More than 600 000 people in the USA die from heart disease annually, which puts it among the top of the list of death causes. The numbers are much higher globally – according to one report, 17.7 million people died from heart disease around the world in 2015 alone, which accounts for 31.1% of deaths at that time. Most of the deaths were caused by coronary artery disease, while a big chunk was caused by stroke.
About 25% of the population is on statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), with others being put on a low-fat diet. However, both methods are clearly not working, which means we’re being lied about heart health in general.
Dr. Dwight Lundell is a heart surgeon with more than 20 years of experience and Chief of Surgery at the Banner Health Hospital in Mesa. In 2012, the doctor wrote an article on the prevention of heart disease. He suggested eating whole foods and following a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease instead of statins and low-fat diets. He prescribed these pills before when he was working as a heart surgeon, but has since dedicated his career to prevention of heart disease.
“Even with all the training we have, we (heart surgeons) have a large ego which makes it difficult to admit when we’re wrong. I’ve admitted I’m wrong, and other doctors should follow suit. After performing 5000 open-heart surgeries, I’ve seen what heart disease really is,” Lundell says.
He continues by saying that over the years statins and a low-fat diet were the recommended therapy for heart disease patients, and any deviation from these recommendations was considered a heresy. However, statins are obviously not working, so he suggests following another path.
What’s the real cause of heart disease?
Our body is a complex machine which has the ability to protect and heal itself. However, this ability is also the root of one serious problem – inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body which is supposed to keep it safe from harm. However, too much of it, and you’ll get chronic inflammation which can cause quite a lot of problems.
Inflammation doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Our daily habits feed it, and the environmental pollution certainly doesn’t help as well. We’re unaware of “feeding” the inflammation in our bodies by following the misguided recommendations of our doctors, which causes further injuries to our blood vessels and drastically raises the risk of heart disease.
Fat is not the enemy!
For a long time, fat was demonized as the sole culprit for heart disease, which is why the low-fat diet was invented. However, the reality if very different. It’s actually the inflammation to blame, not the fat itself. The inflammation is supported by our unhealthy diet – we consume way too much sugar and omega-6 fatty acids as well as vegetable oils and flour that are slowly destroying our cardiovascular health. Even if these foods are organic, that doesn’t make them healthy.
Take a product you’ve bought and take a look at the ingredients label – 80% of them contain some kind of vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, peanut, soy, corn oil). These oils are actually concentrated versions of fats and have a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids as well. These compounds are required for normal organ function, but they must be balanced with omega-3s in order to protect your body. Since most of us are omega-3 deficient, you can see what the problem is.
When we get too much omega-6 fatty acids and less omega-3s, our cell membranes product cytokines, inflammatory compounds that raise the inflammation in our body. The imbalance of fatty acids produces too much cytokines, and the excess weight we all have on our frame make the body release pro-inflammatory compounds which add fuel to the fire. The process starts with a simple thing like a cookie or a bag of potato chips, and if you don’t control it over time, it can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and serious cardiovascular problems.
Try imagining the damage done
Imagine a pad of steel wool, and imagine rubbing it on your skin non-stop. The skin will become red and bleeding slowly, and if you continue with it, it will become infected. This is what happens to your blood vessels with inflammation. The foods we consume cause repeated miniscule harm to the blood vessels and progressively damage them over time, which further raises inflammation and causes heart disease.
Sugar and inflammation
Everyone knows that sugar is a sweet poison which is just as addictive as heroin. But, how is it linked to inflammation? When we consume our favorite carbs, our body starts digesting them in simpler forms of blood sugar. Once the glucose molecules enter the bloodstream, the pancreas starts secreting insulin in order to get them to your cells.
Insulin then controls the amount of sugar in the blood, and converts the excess to fat. If the blood sugar levels stay high for a prolonged period, glucose will bind to proteins and damage the arterial walls, which will lead to chronic inflammation. This will cause further vascular damage and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Regenerate and repair
Luckily, the inflammation can be put out – you just need to change your dietary habits. Make sure to eat natural and unprocessed foods, and base your diet on fruits and vegetables. Include berries and low-glycemic foods and avoid vegetable oils for cooking. Instead of them, use butter or coconut oil. Animal fats (like the ones in butter) contain up to 20% of omega-6 fatty acids and are less likely to cause inflammation in your arteries.
It’s time to forget all the recommendations from doctors – saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease, and neither does cholesterol. It’s all about the inflammation, which we must lower in order to stay away from heart disease.
In order to prevent inflammation, you need to switch from vegetable to heart-healthy oils (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil), and add some animal-based omega-3s into your diet as well. Make sure to regulate your insulin levels as well and stay physically active. Learn how to relax to reduce stress and you will certainly have a healthier cardiovascular system.