Whether you have a heart problem or not, it’s important to take care of this organ which is the most active muscle in the body…it literally never gets a break!
Basic Foundations for Heart Health
At the NHIC, we start with the premise that heart disease DOES NOT START WITH THE HEART!! Most heart disease starts with inflammation many years before the symptoms of heart disease develop, that is where we are going to target our treatments from an integrative medicine perspective. We do this with diet, exercise, supplements and detoxification, elimination of food allergies, improving gut function and in many patients we will also include chelation therapy, an intravenous therapy to remove heavy metal toxins and help reduce inflammation, arterial plaquing and improve antioxidant status quickly, reducing cardiovascular events.
Diet as the key foundation for health
At the NHIC, we use the First Line Therapy program which is a 12-week program to teach patients lifestyle changes and make them a habit! My basic recommendations are as follows but often need to be tailored to the individual:
- Eat whole, real food, filled with nutrients! Eat as close to nature as possible.
- Avoid foods that are modern, processed and refined. Avoid foods that stress the body:
- sugar, candy, soda (even “diet” soda), corn syrup
- modern wheat in any form
- genetically modified foods (GMO’s, most commonly corn, soy and canola)
- colors/dyes (yellow dye #5, blue lake #3, etc)
- artificial and chemical ingredients (MSG, BHT, etc)
- artificial sweeteners
- Avoid cow’s milk dairy but if it is eaten, use small amounts, organic, clean, raw, if possible, and infrequently, 1-2 times per week. It will become an allergen if eaten every day, even in the best forms available. Limit any dairy substitutes to 1 serving per day.
- VERY, VERY important!! Eat at least 5-7 vegetables per day and make most of these low carbohydrate items, raw or steamed, such as, green leafy veggies, tomatoes, onions, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, celery, etc.
- Limit the more starchy vegetables to 1-2 maximum per day (sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, parsnips, beets, turnips and the like.
- Eat small amounts of protein throughout the day and eat adequate protein (3-5 servings per day, which depends on your gender, height, desired weight and activity level). Avoid eating red meat or pork more than once weekly. As much as possible, eat clean, grass fed, wild caught, cage-free, and when possible, organic animal proteins.
- Limit oils to about 4-6 servings of 1 teaspoon each per day. Only eat good oils and only cook with oils that are stable at high heat (coconut, butter, palm oil and clean animal fats) and use the other healthy oils for low heat or no heat (olive oil, rice bran oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil). Oils that are healthy, but should NOT be used for cooking include: walnut oil, grapeseed oil, non-GMO soybean oil and seseme see oil. Oils that appear “healthy”, but processed poorly, negating their healthfulness, are not recommended, unless they are “cold-pressed” and they should NOT be used for cooking. These include: safflower oil, sunflower oil, vegetable shortening. Canola oil is GMO, so I do not recommend it be eaten.
- Limit fruits to 1-2 servings per day
- Limit whole grains to 0-2 servings per day and I strongly recommend no forms of wheat. If grains are eaten, choose small amounts of quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, whole grain rice, millet (some other combinations are also okay in small amounts, moderation is the KEY) and keep those under 2 servings per day. Many of my patients do much better with 1 or less servings per day.
- Limit nuts to 1-2 servings per day, raw is best, soaked and sprouted is great!
- Limit legumes to 1 serving per day.
- Vegetarians may need more nuts and legumes to maintain adequate protein.
I can’t emphasize enough how important healthy food is to your heart and general health. Making ½ of your plate green and bright colored veggies is a must, but food portions in moderation is also very key, making sure to reduce or eliminate refined carbohydrates. In America, the plate is often 50% meat, 25% overcooked starchy vegetables and white, processed, refined carbohydrates are the other 25%. This needs to change to keep cholesterol at healthy levels and body functions at optimum.
Supplements that should always be included in what I call the ‘NHIC BASICS’ include:
- A Multivitamin-multimineral formula with antioxidants, B-vitamins, anti-aging and detox support and all of the key minerals needed for health,
- A Calcium-Magnesium with the correct kind of calcium and adequate magnesium to fuel muscle, connective tissues and cellular biochemistry,
- And purified Omega 3 fish oils with adequate EPA and DHA (the most important of the Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s).
Anyone over 50 years old should be taking 100 mg per day of CoQ10 or 25 mg per day of Ubiquinol (these are equivalent). If you are on any medicines, more will be needed, as many medicines block this very important substance. Patients with any cardiac conditions usually need more. See more below.
