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How to Actually Prevent Hearth Disease This February

February 14, 2012

As a doctor of chiropractic I am fascinated with the inner workings of the human spine and nervous system and I have dedicated my life to teaching folks about the absolute importance of this master-controlling system.  Throughout the past few years though I have been blown away with how little regard we have for our spine and central nervous system and how we are all enamored with the heart and cardio-vascular system. I ask folks all the time what their most important organ system is and inevitably the answer I get is not the brain….it’s the heart!  Rightfully so, I guess, since heart-disease has been the #1 killer of men and women for the past 80 years.  It is the central topic of discussion at most physician visits, aside from the pain-killer Vicodin the second most commonly prescribed medication in the United States are statin drugs, and according to the CDC every thirty seconds someone in the US has a heart-attack and every minute someone dies.

So why are so many dying of heart disease? Why does it seem that despite all the deaths it seems that everyone is still on cholesterol lowering statin drugs and blood pressure meds? Have we been designed with a genetic flaw to become predisposed to heart failure and clogged arteries? Is it all just a crap-shoot? Or do we have some control?

I’m here to tell you that I believe that you do have control and that you don’t have to be another statistic.  All you need is the right information and the right daily actions. Here’s proof:

Know this……

In most cases, bad habits run in families not bad genes.  PhD scientist Dr. Bruce Lipton, who is a leader in the field of research called epigenetics, has taught us that your genes do not necessarily determine the fate of the health you enjoy, rather it is your lifestyle that controls the expression of your genes… and this determines your expression of health.

“The problem is that while they have an understanding that the mechanism isn’t working, they’re blaming the vehicle for what went wrong. They believe that the vehicle, in this case our bodies, is controlled by genes.
“But guess what? They don’t take into consideration that there’s actually a driver in that car. The new science, epigenetics, reveals that the vehicles—or the genes—aren’t responsible for the breakdown. It’s the driver.” – Dr. Bruce Lipton

So, if our genes don’t necessarily “predispose” us to things like heart-disease then what does?

The answer is STRESS!

I’m not talking  solely about the mental-emotional stress that we feel when the bills are overdue and we are trying to meet all our deadlines….I’m also talking about physical and chemical stressors.

So what kind of things cause physical and chemical stress that leads to the expression of heart disease in your body?

1) Foods high in carbohydrate.  It is well known that foods that raise our “bad cholesterol” (LDL), lower our “good cholesterol” (HDL) and raise blood lipids (Triglycerides) can lead to an unhealthy cardiovascular system.  Foods that do this are also notorious for raising inflammation in our body that can lead to all sorts of chronic health disorders.  What is not commonly known though is that excess carbohydrates are the main culprit. If you regularly eat foods that are high in carbohydrates then you are on a one-way street to heart-disease town.  Examples of these kinds of foods are processed grains like pasta, cereal, bagels, instant oatmeal, and bread.  Also most fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, soda-pop, most baked goods, and pretty much all junk foods including anything that says “low fat” (think about it, you take the fat out then it tastes bad, so you add sugar to make it taste better!).  All these evil doers cause elevated blood sugar, which leads to elevated insulin, which leads to accelerated fat storage in your body, elevated inflammation, and STRESS that causes heart disease!

2) Foods with toxic fats. So what are toxic fats? Believe it or not, the toxic fats that harden and clog arteries are not the vilified saturated fats and cholesterol that have been maligned for decades. In fact, saturated fats have been found to be protective against heart disease! Think about it, we have done nothing but pull out saturated fats from our diets for years and chronic disease has done nothing but climb to all time highs!   The fats that are causing all the problems are trans or hydrogenated fats and the excessive omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s).  First of all, you must be living under a rock if you didn’t know that trans-fats will kill you….but are you still choosing foods with them in it? Do you eat fast-food, canned soup, cake mixes, margarine or other vegetable oil spreads, frozen foods, baked goods, crackers, cereals, candy, or bottled salad dressings or dips? Then you are most likely consuming disease-causing trans fats! Foods that have toxic levels of omega-6 are foods like grains and cereals, vegetable oils, industrialized meat and dairy, soy products, baked goods, and packaged foods.  The reason that the trans-fats and omega-6 rich foods are damaging is because these unstable oils oxidize or become damaged very easily in your body, and directly cause high levels of inflammation and damage artery walls (read: Heart Disease).  Omega-6 PUFA’s will also displace essential omega-3 PUFA’s that are required for health and to keep inflammation at bay.

3) Chronic inactivity and spinal damage.  If you aren’t moving at least 30 minutes per day, then chances are that you are moving more towards problems like heart disease rather than away.  Chronic inactivity and lack of proper spinal movement does not allow for your joints to become properly stimulated and this creates physical stress to your nervous system. Stress to your nervous system is called a sympathetic or fight or flight response.  This primitive system is there to save your life in acute situations where you need to either fight or flee a situation to save your life or avoid trauma.  In a chronic scenario though (eg. sitting on your ass all day), this forces your body to adapt causing things like elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, lowered immunity, compromised digestion, etc.  We can basically call sitting the new smoking.

4) Smoking.  Speaking of smoking…you can do almost everything right with your lifestyle, but if you continue to smoke then this one behavior can wipe out all your efforts. Cigarettes will lead to heart-disease, and many other horrible life ending or altering conditions.

Do This…..

1) Choose health promoting foods and avoid toxic carb and fat choices.   In a nutshell, this means choosing fresh whole foods like vegetables, natural starches, fruits, nuts and seeds, naturally raised animals and naturally raised animal products. These foods are high in nutrients, high in cardio-protective fats, anti-inflammatory, and delicious! Avoid packaged processed foods, sugar-laden food, grain products, all vegetable oil-derived products, industrialized meats and meat products, all soy products, and baked goods.  If you are wondering if this food is healthy, consult this food flow chart to help.

2) Exercise regularly.  Whatever you do, just move your body. The simplest way to protect against heart disease is to just be active as much as possible throughout the day (eg. walking).  Even better if you can lift weights or do resistance work 1-2 times per week, do the occasional cardiovascular activity like run/bike/swim, and ramp up the intensity to an all-out effort 1-3 times per week for short durations.  This will give you optimal body composition, perfect lipid profile, and optimal health and wellness for a lifetime.

3) Get your spine and nervous system checked by a chiropractor regularly.  Whether you sit at a desk, in a car, or you are the most active athlete around, if you do not have a proper functioning spine and nervous system then you will have unfavorable stress to your nervous system.  Chiropractors aid the body to be better equipped for our unnatural sedentary lifestyle and traumatic hobbies that cause spinal damage.  If left unchecked and uncorrected, spinal damage can lead to stress, degenerative disease in the spine, and chronic pain.  Get the most out of life and protect your health by seeking corrective care from a chiropractor before your body tells you to take action!

4) Quit smoking and take up a healthy habit.  There is nothing wrong with a habit, so long as it isn’t killing you. Find one that excites you and get into it, you’ll forget you ever smoked in the first place!

Your health coach,

Dr. Ryan Hewitt

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