One of the most important health issues I stress to my patients is creating, or maintaining, heart health. The best ways to ensure heart health and its all-important job of developing nourishing blood to every part of your body is to prevent plaque buildup and reduced blood flow in arteries. Diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and certain supplements can work together to accomplish this goal!
In this first of a two-part series, I would like to explain to you a little about what coronary artery disease and blocked arteries can mean. Then well talk about the proactive things you can do to avoid these conditions naturally without drugs or surgery.
Part II will deal with a controversial subject chelation therapy. Chelation methods of detoxing arteries with natural supplements have been an alternative medicine approach to arterial plaque for several years now.
First I would like to give you a little background on coronary artery disease and arterial blockages, how they develop and how you can prevent them with diet, exercise and supplements and cut your risk for heart attack, stroke, drugs and by passes!
Coronary Artery Disease and Blocked Arteries
Many people do not realize they have coronary artery disease, or arterial plaque build-up, until they wind up in an emergency room with an attack of angina (heart pain), or a heart attack! Both can be caused by the arteries of the heart not getting enough blood, usually from plaque buildup.
It was previously thought that a high saturated fat diet was the primary cause of arterial plaque. However, the French Paradox came along and taught us that oxidation has a lot more to do with cholesterol turning into those arterial plaques and blockages.
You see, the French people eat a pretty high saturated fat diet but they also drink a lot of red wine! This led to the discovery of a very important chemical in red wine called resveratrol. This is a powerful anti-oxidant which helps keep cholesterol lipids in blood from oxidizing into those arterial clogging plaques. Cholesterol undergoes oxidation first before it hardens into plaque. Ensuring that we get enough anti-oxidants in our diet to prevent oxidation, then, is key!
Who Is At Risk?
As I tell my patients, there is no hard and fast picture of the person who will develop coronary artery disease. It depends on a few factors such as:
1. Do you eat an unhealthy diet low in vitamins/antioxidants?
2. Do you smoke?
3. Do you exercise regularly?
Prevent Blocked Arteries and Heart Disease
As I advise my patients, keeping your arteries flowing freely with low risk of heart disease involves a three-fold approach on your part. However, that effort will reward you with enough heart health and stamina to live your life to the fullest into old age! Lets look at what this entails:
Diet Arterial disease is not all about how much saturated fat you eat. Although I do recommend limiting saturated animal fat to 25-30 grams a day, I think it more important to prevent these fats from oxidizing and turning into plaque. Diets rich in anti-oxidants and polyphenols help dissolve saturated fats and stop oxidation. These include red wine, green apples, olive oil, oolong/green/white teas, Omega-3 rich nuts, coconut oils, apple cider vinegar. Add high fiber foods like beans, peas, whole grains, to absorb saturated fats and remove them through elimination before they enter the bloodstream as lipids.
Exercise Interval aerobic exercise, walking, running, bicycling, elliptical, stair stepper, treadmill, jumping rope, your choice. Interval exercise is warming up slowly for 10 minutes and then going at your capacity for 1-2 minutes then slowing down to a resting pace for 3 minutes and repeating for a set of 6 intervals. If you havent done aerobic exercise for a long while, do a slower warm-up, and try for half your capacity for 1 minute for 2 weeks. Slowly increase every week and build a higher capacity. This helps your heart adjust to sudden demanding loads. It also builds good HDL and lowers LDL (bad) choleserol and burns body fat. Also, 20 minutes 3 x a week of weight training. This creates muscle and burns fat even at rest.
Supplements 1,000 mg/daily Omega-3 fish and krill oils boost HDL and lower LDL cholesterol; 1-2 gm/daily of Vitamin C builds collagen which strengthens arterial walls. CoQ-10, 100 mg, is a crucial anti-oxidant that works with Vitamin E to attach to LDL cholesterol and prevent oxidation. As we age CoQ10 levels decrease so it is important to supplement them. Other powerful anti-oxidants include resveratrol (found in red wine, dark red grapes and berries), pomegranate juice, and green tea. Niacin (and other B vitamins) is also effective at reducing LDL and boosting HDL cholesterol, 1-3 gm/day. Chelation supplements which contain EDTA, and antioxidants, which well talk about in more detail in Part II.
Smoking Quit! Smokers are at much higher risk of developing arterial plaque because of the toxins in cigarette smoke which contribute to oxidation damage in your body.
There you have the basics of what I recommend to keep your arteries free from obstructing plaques and keep your heart from suffering serious, if not life-threatening, consequences.
Part II of this series on heart health deals with the pros and cons of removing existing arterial plaque from your arteries called chelation therapy which uses ingredients so safe theyre even in baby food! Meet me here next issue and learn about this drugless, surgery-free way to clean arteries and protect your heart!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging