This article was written by Nicole Eckert, Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. Check out her holistic living blog: holisticole.com for amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Stay inspired by Nicole’s passion – follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole). BE vibrant.
610,000. This is the average number of people in the United States who die from heart disease every year .
Globally, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death. In 2015 an estimated 17.7 million people were affected, which represented 31% of all soul departures. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke .
With close to 25% of the population is taking statin medications and many additionally follow a reduced fat diet, how death by heart disease increase each year?
We are all being lied to about heart health.
These are the words from a heart surgeon as he speaks out on the true cause for heart disease.
Dr. Dwight Lundell is working to ‘write the wrong with medical and scientific fact.’ This heart surgeon with at least 25 years of experience, author of ‘The Cure for Heart Disease’ and ‘The Great Cholesterol Lie’ and past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa AZ.
In 2012, Dr. Lundell wrote an article that was published in Prevent Disease. Lundell shares his newfound understanding that a healthy lifestyle which includes natural, whole and unprocessed foods is what prevents and reverses heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. In his powerful confession, Lundell recalls his two and a half misguided decades as a cardiac surgeon, where he prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications and recommended a low-fat diet. He admits that he has realized the error of his ways. Lundell has since stopped practicing and has dedicated his career to heart disease prevention.
“We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact”. 
Dr. Lundell shares that the only accepted therapy in practice, was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol, and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could result in malpractice.
With so many people in our world affected by heart disease, many people believe that these statins are actually helping them – Dr. Lundell wants it to be known that they are not.
WHAT REALLY CAUSES HEART DISEASE
Your body made up of an intricate set of systems, one function is that it is equipped with the ability to protect and heal itself from harm, but this ability is also a concealed weapon since also being the root cause to almost every disease imaginable.
Your body’s natural defense system, designed to take out foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation is natural and essential in both protecting and healing. As Dr. Lundell states in his article, “chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial” .
Our level of inflammation does not appear from thin air. It’s something we manifest from our lifestyle choices. Your daily habits either feed or extinguish this inflammation fire. In our modern world, we are chronically exposed to toxins that our body was never designed to process.
Many of us are unknowingly feeding our inflammation, and we are doing so by following the recommendations outlined by our healthcare system and governments. Not knowingly, many of us are causing repeated injury to our blood vessels while purchasing these heart & stroke approved and nutrient-lacking low-fat products.
FATS ARE NOT THE ENEMY
In addition to consuming an excess of carbohydrates coming from flours and sugar, and the thousands of products containing these ingredients, we are also consuming far too many omega-6 rich foods – these are coming from vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soy, peanut, sunflower and safflower.
Flour, sugar and vegetable oils? These are but the three ultimate key ingredients in the recipe for almost every packaged product on your supermarket shelf – and dare I say – you will even find them in the organic and natural varieties.
Organic vegetable oils, flour and sugar are not better for you. While they may be non-GMO and void of toxic chemical pesticides, an organic certification does not equal a nutritionally wealthy product.
If you read the ingredients label on a conventional or organic product, at least 80% of the time you will find a vegetable oil in that list (canola, corn, soy, peanut, safflower, sunflower). As innocent as it may look, oils are super-concentrated sources of fat, and oil intake adds up quickly when you remember that it’s found in close to 80% of our pre-made foods. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for your well-being, as your body cannot produce them and they must be obtained from our food choices. Omega-6 is a part of every cell membrane and it controls what goes in and out of the cell, however omega-6 must be in the correct balance with omega-3 – an even more essential fatty acid, that a majority of the population is deficient in.
When our intake of omega-6 is out of balance with omega-3, our cell membranes produce chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.
Imbalances of omega-6 and omega-3 range from 15:1 to as high as 30:1. These ratios may not display the magnitude of our imbalance now, but here’s a fact that will: our optimal omega-6:omega-3 ratio is actually 3:1. With an imbalance so immense, that’s a lot of cytokines creating inflammation in our population!
What makes matters worse, any excess weight that you are carrying from eating these foods also creates overloaded fat cells that release large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar.
It starts with an innocent handful of potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie and it turns into a vicious cycle that over time, creates heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes as the inflammation fire grows.
There is no justification for the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we feed the fire, little by little each day.
VISUALIZE THE DAMAGE BEING DONE
Take a moment and picture a fresh pad of steel wool. Now visualize yourself slowly rubbing this abrasive sponge over your soft skin until it becomes tender, red and nearly bleeding.
If you could tolerate this form of pain and repeated the action, the area would swell, bleed and become infected after the repeated harm.
This uncomfortable visualization is a good way to conceptualize the inflammatory process that could be taking place inside your body right now.
