Heart Disease: Major Causes and Natural Support Strategies
Chances are you have been taught that high cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. This has been the modern vernacular since Ancel Keys came out with his “lipid hypothesis” theories in the 1950’s. This hypothesis linked elevated dietary saturated fat and cholesterol to increased risk of heart disease. In this article, you will discover the major causes of heart disease and natural support strategies to improve heart health.
21st century science is giving us a much greater understanding of cholesterol’s role in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. This new understanding is that cholesterol is more of an innocent victim than a harmful contributor of this disease (1, 2, 3).
Lipoproteins and Inflammation:
The lipid particles that transport cholesterol in circulation are called lipoproteins. Within this classification, you have low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high density lipoproteins (HDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). Contained within these lipoproteins are one or more proteins, called apolipoproteins, which act as molecular “signals” to facilitate the movement of lipid-filled lipoproteins throughout the body.
Cholesterol does not cause heart disease, however, oxidized cholesterol does cause major problems within the body. When inflammatory pathways are elevated, cholesterol molecules are oxidized, triglycerides are formed & blood vessel walls damaged (4, 5).
The Truth About LDL:
LDL has always been called the ‘bad cholesterol” because it is associated with arterial plaque. But it actually performs many key features including transporting important fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D and coQ10 to the cells of the body. Current science is demonstrating that the demonization of all LDL particles has been a big mistake.
LDL particles help to carry fat-soluble antioxidants, like CoQ10, vitamin E, and carotenoids, which protect the transported lipids from oxidative damage. This is why vitamin E and CoQ10 have performed so well in cardiovascular studies – because they prevent the oxidative modification of LDL particles, which in turn protects the blood vessel lining from damage.
Increasing evidence has revealed that the concentration and size of the LDL particles more powerfully relates to the degree of atherosclerosis progression than the concentration contained within all the LDL particles (6, 7, 8).
Pattern A LipoProtein Profile:
Two main classifications of LDL particles exist. These are individually called Pattern A and Pattern B lipoproteins. Pattern A are classified as large and buoyant particles that contain more fat and anti-oxidants than their Pattern B counterparts. Pattern B lipoproteins are small and dense and carry less anti-oxidant protection.
Large buoyant LDL particles carry a high volume of the antioxidant Vitamin E, which helps to fend off free radicals. They pose only a very small chance of being oxidized while traveling through the circulatory system (9).
Pattern A Lab Findings:
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Can be low-normal-high
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Normal
Triglycerides (TG): Normal
Regardless of where the LDL value is this is a very healthy blood lipid panel. The TG/HDL ratio is the key. If the TG/HDL ratio is greater than 2 than there is a strong likelihood that there is a large population of small dense LDL particles. A TG/HDL ratio closer to 1 is what typically occurs with a smaller population of small dense LDL particles.
Pattern B LipoProtein Profile:
Pattern B lipoproteins are considered small, dense LDL particles. These particles carry less fat-soluble antioxidants such as Vitamin E. This increases the likelihood of oxidation by free radicals and the development of atherosclerotic plaque (10, 11).
One of the major problems with these small dense particles has to do with their relationship with the inner lining of the blood vessels called the endothelium. Due to the small particle size, these pattern A LDL particles pose a major threat of slipping into the endothelial wall where they are trapped. This then causes oxidation and significant endothelial damage.
Pattern B Lab Findings:
LDL: Can be low-normal-high
Regardless of where the LDL value is this is a very dangerous blood lipid panel. High TG and Low LDL is the common laboratory finding on a basic lipid panel. You can map out all of your LDL and HDL variants with a Vertical Auto Profile or VAP test.
This test identifies twice as many people at risk than routine cholesterol tests, including those with inherited risk factors who often develop premature heart disease.
Like routine tests, the VAP Test measures total cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol), LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides. But the VAP Test also measures cholesterol subclasses that play important roles in the development of heart disease (12).
This additional information allows your doctor to improve the detection of heart disease risk from about 40% to 90% and provides a foundation for patient-specific treatment plans. We offer the VAP test along with our entire cardiovascular biomarker analysis in the CardioPower test.
What Causes Pattern B Findings:
From a nutritional perspective, there are several major causes:
1. Too Many Fats that Kill: Trans-fats common to processed foods and high omega 6 fats (vegetable oils and grain-fed meat) cause a rampant increase in prostaglandin E2 and inflammatory mediators that cause massive amounts of free radicals and tissue damage (13, 14).
2. Not Enough Fats that Heal: Saturated fats common to coconut oil & grass-fed animal products have been shown to increase HDL and enhance Pattern A lipoprotein function (15, 16). Additionally, good fats such as EPA/DHA within fish/krill oil and Omega 9 fats common to olive oil, avocados, and almonds play a significant role in lipoprotein function.
