How many of you have had your doctor tell you that, in the battle against heart disease, you’ve got to eat WHOLE GRAINS? And while they’re at it, they tell you to avoid fat and red meat as well, right?
I’m going to blow the lid off of that nonsense right now. That advice is completely upside down and backwards. The truth is, grains, cereals, starchy foods like potatoes, actually give you heart disease. And there is NO correlation whatsoever to red meat.
Is this freaking you out? This alternative doctor on the radio disagrees with everything I’ve ever heard from doctors, health teachers, parents and celebrity fitness experts.
Don’t take my word for it. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Research confirms it. The lead researcher said:
Current heart disease risk is based on flawed data. This study flies in the face of accepted wisdom on diet. It is quite clear consumption of dairy products and meat is not linked with heart disease risk, as was traditionally believed.
At the same time, data shows that you LOWER the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, etc. when you eat things like full fat dairy, plant fats and clean proteins, you help to protect against heart disease.
What about cholesterol? You say that, according to your doctor, your cholesterol is high, your triglycerides are high and you’re worried that you’re at risk of heart disease.
Well, for the record, triglycerides is just another word for fat. All fat is made up of triglycerides—it means there are three acid chains bound together with an esther alcohol molecule. Some are good (like the kind in avocados and coconut oil) and some are bad (like canola oil and margarine).
But cholesterol is highly dependent on the size of the molecules. Check out this article for an in-depth discussion on how and why cholesterol size matters.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. You want to reduce your risk of heart disease, and heart attacks ,and stroke, and all of those related issues that kill more Americans than any other one single thing.
As mentioned before, cut out the sugars, grains and starches. Eat more dairy and good fats to replace them.
Second big thing? Manage inflammation. The real problem is inflammation. Imagine sugar like sandpaper. It flows through your bloodstream, scraping up the inner walls of your blood vessels. Your blood vessels swell and inflame in response. AND, your body sends cholesterol as a shield. Get too much inflammation, too much cholesterol as a response to it, and you’ve got a clogged artery.
Manage inflammation by (again) cutting out sugars, grains, starches. Also stick to clean meats and veggies—meaning organic veggies, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, free range chicken, etc. It will take care of itself if you do this long enough.
There are some other, less discussed ways to protect your heart and vascular system.
- Maintain your oral health – floss, coconut oil pulling, regular brushing. Just make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Though it’s a bit mysterious, there is a clear link between gum disease and heart disease. One thing we do know is that the bacteria in the mouth that cause gum disease also causes inflammation in the blood vessels by sparking a rise in the C-reactive protein.
- Sleep more – Truth be told, only about 20 percent of us get the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep per night consistently. By the time you reach your mid-30s, your coronary arteries start to calcify, get harder and stiffer and increase your risk of heart disease. But, for every hour of sleep you get per night, the amount of calcification reduces by 33 percent.
- Stress less – Easier said than done, right? But it’s really as simple as doing things you enjoy, pursuing your hobbies and giving yourself some downtime. Also very helpful are things like meditation, prayer and exposure to the outdoors.
- Drink Green Tea – One of the best and most accessible sources of general antioxidants, green tea is a proven natural way to bring down blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Drinking as much as 20 oz. a day will go a long way in protecting your heart health well into your golden years.
- Flaxseed – Not only is it important to avoid trans fats, it’s equally important to get a lot of good, healthy fats. This includes, above all, Omega 3 fatty acids—which are abundant in things like salmon and fish oil supplements, but are extremely high in flax seeds. Just keep a bunch around. Put it on your salad, in your yogurt, smoothie, take a spoonful on the go. Just eat these things!
- Eat garlic – It’s delicious, nutritious and readily available. The way garlic in particular helps your heart is by preventing the clumping of red blood cells in the arteries. And it’s clogged arteries that get you in trouble.
- Spend time with your friends – It’s good for you, it’s good for them, it’s good for everyone! Hanging out with people you like—and who like you back—lowers anxiety and depression. And having lower anxiety and depression means having a lower risk for heart disease. So finally nail down that beer you’ve been talking about getting with your buddy. Invite a friend and her husband to dinner. Go golfing with the old gang from college. Just take the time to connect.
- Stretch – Do some stretching in the morning and do some more before bed. Get to where you can touch your toes without bending your knees, or do your absolute best to touch the ceiling for ten seconds. The physical act of stretching and bending keeps not only your joints and muscles flexible and adaptable, it does the same for your arteries. And flexible arteries means no heart disease.
- Get more potassium – I know what you’re thinking! I’ll just eat more bananas. No! Because you don’t want the 14 g of sugar that comes with each banana. And you know what else? Other foods have more potassium pound-for-pound than bananas anyway. For example, avocados and sweet potatoes. Potassium helps your body get rid of sodium. And if you don’t get rid of sodium, you raise the risk of encouraging heart disease.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, and LAUGH! This may sound similar to reducing stress and/or hanging out with friends, but I’m saying you’ve got to laugh more. Laugh when you trip and drop your briefcase. Laugh when your kid spills their juice and gives you that “Oh crap” look. Laugh when you get cut off in traffic. There’s nothing anger and outrage are going to do to help these situations. Just laugh at the little hiccups life throws at you. You’ll be so much better for it.