Day 1: Every Long Journey Starts with One Small Step.
Healthy Life Solutions is a duel program. One part is a daily informational e-mail sent to interested participants. The second is a web based recruiting and product management tool using some of the information that is available in the daily update program.
The daily informational e-mails are set to start right here, today. Depending on when you begin this part of the program, the web based tools will be completed soon or may already be completed if Day 1 for you is anytime after the first week or two of November 2010.
Rather than start with a flowery introduction as to what exactly our approach with Healthy Life Solutions is going to be, we would rather just get to it. This is going to be a simple, no nonsense education and solution provider for a number of important health, nutrition and fitness areas.
Our goals are simple. We want this information to compel you to live healthier, happier and longer lives. We want to greatly reduce the probability that any of you will suffer from preventable debilitating diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc.
The cycle of change all starts with simple, understandable information. Then procedures or practices that support the important principles and changes that are identified. It ends with you actually possessing the skill to healthy living.
Day 2: The Newer Model of Heart Disease and Genetic Predispositions
A majority of health conscious Americans continue to subscribe to an outdated, overturned model of what heart disease actually is. More specifically, many people continue to believe that heart disease is similar to plumbing problem and that it can be “fixed” by unclogging the “stopped up pipe.” The old model features a process whereby a very hard substance called calcified plaque builds up on the walls of your coronary arteries. When the artery becomes sufficiently narrowed, say 75 to 80 percent, the chance for a random clot to get stuck increases and the chances for a heart attack skyrockets.
The newer model suggests that while this happens in some cases, a far larger problem can be found in a very soft, flexible material made up of white blood cells called vulnerable plaque. Vulnerable plaque is difficult to spot on scans and often times causes no symptoms whatsoever. The new theory of heart disease suggests it is
more of an inflammatory disorder and that vulnerable plaque results from inflammatory processes and a heart attack, in turn, is a result of a further inflammatory process acting on the more hidden, vulnerable plaque deposits under the smooth muscle cells in the artery walls. We will discuss this in more detail later in our program when we begin looking at diagnostic tests.
Today, we need to focus on the Genetic Predisposition aspect of heart disease.
Everyone wants to be recipient of a generous inheritance. Unfortunately, often times, when it comes to genetic inheritance, we were given less than we would have preferred. For decades, the belief was that genes were 3 to 4 times as important as lifestyle in predicting heart disease. Modern epidemiological modeling has proven the opposite to be true. While in some cases there is a genetic predisposition to developing heart disease, we know today that lifestyle choices are far more powerful predictors.
In the near future RNA interference technologies may actually be able to “turn off” the genetic component in many cases, but this will simply serve to make the lifestyle choices we make even more important for determining our ultimate health outcome when it comes to heart disease.
The “nature” or “nurture” question in heart disease centers on two separate loci. There is the genetic inheritance from race and the genetic inheritance from one’s family.
When it comes to race, while it is true that African Americans and Native Americans are more likely to suffer from heart disease than are Caucasians and that Hispanics are less likely to suffer from heart disease than are Caucasians, there is no certainty as to whether this is truly genetic or if it has to do with cultural lifestyle differences. We do know, however, that African Americans are more likely to inherit the gene for high blood
pressure which can, if ignored, lead to heart disease. Overall, however, it does not look like race plays a large factor in any type of generalized predisposition to heart disease.
When it comes to family inheritance, in certain limited cases this can play a larger role. One percent of Americans inherit a gene that makes lowering cholesterol through dietary changes impossible. This obviously impacts on heart disease if not taken into consideration during a treatment regime. There are various other minor predispositions but taken together do not make a compelling case for a powerful direct, genetic component.
In our opinion, if you have not had a direct, male family member under 55, within 2 generations of you, or a direct, female family member under 65, within 2 generations of you, suffer from heart disease then you can eliminate this from your thinking and focus solely on other variables. If there is a history of heart disease in your family, all is not lost, but you need to be especially careful to make sure to reduce the impact of other predictor variables as these other factors may be more important to you than your average neighbor.
Day 3: Gender and Age
The reason that we linked these two very different variables together is that when it comes to heart disease the two are inextricably bound together.
While heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women and while the million plus heart attacks annually are nearly evenly split between men and women, there is about a ten year spread in age between the sexes as to when heart disease begins to become a major risk factor.
Heart disease becomes a major risk factor in men around the age of 45 and in women around the age of 55. Why the difference? Basically, it’s thought to have to do with iron levels in the blood. Before menopause, women have lower levels of iron in their blood and the lack of iron is believed to retard the chance of oxidation of low density cholesterol (the bad cholesterol we will learn about in a later day) which is a primary step in the formation of soft, vulnerable plaque. After menopause the risks of heart disease between sexes become roughly equivalent.
