February is Heart Healthy Month



Heart disease is the number one disease killer in most of the United States. The cause is decreased blood through the blood vessels that supply the heart itself. "Hardening" of the arteries, plaquing, and loss of elasticity are at the core of the problem.

If you've got a genetic predisposition, you don't have to die of a heart attack because others in your family did. All you have to do is not live like they did.

"Hardened" arteries are a problem because they don't expand and contract anymore. That's a result of oxidative stress that damages the cells that make up the walls of the arteries. Oxidative stress occurs from eating crummy food like trans fat snacks, high glycemic index carbs, alcohol, smoking and other toxins.

When the body needs to expand an artery to deliver more oxygen and the artery no longer responds, the heart cells go without, and some will die. If they happen to be in the vicinity of a nerve that sends impulses to the heart, that's really bad. Now, you get conduction problems in the heart as well.

In addition, the large vessel leaving the heart to supply the body, the aorta and those just off of it, lose resilience as well. That leads to hypertension or high blood pressure. Meanwhile, in the legs, the veins don't constrict very well and when you stand up, you get dizzy because the blood simply pools in your legs due to gravity.

Plaquing occurs when cholesterol is oxidized and turns that to "scale" or calcium deposits. In addition to narrowing the lumen, those things come loose and cause strokes when a chunk travels up to the brain and blocks oxygen there.

Cholesterol isn't the problem. Oxidation of cholesterol is the problem. That's what turns it hard.

Oxidation reactions, not cholesterol from too many eggs or bacon, is the problem.

The way to keep your heart running and stay healthy is to minimize oxidation stress sources and maximize anti oxidation nutrients or supplements.

Here's a short list of oxidative stress:

  • Trans fats vegetable oil, canola and snacks

  • Alcohol

  • Sugar

  • Tobacco / vape products

  • Chemical exposures

Foods that protect you:

[one_third]

  • Small red beans

  • Strawberries

  • Wild blueberries

  • Red delicious apples

  • Red kidney beans

  • Granny Smith apples

  • Pinto beans

[/one_third][one_third]

  • Pecans

  • Cultivated blueberries

  • Sweet cherries

  • Cranberries

  • Black plums

  • Artichokes

  • Russet potatoes



[/one_third][one_third_last]

  • Blackberries

  • Black beans

  • Prunes

  • Plums

  • Raspberries

  • Gala apples

  • Dark leafy greens


Supplements that protect you:

  • Glutathione precursors - cysteine (NAC), glutamate, glycine

  • Resveratrol

  • Vitamin C

  • Beta Carotene

  • Quercetin

  • CoQ10

  • Vitamin E

  • Lutein

  • Curcumin

Lastly, oxidative stress and the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) molecules that it generates, wreaks havoc across all tissues and has been implicated in not only heart disease, but Alzheimer's, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and premature aging of the skin.

I not only eat most of the fruits and veggies on that list, I take most of those supplements as well. It is real health insurance.

Dr. Barrett

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