Second to inflammation, the concept of energy depletion as a cause for poor heart function needs to be addressed. Reducing and eliminating inflammation paves the road to improved cardiovascular health, but creating and recycling energy in the individual heart muscle cells can make all the difference in the world for long term function. Supplements that serve the purpose of restoring and recycling cardiac muscle cell energy include:
Dosing is not specified since this should be individualized, but it will be more in heart disease patients.
Integrative cardiologists, like Stephen T. Sinatra, MD and James C. Roberts, MD, have written multiple books on this subject and teach doctors about an approach, called Metabolic Cardiology. After seeing incredible results in their own patients, these cardiologists decided they had to do something to get the word out about how to truly improve cardiac health and here at the NHIC, we are part of that movement too!
The role of chelation therapy in cardiovascular health:
I’m often asked by my patients whether or not chelation therapy has any merit in treating cardiovascular problems and the answer is, yes, I’ve seen it work miracles, if it’s done correctly. We’ve even seen it slow down the progression of kidney failure, but it has to be done early in the disease process. The worst thing a person can do is wait until they are on death’s door to do this, and often, they are so sick, it is too late to do chelation. We also look at a patient’s history. When a person has had exposure or has evidence of heavy metal toxins on preliminary tests, we start chelation as part of their heart health program. This is done preventively, since the patient often does not have any noticeable symptoms and heavy metals have known affects on the nervous system, their level of inflammation, circulation, white blood cell function (that is, immune function), energy level, mood and cognition. Also, with any evidence of arterial blockage (plaque in arteries), we do chelation to help improve blood flow. I could show you a multitude of blood flow studies that show improvement after chelation. Many studies continue to be done on this and show improvement in circulation as well as decreased pain with walking, whether that be leg pain or angina. Now, we have even more evidence since the release of the “Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy” (TACT) results. This study met very rigorous criteria for the highly respected, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study method, to reduce any bias. The study was conducted by the University of Miami and funded by the NIH on April 23rd, 2003. In this trial, the NIH specifically wanted to study the effect of EDTA chelation therapy on coronary heart disease. The results were presented on November 4th, 2012 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. There were 1,708 patients enrolled and a total of 55,222 infusions given at 134 locations in the US and Canada. Below are the study results.
Among the most striking results, the study demonstrated:
- A statistically significant reduction in cardiac events.
- A reduction in the need for future cardiovascular surgeries.
- A surprising observation that those patients who benefitted the most were diabetics and those who had a history of the more severe heart attacks.
In the intravenous EDTA chelation treatment group:
- there were 18% fewer cardiac events including
- 6 fewer deaths
- 15 fewer heart attacks
- 2 fewer strokes
- 27 fewer revascularization surgeries
- 5 fewer hospitalizations for angina
Additionally, researcher Dr. T. Chappell, D.O. observed that:EDTA chelation is a safe treatment (only 2 unexpected deaths, one in each group).
- Chelation therapy showed an unexpected treatment benefit in post-MI patients who are already on evidence-based therapy (drugs and lifestyle changes). This effect was statistically significant.
Based on these results, it is probable that more research will be done. Hopefully, regulatory agencies will accept the science behind chelation.
Exercise as a cornerstone of your healthy heart program
Key word: MOVE!! Do what you can and don’t let me hear those words, “I can’t” or “I don’t have time”. This is another major part of the balance we are trying to achieve in the lifestyle changes needed to create and maintain heart and general health. An active lifestyle, balancing work and play, controlling stress, getting enough sleep, plusgetting rid of tobacco and excess alcohol are all pieces of the puzzle. Even if you’ve been overweight or sick for many years, you must NEVER GIVE UP on improving the diet and level of exercise you are currently at…any improvement will help and giving up will only lead to years of not caring and ending up 40-100+ pounds overweight and disease is sure to follow!
Blood tests to consider
Certainly, cholesterol is not the whole story. It is just one marker and many people have had heart attacks with completely normal cholesterol…and they still had blocked arteries or poor heart function! Inflammation control is the key!! This is done with balance! Blood tests can be done to look for predisposition to heart disease. Especially if you have a strong family history of heart disease, get your HOMOCYSTEINE AND ULTRASENSITIVE CRP (C-REACTIVE PROTEIN) along with an expanded lipid profile called a VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) to look at all of the different blood fats and how many of the “good, bad and ugly” that you have. These are easily reduced with natural treatments and will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, plus it’s really fun to see these numbers change as our patients journey through their lifestyle changes.
None of the above alone will get the whole job done, although the dietary recommendations, that is, WHAT YOU EAT, are the most important. BOTTOM LINE: these are all part of an integrative health program, tailored to the individual patient. Which is exactly what we do at the NHIC, we help you to create and maintain a program designed for you with quality education, supplements and motivational support.
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