More importantly, gender seems to play more of a role in heart disease treatment and outcome then as a major risk factor. Women’s coronary arteries are smaller and less durable than a man’s so certain treatments appear to work less well for women versus men. Also, since women normally need treatment intervention roughly a decade later than men, often times the initial prognosis is not as good in women as it is in men. Finally, women often seem to have a differing stronger negative impact from other lifestyle factors that play in the overall treatment-outcome equation as well versus men.
The bottom line here is that if you are a man who is over 45 or are a post menopausal woman, then you have one of the major risk factors in heart disease. And if you have heart disease in your family as well, then it is highly important that you pay attention to assessing and controlling all the remaining risk factors we will talk about in subsequent days.
Tomorrow we will talk about body weight.
Day 4: Body Weight and Obesity
This is one of the most important risk factors in heart disease and one that we all have direct control over. Even without a single other risk factor being present, if you are overweight, your chance of heart disease skyrockets.
There is a highly significant link between being overweight and the onset of heart disease, for both men and women of all ages. Now understand this; being overweight is even a more important risk factor in younger people than older individuals. Further, being overweight leads to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, among a host of other variables which in turn increase the likelihood of
acquiring heart disease. In fact, it is believed that simple weight loss would actually eliminate over three-quarters of all high blood pressure treatment in the US.
If you are overweight, start losing weight immediately. Believe it or not, studies indicate that you begin to turn this risk factor around with a weight loss as little as ten pounds. Being at your ideal body weight is as important as any factor when it comes to avoiding heart disease.
You don’t need a doctor’s opinion or the opinion of a personal trainer to find out if you are overweight. Stand in front of a mirror and you know if you are overweight. If you have excess body fat, especially around your waist, then you are overweight. Overweight and obesity has a simple cause; that is, you take in more calories than you expend on a daily basis. When you eat too many calories, especially simple sugars, and trans or saturated fats, then your weight increases, as does your chance for heart disease.
If you are overweight, we suggest that you follow the simple common sense recommendations here:
1. Try to limit your total calories to 10x your body weight or less. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, try to keep your daily calorie intake below 2000.
2. Undertake a daily activity or exercise program if you are in adequate health. Walking, biking, swimming or the gym are suggestions. The best exercise for you is the one that you will enjoy doing.
3. Avoid high fructose corn syrup (now called corn sugar), sugary foods and drinks, starches, saturated and trans fats. Cut back on red meats and high fat dairy products.
4. Try to eat as many grams of protein daily as you do carbohydrates.
5. Drink 64 ounces or more of water daily.
6. Support weight loss with sensible non food diet supplements such as Cacao Wow for appetite suppression, Crystal Thin for portion control or Factor One Blood Sugar Control for carbohydrate management.
6. Begin a skills based educational and learning program regarding nutrition, weight loss and fitness such as Pure Chemistry’s 75 Day Evolution Program (available at www.tampogo.com/elhglobal.
No one is destined to have obesity or being overweight be a permanent risk factor for heart disease. This is a factor that YOU control with simple behavioral and lifestyle choices.
If you have a history of heart disease in your family and are in the at risk age group – and you are overweight, you need to change the one factor that you can. Start trimming down now or you will keep yourself needlessly at risk for a major cardiac episode.
Day 5: Exercise or Activity Level
When considering the importance of a sedentary lifestyle as a risk factor in heart disease, you must consider the value of its antithesis – exercise.
Stated simply, exercise positively affects virtually every controllable risk factor in heart disease, from weight to blood pressure to stress to inflammation. In fact, there are studies showing that exercise may be more important for lowering the risk of heart disease than are medications lowering LDH and controlling blood pressure. Many cardiologists believe that a simple daily exercise program can cut your risk for heart disease in half, independent of the presence of other risk factors. Exercise is important for creating a healthy heart, there are various large national exercise groups promoting “Exercise as Medicine.”
In later days we will talk a great deal about exercise and how to get the most from your individually tailored program. For the time being though, when considering the role exercise plays in limiting the risk for heart disease, you simply need to understand that exercise is one of the single most important variables and that you have total control over it.
We cannot move on without talking about the obvious. If exercise is so good for your heart and your body in so many different ways, why doesn’t everyone exercise like mad? The truth is that people do not like to exercise. It is not because they are lazy, but because exercise has actually been evolutionarily selected against. Huh?
Think about it. All our behavior today actually stem from the physiology and biochemistry that we inherited from our cave dwelling ancestors. In long past days, obtaining enough food to live was very difficult. Life for our ancestors was actually pretty mundane. They hunted, ate and conserved fuel so they could live another day. The hunting process gave them the exercise they needed to remain healthy during the thirty-some years that they lived. Expending extra energy would have been counterproductive both from a conservation of energy standpoint and an interaction with a hostile environment standpoint. It would have been selected against evolutionarily.
Today, things are different, of course. We have comfortable, plush gyms and wonderful running shoes. We have extra time and our hunting is done in the meat case of the local grocery. We over-eat food fuels and have more than enough energy stored to complete a daily exercise program. But nonetheless, these are very recent changes in the entire history of mankind and the gene software running our physiology is still sending “don’t exercise” signals out to the body. When we understand this, then we have a chance to overcome it.
