Your Road to Wellness

Cardiovascular Disease

This was found to be the most important risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Posted by on 4:55 pm Cardiovascular Disease, Eating, General Health, Health | 0 comments

If you want to function well and stay healthy, you need a vascular system that can provide good blood supply to all tissue in your body, especially your brain and heart.

The reason is that the blood provides nutrients and oxygen to the whole body. Without that, all tissue will degenerate.

You can imagine what that would mean to your brain and heart.

As we get older the more likely it is that the blood vessels will start to collect deposits and get narrower, that’s called atherosclerosis.

There are several blood tests used to determine the risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

What you really want to know is the health of your arteries.

The following research is very interesting. It included 4184 participants without what’s considered to be conventional cardiovascular risk factors (Fernandez-Friera L, et.al., 2017). The status of their vascular system was evaluated by ultrasound detected carotid, iliofemoral and abdominal aortic plaques and coronary artery calcification. The researchers also included a lot of different blood tests as well as lifestyle evaluation.

 

Plaque or coronary artery calcification was present in 49.7% of the participants.

The real value of this study is the identification of the most relevant risk factor which was found to be LDL cholesterol.

The results indicate that atherosclerosis in both men and women develops above an LDL cholesterol threshold of approximately 50 to 60 mg/dl. This is much lower than what was thought necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system.

This means that if you want to have arteries free of deposits, you need to implement a diet and lifestyle that has shown to do that.

This is not impossible and does not have to be that difficult.

 

What you eat is the most important factor.

When people eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for one year were compared with a group eating a plant-based diet also for a year, this was the results.

All the participants were evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the study using myocardial
perfusion imaging, echocardiography and several blood tests (Fleming RM, 2000).

The group eating the plant-based diet improved their cardiovascular function and had less plaque in their arteries a year later when measured.

The group eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet had more plaque than when they started a year ago, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease like fibrinogen a clotting factor, Lp(a) and CRP an inflammatory marker were all worse.

 

References

Fernández-Friera L1, Fuster V2, López-Melgar B3, Oliva B4, García-Ruiz JM5, Mendiguren J6, Bueno H7, Pocock S8, Ibáñez B9, Fernández-Ortiz A10, Sanz J11. Normal LDL-Cholesterol Levels Are Associated With Subclinical Atherosclerosis in the Absence of Risk Factors. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Dec 19;70(24):2979- 2991. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.10.024.

Fleming RM1. The effect of high-protein diets on coronary blood flow. Angiology. 2000 Oct;51(10):817-26.

 

 

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If you don’t get enough of this mineral it could increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Posted by on 4:19 pm Cardiovascular Disease, General Health, Health | 0 comments

A lot of people may think that they need to completely change their life style to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, and they don’t want to do that.

If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, I would absolutely recommend that you make changes, but sometimes you can actually reduce your risk for serious disease very easily.

The researchers in the following study show us an easy way to reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease (Kieboom BC, et.al., 2016).

 

9820 participants, both men and women, were followed for an average of 8.7 years. The results showed that low serum magnesium was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. It also accelerated atherosclerosis (increased thickness of the inner lining of the carotid artery wall) and affected the heart rate.

Getting deposits in the arteries are not good, but this did not explain the increased risk of dying, so there is even more to the beneficial effects of magnesium than this research can explain.

Magnesium’s ability to stop already established vascular calcification has been documented in a laboratory study and was associated with magnesium transport through the cell membrane (Montes de Oca A, et.al., 2014).

There are several studies showing that magnesium can reduce artery calcification. This one showed decreased arterial calcification as the magnesium intake increased when measured with Computed Tomography (Hruby A, et.al., 2014).

Magnesium is best absorbed in the form of an amino acid chelate and is not causing gastrointestinal irritation like magnesium oxide is known to do

 

References

 

Hruby A, O’Donnell CJ, Jacques PF, Meigs JB, Hoffmann U, McKeown NM, Magnesium intake is inversely associated with coronary artery calcification: the Framingham Heart Study. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2014 Jan;7(1):59-69.

Kieboom BC, Niemeijer MN, Leening MJ, van den Berg ME, Franco OH, Deckers JW, Hofman A, Zietse R, Stricker BH, Hoorn EJ. Serum Magnesium and the Risk of Death From Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 22;5(1).

