What the ‘Heart’ Can I Do to Stay Healthy?

Original art by Colin Close    A sensible diet and regular exercise are two keys to a healthy heart.

Nearly 1 in 3 deaths in America are related to heart disease. More than 50 years ago President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed as February American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease many attribute to smoking, eating habits, weight problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and just plain genetic bad luck. Unfortunately, more awareness of these risk factors has not led to a decrease in cardiovascular-associated deaths in the United States.

In spite of all the new drugs and surgical procedures, which are prudent in emergency situations, heart disease, like the majority of the other top killers in the U.S., are largely preventable. These drugs and surgeries treat the symptoms not the cause. There is overwhelming evidence in the medical literature that people can improve and even reverse heart disease.

For nearly 40 years the U.S. federal dietary guidelines have falsely told us to limit foods with dietary cholesterol to promote heart health. For most, the cholesterol in food does not elevate the amount of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart attacks. Since 2015 the nutrient guidelines have been quietly updated to eliminate that restriction as it’s “no longer a nutrient of concern.”

Cholesterol is not the enemy. We need cholesterol for the production of our sex hormones, cell membranes, brain cells as well as to deal with inflammation. The goal is not to lower cholesterol; it’s about having the right type and balance of cholesterol. Rancid oxidized cholesterol is bad.

But who knows what to do? If you are not testing, you are guessing. The best blood lipid-related markers of heart disease risk are the Total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio and Triglycerides-to-HDL ratio, both of which should be at 4:1 or less. They can be influenced by a variety of factors including liver function, thyroid activity, insulin management and overall inflammation. It’s important to look at which one of these applies most.

Next, one of the most underestimated and yet valuable markers is the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, which should also be at 4:1. This test looks at inflammation, weight management, the health of cells and is largely related to diet.

Consider starting some dietary changes today to live a long, healthy life: replace sugars and refined carbohydrates with healthy fats and fiber, and get regular amounts of CoQ10, magnesium, and B-vitamins — all cardio-protective. Early correction of any periodontal issues is wise as there are deep-rooted connections between the mouth and heart. Since the cardiovascular system is stimulated by the nerve system, chiropractic care has been proven to lower risk. And of course, the heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it responds to exercise.

Want to learn more? Join the upcoming talk at my office on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7:15 p.m. Admission is free.

 

Dr. Tim Heath DC, MBA, CCEP, is a board-certified primary care doctor and runs Optimized Wellness Center a multidisciplinary functional medicine practice at 2381 Mariner Square Dr Ste. 170. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 497-4424 or see www.optimizedwellnesscenter.com.