People always ask, what is the best exercise? We always tell them the same thing, “whatever activity you like to do and you can engage in consistently for 30 minutes or more.” That is the rule of thumb. Whether you like walking, swimming, jogging, lifting weights, biking, playing tennis – it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you LIKE doing it and that by itself will overcome the genetic program that exists in you to keep you from exercising.
Always remember, your cave people ancestors didn’t last much past 30 and they didn’t have much opportunity to develop heart disease, high blood pressure or runaway triglycerides. They succumbed as victims of a hostile environment or died of one of many rampart pathogens. They didn’t need to exercise for health but YOU DO. Modern science has doubled to tripled your ancestors life span and has given you hourly access to negative health robbing tools such as high fructose corn syrup and trans fatty acids.
One significant way you can positively impact your health and lower your risk of heart disease is to get off your best intentions and stay active!
If you are overweight and do not exercise, and are in the at risk age group for heart disease, you are playing Russian Roulette with your health. If you have a history of heart disease in your family as well, then you can pretty well figure out what chamber the bullet is located in – the very next one.
Get active, lose those first ten pounds and give your heart a new lease on life.
Tomorrow we will move on and talk about stress
Day 6: Stress.
Stress is a very large risk factor in heart disease. To understand why, it is important that you understand what “stress” actually is.
Stress is best understood as a physiological and biochemical outcome to any one of a number of trigger thoughts or events. When the end product outcome occurs physiologically and biochemically, stress has been present. When the end product outcome has not occurred, no stress has been present. It’s actually quite simple.
Here is what happens, very generally, during stress. There is a region inside your brain called the Limbic System. The Limbic System handles many things, most notably emotion. During a stressful episode, an organ within the Limbic System called the Amygdala secretes the hormone ACTH, which activates the adrenals to dump adrenalin, noradrenalin and a variety of very destructive chemicals, such as cortisol, into your bloodstream. Cortisol, in turn, activates the amydgala to create a larger ACTH response which, creates more cortisol and a highly negative feedback loop is suddenly in action. These chemicals, as a group, raise blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as well as suppress important bodily systems such as the digestive and immune systems. They can also promote body fat storage and lower the sustained energy response needed for effective exercise.
Here is where it gets interesting. These “internal” reactions are a result of the evolutionary process that helped protect man during dangerous, survival episodes. Today we refer to this as the “fight or flight” response. When encountering a dangerous, life threatening event all these reactions would occur in the body helping heighten a survival response (i.e. “fight”) or speed escape (i.e. “flight”).
But in today’s world a lot of stress occurs due to mental versus physical triggers. While stress can occur from a physical threat to life, far, far more stress occurs normally due to family, friend, work and relationship events or even more simply just due to worrisome thoughts. During physical triggers, your body gets to “use” the hormones and chemicals to its benefit but during mental triggers when the hormones and chemistry is not used for a useful purpose they create tension in the walls of the arteries and begin a number of serious disease processes including most notably heart disease.
So there you have it. Stress is a physiological and biochemical response that originally supported survival and now still does, to an extent, during physical trigger episodes. During mental trigger episodes, however, stress can cause an incredible variety of negative health processes to occur. The main damage comes from higher circulating levels of chemicals such as adrenalin, homocysteine, cortisol, etc. which have direct negative impact on primary and peripheral systems related to heart disease.
While few people think this way, it is CRITICAL to understand that while stress itself is largely negative, the stressful trigger events can be positive or negative. In other words, similar biochemical outcomes occur when getting divorced, losing a job or going bankrupt as happen when getting married, receiving a promotion or winning the lottery.
Knowing this, it becomes especially important to learn how to manage stress positively. This can either be fairly easy or very difficult, depending on your personality. If you are a super reactive personality then it will be difficult yet extraordinarily important for you to learn how to manage stress as stress will be a major risk factor for heart disease for you. If you have a non-reactive personality, it will still be important but stress probably isn’t a main risk factor for you. The more reactive your personality, the more likely you are to have serious physical problems due to stress including overweight, accelerated aging and a variety of disease conditions including a number of very life threatening ones such as heart attack or stroke.
Want to know how reactive your personality is? Of course you do. Passing this test could be the difference between life and death or health and heart disease. Fortunately, since stress is a physiological event, there is a simple physiological test to determine the reactive quotient of your particular personality. You don’t need a laboratory or a doctor’s office, just, believe it or not, a kitchen.
The test is called the Cold Pressor Test and it’s easy to perform. Fill your sink with ice and cold water. Take your blood pressure. Immerse your arm into the water beyond your wrist and leave it there for two minutes or thereabouts. After a short time, depending on your pain tolerance, it might get uncomfortable but that’s the point, it’s a stress trigger. After two minutes take your arm from the ice water and re-take your blood pressure. If it raised up to 15 points on either the systolic (top) or diastolic (bottom) number that is normal and you are a non-reactive personality. Stress will not be as big a problem for you as it will be for others. If your score raises 15 points or more on either or both numbers, then you are a reactive personality and learning the proper stress management techniques are critical for your future health and fitness. The bigger the change, the more damaging will stress be for you.
