Mar
24
2018

Prevent Plugged Arteries

There are several ways to prevent plugged arteries, which will translate into less heart attacks and strokes. The message is simple: if you get less heart attacks and strokes, you will live longer. Below I am examining ways to prolong life by various ways to prevent plugged arteries.

You probably heard of plaque formation in the arteries. This is the process where a combination of fat, calcium, cholesterol and cell waste forms a deposit (plaque) under the lining of the arteries.

The end result is that the blood won’t be flowing freely through the affected arteries. This can cause a heart attack or a stroke. Essentially, this is the point where a clot forms in the narrowed passage of the artery. It is also the point, when the clinicians make a diagnosis of a heart attack or a stroke.

Let’s examine what leads to plaque formation in the arteries.

Trans fats

Trans fats are contained in fried foods like French fries, in margarines and other butter substitutes. As margarine is a common ingredient of cakes, cookies, pastries and pies, these are all bad news for our heart health. I consider them off limits. If you eat those foods, you build up plaque in your arteries, which leads to premature heart attacks and strokes.

Lack of exercise

It has been common knowledge for a long time that being sessile leads to premature hardening of the arteries. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s physical exercise was promoted in various countries around the world.

The latter part of the 20th century saw a renaissance of the fitness movement. It was trendy to go running, cycling, and swimming or working out at a gym. It is not only trendy but healthy: cardiologists support all of these sports to help people stay healthy and keep the arteries free from plaque formation.

Too many refined carbs

Sugar and processed foods, especially those with added sugar to improve flavor, have a direct relationship to heart attacks and strokes. It is known that sugar causes high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. In addition sugar also causes inflammation of the arterial walls, which causes plugged arteries. However, sugar is only part of the problem. Starchy foods like rice, noodles, cakes, cookies and other foods made with flour get broken down into sugar. Both lead to insulin production. And both lead to changes of the lining of the arterial walls.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was a school of thought that a low fat diet would be healthy in terms of heart attack and stroke prevention (the low fat/high carb diet). This turned out to be a nutritional disaster: the high carb content of such a diet was the problem. It led to weight gain, obesity and death.

Red meat is a problem

Several studies have documented that saturated fat from red meat is only part of the problem. The other part is carnitine, which is abundantly present in beef, pork, lamb and venison. But mortality of people eating unprocessed red meat is only marginally elevated. It is when people eat processed red meat that there is a significant rise in mortality from heart attacks and strokes. This study examined this. They found that gut bacteria were stimulated by red meat to produce substances that stimulate bacteria in your gut to secrete TMA and TMAO, which makes your platelets more sticky and contributes to plugging your arteries. This research paper from the Cleveland Clinic explains it in more detail.

What must I do to prevent plugged arteries?

Eat the right food

A Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. It contains lots of vegetables, but little red meat. Fish and chicken that contain much less L-carnitine are more dominant in Mediterranean food. As mentioned above, you want to avoid trans fats. And you also want to avoid sugar and too many starchy foods. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages. Making these changes will keep your insulin levels in the normal range eliminating inflammation in your arteries. Avoid eating processed foods, because they contain food preservatives and lots of sugar that we want to avoid. Eat more unsaturated fats like avocados, walnuts, olives, trout, herring, and salmon. The last three contain marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes by being anti-inflammatory and by elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Drink lots of green or black tea, rooibos tea, or ginger tea. They contain antioxidants and bioflavonoids that prevent plugged arteries.

Regular exercise

Many publications have shown that regular physical exercise will lower blood pressure, condition your muscles including your heart and lower mortality.

Only 10 minutes of brisk walking every day reduced the death rate by 33% compared to those who did not exercise at all.

Regular physical exercise does not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, it also reduces the risk of getting another 35 chronic diseases, as the link shows.

Here are some common exercises: jogging, cycling, running, brisk walking, swimming, playing tennis and doing aerobics. All of them will strengthen your muscles and condition your heart and lungs.

Other ways to prevent plugged arteries

Smokers must quit smoking, as smoking has been identified as a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Exposure to prolonged stress is a factor that leads to hardening of arteries. Stress management is possible by counseling, by self-hypnosis, yoga, tai chi and other relaxation methods.

