This report is meant for general information. It is not as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that you have a health problem, see your physician.
This is one area in which, if you suspect problems, you want to do a more traditional cardiac workup or make a referral to a cardiologist. Nutritional support can coincide with traditional methods, but you need a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Nutritional and other natural therapies take time to work and are best for chronic problems. Traditional medical practitioners best treat acute medical emergencies.
There are many kinds of cardiac problems. Blockage of the coronary arteries, heart failure, diseases and infections of the heart muscle itself, arrhythmias (and other problems with the electrical conduction system of the heart), and problems with the valves of the heart.
Everyone is concerned with cholesterol and the amounts of fat patients eat. This is a one-dimensional idea and the dietary issues here are much more complex than simply avoiding fat, or taking a drug to lower cholesterol. The issue may not be the amount of fat or oil, but the quality of the fats eaten; omega 3 essential fatty acids may actually be cardioprotective. Consuming hydrogenated oil is dangerous to the heart (among other things).
Not many people pay attention to sugar and refined foods with respect to the heart. Refined sugar and flour may play an important role in increasing cholesterol. Anticholesterol medications work by suppressing a liver enzyme, HMG CoA reductase. Increasing insulin increases the activity of this enzyme, so eating sugar can have an unfavorable effect on cholesterol. Sugar and refined grains also increase the growth of yeast and other dysbiotic organisms in the gut. Bile salts can be deconjugated by these organisms and turned into bile acids; this may trigger production of cholesterol by the liver. Epidemiologic studies show that native populations have increased heart disease when exposed to the Western diet, but their fat consumption doesn’t actually go up; their consumption of refined carbohydrates does. Syndrome X, a situation where the total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol) are increased and the HDL (good cholesterol) is decreased, is linked to the consumption of too much refined carbohydrates and poor carbohydrate tolerance.
Homocysteine is a protein metabolite that has been associated with heart attacks. High levels of homocysteine are as much of, if not more so, a cardiac risk factor than cholesterol. High homocysteine levels are often the result of deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid.
More and more research is showing that heart disease is an inflammatory condition. Biochemical markers, like C-reactive protein are being used to test for cardiac risk. C-reactive protein is an indicator of inflammation.
A Model for Holistic Health Care
The term “alternative health care” is not really appropriate. What “alternative” practitioners do is address the health of the individual and not merely try to manipulate symptoms. They work to improve the health of the patient, enabling the body to heal itself.
Rather than thinking of disease as something that just randomly invades a healthy body, they think of disease as evolving when all of the components for good health are not present. For a body to be healthy there must be good genetics, good structural balance, good nutrition, biorhythmic integrity and good emotional health. When these base components are not present, it sets the stage for disease.
Traditional Western medicine deals with symptoms. It is a great approach when the symptoms are severe or dangerous. If you get hit by a car, you may want the trauma team to work on you rather than have someone give you calcium to help you bones to heal.
Chronic health problems, however, respond better to holistic care. Gastric reflux, for example can be controlled with a drug—complete with side effects. The holistic practitioner will look at the problem as the digestive system telling you that something is wrong and try to come up with a therapy that addresses the cause of the problem. The holistic care will not have side effects and it will ultimately help more serious problems from developing.
Sometime both approaches are needed. An asthmatic, for instance, can die if the attack is severe enough. Drugs can save his or her life. At the same time, addressing nutritional and other core health issues can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Clearly both approaches are needed.
Below is a model to describe sickness and health devised by Dr. Emanuel Cheraskin in his book, Predictive Medicine. Dr. Cheraskin used the device to discribe what happens to health when the diet is poor, but there are many things that affect health besides diet.
An Example of the Development of Poor Health
The issues that are at the core of good health include proper diet, proper structural alignment, emotional well-being, biorhythmic integrity and good genetics. If the core issues for good health are interfered with, a decline begins. For instance, if you eat a lot of refined white sugar and refined (white) noodles and bread, get exposed to chemicals, consume chemical additives, eat hydrogenated oil, or lead a sedentary lifestyle, a decline in health begins. Subluxations interfering with the nervous system can adversely affect health.
If the assault on health continues, the function of the enzymes are affected. The sugar and carbohydrate is a burden on the digestive system—often there is not enough enzyme production to fully digest the carbohydrates. The undigested food irritates the lining of the small intestine, further damaging digestion. This results in a reduction of absorption of vitamins and minerals, an overgrowth of yeast (that release toxins) and a burden to the pancreas and insulin production. Chemicals and hydrogenated oil can damage the integrity of individual cells, similary affecting performance of other enzymes throughout the body. Damage from free radicals, and lack of protection from not eating enough antioxidant nutrients can damage cells and harm enzymatic activity.
As this situation continues the adrenal glands are stressed and their function is adversely affected. Also, because the sugar consumption forces the body to make insulin—the body begins to become insensitive to its own insulin. Chemical toxins in the environment mimic estrogen, disrupting the endocrine system. Lack of essential fatty acids, perpetuated by the consumption of hydrogenated oils. Every person and every disease process is different.
As the impairment of adrenal, pancreas and other hormones function, loss of nutrients, and the toxicity from the yeast overgrowth, the liver being overworked and free radical damage continues, many aspects of the body’s biochemistry go into decline. Formation of neurotransmitters, production of cellular energy, efficiency of the cells of the immune system, and other aspects of the body’s biochemistry go into decline. Cholesterol and triglyceride production may be affected. There can be more damage from free radicals. Until now there have been no definite symtoms
As the decline continues, physiologic performance is affected. The patient will not “feel right” but still nothing that can be diagnosed.
As the decline continues, signs and symptoms develop: fatigue, insomnia, depression, frequent colds, PMS, ADD, joint pains, muscle aches or other symptoms. There may also be adult onset diabetes, or even heart disease. Every person and every disease process is different.
Treating the Patient, not the Disease
Working with the center of the circle, treating the patient and not the disease is valuable, whatever the disease process is. When the disease is life-threatening, you have to work on the outside of the circle. You need to directly treat the symptoms. Alternative health care is not an accurate term—no one wants to be “alternative” to medicine. Holistic care is a better term. Practitioners do not treat cancer—they treat patients who happen to have the disease. Anyone, no matter what the status of their health, can benefit from taking steps to improve health by working in the center of the circle.
Natural health care can support cardiac problems, even when medical intervention is being utilized. Medical care and natural health care are not mutually exclusive.
Dietary / Lifestyle Guidelines:
• Avoid deep-fried food, hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil: Avoid margarine and all sources of hydrogenated oil, these are linked to heart disease.
• Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrate: Syndrome X, a situation where the total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad choleserol) are increased and the HDL (good cholesterol) is decreased, is linked to the consumption of too much refined carbohydrates and poor carbohydrate tolerance.
• Eat plenty of cold water fish, flaxseed and other sources of omega 3 oils.
• Reduce stress; meditate or take up a hobby: It is best to get the advice of a doctor before starting an exercise program.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Eat plenty of fresh vegetables.
• Exercise, moderate exercise and stretching. Simple aerobic exercise is fine, never become out of breath or be unable to talk while working out. Get walking.
• Eat plenty of green vegetables: Fiber and folic acid are only two of the reasons for patients to be eating vegetables. Folic acid helps reduce homocysteine levels, and fiber reduces the absorption of fats and sugars and helps intestinal and liver health. Magnesium is important for good cardiac function and can reduce blood pressure. Two of the best ways to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure are fiber and exercise.