Heart Care, 8 Compelling Reasons To Follow The Natural Approach
If we could look at prehistoric man and say he was free from cardiovascular disease because he lived a basic, natural lifestyle, then many of us would have a winning platform to publicly decry modern day fast foods and sedentary living. There is no doubt that much of modern convenience foods contribute to heart disease making it the number one cause of death and ill health around the globe. However, since science has indicated vague similarities with our ancient ancestors who showed signs of cardiovascular dysfunctions (analysis of genome of “iceman” Otzi, for example) researchers are left intrigued having more questions than answers on the disease.
What is certain is that science has reinforced the evidence of man’s genetic predisposition to heart disease, existing centuries back, in which our modern lifestyle with all its technological advancement has not served the new era of man very well.
A genetic predisposition suggests that our genes and the environment play a part in developing a medical condition. Given the right environment (our lifestyle), someone who is genetically predisposed to heart disease is at a higher risk of developing the disease than someone who is not. Eating large amounts of saturated fats, no exercise, and accepting a growing waistline are factors linked to cardiovascular disease; this is the way of life on the Western diet.
Much more is being learned in science about inherent traits that tends to veer us along specific genetic criteria that current pharmaceutical drugs have not been able to solve.
There are still major unmet needs for better therapies for many patients with heart disease, that despite significant strides in medicine using beta blockers and ACE (angiotensin-converting-enzyme) inhibitors we show disappointing results in late-stage clinical failures. We contend with skyrocketing costs of medical drugs for heart patients and watch unnerving statistics of cardiovascular disease as it continues to rise. It is as though medical science is turning on its heels, trying to test us with the next novel synthetic agent to work with our internal systems, when what we need is to get back to the fundamentals and create the right natural environment for cardiovascular health and longevity.
When it comes to our health, Mother Nature has shown us that natural is best. Many of the powerful drugs used for modern medicine originated in plants so why not learn some heart-healthy options and revert to an organic source to meet your needs.
8 Compelling reasons to treat the heart using natural methods
1: Observe guidelines for general health promotion
The cardiovascular system includes the heart and blood vessels working together to enrich tissues with nutrients and oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and wastes from the tissues. Both are influenced each day by the food decisions we make and the amount of activity we perform. What you eat and don’t eat, as well as portion size, and social habits (smoking and high alcohol intake) can make the difference in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight.
These are major preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease:
- Poor nutrition
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight and obesity
- Type II diabetes
- High blood cholesterol
Risk factors that we have no control over are: aging and an inherent predisposition to cardiovascular disease; however both have brighter medical prognosis when healthy eating habits and exercise are incorporated in our daily activities.
Other risk factors are low levels of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. These 3 Vitamins at low levels can cause a high homocysteine level in the bloodstream a cause of heart disease by triggering arterial damage that can lead to stokes or heart attacks.
If you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, a nutrient dense “pacemaker” healthy diet that can help you better manage your diet, reducing the risks to heart attacks. A number of studies have been conducted which confirms the association of diet and exercise with reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes by as much as 80 per cent. Knowing which foods to eat and the cooking methods which are healthiest for your heart will empower you to create incremental changes for a more efficient blood pumping system.
2: Heart healthy foods and decisions
Can we live a lifestyle of no salt, no refined white sugar or flour, no artificial additives or poisonous preservatives, impure drinks, and instead consume natural “live” foods, fresh organic fruits, vegetables and pure water, plus include a health-giving program of exercise, relaxation and plenty of restorative sleep?
This may just be what it takes for many of us to care for our hearts; if we are willing to explore these options. This is the key factor here: much of what is being conveyed to you is not new, but we must ask ourselves if we have reached the true turning point to begin afresh.
Romance your food! Heart healthy food is delightfully tasty and only needs some getting used to, that is, if you have previously lived a life accustomed to refined processed foods. Natural whole grains have a nutty, sometimes sweet flavour depending on the grain; tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans etc.), can be such a delightful snack to stave away hunger. Fruits and vegetables are available in wide choices all season long, and the brighter the colour the more anti-oxidant rich and beneficial for our pumping vessel. Ground produce of roots and tubers such as sweet potatoes, beetroot, carrots, and ginger are just a few of the nature’s power-packed foods with tastes to appeal to everyone.
Time should be given to try a new fruit, vegetable, herb or spice and romance our taste buds to what we should be eating.
Foods which are cholesterol lowering: the most important change you will ever make for a healthier cardiac muscle is removing saturated fats and trans fats entirely from the diet. Both types of fats raise your “bad” cholesterol – LDL (low density lipoprotein) level which increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes, exponentially.
Observe the following tips:
Reduce solid fat: butter, margarine, and lard should be avoided or limited in your diet. Substitute with organic olive oil and canola oil, for example. Control fat amounts by trimming the fat off meat, or ideally choose different proteins; and flavour your meals with herbs, sesame seed oil and lemon juice.
Increase good fats: saturated fats and particularly trans-fats are bad LDL cholesterol building fats while “good” cholesterol lowering fats-HDL (high density lipoprotein) are excellent for the heart.
Examples of HDL foods are:
- Monounsaturated fats: avocados, coconuts, walnuts, pecan, cashews, nut butters and nut milk.
- Essential fatty acids-omega-3: fatty fish (salmon, cod, sardine, herring and mackerel), flaxseeds, seeds, and legumes.
- Essential fatty acids-omega-6: vegetable oils, organic soya, and other polyunsaturated fats.
Make smart choices: The best foods for lowering cholesterol are oatmeal, fish, walnuts (and other nuts) and foods fortified with sterols and stanols, substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.
