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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


Simple Flow Chart to Decide What to Eat

February 6, 2012

Build Your Child’s Strength With Struggle

August 30, 2011

There once was a young girl who lived on a beautiful farm with her family and everyday she attended to her farm duties, one which included watching over the chicken coop. One of her favorite parts about taking care of the chickens was to tend to the new baby chicks that hatch.

One day, she noticed that there were several new baby chicks that hatched that were huddled under their mother hen, but there was still one egg that hadn’t hatched yet! To her excitement, the unhatched chick started to poke and struggle its way out of its shell.  Reactively, the little girl chose to help by gently peeling the shell away and freeing the chick.

Just as the young girl freed the baby chick though, it gasped, fell over and stopped breathing. The girl knew something was wrong so she ran to her mother to tell her what happened. The mother could have scolded the girl for what she did, but instead she chose to teach her an important lesson with caring words. “The baby chick must struggle to free itself from its shell in order to survive sweetheart. If it doesn’t experience that important event then it will never become strong enough to survive”.

This story is meant to illustrate that just like baby chicks, all of us must struggle sometimes so we can build the strength to not only survive, but to thrive. Especially our kids.  All to often I see kids that are constantly being bailed out of their struggles by their parents because they can’t stand seeing them suffer.  Our initial reaction when a child comes down with a fever is to reach for the fever suppressant. What we have forgotten is how important it is for that child to suffer through a fever in order for their immune system to fully develop and build a robust immunity to future viral infections.  When a child gets an ear infection- most of the time without even knowing the problem is even bacterial- we are quick to deliver antibiotics to destroy germs and bacteria. To the child’s disservice, the often bouts of antibiotics destroy healthy gut bacteria too that aid in digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, immune function, nutrition, and many other beneficial functions. I see mothers that give in to their screaming child that o-so wants that sugar coated sugar flavored sugar water. Then, we wonder why our kids are the SICKEST kids who have EVER walked the planet?

Struggle is a critical experience for everyone, and sometimes it’s for our own good to suffer through the experience because almost always we come out on the other side even stronger than before.  So please, comfort your kids, but let them know that it is ok to let their body handle a cold or a fever. Or that it’s ok to be sad every once in a while, or that hard work is a virtue, and failure is only feedback.  Because if we miss the incredibly valuable lesson of struggle, we fail to grow and succeed.

Your health coach,

Dr. Ryan

The Paleolithic Diet Explained

June 13, 2011

Health Rules: Dr. Ryan’s Think Rules to Live By

June 9, 2011

1. To see it, you must first believe it

2. Before you can love others, you must love yourself first

3. Being nice to everyone is the coolest thing you could ever do

4. Get uncomfortable at least once per day. Growth only happens outside of your comfort zone

5. Fuel your passions, and if you can link your passion to your paycheck you will never work another day in your life

6. SMILE! Even ugly people are better looking when they smile 🙂

7. Ghandi said it best: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

8. Lead by example, or as my favorite author Robin Sharma says:”Lead without a title”

9. The world is a direct reflection of yourself.  If you are a kind person, you probably live in a world full of kind people.  If you are a mean person, you probably live in a horrible world full of mean cruel people

10. The only meaning that something has is the meaning that you give to it

11. Your attitude determines your altitude

12. You become the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with

13. Practice daily self-renewal activities like morning rituals, journal, visualization, meditation, exercise, electronic fasting, and goal setting

14. Ask yourself not what can I get, ask yourself who may I help.

15. Small daily improvements over time create stunning results

16. Brilliant things happen when you go the extra mile and do the right thing

17. If you’re not failing regularly, you’re definitely not making much progress

18. Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well

19. The way you do anything in life defines the way you’ll do everything. Every act matters

20. Keep promises and be impeccable with your word.

Your health Coach,

Dr. Ryan

Health Rules: Dr. Ryan’s Movement Rules to Live By

June 2, 2011

1. There will never be a drug or surgery that will ever fix problems due to lack of movement/exercise

2. If you’re not moving, you’re dying (If you don’t use it you lose it)

3. Don’t ever stop running, it’s the most natural thing you could ever do besides fart

4. If someone tells you never to squat below 90 degrees, ask them to lay on the floor and get up without bending their knee below 90 degrees.  Then point and laugh at them

5. Exercise like Tarzan: Run, jump, climb, throw, lift, sprint, and yell a bunch while you do it

6. Have fun, and do what moves you

7. Earn your rest days

8. Turning up the heat and laying on the floor is not exercising

9. Walk…..a lot!

10. Lift something heavy at least once per week. Strong people are harder to kill, and are generally more useful

11. Kids and adults that exercise are more intelligent, happier, and are far less likely to have chronic disease later in life

12. Get a coach. Everyone needs accountability, guidance, and someone to help them set goals

13. Every so often, turn it up a notch and give it all you got. Intensity is where the good stuff comes from

14. Try new exercises and sports regularly

15. Train movements not muscles. If you were going to move a couch you wouldn’t hamstring curl or calf raise the couch, you would use a functional movement like dead-lift and carrying

16. Exercise is not a treatment for weight-loss or for getting a great beach body (although a great bonus)….exercise is required for optimal physical and mental well-being. We are wired-up for movement and our genes expect daily exercise in order to stay healthy and functional

17.  Just do it. The best time to start exercising was 10 years ago….the second best time is NOW! Get moving and quit living on someday island!

18. Sitting to your spine is like sugar to your teeth

19. Good posture is a habit just like brushing your teeth and it will make a HUGE impact on your confidence, vitality, and energy

20. You MUST have healthy spinal motion to have great health so just like everyone needs a great dentist, everyone needs a good chiropractor on their health team

Next week, Dr. Ryan’s Think Rules to live by!

Health Rules: Dr. Ryan’s Food Rules to Live By

May 23, 2011

1. Eat things that grow from the earth, or have a face and a mother

2. If you found yourself saying “don’t feed that to the dog! It’ll make him sick!” You probably shouldn’t be eating it either

3. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t put it in your mouth

4. Rethink your choice if you are eating something only because it acts as a shuttle for condiments

5. Bacon is good for you (on occasion)

6. Choose foods with no food labels most of the time (see rule #1)

7. Soy is not a health food

8. Support local farmers

9. Eat egg yolks, that’s where all the nutrition is!

10. Eat your food at the table

11. Never buy food from the same place you fill your gas tank

12. Never count calories, what really counts is food quality

13. Every meal ask yourself: “Where are the veggies? Where is the fat? Where is the protein?”

14. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored

15. If you’re thirsty, drink water

16. When making change, always start by adding something healthy rather than removing something unhealthy

17. Milk is for babies

18. Treat yourself once in a while and when you do, enjoy it

19. Never under any circumstance eat anything blue (except fresh blueberries)

20. If it doesn’t spoil in a day or two, then it’s not food

Next week, Dr. Ryan’s Exercise rules to live by.