What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is essentially three ailments bundled under one category. Dr. Stephen Hussey explains this clearly and in great detail on his blog.
- Damaged Arteries (atherosclerosis or arterial blockage)
- Sudden events that lead to tissue death in the heart (heart attacks)
- An underperforming or dysfunctional heart (heart failure)
Combined as “coronary heart disease”, these three health issues are the leading killer in the United States and high on the list of causes of death in most places in the world.
Causes of Heart Disease
Dr. Hussey believes that the roots of heart disease are in three imbalances in the body which drive many chronic diseases. I’ll summarise each of these briefly below.
- The inability to readily burn fat for fuel
- An excess of free radicals leading to oxidative stress
- An imbalance in the stress response of the Autonomic Nervous System
The Inability To Burn Fat For Fuel
The first, the inability to burn fat for fuel, results when one’s diet is high in carbohydrates. Some people adopt a keto diet to address this issue. While your body and especially your heart can burn fat, carbs are a quick source of fuel… but it comes at a cost, as burning carbohydrates creates more free radicals, which leads us to #2…
Of the three kinds of fuel our bodies can burn (carbs, fats, proteins) all create waste products which are called free radicals. However, burning carbs creates the most (and burning fat the least free radicals). Eating too many carbs, having elevated blood sugar (common when eating carbs) or toxins in the environment all encourage the production of free radicals. Excess free radicals damage the lining of our arteries which have the job of producing nitric oxide. That causes our nitric oxide to be depleted. However, nitric oxide is necessary to help “turn off” stress (oversimplifying a bit). Which leads us to #3…
Imbalanced Stress Response
Imbalanced stress response happens when chronic stress occurs. When money stress, or relationship worries, or job pressures are prolonged, we experience chronic stress. Our bodies were designed to respond to threats quickly, and then rest, but the modern world doesn’t always offer those chances to have periods free of stress.
You can probably see that there’s a cascade happening here, and unfortunately for many people, the end result is heart disease.
What Can You Do To Prevent Heart Disease?
You can’t change your family medical history, but you can in fact often change the way your genes “express”. In other words, a family history of heart disease doesn’t mean that you too will experience the same outcome. There are many lifestyle choices within your control that will help you reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Eat good fats, and avoid the bad ones
- Reduce carbohydrate consumption
- Keep a healthy weight (reducing those carbs will help)
- Explore intermittent fasting
- Be in contact with nature – nature walks are a great choice
- Stay active – light exercise is fine, such as those nature walks, or swimming, yoga, Tai Chi…
- Express your feelings, don’t suppress them
- Practice mindfulness
- Avoid toxins where possible (of course, this means no smoking!)
- Eat real foods, not the processed stuff (this will help with avoiding toxins)
- Eat foods that help purge toxins (cilantro and other leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beets, apples, blueberries, garlic, turmeric, ginger, chlorella, lots of pure water)
- Consume bone broth or supplement collagen protein, which give your body glycine, the amino acid that drives the production of glutathione, your bodies “master antioxidant”
- Avoid social isolation (which seems to cause stress) – be part of a community
- Have meaningful loving relationships
These choices improve your chances of keeping your heart healthy and avoiding heart disease.