Montes de Oca A, Guerrero F, Martinez-Moreno JM, Madueño JA, Herencia C, Peralta A, Almaden Y, Lopez I, Aguilera-Tejero E, Gundlach K, Büchel J, Peter ME, Passlick-Deetjen J, Rodriguez M, Muñoz-Castañeda JR. Magnesium inhibits Wnt/β-catenin activity and reverses the osteogenic transformation of vascular smooth muscle cells. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 25;9(2):e89525.

 

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Decreasing Inflammation is 1 Important Way to Increase Your Life Expectancy

Posted by on 11:00 pm Anti-Aging, Antioxidents, Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular disease & waist-hip ratio, General Health | 0 comments

The process of atherosclerosis is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and involves deposits of fat and especially LDL cholesterol into the blood vessel wall (Salisbury D, Bronas U, 2014).

These researchers state that when the LDL cholesterol gets deposited into the vascular wall it can oxidize and cause injury creating inflammation which drives the atherosclerotic process.

Higher levels of chronic low-grade inflammation result in a stronger inflammatory response.

 

Low-grade inflammation which you may not be aware of needs to be kept low, as an important way to increase your life expectancy.

To decrease low-grade inflammation, let’s look at what can contribute to it.

Highly processed, nutrient depleted food will cause a spike in the blood glucose and fat shortly after it is eaten.

This results in increased free radicals and inflammation together with other factors which increase the risk for cardiovascular disease (O’Keefe JH, et.al., 2008).

The increase in blood glucose, free radicals and inflammation will last for several hours. That’s important to keep in mind if you eat these types of meals several times a day, it results in elevated levels of these substances throughout the day.

 

The best solution would be to eat minimally processed, high fiber, plant-based food. Vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and a few berries are excellent choices.

 

Just adding some nuts after a meal may provide good benefits. 

When 60 g of raw almonds were added to a meal consisting of white bread, the almonds reduced the increase in blood sugar and insulin (Jenkins DJ, et.al., 2006).

It was the antioxidants the almonds contained that was responsible for the benefits.


References:

Salisbury, D., & Bronas, U. (2014). Inflammation and immune system contribution to the etiology of atherosclerosis: mechanisms and methods of assessment. Nursing Research63(5), 375-385.

Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Josse, A. R., Salvatore, S., Brighenti, F., Augustin, L. S., … & Rao, A. V. (2006). Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. The Journal of nutrition136(12), 2987-2992.

O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M., & O’Keefe, J. O. (2008). Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology51(3), 249-255.

 

Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?

Posted by on 9:20 am Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Diet, Eating, Eating, Fat | 0 comments

 

It is important to know the facts about saturated fat, because there are different opinions on this topic.

 

If you get it wrong, there may be serious health consequences as a result.

 

I think you agree that it is important to have a healthy cardiovascular system, because the blood is supplying the tissue with nutrients. It is especially important for the heart. Any chance that the blood supply to the heart gets compromised, you will be in big trouble.

 

If somebody claims that saturated fat is healthy, and it will not increase your cholesterol, a reference with good evidence should be provided. Moreover, if the author is not providing any evidence, or is referring to an article in the popular press, the author is only presenting his or her opinion.

 

You need evidence in the form of research published in a medical journal.

 

Even if the research is published in a medical journal, it may still not be designed well and could be biased. That’s why you will always find references with a link to the original abstract in the articles I write, to make it easy for you check the facts.

 

I have not found any reliable research so far supporting that saturated fat is healthy. I have however found studies showing that saturated fat is increasing cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, the most harmful type. This means that saturated fat will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

In a very recent research, 92 men and women were put on a diet. The first group has a diet which consisted of high in saturated fat from either cheese or butter. Some of them are on a diet high in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat. Moreover, the remaining participants were in a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. Each of the group had the diet for 4 weeks. This is what was found (Brassard D, et.al., 2017).  

 

LDL cholesterol increased the most after the butter diet, even more than after the cheese diet. Both the butter and the cheese diet increased the LDL more than the high carbohydrate diet. The diets are also high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.  

 

The following research is a summary of 12 studies. It also compared butter with cheese, and found the following. Cheese intake lowered LDL when compared to butter, but when compared to tofu, it increased LDL (de Goede J, et.al., 2015). This is the same as saying butter increased LDL more than cheese, and both butter and cheese increased LDL more than tofu.     

 

The HDL cholesterol, which has been considered protective for cardiovascular disease, was increased after the butter and cheese diets. It was significantly higher than for the carbohydrate diet. This may look like a benefit until you look at this study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world the Lancet (Voight BF, et.al., 2012).

