What is a healthy heart?
One that pumps your blood and nutrients around your body at a pressure of 120/80. 120 is the systolic pressure, when the heart beats, 80 is the diastolic pressure, when the heart relaxes. The slower our heart rate the longer we live. To do this it requires healthy arteries, healthy muscles, healthy valves and healthy lungs to provide the oxygen.
What can go wrong?
20% of adults have high blood pressure. In 90-95% of those people there is no obvious known cause. In 5-10% there is kidney disease or an endocrine disorder. 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women die of heart attacks. So, contrary to popular belief, women die of heart attack almost as much as men, and more often than they die of breast cancer.
• Obesity leads to heart attacks
• Diabetes leads to coronary heart disease
• Stress can lead to heart attacks due to the adrenalin rush
• Diet plays a huge part in heart health
• Drugs can increase your blood pressure and upset your heart health
• Lack of nutrients can weaken your cardiovascular system
To help yourself you must:
• Stay close to nature – nature won’t hurt you
• Eat foods raw if you can
• Eat a good diet
• Keep to your ideal weight
• Reduce your stress levels
• Stop smoking
• Keep your Cholesterol and Homocysteine levels down
• Avoid drugs as much as possible
• Take nutrients
• Choose your parents carefully!
How do you do this?
Diet plays a major part in keeping your heart healthy. It is important to eat lots of fresh raw fruit and vegetables especially green ones to keep your body as alkaline as possible.
Increase your intake of oats and grains as they bind to Cholesterol. Eat plenty of unsalted nuts especially almonds, as they give you potassium.
Avoid low fibre fatty foods, saturated fats and oils i.e. fatty meats, whole milk products, hydrogenated vegetable oil, palm oil used for creamers and whiteners, coconut oil, cocoa, cream and butter. Trans fatty acids in some margarines can block the metabolism of Essential Fatty Acids. Saturated fat should account for not more than 10% of total fat intake.
Use, in moderation, unsaturated fats and oils from plants such as olive, sunflower, safflower, sesame and rapeseed oil and oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, anchovies and kippers.
Cut out all processed salt, it is hidden in all sorts of food including ice-creams. Sea salt is the best salt to use when cooking.
Limit your intake of bakery products high in fat and sugar, such as pastry, rich teacakes, croissants and butter type biscuits.
Restrict all your sugar consumption as it increases your blood sugar, which in turn increases your Insulin levels. High Insulin levels encourage fat to be stored in the body and lowers the immune system. One teaspoon of sugar puts your white blood cells to sleep for several hours! Restrict your intake of oxycholesterols, as in foods fried in heated oils, dried milk powder and dried egg yolks.
Do not eat too much animal protein. Too much of the amino-acid Methionine derived from the normal breakdown of proteins can lead to an increase of Homocysteine, causing damage and hardening of the arteries.
Reduce your coffee and alcohol consumption as 1 cup of coffee raises your blood pressure by 5-6 points and 1-2 ounces of alcohol can create significant hypertension.
Keep your weight down as you can shorten your life by 1 month for every pound of excess fat you have. If you lose just 5 lbs it will reduce your blood pressure. Being overweight is a major risk as you are more likely to become diabetic which then leads to coronary heart disease.
Exercise regularly as this will prevent obesity and help to diffuse stress and get rid of the adrenalin surge. It also increases your oxygen intake, which is vital for normal body functioning.
Reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Stress is the normal response of the body in an abnormal situation. The body responds with the fight or flight mechanism and the adrenalin levels go up. The muscles become tight and this increases your blood pressure. At this time you are six times more likely to have a heart attack. It is very important that you have a positive outlook in life.
Stop smoking because after every cigarette your blood pressure goes up and stays up for 30 minutes. If you are having difficulty giving up, try hypnotherapy or acupuncture.
What is Cholesterol?
It is a waxy fat-like chemical which is an essential component of certain hormones, body structures and digestive acids. The amount of Cholesterol required to perform these bodily functions is manufactured internally by the liver, and a certain amount of Cholesterol is vital to the body. We are all encouraged to reduce our Cholesterol levels but in fact it would be better if we went further back and asked why we have a high Cholesterol level? There is a school of thought that argues that it is not the Cholesterol that is the problem but the amount of Homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid derived from the normal breakdown of proteins in the body, and too much in the blood can lead to inflammation and damage to the arterial walls. Cholesterol then clings to the weakened areas and builds up, narrowing the arteries and causing heart disease. A build up of Homocysteine is caused by lack of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. How simple is that?!
Drugs can cause an increase in blood pressure and coronary heart disease. For example the contraceptive pill and steroids increase blood pressure. Statins, the drug that all doctors are encouraged to give to their patients to reduce Cholesterol, and recently it has been suggested that they should be given as a preventative, causes a loss of CoQ10 which is very important for body energy, it is known as the ‘energy of life’ especially in the heart. You lose 75% of CoQ10 and you will die! Statins also cause Rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle including the heart muscle!
We are all born with faulty genetics, it is the lifestyle that pulls the trigger. Blood pressure problems run in families and can lead to a stroke and weakened memory. If you have a genetic disposition for heart problems then it is vital that you take nutrients to prevent problems. Lack of nutrients leads to disease.
Which nutrients should you take?
A good multivitamin and mineral is a start and I would recommend a liquid one for better absorption.
To help heal the damaged walls and prevent further damage we should also take a supplement that increases nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body.
Nitric oxide has been shown to be important in the following cellular activities:
• Assist the immune system at fighting off bacteria
• Regulate blood pressure by dilating arteries
• Reduce inflammation • Improve sleep quality
• Increase endurance and strength
• Improves wound healing
Free radicals (toxins) take out the nitric oxide, as does poor nutrition, age, and a low uptake of L-Arginine, the precursor amino acid to nitric oxide.
CoQ10 is obviously important and I would also recommend a good antioxidant such as Resveratrol from red grape skin and known to help prevent heart disease.