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Preventing heart disease- DO's and DON'T's

[From New Vegetarian and Natural Health, Spring 2010 issue]

By Roger French

 

If artery walls have been inflamed for many years and finally become swollen with plaque, this is known as atherosclerosis. The space within the walls in which blood flows is greatly reduced and so is the flow of blood to all tissues downstream of the blockage.

If atherosclerosis occurs in the coronary arteries which supply heart muscle, the muscle cells are starved of adequate oxygen and nutrients. This first registers as angina pain, and when the blockage is complete or almost so, the heart muscle dies and this is an ischaemic heart attack. The severity of the attack depends on how much heart muscle has died.

If the same process occurs in the brain, the result is a non-haemorrhagic stroke.

Preventing or reversing artery disease depends on removing the possible causes and supplying the body with antioxidants, alkaline minerals and other nutrients and phytochemicals that strengthen the body’s defences and facilitate healing. The following are the important things to do or not do in order to prevent artery disease or to reverse it.

 

DO

Every day have a large salad or two – or a salad and steamed veges. Include sprouts (such as alfalfa, mung and lentil), which are super nutrition.

DON’T

If on Warfarin, don’t have vitamin K-rich sprouts and green veges (sadly!).

DO

Have modest quantities of fruit. The more variety in colour the better, especially anthocyanins-rich fruits – dark red, blue and purple fruits (and also veges).

DON’T

Don’t miss out on these ideal energy foods, and so miss out on their alkaline minerals, vitamin C, carotenoids, anthocyanins and other antioxidants.

DO

Include legumes one to three times per week for their protein and many other nutrients. Ideally, mix a variety of legumes in the one meal. Legumes are dried beans and peas – soya beans, lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, lima beans, borlotti beans, adzuki beans, etc.

DON’T

Meat and other flesh foods are not recommended, but if eating them, be sure NOT to over-eat protein foods as many people do. Keep to the recommended total amount of protein food per day of 80 – 150 grams of the food, depending on the size of the adult.

DO

If eating fish (not part of a vegetarian diet, of course), ensure it is wild salmon or sardines or herrings.

DON’T

Don’t eat farmed fish – it’s nutritionally and environmentally detrimental. Don’t eat tuna because of its mercury problem.

DO

Include nuts for protein one to three times per week. Although the most oil-rich of all foods, the oil is high quality fat and does not contribute to heart disease. Nuts are loaded with minerals, vitamins and fibre.

DON’T

Don’t eat nuts in addition to other protein foods. Eat nuts instead of them. Don’t regard peanuts as ‘nuts’ – they are legumes, not nuts. True nuts come from trees.

DO

If you have high blood ‘triglycerides’ (from a pathology test), use the low-fat legumes as the main source of protein – lentils, chick peas, kidney beans and lima beans. Have only the occasional egg or small quantities of cottage or ricotta cheese, these cheeses being naturally low in fat.

DON’T

If high triglycerides, don’t eat the high-fat protein foods, namely, nuts, seeds, cheddar cheese or eggs (or red meat or chicken). Don’t eat other fat-laden foods either. When the levels come down, you can then introduce the other legumes, nuts, seeds and small amounts of free-range eggs and cheese.

DO

Choose wholemeal bread, pasta and other baked foods and brown rice. Keep to moderate quantities, equivalent in total to about 3 – 4 slices of bread. If gluten sensitive, see below.

DON’T

Don’t have white flour products and white rice. We need the high proportion of minerals, vitamins and fibre that are in the wholemeal, but lost in the milling of refined grains.

DO

Regularly have oats, barley, rice, millet and/or buckwheat foods, which are either low in gluten or free of it. The last two are especially nutritious – use them regularly if you can find suitable recipes or commercial products such as millet and buckwheat crisps.

DON’T

Don’t eat wheat flour foods in large quantities if at all, and don’t overeat any grain foods. Birds handle them better than we do.

DO

Enjoy the starchy veges, potato, pumpkin and sweet potato, in place of grain foods at times. They are easier to digest than grain foods and much lower in calories.

DON’T

Don’t fry potatoes and spoil their good nutrition. Give French fries a big miss.

DO

If using extracted oils for salad dressings and other recipes, choose extra-virgin olive oil, flax oil or coconut oil. For frying – if you must – preferably use coconut oil, it’s very resistant to oxidation. Otherwise olive or sesame will do. Purchase oil only in brown or green glass bottles or in cans.

DON’T

Don’t purchase oil labelled ‘Vegetable Oil’ in clear bottles. The oil is mainly omega-6 (sunflower, safflower, soya and corn), which oxidises easily, and the clear bottle allows light to enter and hurry this process along. If a triglyceride problem, don’t have any extracted oils, except perhaps small quantities of flax oil.