Far later in this program, we will teach you how to specifically manage stress. But we can help you with some general ideas.
Managing stress is a personal matter but fundamentally it involves balance; a balance between friends, work and self. When any one of these areas begin to dwarf the others then mental stress triggers are more likely to happen.
Here are three good ways to manage stress:
1. Exercise. Exercise is a great way to lessen the likelihood of stressful triggers occurring and also eliminate some of the destructive chemical components of stress. When you exercise you put time into you and you might even enjoy exercise as part of a larger group or community of people. This helps provide important balance to your life. Further, since exercise is a physical response, you get to “use” the chemicals that occur after the mental trigger event, thereby lessening the physical impact they have on you. Remember, exercise lowers a number of important risk factors all at once and it is totally in your control. Please find the time to exercise.
2. Relaxation Techniques. There are a variety of simple relaxation techniques including progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, even prayer. These help create balance in the body also. Research these techniques on the internet and choose one that is best for you. The key is to be consistent as consistency matters in using stress management tools.
3. GABA. Gamma Amino Butyric Acid is a natural amino acid based compound that acts as an important neurotransmitter in the brain. Taken before bed GABA helps promote deep, relaxing sleep and taken during the day acts as an effective calming agent. We recommend pure GABA powder from Pure Chemistry (Formula Z Slim).
Whatever you decide to do to help manage stress, you need to realize that having a positive outlook or mind set is very important. There is a huge body of research demonstrating that people with happy, positive attitudes get ill less often, recover faster, age more slowly and live longer than do people with negative mental attitudes.
As important as choosing the right stress management technique is, it is equally important to not take short cuts and choose stress management routes which add to the destructive component of stress. Here are some of the improper stress management techniques that you should avoid.
Pharmaceutical Drugs. There are millions of people taking drugs such as the Benzodiazepines. While these may be helpful in the very short term for managing seriously acute stress episodes, using them for extended periods to alleviate anxiety is a prescription for biochemical disaster. The one possible exception to this (that appears a bit less negative), today, is the drug Buspar. But pharmaceutical drugs come with a host of negatives and should not be the first line of defense against stress. When evaluating drug options, you might also want to consider the natural alternative GABA which when taken during the day in 500 mg. to 1 gram doses can act as a mild sedative.
Alcohol. Alcohol is widely used as a stress deterrent. A small amount of alcohol may actually be beneficial to a person’s health but few people can consume alcohol in small amounts. Alcohol use leads to alcohol abuse and an incredible number of physical and mental problems.
Nicotine. Many people enjoy smoking, believing that nicotine helps them to sharpen a bit mentally and help create a calm, relaxed feeling and attitude. Since cigarette smoke contains nearly an uncountable number of harmful chemicals and is directly responsible for 450,000 deaths a year, obviously, the harm here greatly outweighs the benefits. We will deal with this as a specific risk factor later in the week.
In summary, here it comes, you know what I am going to say. Which fictional character are you most like?
Ima Goner, a 63 year old woman whose father died early of a heart attack and who is overweight, refuses to exercise and is highly reactive to stress, or
Willie Rize who lost 15 pounds in the last 6 weeks, walks briskly 30 minutes a day and is practicing deep breathing muscle relaxation techniques.
The choice is yours. Stress is a physiological phenomenon but is under your control nonetheless. Tomorrow we will continue to look at your resting heart rate as a risk factor in heart disease.
Exercise doesn’t mean you have to compete in a marathon; it simply means that you need to increase your activity level consistently each day. Always keep your activity within the boundaries set by your doctor or fitness professional. Do too much, too soon with a challenged physiology and you risk problems.
Tomorrow we are going to discuss a DEFINITE risk factor in heart disease, another one of the vital signs and one very much related to resting heart rate – blood pressure.
High Resting Heart Rate
There is considerable debate among cardiologists and medical researchers as to whether a high resting heart rate is an indicator for heart disease. While there is no way to answer this debate definitely here, obviously we believe it is an important variable in heart disease as we included it on our initial list of important factors. We will present our case as to why.
First, Heart Rate is one of the four “Vital Signs” in medicine. Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Breathing Rate and Body Temperature are the four absolutely essential, “vital” signs for life. If heart rate is important enough to make the list of vital signs, and it literally has to do with the working of the heart, then logically it would be related to the health of the heart. Frankly, arguing to the contrary simply makes no sense to us.
Second, we know pretty definitely that a higher resting heart rate is a strong indicator of a shorter life span among those already suffering from heart disease. Again, if a high resting heart rate is a negative factor for those with heart disease, why wouldn’t it be for those who may or may not develop heart disease. Again, logic dictates to us that a high resting heart rate is less healthy than a lower resting rate.