3. Sugar, Grains & Corn Syrup:
Sugar: Causes a very quick increase in blood sugar. When blood sugar rises quickly; the pancreas pumps out massive amounts of insulin very quickly. High circulating insulin increases triglyceride and cholesterol formation, while additionally promoting inflammatory pathways (17, 18).
Grains: Cause a slower release of sugar into the blood stream. This causes a slower but more prolonged increase in insulin. The longer insulin remains elevated in our bloodstream, the longer our bodies “fat production and storage” pathways will be at work.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: (HFCS):
Immediately stimulates lipogenesis (fat generation) by turning into activated glycerol (G-3-P), which provides the backbone for Triglycerides: 1 Glycerol + 3 Free Fatty Acids.
Additionally, the fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (19, 20, 21).
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products, toxins, and free radicals. These free radicals steal anti-oxidants from our system and damage tissues in a process called glycation.
Additionally, fructose metabolism creates large amount of uric acid, which inhibits endothelial nitric oxide synthase, inhibiting nitric oxide production and driving up blood pressure (22, 23). High uric acid is also the cause of gout.
12 Natural Support Strategies For Heart Health:
Here are the best action steps to get started with on your journey to improve your heart health. Not all of these strategies are FDA approved to prevent, mitigate, treat or cure heart disease and should not be confused as such. You should always consult with your physician before stopping or changing medications or taking on new health strategies.
Additionally, you should be working with a functional health practitioner to help guide you through these strategies. This is not an exhaustive list and there are other natural therapeutic strategies that I and functional health practitioners will utilize to help individuals with heart disease.
1) Follow An Anti-Inflammatory Ketogenic Diet: It is important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet where you take out grains and sugars, processed vegetable oils and processed meat. Instead focus your meals on healthy fats such as olives, olive oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, pasture-raised eggs, coconut oil and nuts and seeds. Include organic, pasture-raised animal products and lots of non-starchy vegetables and herbs. Here is a helpful article to put this into action.
2) Reduce Stress: Find ways to reduce stressful activities and enjoy more peace and calm. Learn to thrive under stress by reading this article here
3) Improve Your Sleep: Sleeping a high quality 8-9 hours each night is key to healing and improving blood flow. Follow the steps in this article to improve your sleep.
4) Use a High Quality Bone Broth or Collagen Protein: This will provide collagen protein to help keep the blood vessels strong and working effectively. Without adequate collagen, the blood vessels become weak, scarred and are unable to function well.
5) Include Magnesium & B Vitamin Rich Foods: Magnesium and B vitamins help to relax blood vessel walls. The best magnesium rich foods include dark green leafy veggies, grass-fed dairy, raw cacao and pumpkin seeds. You can also do Epsom salt baths to boost your magnesium levels.
6) Supplement With Omega 3’s: Omega 3 fatty acids and in particular the long chain variety EPA and DHA are critical for stabilizing blood sugar, lowering triglycerides and improving lipoprotein characteristics. Consume grass-fed meat, grass-fed butter, wild-caught fish and spirulina to get it in your diet.
It is also advisable to supplement with 2-5 grams daily of EPA/DHA and here is a helpful article on omega 3’s to support your journey.
7) Focus on Deep Breathing: Improving your posture, seeing a high quality chiropractor and optimizing your breathing patterns is highly recommended. Follow these tips here to improve your breathing patterns.
8) Ground Your Body: In our society we are surrounded by toxic electromagnetic frequency’s (EMF’s). By going outside daily and walking barefoot on grass, dirt or sand you absorb natural EMF’s from the ground that balance your electrical rhythms. Follow the steps in this article here.
9) Get Regular Exercise: Getting your body moving on a daily basis is extremely helpful for your cardiovascular system. I would recommend walking for at least 20-30 minutes everyday and also engaging in resistance training at least 2-3 days a week to improve your muscle mass.
10) Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels: Low vitamin D levels are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. It is important to regular sun exposure and supplement with a high quality vitamin D3 to get your Vitamin D blood levels between 50-80 ng/ml.
I recommend taking a Vitamin D3 with K2 as vitamin K2 is extremely important for reducing calcium build-up in the vascular system. Here is the Vitamin D3/K2 product I use with my clients.
11) Use Anti-Oxidant Rich Herbs: Add turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, basil, thyme and rosemary to as many dishes as possible and drink organic herbal teas on a regular basis.
12) Improve Your Mitochondria: The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of every cell. When someone has heart disease or an abundance of small-dense lipoproteins and triglycerides they have dysfunctional activity going on in the mitochondria.
Support your body with clinical doses of B vitamins, CoQ10, L-carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine and Lipoic acid. The supplement I use with my cardiovascular patients is Mito Support which has the clinically effective dosages of each of these key nutrients and more.
Holistic Oral Health Summit
Oral health is one of the most important considerations for your overall health. Is your dentist considering how your oral health is affecting your whole body?
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The Holistic Oral Health Summit will show you:
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