DO

For your spread on bread, use butter very thinly or preferably peanut butter, tahini, mashed avocado or mashed banana.

DON’T

Don’t use polyunsaturated margarine or any other hydrogenated fat/oil (check the label).

DO

Consume only fresh fat/oil. Taste and smell are our guide. To prevent rancidity, keep fat/oil and fat-containing foods cold (refrigerated), airtight and away from light.

DON’T

Don’t consume rancid fat, as it is a major cause of atherosclerosis. Whether the oil is extracted or part of a food, check that it is fresh. Keep away from deep-fried foods, and especially check nuts, seeds, packaged cakes and biscuits and unsalted butter.

DO

Be aware of the great harm that can be caused by free radicals and the fact that they oxidise fat/oil inside the body. Be aware of what causes them.

DON’T

Don’t allow your body to be exposed to the causes of free radicals – cigarette smoke, air pollution (a weak effect), chlorine in tap water, benzene in petrol, pesticides, other highly toxic chemicals, surplus iron (from red meat) and nuclear radiation including X-rays.

DO

If you drink alcohol, try to make it red wine.

DON’T

Don’t consume much alcohol. One glass a day is maximum or preferably half this or none.

DO

Consider taking supplements of the main antioxidants – vitamins C and E, the carotenoids and the minerals selenium and zinc.

DON’T

Don’t take supplements unless having a healthy diet. In the extreme case, antioxidants consumed with a junk-food diet can do much more harm than good.

DO

Take a supplement of B-complex vitamins so as to ensure abundant B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12 and prevent high homocysteine levels.

DON’T

Don’t risk your body running low in B-vitamins because high homocysteine is associated with three times higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

DO

Eat 2 – 3 fresh Brazil nuts daily or else have half a dozen twice a week. Brazils are the richest of all foods in selenium, which blocks free radical damage.

DON’T

Don’t consume excessive iron as it is a powerful oxidising agent when at high levels. The iron in red meat is too readily available and likely to cause problems.

DO

Eat meals slowly and chew thoroughly to obtain the full benefit of the nutrients in the food. Also be relaxed.

DON’T

Don’t eat when extremely stressed or excessively tired. Don’t rush meals.

DO

To reduce the risk of blood clots, thin the blood naturally by regularly consuming white or green tea, ginkgo biloba and/or vitamin E.

DON’T

Don’t risk having thick, sticky blood, of which excessive fat is the main cause.

DO

Carry out a general detox periodically. For most people, the most practical way to do this is by having an exclusive juice diet for 3 – 5 days. Take it easy during this period and don’t work too hard. The ideal way to detox is with professional guidance at Hopewood Health Retreat.

DON’T

Don’t ever risk a detox having adverse effects by going too long without professional guidance or being unable to recognise warning signs. For an explanation of how to detox, read ‘Detoxification and Self-Healing’ in the Spring 2008 issue of NHVL, pages 12 – 16.

DO

Have adequate physical activity. This benefits the heart and arteries in many ways, one of which is to lower the heart rate (pulse), which indicates a stronger heart.

DON’T

Don’t exercise while on a juice diet or while water fasting or if emaciated or vitality is low or there is an acute illness or haemorrhaging. If there is high blood pressure, artery disease, spinal injury or pregnancy, seek professional guidance first.

DO

When commencing an exercise program, build up gradually.

DON’T

When commencing a program, don’t push yourself too hard and risk damage.

DO

Inform yourself of the role of cholesterol in the body and the number of doctors and researchers supporting the new state-of-the-art view.

DON’T

Don’t worry about your cholesterol levels unless they are extremely high. Cholesterol does not in the normal case cause artery disease.

DO

If you are taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol, take coenzyme Q10 to compensate for the loss of coQ10 caused by the drugs.

DON’T

Don’t fail to inform yourself of the side effects of statin drugs and find out whether you really need them. Find a sympathetic doctor (probably wholistic) to guide you. If pregnant, don’t take statin drugs without first being aware that the US National Institute of Health found that taking statins during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with severe central nervous system defects and birth deformities in the foetus.

DO

Understand the full dangers associated with the vast number of toxic, man-made chemicals and how they cause free radicals that contribute to artery disease (and cancer and many other illnesses) and cause harm in other ways.

DON’T

Don’t take toxic chemicals into the home. Find safer methods of pest control and household cleaning.

DO

Learn to relax, have adequate sleep and be philosophical about life in general.

DON’T

Don’t have negative attitudes like anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, worry, hatred, spite and so on. They eat away at your health.