It’s incredible but many people do not know how simple it is to actually check their resting heart rate. The easiest place for most people to check their pulse or resting heart rate is the wrist. Chinese medical doctors actually create a dozen measurements for wrist pulse, but, since we’re not in China and you’re probably not even Chinese we will just stick to one measurement. Simple is as simple does.
To check your resting heart rate, you simply place your index and middle finger of one hand on the inside of your wrist (thumb side) on the other hand. Gently press and count the number of pulses for 30 seconds and double that number. That is your resting heart rate.
There are also very inexpensive heart rate monitors sold as well as many blood pressure cuffs that measure heart rate as well.
There is great individual variation in resting heart rate. Blood pressure can play a role. Men generally have lower resting rates than women. The more physically fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. There are many things to consider when it comes to evaluating resting heart rate. So let’s keep it as simple as possible.
While competitive long distance cyclists can have normal resting heart rates in the 20’s and 30’s, unless you are used to climbing the Alps on your bike, you will be doing great incredibly well if your resting heart rate is around 70-72. If it is under 85, we’ll call you fine when it comes to your heart rate becoming an important variable for heart disease. The higher your resting heart climbs, the more of a factor it becomes in heart disease. If it is 100 or more, you better start outlining a fitness program for yourself – now. At 100 beats per minute, resting, you are flirting with a condition called tachycardia, and not much good can come of that over time.
Honestly, if you are overweight and don’t exercise and you have that high resting heart rate then you need to undergo some important lifestyle changes, including beginning an exercise program, before you join another one of our fictitious friends, Danny Defibrillator, on the path to serious heart disease.
Day 8: High Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure (BP) is one of the four vital signs that we discussed yesterday. By definition, BP is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. During each heartbeat, BP varies between a maximum called systolic and a minimum called diastolic. An individual’s blood pressure is normally expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, for example, 120/80 this is which most physicians consider the upper level of normal.
Blood Pressure is not static and undergoes numerous natural variations, including changes from one heart beat to the next, changes throughout the day, changes as a result of stress, nutritional factors, drugs, exercise, postural changes and even as a result of being monitored (the white coat effect).
Hypertension refers to the arterial pressure (BP) being abnormally high and is a primary risk factor in heart disease. Not only does high blood pressure stress the arterial walls, it increases inflammation, which worsens the process of plaque formation in the arteries.
Based on today’s research, optimal BP is considered to be LESS than 120/80. Between that reading and 130/90 you are in a range considered pre-hypertension. When you get readings beyond 130/90 then you are definitely hypertensive and you need to address your elevated BP. If you ever measure your BP and it is 180/120 or more, you are in the midst of a hypertensive emergency and should see emergency medical care personnel immediately.
One in three Americans suffer from hypertensive and most take one or more prescription drugs daily to lower the blood pressure. While drug therapy may be essential to restore health, it is important to recognize that drugs prescribed for the treatment of hypertension are not risk free themselves. For example, prescription diuretics and beta blockers have been widely shown to increase insulin resistance and therefore increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and/or Type ll Diabetes. And worse, calcium channel blockers, which for two decades have been associated with an increased chance of heart trauma rather than a decreased likelihood of heart disease. If hypertension is severe enough or continues on a prolonged enough basis to need therapeutic drug treatment then angiotensin II antagonists such as Cozaar or Hyzaar might be, for many, the least problematic pharmaceutical choices. If prescription drugs are the treatment of choice, make sure to discuss all the alternatives with your physician rather than blindly accepting a choice that might be motivated by pharmaceutical marketing or the weekly lunches delivered by pharmaceutical reps. Your treatment should always be a result of a partnership in health care between your physician and you.
For many people, high BP is a lifestyle issue and can be lowered by the following:
1. Approaching ideal weight. Nothing increases blood pressure more than being overweight. If you are overweight, try losing weight as the best hypertension treatment.
2. Exercise. Mild to moderate exercise lasting 30 minutes or more daily, when performed consistently, has been shown to lower BP.
3. Stress Management. Stress is a huge factor in hypertension and stress management techniques have proven important in lowering BP.
4. Food Avoidance. There are five foods which have been shown to directly or indirectly lead to hypertension. Avoid salt, foods made with hydrogenated oils, foods high in trans fatty acids, red meats and sugars or high fructose corn syrups.
5. Nutritional Supplements. A combination of magnesium, garlic and the amino acid L-Arginine or, more simply, the natural amino acid compound GABA might be the most effective natural supplement regimes available. Other supplements that have shown to help lower BP are Cacao extract, Hawthorne Berries, Co-Q 10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Fish Oil.
Blood Pressure is a modifiable risk factor in heart disease. If you suffer from hypertension it is important that you seek treatment sooner than later. Being overweight, sedentary, stressed, possessing a high resting heart rate and being hypertensive often come bundled together and can be impacted positively AS A GROUP. In other words, adding exercise and losing weight benefit each other as well as your resting heart rate, your blood pressure and your stress level.