Whether the inflammation takes place internally or externally, the process is the same. Foods we consume create miniscule damage, but just as in the steel wool effect, over time the minuscule damage creates small injuries compounding into more injuries, which results in adding to the wild-fire of inflammation.
SUGAR AND INFLAMMATION
We’re already accustomed to the fact that sugar is sweet-sweet poison. But what role does it play in inflammation?
When we consume our favorite simple carbohydrate, whether that be the vanilla syrup in your latte or the after lunch chocolate fix, our body digests these carbohydrates into smaller and simpler forms such as glucose. Once glucose molecules make their way into the bloodstream, the pancreas secretes insulin hormones to push this glucose into cells for energy. Insulin works to regulate the amount of glucose in blood. If a cell is already full and does not need glucose, it is rejected. When glucose is rejected from cell entry, blood sugar rises, producing more insulin and now extra glucose is converted to and stored as fat.
When blood glucose levels remain elevated, the blood vessels are not able to fully relax or dilate. Sugar molecules have the ability to attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation.
Another visualization for you: Fulfilling those daily sugar cravings is like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.
Passage of blood becomes more difficult due to inflammation, leading to vascular damage. Poor circulation due to damaged blood vessels increases the risk for stroke and heart attacks .
REGENERATE & REPAIR
We can put the inflammatory fire out! What we choose to consume directly affects our health and well-being and it’s time to put more attention on how food choices affect your body, and how quickly they add up.
Start by choosing more foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Make vegetables the first focus, consume fresh vegetables in every colour of the rainbow with every meal, and put an emphasis on your leafy greens. Include low-glycemic fruits such as berries for their antioxidant content and enjoy fruit in more moderate amounts. Eliminate all forms of vegetable oil (soy, corn, canola, peanut, sunflower, safflower) – organic or not.
Keep in mind: one tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use coconut oil or pasture-raised butter.
Animal fats actually contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the touted ‘healthy oils’ labelled polyunsaturated. It’s time to forget the “science” that has been programmed into your head. As Dr. Lundell states “the science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today” .
This cholesterol theory led into the no-fat, low-fat trend that in turn has created the very foods that are causing this epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat and replace them with oils high in omega-6.
Choose whole food ingredients that your grandmother used to create food. Avoid pre-made foods and convenience products that you find lining the supermarket aisles now, this is not real food.
By eliminating inflammatory foods and including more whole fresh options, you are increasing your nutrient intake and are working to reverse years of damage in your arteries.
Remember that food is our most simple building block in our body, making up every cell. You quite literally are what you eat, and your choices play a huge role in creating either further damage, or regeneration and repair.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR HEART BEATING
CHOOSE THE RIGHT OILS/FATS
GET IN ANIMAL BASED OMEGA-3
Sufficient intake of omega-3 is essential, remember that goal of a 3:1 ratio. Consume whole-food omega-3 sources such as wild salmon, arctic cod, atlantic haddock, freshwater trout, pollock and atlantic mackerel (which are the lowest in mercury levels). Hemp, flax, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and seaweeds are some examples of plant based sources; however these ‘ALA’ sources of omega-3 have been researched and clearly indicate that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is extremely limited. Less than 5% of ALA gets converted to EPA, and less than 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA .
OPTIMIZE YOUR INSULIN LEVELS
Look into testing your fasting insulin level with your healthcare provider. If your fasting insulin level is not lower than 3, consider increasing your healthy fat intake, and limiting or eliminating grains and sugars until your level is below 3.
BE IN MOVEMENT
Get in your daily steps and take part in a form of exercise that suits your individual needs, whether that be yoga, weight training, trail walking, pilates, biking or swimming, movement is essential for all aspects of health and well-being. You don’t need a gym membership to move, and you don’t need to lift weights to workout!
CREATE HEALTHY OUTLETS FOR STRESS AND NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
High levels of stress hormones can release excess inflammatory chemicals, in order to resolve stress and any past or current emotional challenges create a healthy outlet for yourself. Whether it be exercise, yoga, journaling, drawing or meditation – take time to Recharge.
OPTIMIZE YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS
Vitamin D inhibits inflammation , and many of us are deficient in this hormone-vitamin. Best when obtained from sunshine, aim to get 20 unprotected minutes when the weather permits, and for those of us with a snowy winter supplementation of 4,000-6,000 IU daily is essential.
Currently our most clinically studied herb for inflammation. While there are many to mention, this is a powerful one to begin with. Turmerics active ingredient is called curcumin, which has been linked to many health benefits. It’s natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties support not only cardiovascular health, but the health of every organ and system! Utilize this herb in whole food form (root or powder) or supplement form. Deliciously add turmeric to your routine with this simple Turmeric Latte Elixir.