Ounce of Prevention | Avoiding killer No.1 of humans
In the month of February, we traditionally focus on heart health, or perhaps we really just think about heart disease. The healthy heart is an amazing muscular pump that begins pumping blood from when the unborn foetus is about 14 to 16 weeks old. It then continues to pump without a break until you die.
On average, the human heart beats about 100,000 times per day or about 35 million times in a year. Over an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. No man-made pump can rival the performance of the healthy heart.
But heart disease continues to reign supreme as the number one killer of humans.
And it has maintained this position for a very long time in the developed and developing world, despite all the fancy new medical technologies being used to wage war on this destroyer of lives. The reason why we have not even come close to winning this war is simple: we are not addressing the basic cause! With few exceptions, heart disease is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Most cases of heart disease are preventable and correctable.
THE HEART-BIG GUT CONNECTION
Abdominal obesity is directly related to heart disease. If the epidemic of excess belly fat is not corrected, all the new and powerful drugs, and all the fantastic technological advances, and all the amazing cardiac surgical procedures will be of very limited use.
Belly fat is not just a cluster of fat cells. It promotes inflammation, and heart disease, at its core, is an inflammatory disorder that promotes the blockages of blood vessels that have been mistakenly blamed on cholesterol.
Belly fat produces excessive amounts of some hormones, especially oestrogen, insulin and cortisol. This leads to a cascade of bad problems that doctors call 'the metabolic syndrome'. So, critical to curtailing the ravages of heart disease is correcting truncal obesity. And this involves mainly lifestyle changes.
There are four key areas of your lifestyle that influence the size of your belly and the function of your heart. I call then the 'Four Pillars of Heart Health'.
This is the first and most critical pillar. Balanced, optimal nutrition provides the heart with the energy and oxygen it needs to function. In addition to a mostly plant-based diet, with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, I suggest generous servings of healthy protein like soy, beans, peas, nuts, fish and organic poultry, and a drastic reduction in the simple carbohydrates - sugar and starch.
I supplement this with a patented programme called Cellular Nutrition to ensure that the cells of the heart are provided with all the nutrients they need. This same plan corrects the obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol imbalances often associated with heart disease.
A number of specific supplements also promote optimal heart function: vitamins B, C and E, D, magnesium, CoEnzymeQ10, L-carnitine, L-arginine, the omega-3 fatty acids, and the herb Hawthorne, in particular.
Like any other muscle, the heart responds to regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, swimming or cycling, by becoming more fit and functional. Even as little as half an hour brisk walking three times per week is beneficial. The key is to exercise with enough intensity to elevate your heart beat during the exercise. But as important as exercise is, don't think that it allows you to neglect your nutrition. Not infrequently, elite fit athletes drop dead from heart attack.
Many common toxins like cigarette smoke, excess alcohol, unhealthy trans-fats, toxic metals like lead, mercury and cadmium, some prescription drugs as well as environmental pollutants can all weaken the heart.
They should be avoided and specific strategies used to eliminate them from the body. Useful detox programmes include chelation therapy, infrared sauna baths, colon hydrotherapy, and herbal cleansing formulas. In the case of heart disease due to the blockage of blood vessels, chelation therapy is particularly useful.
Chronic stress can be very damaging to the heart. It leads to the excess production of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, that put a greater strain on the heart and circulation, elevates bold pressure and encourages abdominal obesity.
A balance between work and play and learning to use stress management strategies is a vital part of heart health.