Nutrition Expert Says Most Heart Disease Can be Avoided With Diet

Heart Healthy FoodsIt’s a common misconception that exercise buys you a ticket to eat whatever you want. According to nutrition expert Dr. Joel Fuhrman, this is dangerous logic that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Fuhrman says that strenuous exercise isn’t as effective at maintaining cardiac health as most people believe, and that there are major holes in the way doctors currently treat heart disease in the US.

Overlooking Alternative Choices

This was one of the subjects of Fuhrman’s best selling novel, The End of Heart Disease: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. In the book, Fuhrman points out that surgery and prescription drugs aren’t the only way to treat or prevent heart disease, even though they are often presented as such.

Fuhrman estimates that more than 95% of all fatalities linked to heart disease could have been avoided, and that the most commonly used treatments come with serious health risks. Since doctors don’t typically provide alternative routes for controlling heart problems, patients falsely assume medications and surgery are their only choices.

According to Fuhrman, doctors are obligated to provide their patients with information about treating their heart disease through diet.

Prescriptions and Surgery Are Not Your Only Option

The End of Heart Disease stresses the importance of a “Nutritarian Diet,” which Fuhrman says can prevent and treat heart complications. He presents a three-step plan that involves:

  • Eliminating high-glycemic foods, such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, and white bread. These can spike blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
  • Ensuring your diet includes a “full rainbow” of vegetables and an abundance of healthy fats, as in fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocados.
  • Reducing animal products as much as possible. No more than 3 servings of animal products per week is ideal, but most Americans eat closer to 21.

According to Fuhrman, “Diet is not just preventive, but therapeutic. After a short period of time – it doesn’t take years – you will see benefits.”

Those taking on the challenge of a Nutritarian Diet should be aware of the challenges they will face. Eating sugar affects the chemistry of the brain, resulting in cravings for unhealthy foods.

“People want the ice cream and cake. It’s possible for motivated people to make change, but you have to change your taste buds, which takes three to six months,” Fuhrman says.

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Oral Hygiene is Key to Heart Health

toothbrushWe all do things to try and prevent heart disease, right? Maintaining a healthy diet and getting exercise are no-brainers, but did you know there is something else simple you could do to maintain your heart health? Good oral hygiene can actually have an impact on the health of your heart.

It’s no secret that bacteria live in our mouths. Saliva is able to flush away some of it, but we get rid of most by brushing and flossing our teeth. This is why most dentists recommend finishing anything sugary all at once instead of throughout the day — so you can get rid of all that bacteria rather than let it sit on your teeth. Those with poor oral hygiene or gum disease run the risk of that bacteria entering the bloodstream. Some of this bacteria has been found in cholesterol plaques on the walls of coronary arteries, which suggests that they contribute to cholesterol blockages.

Poor Oral Hygiene Possibly Linked to Cholesterol Blockages

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without the disease. This goes to show that routine trips to your dentist could benefit more than your smile. You should definitely see your doctor or dentist if you experience any of the following:

  • Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
  • Sensitivity to heat and cool
  • Color changes in your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums pulling away from teeth

For more information, consult this article written by Dr. Robert Schwab.

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Heart Health Advice: Why is it Confusing?

Blood PressureThe information we have on preventing heart disease is boundless, yet it still responsible for one in every four deaths. How can this be? Despite having abundant information, our guidelines for using that information is quite inconsistent. For example, the risk factors for someone who hasn’t already had a heart attack are diverse, making it challenging to identify how and when to educate someone who might be at risk. So, how can you be sure you’re following the right guidelines?

The truth is, the guidelines are different for everyone. Your own habits and history define your risk of heart disease. However, here are a few of the biggest arguments:

  1. Aspirin – According to the FDA, the intestinal bleeding and stomach problems that might occur in individuals who don’t already have heart disease make aspirin too risky to be an option to prevent heart attacks. On the other hand, the AHA and ACC believe that the benefit of preventing the first heart attack outweighs the risk of bleeding strokes. These organizations advise patients at higher risk of heart issues to use low-dose aspirin preventatively.
  2. Blood Pressure – We are all aware that hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. However, there is argument over adding anti-hypertensive medications to existing care programs in order to bring blood pressure levels below the recommended 140-90 mm Hg. Researchers have found that patients who are able to bring blood pressure this low can reduce their risk of early death from heart disease as well as all other causes. Primary care doctors are less likely to recommend this route as too low blood pressure can lead to fainting, dizziness, and falls.

What they do agree on:

Keep blood pressure under control – Avoid a salty diet and exercise regularly to maintain normal blood pressure levels.

Don’t smoke – Smoking puts you at higher risk for coronary heart disease and also decreases your tolerance for exercise.

Keep cholesterol low – Make sure you know your good fats from bad fats to keep your blood pressure as low as possible. Consider statins to treat high blood pressure.

For more on heart disease guidelines, see this article from Time.



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