Tomorrow we will talk about a relatively unknown but absolutely incredibly important risk factor in heart disease, which is oral and gum health.
Day 9: Oral health and gum disease
The mouth is the gateway for the entire body. So it should not come as a shock that your oral health is also intimately tied to your overall physical heath, including the health of your heart. Research indicates that tooth decay and especially inflamed and bleeding gums allows negative bacteria to spread from the mouth throughout the body causing significant heart health problems.
There are many recent studies that have investigated the role that gum disease plays in cardiovascular disease. Inflamed or bleeding gums provide easy entry points into the blood stream for over 700 different bacteria, which are commonly found in the mouth. When these oral bacteria invade the blood, they stick to the platelets, causing them to clot. This clotting can lead to partial blockages of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and/or heart attack. Additionally, deleterious bacteria can speed inflammation, which is a main root factor in heart disease.
It is becoming apparent that your chances of getting heart disease are increased, at least two fold, by having bad teeth no matter how fit or healthy your body is.
Indirectly, gum disease can also affect other secondary risk factors in heart disease such as obesity and diabetes.
For example, current science demonstrates that the unfriendly bacteria in our mouths play a direct role in causing obesity by both promoting weight gain and slowing weight loss. The common bacteria strain selenomona noxia is one such bacteria that is believed to play a significant role in obesity. As selenomona noxia levels rise at the gum level, so does bodyweight. Numerous other bacterial studies are underway demonstrating that good oral health leads to good body image and fitness.
Recent studies are also showing that an overwhelming majority of individuals with gum disease were also found to be at high risk of developing diabetes. The connection was so compelling that medical researchers at New York University postulated that dentists should offer diabetes screenings in their practices for patients with serious gum disease.
Here are some tips for good oral health.
The American Dental Association recommends you brush your teeth twice daily and floss after every meal to remove food trapped between teeth.
They also recommend that you visit a dental hygienist every six months for a professional cleaning. These professional cleanings are excellent to remove plaque, which are calcified deposits that build up on teeth and beneath the gums. Preventing the accumulation of plaque is critical as negative bacteria thrive on plaque.
While we agree with professional cleaning we have a little bit to add about the rest. When it comes to flossing that is fine but you might want to consider purchasing an ultrasonic oral cleaning device as well. They are reasonably priced and do an amazing job.
More importantly, we have a lot to say about brushing. While it is important to brush well and often, there is a larger story that the ADA doesn’t tell the world about.
The beginning of the story is that most commercial toothpastes, even those containing the ADA seal of approval, are actually incredibly harmful products containing a variety of known toxins and carcinogens. That is why poison warning labels are federally mandated for most toothpaste sold in groceries and pharmacies. Flip your toothpaste tube over to the back and begin reading. You might be very surprised.
The second part to the story is that no matter how much you brush, floss, and rinse with dental solutions, you are still left with a mouthful of bacteria and many of those bacteria are negative strains harmful to your teeth, gums and general health.
A couple forward minded companies have recently developed and released dental probiotic lozenges that contain “friendly” oral bacteria such as Bacillus coagulans and Streptococcus salivarius which promote healthy gums and teeth. While these products are very interesting and useful, they are limited in the fact that each product focuses on two bacterial strains and a far more beneficial, far reaching product would be a “prebiotic” oral care product that feeds the full gamut of healthy oral bacteria. Pure Chemistry has created and is about to introduce Safe Teeth, a very novel, prebiotic product for complete oral health and hygiene.
Tomorrow we will learn about diabetes as a risk factor for heart disease.
Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance
The presence of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is the precursor to diabetes, is a very important risk factor in diabetes. Today, we won’t be discussing the diseases themselves; that comes later. We will focus on how they are risk factors for heart disease.
Basically individuals suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome have INSULIN RESISTANCE, which results in high blood levels of insulin. More than 50 million Americans have metabolic disorders that include insulin resistance, according to the American Heart Association. Why is that bad for heart disease? First, insulin is a growth factor that promotes coronary plaque formation. That by itself is very bad. Second, insulin promotes hypertension which we discovered earlier was also very bad for the heart. Third, high circulating levels of glucose (blood sugar) directly results in macrophages and LDL cholesterol being turned into the deadly foam cells that are at the center of the new heart disease model. Fourth, insulin resistance also affects fat metabolism, which results in excessive levels of triglycerides which we will soon discuss as another important risk factor in heart disease. Finally, insulin resistance is linked to obesity is obviously a main manageable risk factor in heart disease.
How do you evaluate where you stand on this risk factor? Knowing you do or do not have diabetes or metabolic syndrome is not enough as insulin resistance is not an either/or type factor. It is definitely a factor of “degree.”
We recommend that you obtain BOTH your fasting glucose level and your fasting insulin levels. Ideally, to rule out these as risk factors in heart disease you will want the glucose level below 90-100 and, most importantly, the fasting insulin level at less than 5.
