About one in every three deaths in the U.S. is attributed to cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks and stroke. It remains the number one cause of death in our country. The truth is a quarter of these deaths – roughly 200,000 – could be prevented through simple lifestyle changes.
What Role Does Inflammation Play in Cardiovascular Disease?
Many of today’s health problems, including heart disease, chronic pain, obesity, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, stroke, migraines, thyroid problems, and cancer begin with inflammation. Most inflammatory diseases are rooted in the gut with an autoimmune reaction which progresses into systemic inflammation. Healing can only occur when the inflammation is properly addressed.
The Significance of Damage to Your Gut Lining
When repeated damage occurs to the gut lining, the damaged cells (microvilli) can no longer perform their job properly. These cells no longer have the ability to process and utilize nutrients and enzymes important to proper digestion. Digestion becomes impaired over time and malabsorption of nutrients occurs. The more times your gut lining is damaged, the body mounts an attack on these foreign invaders. The body then responds with inflammation, allergic reactions, and other symptoms we commonly relate to various disease states. Our immune systems become overwhelmed and inflammatory triggers are cycled continuously through the blood where they affect nerves, organs, connective tissues, joints, and muscles. It may take years before these symptoms really get our attention or become clinically significant.
The bottom line is that preventing cardiovascular disease means we must reduce the chronic inflammation in our bodies. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle includes proper diet, exercise, and stress management. Our diets are the best way to prevent inflammation that can lead not only to cardiovascular disease, but to many other chronic degenerative diseases, as well.
What is a Heart Healthy Diet?
A heart healthy diet minimizes inflammation, reduces insulin resistance, and helps reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Here are steps to take:
- The elimination of all processed foods, gluten-containing foods, pasteurized and homogenized dairy products, and other highly allergenic foods
- Consume organic foods whenever possible to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals
- Avoid genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s)
- Eat at least one-third of your food uncooked; avoid cooking foods at high temperatures
- Increase the amount of fresh vegetables in your diet – locally grown and organic, if possible.
- Avoid all artificial sweeteners
- Eat naturally fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured vegetables, kefir, etc.)
- Limit fructose to less than 25 grams per day from all sources, including whole fruits
- Avoid all transfats (vegetable oils, margarine, etc.). Choose healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and raw nuts and seeds.
- Take a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement, such as fish or krill oil and reduce your consumption of processed omega-6 fats from vegetable oils
- Drink plenty of pure water daily