use in beneﬁting lack of blood ﬂow, decreasing mortal-ity for heart attack sufferers, heart failure and angina.
Let it Shine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to our emotional/spiritual center of the body as Shen, located, of course, in the heart. Healthy Shen is related to not just emotional health, but radiant health. My top Shen tonic is the aforementioned Reishi mushroom. Not only does Reishi beneﬁt your physical heart, it also beneﬁts your emotional one as well, bringing balance to the mind-body-spirit.
Here is an effective, yet simple Shen breathing technique to support your heart and overall health. Begin by breathing from your diaphragm saying the word “peace” in your head, pausing for a moment to let your heart ﬁll with the peace energy, then exhale slowly thinking “love” allowing this energy to radiate throughout your whole body. Shen health is not to be overlooked. It has become very clear in recent research that our emotions are intimately tied and connected to our health, especially our heart health.
Romantic Heart Help
One “heart” area we seem to need help with today is in the romance and ‘bedroom’ areas. Thankfully, there is a long-used ‘aphrodisiac’ tonic to help, Cordyceps. It is one of the few clinically-conﬁrmed natural aids for libido and hypo-sexuality for both men and women. Cordyceps has been shown to improve sex drive, virility and sexual function. It also brings a myriad of heart beneﬁts as well, including improving blood ﬂow to the heart, preventing platelet aggregation, anti-atherosclerotic and vasodilation. Clinically, it has been used for maintaining oxygen levels in stroke victims and improving overall quality of life in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. Studies show promise for arrhythmias as well.
The Time is Now
It would be wise for us to continue to lay claim to the old adage that “love is the best medicine.” Not only is it healing in and of itself, we can take it a step further and expand it to caring and loving ourselves enough that we make the necessary changes to our diets and routines to prevent and reverse the scourge of cardiovascular disease. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, this is a condition that we can do much to prevent and reverse. All it takes is to start making the changes today, right now.
[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]