If your levels are higher than these, then insulin resistance is a high risk factor for heart disease for you. Much of insulin resistance is dependent on lifestyle so the good news is that it is a modifiable factor for most people. Regular exercise and lower carbohydrate (especially simple sugars) diets are a key to weight loss which directly impacts insulin resistance.
There are also a variety of nutritional products available to help manage carbohydrate metabolism and reverse insulin resistance. First, the cell membrane is the “critical” battleground for insulin sensitivity. As we age, our cell membranes lose their flexibility and normal, efficient biochemical processes become problematic. Remaking the cell membrane is actually quite easy to do with a combination of true non-denatured protein, omega 3 fatty acids, nutritional iodine and the proper alkaline environment for cellular change. Pure Chemistry has products that meet each of these needs.
Secondarily, carbohydrate management can be enhanced with a number of herbal extracts. Pure Chemistry offers a 4 in 1 herbal product called Factor One Blood Sugar Control, which in our opinion is the top herbal product available in the marketplace. If your doctor has gotten involved in treating higher blood sugar levels and you haven’t been put on insulin, then you are probably taking metaformin, which is the only drug that is FDA-approved and recommended for use in diabetes prevention. However, the drug is actually only meant to treat high-risk people younger than 60 with pre-diabetes and a certain body mass index. Those facts have seemed to be lost on the prescription writing population of general practioners and many people are perhaps dosing themselves needlessly with this drug. Relying on a “pill” that may have limited benefit, if you do not fit into a specific population, is not usually the best avenue to take. We recommend re-confirming the reasons why you are on this drug with your physician and discuss alternative plans to modify lifestyle behaviors, which have more dramatic, positive impact on this modifiable risk factor.
Tomorrow we will move on to talk about alcohol; the most destructive and abused drug in North America.
Today we are discussing alcohol as a risk factor for heart disease. Truly, this is a very difficult area as what we say here needs to be conveyed in the proper manner so that people actually hear it correctly and do not read their own thoughts and experience into it.
First, we need to discuss alcohol as a risk factor in the general population of people; that is, what its role is for Mr. or Mrs. Average Person. Then we need to give a second message, one for the individual who may (or may not) be different from the average.
Alcohol is a drug; a very powerful drug. It is a legal drug. It is a low cost drug. It is a deadly drug. It is a socially accepted drug. Alcohol is a drug; a very powerful drug. We repeated that a second time to drive home the point.
The research on alcohol as a risk factor in heart disease is very clear. In general, across the entire population of adults, the current research clearly indicates that light to moderate daily alcohol consumption is beneficial but that more than moderate use is very harmful.
Now, please pay attention. The above conclusion is a very generalized result across a whole population of people. We have two MAJOR problems with this almost universally accepted research and that is:
1. For many people a tiny drop of alcohol is TOO much and there is really no good definition of what exactly “moderate” is when individual differences are accounted for.
2. Nearly all the benefits of alcohol can be replaced with a safer, less expensive nutrient program that has NONE of the risks for anyone that is associated with alcohol use.
Ok, let’s look at the general research facts. Then we’ll look deeper, under the facts.
As we indicated above, science demonstrates that moderate alcohol consumption actually helps protect against heart disease by raising HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and by reducing damaging plaque accumulations in your arteries. Alcohol can also have a mild anti-coagulating effect in the blood, keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots, which further protects the integrity of the heart.
Science also has proven that drinking excessively, i.e. more than three drinks a day, has a direct toxic, highly damaging effect on the heart. Heavy drinking, over time, can damage the heart by enlarging and/or weakening it and can bring on congestive heart failure. Heavy drinking can also cause high blood pressure and very high triglyceride levels, not to mention the extra weight that will be gained when the alcohol breaks down into carbohydrates. That’s why the wise old doctors who made house calls in the past would have told you “If you don’t drink, don’t start”. The scary fact is that alcohol is addictive and the line between moderate use and abuse is very thin.
Aside from the scary addictive potential in alcohol, each of us process alcohol differently. As a result, what is moderate for one person may be excessive for another. Staying with generalities first, a woman metabolizes alcohol differently so that 1 alcoholic drink for a woman is equal to 2 for a man. Alcohol also remains in a woman’s body longer than in a man’s. Also, the older you are, the less efficient the body can metabolize alcohol. Alcohol metabolism also can depend on body size, experience drinking, what was ate earlier in the day, how much sleep a person has had, even individual genetics.
Worse, for some people, those who have alcohol addicted physiologies and/or psychologies even one drop of alcohol is TOO much.
There is good news here though and that is the fact that all the positive effects that light to moderate drinking have for the heart can be replaced by eating properly, getting regular exercise and sleep, maintaining a healthy weight and taking a couple excellent nutraceutical supplements.
