Every 90 seconds in America, someone dies from heart disease. Cardiovascular problems are the number one killer in our country, beating out every form of cancer. If you’re reading this, you probably know someone dealing with heart disease right now, or have lost a loved one to it.
Happily, there is something you can do about it! Heart disease doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey, which means there are usually big, flashing warning signs. If you start seeing those signs, it means you have time to turn back.
“Every 90 seconds in America,
someone dies from heart disease.
yet there are natural, simple ways to
stem the tide of heart disease.”
There are natural, simple ways to stem the tide of heart disease. Some people reach straight for a pill bottle when they have a problem, and yes, for some folks it is truly necessary, either because of genetic issues or because the problem has been left alone for too long. But for the rest of us, medication should be a last resort.
Why You Should Say “No” to Medications
There are three main #heartdisease risk factors that can be fixed through diet and nutrition: high #cholesterol, high blood #pressure, and #prediabetes. Click To Tweet
The difference between drugs and natural solutions is a simple one. Drugs ALWAYS come with risk. It’s just part of the deal. For example, one issue many people with heart disease face is blood clots, which can break off and cause a heart attack or stroke. To avoid this, doctors often prescribe blood thinners, like Pradaxa. And yes, Pradaxa will prevent the blood clots. But blood thinners can also put you at risk for deadly bleeding, even from minor cuts and bruises. For Pradaxa, in particular, there was no antidote to this medication until 2015, so once you started bleeding, there was no way to stop it.
Other medications have just as serious side effects. Statins, which help lower your “bad” cholesterol, can also cause liver damage and memory loss. ACE inhibitors can lower your blood pressure, but they also cause tissues in your body to swell, which can be fatal if it affects the tissues in your throat. And Metformin, which fights insulin resistance in prediabetics and diabetics, can cause a deadly build up of lactic acid in your body.
This is not to say that medication is never helpful. There are times when not using it would be worse than taking the risk. For example, full-blown diabetes cannot be solved by diet alone; insulin injections are absolutely necessary to prevent blood sugar spikes that can be deadly. But if your doctor is prescribing a medication, talk to them about why they think it’s needed. Go over the benefits and risks before you decide. And remember, it is ultimately YOUR decision!
Natural Solutions for Heart Problems
There are three main heart disease risk factors that can be fixed through diet and nutrition: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and prediabetes. Some people may have a genetic predisposition towards these issues. For others, they are a product of an unhealthy lifestyle, often fueled by processed, packaged foods, and a lack of exercise. Let’s go through each one, and explore how food can be the ultimate fix.
You actually have two kinds of cholesterol in your body: HDL and LDL. The “bad” cholesterol is LDL. It builds up inside your arteries as plaque, making the blood vessels harden, and narrowing the space for blood to get through. If there is too much plaque, it can block an artery completely causing a heart attack or stroke. Or, a piece of plaque can break off, and get stuck elsewhere in the body; an example would be a deep-vein thrombosis of the leg.
So how do you lower your LDL through dieting? First, switch out your trans fats and saturated fats (like coconut and palm oil) for mono- and polyunsaturated options (like sunflower oil and avocados). Next, throw out refined grains and super-sugary snacks. Instead of using refined flour, try whole wheat. Rather than white rice, try wild rice or brown rice. Here’s a tip: if you’re choosing between something high in sugar, or high in fat (but not trans fat), go with fat!
Happily, fruits and veggies are great for lowering cholesterol! Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits like oranges are filled with soluble fibers that lower LDL. Meanwhile, veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts contain naturally occurring plant sterols and stanols. These are substances which help lower LDL by preventing your intestine from absorbing it. Other foods high in sterols and stanols include wheat germ, oats, legumes, and nuts and seeds, including almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Yum!
♥High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is characterized by a consistently raised pressure against blood vessel walls from the blood flowing through them. When this happens, it essentially stresses the blood vessels, making them work harder than normal, and making them less efficient. This can be fixed in two ways, both through diet, and through exercise.
For people with high blood pressure, there is a unique diet that’s recommended, called the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet can be broken down based on your calorie intake, and then provides a helpful chart of how much of each food group you should be consuming. It generally recommends foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, and high in helpful nutrients like potassium, magnesium, fiber, and calcium. Here’s a link to the full dietary guidelines. You should also limit your alcohol intake, and lower your sodium intake.
High blood pressure also responds really well to exercise! When your blood pressure is high, your heart is working harder than normal. This can also be exacerbated by extra weight, so the benefit of exercise is twofold: it helps strengthen your heart muscle, and take away unnecessary weight that is adding extra work. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, five days a week. It’s important to remember to exercise consistently, as a break in your routine can cause your blood pressure to come back up.
In contrast to Type I or Type II diabetes, prediabetes is a reversible condition. Prediabetes is simply a term for people who have elevated blood glucose levels, higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range. Prediabetics exhibit signs of insulin resistance, which leads to these high glucose levels. Adults with diabetes are up to 4x more likely to develop heart disease, so it’s imperative to get control of your prediabetes as soon as possible.
Like high blood pressure, prediabetes is greatly influenced by weight. An increase in fat cells in your body makes it more difficult to properly process sugar, leading to insulin resistance. Exercising to lose weight can have a huge impact on this issue. Additionally muscle uses more glucose than fat, helping to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Dietary changes are also a great way to lower your blood glucose level. The American Diabetes Association recommends following the glycemic index for a healthy diet. The glycemic index (GI) measures how carb-loaded foods affect your blood glucose, and then rank them accordingly. Foods with a high GI will raise your blood sugar more than those with a low GI ranking. Some low GI carbs include oatmeal, barley, sweet potatoes, corn, legumes and lentils.
Living a Healthy Natural Life
The possibility of heart disease is scary, but it’s not inevitable. Using the diet and exercise guidelines we’ve touched on, you can take control of your risk factors now, without relying on dangerous drugs. Remember never to stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor, because this can sometimes be very risky without first lowering the dose or making dietary changes. Then, make the change your body is waiting for. Your heart will thank you!
Are you or a loved one struggling with heart disease or suffering from the risk factors for heart disease?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
“PIN & SHARE”