Men and Cardiovascular Disease

Did you know that one in four male deaths is due to heart disease.  It is the leading cause of death among American men.  About 75% of sudden cardiac events occur in men. The risk factors that place men at higher risk for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet, physical inactivity, overweight, diabetes, and excess alcohol use.  To say this is a huge concern for me, as a nutritionist, is an understatement.

Men and Cardiovascular Disease

Stop cardiovascular disease before it stops you!

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is one of the most dangerous risk factors because most men do not know that they have it.  According to the American Heart Association, (AHA) it is usually when a man is seeking attention for an injury or accident that his hypertension is diagnosed.  When blood pressure is too high, the blood flows through the arteries with too much force causing pressure on your arteries, stretching them past safe limits.  This causes microscopic tears.  These tears trap plaque, which can lead to blood clots, blockages, and hardened arteries.  Narrow or clogged blood vessels also raise the blood pressure.  Hypertension makes the heart work harder and over time.  Blood vessels throughout the body become damaged from this overworking of the heart.  The blood vessels in the kidneys are particularly vulnerable to this type of destruction.  When this damage occurs the kidneys stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body.  This increases the amount of fluid in the blood vessels, raising the blood pressure even more.  This is a dangerous cycle.  When the kidneys fail and are not regularly cleansing the blood, dialysis (mechanical cleansing) or death are the results. 

Adding to the downward spiral in this disease process is high cholesterol.  When you typically think of cholesterol, the first thing that probably pops into your mind is that it is bad news.  We actually need cholesterol in the right amounts to build new cells, produce hormones, for brain health and to insulate nerves.  The liver normally makes all that we need.  The problem comes when too much cholesterol is entering the body through bad food choices like excess animal protein in meat dairy and eggs.  Though I do not believe these foods are bad for our bodies.  It is generally how these foods are prepared, the lack of vegetables, and the high volume that causes the problem.  Too much cholesterol build up on the walls of the arteries causes atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease.  The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to your heart becomes slowed down or completely cut off by a blockage, resulting in a heart attack. 

If you have what is labeled high cholesterol, I implore you to please use a healthy diet and exercise to fix the problem.  It is quite easy to do so.  Be aware that the “safe cholesterol”  number continues to change.  The safe zone was 200 or below.  It then became 180 or below.  Presently, some reports are indicating that 160 or below is the goal.   There is bit of a dispute over where the safe zone is.  The truth is numbers are ranges to consider.  They do not specifically prove that the individual has a problem.  There are other considerations such as LDL ( bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol) that are also helpful in seeing the overall picture.  And most importantly the overall condition of the patient in clinical evaluation.  I agree with most natural practitioners on this when I say that a number around 200 is not a reason to be sentenced to a drug for life.   Statin drugs are usually the type of drug prescribed.  These are drugs such as Crestor, Zocor and Lipitor.  They come with a truckload of dangerous side effects.  Over 900 studies have well proven the dangers.  Muscle damage, neuropathy, impaired brain function, diabetes (because they raise your blood sugar), and cancer are all linked to these drugs.  Dr. Russell Blaylock a retired neurologist has devoted much of his work to researching the devastating effects of statins on the brain.  Please read his reports, they are excellent.  He reports that when cholesterol is actually lowered too much, you increase the risk substantially for brain hemorrhaging and free radical damage to brain cells.  Cholesterol actually protects your brain from free radical damage.  These drugs also block CoQ10, a necessary molecule for energy in the brain and heart.  In my practice, two of the most common complaints by men on these drugs are, almost immediate changes in memory function and muscle soreness.  Just like the warnings and studies show.  What may come next does not seem worth risking. 

We have spent enough time painting what seems like a bleak picture, of a life sentenced to dangerous drugs, with serious side effects.  The ability to get well is within your reach.  Undeniable evidence in my 20 years of practice, and study after study have proven that making whole food choices and lifestyle changes will reverse the course of cardiovascular disease.  Start by choosing what are commonly known as super foods.  These are foods that give you the greatest amount of nutrition in smaller amounts.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are of course on the top of the list.  These are antioxidant rich foods that reverse damage to your cells.  High quality protein like fresh grilled fish, organic, chicken, turkey, eggs, avocado, beans, and raw nuts are some of my first choices.  And yes, even small amounts of grass fed beef.  Healthy starches like, quinoa, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes.  Fiber rich foods are so important for many reasons.  They reduce cholesterol, and slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream.  This helps regulate the number one fuel source to the brain, glucose.   25-30 grams of fiber per day is the recommended amount. Healthy fats are also a must to support a healthy cardiovascular system.  Please throw out all margarine or hydrogenated vegetable oil spreads, they are the very fats that produce heart disease .  The best fats for your heart are recommended below.

Exercise is the next component that must not be overlooked.  Moderate exercise 3-4 times a week reduces body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  You do not have to join a kick boxing class to see dramatic changes in your health.  The best part is that no negative side effects come with taking your health into your own hands. 

So, let me sum up how to get started. 

1.      Eat the most heart healthy foods on the planet.

Breakfast:  Rotate eggs with salsa or vegetables. Almond bread with organic butter, (See recommended sites for recipes),  plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tablespoon chia seeds, berries and raw nuts, or a smoothie with plain almond milk, banana, fresh berries, coconut milk, and a hand full of kale and spinach.

Lunch:  Large mixed green salad with a variety of vegetables, raw nuts (in moderation), avocado, and protein of your choice.  Wild caught fish, or organic chicken or turkey, or beans with salsa on a Mexican style salad.  Use generous amounts of cold pressed olive oil in your salad, for a heart healthy dressing. 

Dinner:  Stir fry fresh veggies and protein, or fish and vegetables, or a hearty homemade vegetable soup with tons of vegetables and some lean chicken or turkey, ground white meat chicken and bean chili, with guacamole and salsa.  Make sure you eat plenty of vegetables at this meal as well. 

As for the issue of heart healthy fats, I am in the camp that believes good fats are critical for healthy heart function.  Olive oil and coconut oil and grass fed butter, are at the top of the list.

2.      Moderate exercise 4 times a week.  30 minutes of brisk walking with short sprint intervals brings amazing results.  See the HIIT and Cross Fit workouts for a greater challenge.

3.      Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. 

4.      Supplement with heart healthy nutrients

Ubiquinol – This is the reduced form of CO Q 10 for maximum absorption.  This is the heart healthy molecule.  Critical for statin drug users.

 Food based multi fiber blend – 1 scoop per day to help reach the required 30 grams per day.

Magnesium – Citrate or malate time release ( to avoid bowel distress) 1,000 mg per day

Vitamin E – Pure and potent with all four tocopherols

Resveratrol liquid 30,000mg in 1 ounce

Omega Fish Oils daily- equivalent to 1 Tablespoon

5.      Don’t be perfect!  Enjoy the meal and dessert of your choice one time per week.





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