By Les Proctor
About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event
The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack or a stroke. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. Every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.
And it’s a shame because in many cases the lost lives are tied directly to lifestyle–particularly diet. The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be greatly reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors that put people at greater risk.
The link between nutrition and heart health
As part of Heart Health Month, the American Heart Association wants everyone to take a good look at the things in our lives that we can control. Such as re-evaluating our diet and getting regular blood tests to determine our cholesterol numbers.
With one quick look it’s easy to see that we humans were never meant to eat the types of foods we consume every day. There is a direct link between nutrition and heart disease. Poor eating habits could very soon lead to the fist generation of Americans to live shorter lives than the generation before them.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
As Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., a former internationally known surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, explains in his book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, “heart disease can be prevented, reversed, and even abolished.” Dr. Esselstyn argues that “conventional cardiology has failed patients by developing treatments that focus only on the symptoms of heart disease, not the cause.” And the main culprit for Dr. Esselstyn, and many others like him, is diet.
Are our everyday foods secretly killing us?
Many of the dangers in our diet are hiding in plain sight.
One of the lesser known “toxins” you probably consume every day–unless you are a vegan–comes in the form of palmitic acid. Palmitic acid is a toxic, sticky, gooey substance you ingest whenever you eat foods that contain saturated fats (meats, cheeses, dairy, particularly ice cream¹). In fact, the name for the substance Napalm was derived from the names of two of the constituents of the gel: naphthenic acid and palmitic acid.
Palmitic acid has been shown to increase insulin resistance, kill beta cells in the pancreas (beta cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin), and switch off the mechanism in our body that tells you when you’re full.
“Multiple research investigations have shown that palmitic acid kills pancreatic cells responsible for the secretion of insulin²”, affirms Dr. Jeffery Green, a Doctor of Pharmacology, and Director of Research at Tersus Pharmaceuticals, who has spent 30 years in the area of drug development, much of which was focused on CV diseases, and who has been instrumental in the launch of a new heart health supplement called Cardia 7.
“This research could have far-reaching consequences for cardiovascular disease, since the epidemic involving the metabolic syndrome is comprised of the triad of insulin resistance, obesity and cardiovascular complications.”
Is there an antidote for unhealthy eating?
“It seems like everyone’s looking for the ‘magic pill’”, says Dr. Green.
“Unfortunately, there is no one magic pill. Instead of looking for one magic pill, everyone should be focused on what their real nutritional needs. The United States is the most overfed, undernourished nation on earth. But the human body is an extraordinarily resilient machine. People just need to stop eating foods that are killing them, and give the body the tools it needs to fix itself. This is what Dr. Esselstyn is referring to when he talks about focusing on the cause of heart disease,” he continues.
“In the 21st century, we all really need to pay more attention to what we eat, because there’s danger lurking all around us: genetically modified foods, high fructose corn syrup, fast foods laden with high calorie/low nutrition ‘foodstuffs’. And there’s an enormous amount of misinformation; surrounding fats in general, and fatty acids in particular.”
“While the saturated fatty acids, including palmitic acid, are known to be the “bad actors” in the western diet, the monounsaturated (MUFA) family of fatty acids have universally been shown to exhibit positive health benefits,” says Dr. Green. “Purified palmitoleic acid, or Omega 7, has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by suppressing inflammation, as well as inhibit the destruction of insulin secreting pancreatic cells caused by saturated fats³.”
An action plan: “Get more of the good and less of the bad”
It takes time to learn all there is to know about the link between nutrition and heart disease, and there are a lot of different opinions out there. And while none of us will change all of our bad habits overnight, we can move in the right direction by focusing on “more of the good and less of the bad” with the following steps:
1. Eat sensibly – Stop eating junk. Get rid of the margarine, the fried foods, and the sugary drinks. Avoid or consume in moderation the foods that are high in saturated fats like red meat, butter, cheeses, and dairy. Increase your unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and nuts. Eat more fruits and veggies, and drink lots of water. Avocado is wonderful compliment to salads, and will actually raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol.
2. Get regular exercise — Start off small. Studies show that even 30 minutes of moderate walking each day can help keep good cholesterol up and bad cholesterol down. Start your exercise program by walking 30 minutes a day. That will re-energize you, before you know it you can move on to other activities like jogging or yoga.
3. Take your supplements — In addition to a multivitamin, many people suffer from common vitamin deficiencies, so you should consider: Vitamin A, B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Potassium, Iodine, Lutein and Xanthene . Omega 3 is a great source of EPA / DHA, which has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. And Purified Omega 7 with palmitoleic acid, a new kind of Omega, is another fatty acid with great heart benefits. It increases HDL cholesterol without the flushing effect associated with niacin.
4. Measure your results — Getting your blood tested is crucial. You don’t know how you’re doing if you don’t know your numbers. At your annual checkup, ask your doctor to do a blood test for your lipid profile. If you have a higher body mass index (BMI of 30% or more), you might want to get tested for food sensitivities as well. By getting tested you’ll know if you’re out of the safety zone, and take appropriate action.
While there is no magic pill that can solve all of our health problems overnight, by continually educating ourselves, we can all take a step in the right direction.
It should be noted that while there are current formulations of Omega 7 on the market they should not be confused with Cardia 7. The concentration of palmitic acid from sea buckthorn sources contains upwards of 40% of palmitic acid, which actually exceeds the concentration in those preparations of the “good fatty acid”, palmitoleic acid. The concentration of palmitic acid in Cardia 7 is currently limited to less than 2%. Hence “more of the good” and “less (or virtually none) of the bad”.
So, by combining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting the right supplements, you are taking great steps in your efforts for a healthy heart.
Now we’d like to hear from you… if you’re a parent you’re probably not going to stop feeding your kids ice cream. But you might become more aware and cut down on your intake of saturated fats.
~ What are you doing to find the right foods for you and your family?
~ What are you doing to keep active and get regular exercise?
~ If you had nutritional deficiencies, how did you find out? What kinds of supplements do you take?
(1) “Ice Cream may Target the Brain Before the Hips”, Dr. Deborah Clegg, UT Southwestern
(3): “Chronic administration of palmitoleic acid reduces insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation in KK-A y Mice with genetic type 2 diabetes”, Lipids in Health and Disease, 2011.