Friday, February 27, 2009

Natural Cardiovascular Health

Do you worry about heart health? It's definitely a good idea to be aware of the risk factors and lifestyle habits that contribute to a healthy heart and body. But if you are following what popular rhetoric dictates about heart health, you will be headed down the road to circulatory problems and heart disease. Why?

Contrary to popular belief, a so-called "low-fat" diet will not help your heart. Many health experts recommend eating lean meats, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, and other low-fat foods such as processed selections from the grocery store like crackers, breads, cereals, and other items. These foods are not real food, but merely a processed version of those real foods. Chemicals and hormones are added to many of these foods, in addition to the fact that the way the food is produced is completely unnatural to begin with: meats and dairy products, by and large, come from factory farms where animals live in the most unhealthy environments. Meat and dairy products originating from these environments are not healthy to consume. The bottom line is, if you are not eating real food, your body will not be able to absorb it properly and what you will wind up with is health problems. Real food is the fuel and substance your body needs to function properly.

The place where you need to concentrate your efforts is on eating whole foods - that means foods that are as close to the way they occur in nature as possible. As one example, eating red meat is not the problem for your heart - the problem is eating obese meats from animals fed grains, corn, and soy. These types of meats represent the bulk of what is available on the market the consumption of which greatly contributes to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease. It is meats like this which have given healthy meat a bad reputation and have caused doctors to tell their patients to avoid eating it for literally decades. Naturally-raised grass-fed meats contain all the necessary nutrients for heart health - good Omega 3s, conjugated linoleic acid, high protein, low fat, and lower in calories than its conventionally-produced counterpart.

Eat plenty of healthy fats - extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, flax seed oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, real, whole butter from grass-fed cows (raw is even more healthy).

Whole, raw, dairy from a clean source is very good for heart and overall health as well. Low-fat versions of these foods, and most of what you will find on the mainstream market can spell trouble for your heart. Conventional dairy contains additives, chemicals, hormones, and steroids, and is about as far away from natural as you can get. Dairy from factory farms contains improper nutritional value because of what farmers feed cows - corn, grains, and soy. Even many organic brands are unhealthy because they pasteurize their milk and feed their cows the same thing as the conventional variety - corn, soy, and grains (albeit, organic).

You must also include in your diet plenty of organic, fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits. To get enough vegetables and fruits daily, consider adding vegetables to breakfast. Make eggs with cheese and broccoli, spinach, and/or zucchini. Between meals eat fruit, as fruit can cause your digestion to bloat up and slow down when eaten in conjunction with big meals. Make sure you have green vegetables with each meal if possible - cooked or raw; green vegetables are important for heart health: brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce, mustard and collard greens, peas, broccoli, zucchini, and spinach are all good choices.

Include plenty of fiber, if possible from natural sources. If you need more fiber, try good supplements recommended by a knowledgeable practitioner. A good supplement is Colon Plus by Biotics Research.

If you take supplements for health, make sure they are whole-foods based products that are organically produced with co-factors and phytonutrients. You should include the following in your regimen:
  • Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E
  • Folic acid (included in a balanced B complex)
  • Selenium (not to exceed 600 micrograms in a 24-hour period)
  • Vitamin D (natural sunlight exposure is best). Low levels of this vitamin are connected with heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Vitamin K (unless taking anticoagulant drugs - but consider eliminating prescription medications as they cause side-effects and other health problems)
  • Co-enzyme Q10 is an effective supplement which protects the cardiovascular system cells and eliminates free radicals
  • Calcium and magnesium - help to lower high blood pressure - make sure you obtain a good quality cal/mag supplement with zinc and Vitamin D for absorption, and be certain your calcium is not calcium carbonate - a form of calcium derived from limestone that cannot be absorbed by the body
Exercise and stress relief are important too. But you do not have to be a competitive athlete to be in good shape and enjoy an activity in which you have interest. Engaging in a moderate exercise schedule of 20 to 40 minutes three to four times a week is a good place to start. You can work up to additional minutes and more strenuous activity over weeks and months, but if you are just embarking on an exercise plan, it is always best to begin slowly. Other good activities include yoga, pilates, martial arts, meditation, and massage.

No comments: