In this short essay we will ask and attempt to answer two questions:
Should you be concerned about the health of your heart?, and
If you should be concerned, then what action(s) should you take to protect it?
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and responsible for one out of every four deaths. So, in answer to question no.1 – YES, you most certainly should be concerned about the health of your heart!
Answering question no. 2 is a bit more involved, so let’s take a closer look at heart disease, its causes, and approaches to addressing it.
Contrary to popular belief, there are indications that cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. Recent research indicates that inflammation is the underlying cause and cholesterol merely has an affinity for inflammation. In other words, it is associated with inflammation but does NOT cause it.
Inflammation often comes from excess weight around the belly. Excess weight can cause inflammation throughout the body that can be tracked with markers such as Interleukin-6.
So what causes inflammation? One major cause is a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars. Also, a lack of exercise, poor management of stress, environmental toxins, and nutritional deficiencies. These lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and eventually heart disease.
Actions to Protect the Heart
The good news is that over 90% of all heart disease can be prevented with a few simple habits such as staying at your ideal body weight, exercising, not smoking, sleeping well and eating a whole foods nutrient dense plant rich diet.
In addition, the endothelium layer along arteries is a key area that can be an indicator of inflammation years before having a diagnosis of hypertension. If inflammation is suspected in the endothelium layer, and/or blood pressure rising—an anti-inflammatory diet of blueberries can help improve the endothelium layer function. One cup of blueberries, twice a day within 4 weeks can drop systolic blood pressure.
So, take care of your overall health with sensible eating, exercise, and sleeping habits, and you will be taking a big step toward maintaining good heart health as well.
NOTE: For an excellent podcast on heart disease and how to prevent it, please see:
“Addressing the root cause of heart disease.” By Dr. Mark Hyman.