Exclusive MapleLine Magazine: Feb. 3, 2010
by Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, MS
No matter what your age, whether you are 19 or 90, heart disease, is preventable and reversible. You do not have to be one of millions of people who suffer in hospitals, fill drug prescriptions and require expensive operations.
When it comes to heart disease, there is no substance more confusing than cholesterol. We need cholesterol to make many hormones, vitamin D and bile acids which aid fat digestion, and to keep our cell membranes intact. But while some cholesterol is good, too much may clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
It is generally accepted that a total cholesterol level above 5.2 mmol/L (200 mg/dL) adds to heart disease risk. The two main types of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to your cells and increased levels are associated with atherosclerosis, where arterial plaque forms and constricts blood flow. HDL takes cholesterol away from cells and back to your liver, where it is either broken down or excreted.
Cholesterol becomes a problem if you have high LDL combined with low HDL. Your LDL should be less than 2.5 mmol/L. By combining a heart-smart diet (see sidebox) with key nutritional supplements, you can improve cholesterol balance without resorting to medications. Less than 10% of people with high cholesterol require medication. Sadly, cholesterol-lowering statins are the top prescribed drug today.
Key nutritional supplements for heart health include coenzyme Q10, pycnogenol and magnesium. Research shows these three enhance energy production, lower blood pressure, suppress inflammation, offer antioxidant protection, support muscle and artery health, help prevent blood clots, and much more.
When it comes to cholesterol, niacin (a water-soluble B vitamin) has been found to lower LDL cholesterol to a similar degree as does statin medication (23% vs. 32%, respectively), while elevating HDL considerably more (33% vs. 6%). Niacin also lowered lipo-protein(a), a marker for inflammation that promotes heart disease, by 35%, while statin therapy had no effect in a randomized, controlled comparison.
The combination of polymeth-oxylated flavones (PMFs) and toco-trienols is very effective for cholesterol improvement. PMFs are compounds from citrus fruit peels that help lower levels of LDL by preventing the manufacture of its building blocks in the body. Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family extracted from Malaysian palm tree fruit. They control anti-inflammatory responses and degrade a key enzyme used by your liver to produce cholesterol. Clinical trials have been shown to demonstrate that this combination reduces total cholesterol by 30%, LDL cholesterol by 27%, and triglycerides by 34% compared to a placebo.
Live with Heart
Adopting new heart-healthy habits takes diligence but is entirely possible. Create a supportive health-care team, and be communicative. If you try a holistic approach, tell your doctor so she can monitor you. For example, because of the speedy effectiveness of PMFs and tocotrienols, you should advise your doctor of your program and – if you are also on statin medications –have your blood lipid (fat) levels retested at the one- and three-month marks.
You may find your medication needs diminish or even disappear. Walk every day. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fiber. Fiber binds to excess cholesterol and removes it via daily bowel movements. Incorporate heart superfoods like pomegranate, berries and raw, unroasted nuts into your diet.
The mind, body and spirit are intimately connected; this is why depression and stress are two contributors to heart disease. Practice deep breathing, meditation, yoga and other anti-stress strategies. Embrace acceptance, forgiveness and joy.
Through dietary changes, exercise, nutritional supplementation and mental/emotional health strategies, you can strengthen your heart and pursue a vital, more active life.
Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe is a woman’s health expert who has been writing about nutritional medicine for over 25 years. She has a Masters in Health Studies and a degree in biochemistry. She has authored nine books including her latest, Your 30 Day Heart Smart Solution. www.healthyimmunity.com
See an article in MapleLine Magazine (Winter-Spring 2010) about Health Policy in Canada, by Rebecca Brooke, B.Sc.
This article is exclusive to MapleLine Magazine (All rights reserved).
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