Risk factors associated with plugged arteries

We already have mentioned the risk factors that are associated with clogged arteries. But for clarity I would like to repeat the major risk factors here.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol (HDL is increasing with exercise)
  • Obesity (often associated by ingestion of too many carbs)
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Lack of exercise (too much sitting in front of the TV or doing computer work)
  • Unhealthy diet (Standard American diet instead of Mediterranean diet)
Prevent Plugged Arteries

Prevent Plugged Arteries

Conclusion

We often think that we have no input whether or not we get a heart attack or a stroke. This is completely wrong. If you adopt the solutions I have listed here, you can change things for the better. You will reduce your risk to get a heart attack or a stroke. Treat high blood pressure. Stop smoking. Cut out sugar and starchy foods to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Exercise regularly and your HDL will protect you from heart attacks and strokes. Shed pounds, if you are obese by starting a Mediterranean diet and cutting out sugar. This will also improve your insulin resistance or diabetes. Start daily exercise as this reduces your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. In addition exercise reduces the risk of 35 chronic diseases that have also been mentioned in one of the links.

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Jan
20
2018

Lower Cholesterol

When your cholesterol is high, what can you do to lower cholesterol? First, there is the bad cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol that should not be too high. Furthermore, there is the good cholesterol, called HDL cholesterol that you want to be to higher to protect you from hardening of the arteries. LDL cholesterol finds its way into plaques of arteries, and later calcification occurs. HDL cholesterol does the opposite; it dissolves LDL cholesterol and brings it to the liver.

Food contributes only to a small portion to the increases of your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the blood. The minor part of the body’s cholesterol stems directly the refined carbs and trans fats from your diet. Here are a number of steps that will protect your heart from LDL cholesterol.

1. Cut out red meat

Cutting out red meat (like beef, pork and sausages) to an absolute minimum, for instance once per week or less is important. The reason is that these meats have more cholesterol in them and also more saturated fats than any other foods. Compare that to poultry, fish and vegetables like beans, which are healthy food sources.

2. Eliminate trans fats

We need to eliminate trans fats as they are causing heart attacks. There is an important difference between ruminant trans fats and artificial trans fats. Ruminant trans fats have been part of the human diet for millennia like milk fat and fat from cows that are on pasture and lamb. Milk products for instance contain fat with 2-5% natural trans fats. 3-9 % of the fat in beef and lamb consists of natural trans fats. Studies have shown that the body is able to handle these natural trans fats and heart attacks are not more frequent in people eating moderate amounts of these products including butter from cows that graze on pasture.

Artificial trans fats

Quite the opposite is true for artificial trans fats in margarine that comes from vegetable oil. Avoid bakery items like sweet pieces or muffins and other products that contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels! Use olive oil or coconut oil, but avoid vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil to get away from trans fats and unstable oils that turn rancid. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries.

3. Cut out sugar and starchy foods

You need to cut out sugar and starchy foods because these will raise your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which also leads to hardening of your arteries. This is an important observation. Starchy foods are broken down by  pancreatic juices into sugar, which enters your blood stream, causing an outpouring of insulin from the pancreas. When the short-term storage of sugar as glycogen is exhausted in muscle and liver tissue, the liver has to process any surplus of sugar that is still there. The end results are triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately the protective HDL cholesterol does not reach higher levels, when the LDL cholesterol is increased. A persistent diet of high-refined carbs will increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It follows from this that we are all better off cutting out sugar and starchy foods from our food intake.

4. Increase your soluble fiber intake

Increase your soluble fiber intake by eating vegetables, oats and oat bran, lentils, fruits and beans. Why does this decrease LDL cholesterol? The liver tries to eliminate too much cholesterol by binding it to bile salts and excreting it into your small bowel. But the last part of the small bowel reabsorbs some of these bile salts , and from there they return to the liver. This is called the enterohepatic pathway of bile salts. Soluble fiber intake binds those bile salts and prevents re-absorption in the enterohepatic pathway, eliminating cholesterol safely in stool. Soluble fiber from psyllium, pectin, beta-glucans and others have been shown in clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol by binding bile salts in the gut (interrupting the enterohepatic pathway).

Plant sterols and fiber supplements

Plant sterols (usually sold as sterol esters) are recognized by the FDA as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, if taken in high enough amounts (2.4 grams of sterol esters per day). There are other useful supplements like artichoke extract, pomegranate, soy protein, Indian gooseberry (Amla), garlic and pantethine (vitamin B5) that are beneficial in terms of prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It would be too lengthy to get into more details here.

5. Take a whey protein supplement

There are two major milk proteins, whey and casein. Only whey protein binds to total and LDL cholesterol, lowering both. It is available in health food stores. Follow the package insert of the whey product for dosing.

6. Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake

Omega-3 fats are healthy fats naturally present in fish oils and nuts. They increase the amount of circulating HDL cholesterol, which binds the bad LDL cholesterol. Go ahead and eat salmon, herring and mackerel as well as walnuts, ground flaxseeds and almonds. You can also take molecularly distilled (or pharmaceutically pure) EPA/DHA supplements. This pure form of fish oil is free of mercury and other heavy metals. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is the acronym for docosahexaenoic acid, an important supplement for the brain. Tests have shown that fish oil supplements at a dosage of 3.35 grams per day of EPA plus DHA reduce triglycerides by up to 40%, equally to Lipitor or even more effective, but without the statin side effects. The end result is that your total cholesterol/HDL ratio decreases. This reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

7. Eat foods with anthocyanin

In a 24-week study with diabetic people HDL levels rose by 19% when food was eaten that was rich in anthocyanin. This consisted of eggplant, purple corn, red cabbage, blueberries and blackberries. The advantage of raising the HDL cholesterol level is that the total cholesterol to HDL ratio decreases, which lowers the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

8. Exercising regularly

Exercising will increase your HDL cholesterol, which again decreases the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. This number should be between 1 and 3.5, the lower, the better.

9. Take a supplement called Ubiquinol, or Co-Q-10

Adults above the age of 60 need 400 mg once daily, younger people need between 200 mg and 300 mg daily. Co-Q-10 prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which would aggressively attack the arterial walls causing hardening of the arteries. What causes oxidation of cholesterol? The answer is clear: fried foods like french fries or deep fried chicken will lead to oxidation; other culprits are margarine, commercially baked goods and cigarette smoking.

10. Calcium and vitamin D3

Recently a study on postmenopausal and overweight or obese women found that supplements of calcium combined with vitamin D3 lowered cholesterol.

11. Polyphenols

Flavonoids are the largest group among the polyphenols  in such common foods as vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate and wine. Over 130 studies on humans have shown improvement of the lining of the arteries (endothelial functioning) and lowering of blood pressure. Polyphenol consumption has a connection  to a lower risk of mortality from heart attacks. Eat a Mediterranean type diet or a DASH diet, and you will automatically get enough polyphenols with your food. However, resveratrol, the powerful red wine polyphenol, warrants a separate daily supplementation as it prevents LDL oxidation in humans (Ref.1). Take about 250 mg of resveratrol daily.

12. Niacin/ nicotinic acid

This supplement comes as “flush-free niacin” and also as extended release niacin; it can raise the beneficial HDL cholesterol by 30 to 35% when patients take higher doses of 2.25 grams per day. In a metaanalysis of 7 studies researchers found a significant reduction of heart attacks and transient ischemic attacks (precursor syndrome before developing a stroke). Niacin can change the small particle LDL into a large particle size LDL, which is less dangerous. Niacin also reduces oxidation of LDL, which stops the atherosclerotic process. For a healthy person 500 mg per day of flush-free niacin is adequate.

13. Curcumin

This is a powerful heart and brain protector combining three different mechanisms in one; it is reducing oxidative stress, is an anti-inflammatory and counters the process that threatens to destroy the lining of the arteries. One study on healthy volunteers showed reduction of 33% in lipid oxidation, a 12% reduction of total cholesterol and an increase of 29% of the protective HDL cholesterol when patients took 500 mg of curcumin for only 7 days (Ref.1). This is the daily dose I would recommend for prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

14. Vitamin E (tocopherols)

This fat soluble vitamin is an antioxidant and in the past knew about its use as being heart supportive. Strangely enough some conservative physicians bad-mouthed this vitamin. In the meantime health practitioners have returned to using the vitamin. It turns out that there are 8 different types of tocopherols, with the alpha tocopherol being the best-known, but you also want to be sure that you are getting gamma tocopherol with your balanced vitamin E supplement every day. It remains the one that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Simply ask staff at your health food store for a vitamin E supplement with gamma tocopherol in it. Take 400 IU per day (of the mix).

Lower Cholesterol

Lower Cholesterol

Conclusion

There is a lot you can do to control your cholesterol level by changing your diet, shedding some pounds, exercising and quitting smoking. All this will contribute to lower cholesterol. This will have a beneficial, long-term effect regarding prevention of heart attacks and strokes. In addition there are specific supplements and vitamins, which prevent heart attacks and strokes as well. With these measures the majority of people with high LDL cholesterol can change their cholesterol levels without taking statins. Statins have serious side effects like Alzheimer’s disease and a painful muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis. None of the other measures described here have any such side effect. Even if you chose to only concentrate on a few of these 14 points to lower cholesterol there will be significant improvements in your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, when you ask your doctor to order these blood tests.

More info: http://www.askdrray.com/statins-can-hurt-the-consumer/

References

Ref. 1: Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

 

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