Read labels: packaged foods that come with “cholesterol free” and other similar wording can be tricky. Stick to basics whenever possible by going with fresh produce of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein and limiting canned, high sodium, nitrate treated cured foods. Be savvy when reading ingredients that say partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats, which is another way of saying trans-fats such as chips, cookies, types of peanut butter, mayonnaise etc. which are bad for you.
Eat lots of beetroot, organic dark grapes and berries (and an occasional glass of red wine for good measure, filled with rich antioxidants and resveratrol). Resveratrol is a natural plant derived chemical known as polyphenols that is attracting diverse attention due to its impressive cardio-protective and vaso-protective properties for the heart.
A very useful herb for helping with the health of your heart is Hawthorn. It has many known benefits and over numerous trials it has been successful in helping to lower high blood pressure without any side effects. It is also good for iregularities in heart rhythm, angina and heart palpitations.
Vitamin E helps to oxegenate the blood, which will help it to flow better and cause less effort from the heart. It is also a good antioxidant. 1 x 400iu Vitamin E oil capsule is equivalent to about 100 avocados.
SerraEnzyme or Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme which breaks down dead matter in the body or proteins and changes them into peptides. These enzymes will clear inflammation, pain, plaque in arteries and dead tissue in scars and cysts. There are lots of successful studies done regarding heart health. The one is angina and the other one is arterial plaque disease.
A supplement which will help to naturally boost your energy levels is Co-Enzyme-Q10. Co-Q-10 is needed by the cells of the body for energy production. It is found in all plant and animal foods, but unfortunately these amounts are insufficient for the body’s requirements. It is also useful for cardiovascular disease, such as angina, cardiomyopathy (reduced heart muscle contractions) and high blood pressure. If you are taking statins they deplete Co-Q-10 levels in the body. The heart is a large muscle which needs plenty of energy to function properly which is why C0-Q-10 is good for the health of the heart.
Studies show that as much as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributable to lack of regular physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 5 major factors for cardiovascular disease. Exercise promotes weight reduction and immediately reduces blood pressure, it can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood; in diabetic patients it improves their body’s ability to control insulin. Researchers have found that for heart attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program, the death rate reduced by 25 per cent, and included other improvements in quality of life, as in: better self-esteem, less anxiety, and more self-confidence.
Quieten the mind and reduce the effects of stress by learning relaxation techniques that automatically calm the body, refreshes the spirit and allow us to be thankful to family members and friends around us. When we become stressed our blood pressure increases as an automatic (and autonomic) response; sustained exposure to that type of environment will affect your heart.
Learn deep breathing meditative exercises which are known to immediately calm the body. Try practicing yoga to elicit relaxation, or if that is against your religious belief, try repetitive forms of prayer and singing from hymnals. Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises with a focus on the breath will also arouse serenity and peace within.
We expose our bodies to a tremendous amount of toxins per day from the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the polluted environment around us. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is helped by natural detoxification in the diet helping the kidneys to filter and ridding the body of any backlog of pollutants. Simple ways of encouraging daily elimination, especially for ladies whose bodies tend to physiologically resist having a bowel movement daily is to eat roughage while drinking lots of pure water and exercising.
Foods that assist with elimination include ripe bananas, (not unripen hard bananas offered as “ripe” in restaurants, but soft ones with no sign of “green” shown on the tips), cucumbers, papayas and melons; or blend a few together for a super tasting drink. If that does not work Aloe vera will. Aloes work wonders to flush and eliminate toxins from the blood stream.
We take rest and sleep for granted not recognising the powerful effects it has in resetting our bodily systems. Just as eating healthily and exercise are important so too are rest and sleep important in restoring, rejuvenating, and re-invigorating the whole body. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended; for persons who find those hours difficult to achieve due to worry should try meditative exercises, avoid caffeinated beverages and sweet drinks, particularly close to bedtime.
Taking a nap in the day assists with restoration and should be utilised if night time sleep is a problem. Sleep is essential for overall health and mental wellbeing and not just for cardiovascular health.
7: DASH Diet Review
DASH stands for: dietary approaches to stop hypertension, eating plan. This diet focuses on high blood pressure as the root of all heart attacks, strokes, angina pain, and embolisms. Hypertension makes the heart work harder, harden the walls of the arteries and can cause brain haemorrhage. The diet places much more emphasis on balancing meals and making wise choices rather than eliminating foods. Foods included in the diet are: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, fish and limited poultry and lean red meats. It reduces sodium to 2,300 milligrams=1 teaspoon, or less daily; sugars and sodas to less than the typical American diet and provides guidelines for exercise for most age groups.
8: Be “Mind-happy”
Mental health is about uncluttering the mind from stressors that tells the body to send stress signals that cause us to get anxious, depressed and elevates our blood pressure; these changes in turn affect cardiovascular health. A healthy positive outlook including finding a mantra that will inspire and encourage us to look at the brighter side of life every time will also promote a happy heart.
We know in our hearts (no pun intended), that natural, organic food is what is intended for our bodies. It is no coincidence that nature’s garden provides such a wide variety of herbal medicines and antioxidant rich foods to take care of special types of ailments. It is also not as intriguing as one might previously have thought that prehistoric man could be genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease. When you think about it, life is about balance, just like the internal harmony that our bodily systems insist upon. Prehistoric man had less control of his food supply and depended on survival skills to keep him fit mentally and physically; a number of stress factors could therefore have been at the core of his cardiovascular problem in addition to seasonal changes to his food supply.
Subsequent to earlier man, we are now masters of our own destiny, (well, pretty much so). We make the decisions on which foods come into our homes, what food should be stocked in the pantry and in the refrigerator. So, now is the time to challenge yourself to cook with limited amounts of butter. At restaurants, choose vinaigrette over heavy cream salad dressings. These are some of the guiding habits that forecast our destiny with a robust cardiovascular system.