The Fantastic 4 for Radiant Heart Health
By Mark J Kaylor
Let’s get right to it – heart disease is largely preventable and reversible.
Heart disease is the #1 killer in America, for both men and women, and has been for some time. While the stats have improved some recently, almost 400,000 people a year die from coronary heart disease (CHD). The creation of arterial lesions and plaque buildup occurs over decades* and is a fundamental contributor to an array of cardiovascular issues. The good news is that “heart disease is largely preventable and reversible.” Here are suggestions from 4 key categories that are likely to have the biggest, quickest, and hopefully best impact.
In the Beginning – Diet
If there was a germ that was killing 1 American every 83 seconds we would undoubtedly have declared war on the bug and eliminated it. However, this is precisely what is happening with the highly preventable coronary heart disease and yet the deaths continue to accrue. The difficulty is that the primary answer to this epidemic requires us to change our diet, and we all know how resistant we can be to that. On top of this you have huge financially vested interests that want to keep you eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) way. Let’s change this today and make this the beginning of the end for CHD by changing our eating habits.
*In fact atherosclerosis was found to begin in children around the age of 10. Infants may also show signs of arterial issues depending upon the mother’s diet and health.
Yes there are thousands of diets out there, many elaborate complicated ones, but there is one diet that stands out in the research that is actually quite simple, a plant-based diet. It’s as simple as that; eat a whole food plant-based diet. Numerous studies confirm that this simple yet effective approach can not only prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) but reverse and repair the damage from it. A whole foods plant-based diet reduces our risk for CVD, reduces inflammatory markers and free radicals, improves endothelial (lining of the arteries) dysfunction, and probably most important of all – reduce or risk of dying from CVD.
One food group of special note is nuts (especially walnuts), research supported to reduce risk for CVD, improve endothelial function, lower cholesterol, and reduce risk of death.
The most important and impacting dietary “do not” is to eliminate as much as possible all the refined carbohydrates and sugars that make their way into our diet. Just how impactful is eating refined sugars; consuming 25% of your calories from sugar almost triples your chance of developing CVD. While we are cutting back on our sugar intake we can use things like the Maitake SX-Fraction (to lower blood sugar and insulin levels), chromium, and PGX fiber.
All Star Heart Health Tonics
There are two natural remedies that stand out for supporting overall cardiovascular health in what I consider a holistic manner, the traditional heart herbal Hawthorn, and what I have referred to as the tonic for the 21st century, Reishi.
Hawthorn – long used in Europe for all things cardiovascular, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase oxygen and blood supply to the heart, improve heart energy production, and strengthen the contraction of the heart muscle.
Reishi – shown to lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol while reducing systemic inflammation and free radical damage (preventing oxidation by macrophage – a key step in the build up of plaque), lessen myocardial collagen crosslinking, and enhance heart mitochondrial activity. It has also demonstrated heart-protecting actions against several toxins, including alcohol and Adriamycin. On the holistic side it supports liver health and function, the liver is where cholesterol is synthesized and is responsible for filtering and replenishing the blood all the while helping the body to respond to stress in a healthier manner.
Key Remedies for Heart Health
Ensuring that our cardiovascular system is receiving all the nourishment it needs is obviously a starting point but there are a few nutrients that are especially impactful.
Magnesium – diets deficient in Magnesium are associated with atherosclerosis, heart attacks and CVD, unfortunately it is a nutrient most of us are deficient in. Magnesium is useful for prevention and treating CVD and plays a key role in myocardial energy production. It also inhibits platelet aggregation, and promotes vasodilation, while supporting endothelial function.
CoQ10 and Carnitine – because healthy heart function and metabolism lie at the heart of cardiovascular health and disease, these two synergistic nutrients are essential. CoQ10 deficiency is associated with CVD and plays a key role in the mitochondrial production of energy, keep in mind the heart is a muscle and is absolutely dependent upon this process. It has shown promise for cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmias, and hypertension. Carnitine also plays a key role in myocardial metabolism. It is important in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. Studies suggest potential use in benefiting lack of blood flow, decreasing mortality for heart attack sufferers, heart failure and angina.
Let it Shine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to our emotional/spiritual center of the body as Shen, located, of course, in the heart. Healthy Shen is related to not just emotional health but radiant health; the type of person who just glows with energy and vitality. My top Shen tonic is the aforementioned Reishi mushroom. So not only does Reishi benefit your physical heart, it also benefits your emotional one as well, bringing balance to the mind-body-spirit.
Here is a powerful, profound and effective yet simple Shen breathing technique to support your heart (and overall) health. Begin by breathing from your diaphragm saying the word “peace” in your head, pausing for a moment to let your heart fill with the peace energy, then exhale slowly thinking “love” allowing this energy to radiate throughout your whole body and into the universe.
Shen health is not to be overlooked. It has become very clear in recent research that our emotions are intimately tied and connected to our health, especially our heart health.
Valentine’s Day Heart Help
Since Valentine’s Day is this month it only seems fitting to offer some “heart” help in light of this holiday. There is one aphrodisiac remedy of special note, Cordyceps. It is one of the few clinically confirmed natural aids for libido and hypo-sexuality for both men and women. Cordyceps has been shown to improve sex drive, virility, and sexual function. It also brings a myriad of heart benefits as well, including improving blood flow to the heart, preventing platelet aggregation, anti-atherosclerotic, and vasodilation. Clinically it has been used for maintaining oxygen levels in stroke victims and improving overall quality of life in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. Animal studies show promise for arrhythmias as well.
The Time is Now
It would be wise for us to continue to lay claim to the old adage that “love is the best medicine.” Not only is it healing in and of itself, we can take it a step further and expand it to caring and loving ourselves enough that we make the necessary changes to our diets and routines to prevent and reverse the scourge of cardiovascular disease. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, this is a condition that we can do much to prevent and reverse. All it takes is to start making the changes today, right now.
Mark J. Kaylor has been exploring holistic health and healing for over four decades. He is the founder and director of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project. Mark welcomes you comments and questions and can be contacted at his website: www.RadiantHealthProject.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/RadiantHealthProject