For example, red wine in considered good for the heart due to the presence of the anti-oxidant Resveratrol. Yet the amount of Resveratrol in wine is quite low. It would be far better to take Pure Chemistry’s Super Resveratrol 500 to have your body benefit from this exceptional nutrient.
The bottom line is that it is our belief that despite what the general research holds as true, practically speaking, consuming alcohol must be considered a risk factor for heart disease for many and should be avoided when possible.
The governance here is that for many people alcohol carries far worse consequences than the few positive heart healthy aspects it possesses and that there are other lifestyle and supplement alternatives that are risk free and replace all of the possible positives. Err on the side of caution and consider alcohol use a risk factor for heart disease.
Day 12: Smoking
This is going to be simple. Smoking is a huge, completely modifiable risk factor for heart disease.
There is absolutely no positive side to smoking. Not a single one. There are over 4,000 different poisons in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Smoking and second hand smoke is deadly – plain and simple. There are over 438,000 premature deaths each year as a result of smoking and second hand smoke. Smoking leads to over $167 billion in lost productivity and health care costs. While smoking negatively impacts a number of important health processes, smoking is an especially huge risk factor for heart disease.
Smoking increases the risk for heart attack between 200 and 400 percent. Smoke radically increases the overall amount of inflammation in the body, which is another huge risk factor in heart disease. It increases free radical activity and damage, which speeds the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Smoking speeds the heart rate, raises the blood pressure, reduces oxygen to the heart and damages the arteries. Smoking is also a major cause of atherosclerosis — a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which leads to compromised heart function and death.
There is no amount of smoke or tobacco that is not harmful to the heart. If you currently smoke, STOP. If you smoke, eat and drink excessively, then you are a cardiovascular incident waiting to happen.
There are a wide variety of smoking cessation programs available for you. People have had success with patches, with behavioral modification techniques, with hypnosis and with electronic cigarettes among dozens of other options.
From a nutritional standpoint, there are studies indicating that have a pH level as close to 7.35 as possible is extremely helpful for breaking the smoking addiction. The rule of thumb is to stay away from acidic foods and sugars and increase more alkaline foods like green vegetables.
Day 21: Risk Factor Summary
Over the past twenty days we have been discussing some of the main risk factors for developing the number one killing disease for both sexes, heart disease. We believe that the information provided during these days can be invaluable for your health. Without education, positive change only occurs by accident.
This information will be more important for some than others. Today we want to isolate which group you are in. It’s fairly easy to do that with a combination of simple at home tests and an inexpensive blood test from your doctor that covers all the main markers for heart disease.
Part One: You will want to answer the following 10 questions.
1. Do you have a direct, male family member under 55, within 2 generations of you, or a direct, female family member under 65, within 2 generations of you, that has suffered from heart disease? Score one point for YES.
2. Are you a man who is over 45 or are a post menopausal woman? Score one point for YES.
3. Are you more than 10 pounds overweight? Score one point for YES.
4. Do you exercise more than 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week? Score one point for NO.
5. Do you floss daily and get your teeth cleaned professionally every six months? Score one point for NO.
6. Do you smoke? Score one point for YES
7. Do you have 2 or more drinks more than once a week? Score one point for YES.
8. Is your resting heart rate as measured by a blood pressure cuff, heart rate monitor or wrist pulse above 85? Score one point for YES.
9. Is your blood pressure 130/90 or above? Score one point for YES.
10. During the cold pressor test for stress reactive personalities did your blood pressure raise 15 points or more following immersion. Score one point for YES.
If you scored 3 or above then you need to understand that you are in the higher risk group for developing heart disease. You will definitely want to read the information we provide tomorrow which is intended to help you reverse the processes that have put you into risk and deliver you a happier, healthier future.
If you scored below three points, that is great – for now. The next trip to your physician for a physical you will want to ask him to take blood and run the following tests:
1. Fasting Glucose Level: Is it above 100? Score one point for YES.
2. Fasting Insulin Level: Is it above 5? Score one point for YES.
3. Hemoglobin A1c. Is it above 5.8? Score one point for YES.
4. Homocysteine Level: Is it above 9? Score one point for YES.
5. C-reactive protein (CRP) Level. Is your level above 1.5? Score one point for YES.
6. VAP Lipid Profile Test: Score one point for any measure of cholesterol that falls outside the normal range.
7. Triglyceride Level: Is your level above 100? Score one point for YES.
8. Blood Fatty Acid Test: Score one point for any fatty acid measure that falls outside the normal range.
9. Serum ferritin and iron binding capacity tests: Score one point for a higher than normal level on either of these tests.
10. Thyroid function tests free T3, free T4 and TSH. Score one point if any of these tests come back lower than normal.
Now add the total score from the first ten questions to the total score of your blood tests. If you have 3 or more points total, you are in the high risk group for heart disease and will want to pay careful attention to tomorrow’s information.
Final optional test. Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC): If your physician tells you that you are testing outside the normal limit here, you will want to add one point to your total score.
The higher your total, in general, the more at risk you are for heart disease.