 

When people with genetically high HDL were compared with people without these genes, it did not seem to lower the risk of myocardial infarction.  

 

What would be found if people with genetically low LDL were examined? This has been done.  That particular study was published in another of the world’s most prestigious medical journals (Cohen JC, et.al., 2006).

 

It was found that people with genetically low LDL had a substantial reduction of coronary events. This is still the case even in the populations with a high prevalence of other non- cholesterol risk factors.

 

In another research, men with low cholesterol levels at the start were followed for many years. They had an estimated increased life expectancy of 3.8 to 8.7 years (Stamler J, et.al., 2000).

 

Research shows us that saturated fat from animal sources is not good, it will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

The good news is that you can control that to a large extent by changing what you eat. By doing so, you can produce the results you want.


References:

Stamler, J., Daviglus, M. L., Garside, D. B., Dyer, A. R., Greenland, P., & Neaton, J. D. (2000). Relationship of baseline serum cholesterol levels in 3 large cohorts of younger men to long-term coronary, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality and to longevity. Jama284(3), 311-318.

Voight, B. F., Peloso, G. M., Orho-Melander, M., Frikke-Schmidt, R., Barbalic, M., Jensen, M. K., … & Schunkert, H. (2012). Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet380(9841), 572-580.

de Goede, J., Geleijnse, J. M., Ding, E. L., & Soedamah-Muthu, S. S. (2015). Effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition reviews73(5), 259-275.

Brassard, D., Tessier-Grenier, M., Allaire, J., Rajendiran, E., She, Y., Ramprasath, V., … & Jones, P. J. (2017). Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition105(4), 800-809.

Cohen, J. C., Boerwinkle, E., Mosley Jr, T. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (2006). Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine354(12), 1264-1272.


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New and interesting research on the risk of heart disease.

Posted by on 9:30 am Cardiovascular Disease, Research | 0 comments


You have probably heard recent statements that saturated fat is now healthy and does not increase the risk of heart disease as previously believed. You should, for that reason, eat a lot of butter and dairy products as well as fat from other animal sources.

If you happen to read information like that, look for the references and if any are provided read carefully to see how the research was conducted.

Here is the latest on the topic of saturated fat intake compared with unsaturated fat and sources of carbohydrates as it relates to cardiovascular risk (Li Y, et al. 2015).

84,628 women and 42,908 men were followed for 24 to 30 years.

It was found that by replacing 5% of the energy intake from saturated fats with especially polyunsaturated fat, but also monounsaturated fat (these are the types of fat we find in vegetables, nuts and seeds), the cardiovascular disease risk was significantly reduced.

This was also found, but to a lesser extent, when saturated fat was replaced with carbohydrates from whole grains.

When saturated fat was replaced with refined carbohydrates and added sugars, it was not lowering the cardiovascular risk.

Most of the studies of this kind treat all carbohydrates the same, they don’t differentiate between very high glycemic index carbohydrates or low glycemic index carbohydrates.

The results would for that reason not be accurate.

Whole grains have a lower glycemic index than white flour and sugar, but they still don’t have a really low glycemic index the way we eat them.

Think of what you could accomplish if, instead of eating saturated fat, you ate fat from vegetable sources, nuts and seeds and a really low glycemic index source of carbohydrates like legumes instead of the grains.

This can be a very effective approach to not only lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, but also the risk for most other chronic conditions.

It can easily be accomplished with some planning and the right tools.

 

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

Li Y1, Hruby A1, Bernstein AM2, Ley SH1, Wang DD1, Chiuve SE3, Sampson L1, Rexrode KM4, Rimm EB5, Willett WC5, Hu FB6. Saturated Fats Compared With Unsaturated Fats and Sources of Carbohydrates in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1538-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.07.055.

What you don't know can harm you.

Posted by on 8:38 pm Cardiovascular Disease | 0 comments

You may not have heard about trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), but this is an interesting substance, especially since research indicates that it is causing atherosclerosis.

TMAO increases the accumulation of cholesterol in macrophages (a type of white blood cell) also causing foam cell formation (Wang Z, et al. 2011). This results in increased inflammation and oxidation of cholesterol which is deposited in atherosclerotic plaque (Wang Z, et al. 2011).

Where do we find TMAO?

TMAO is produced by the bacterial flora in the gut by metabolizing trimethylamine (TMA) found in dietary phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine (Brown JM, Hazen SL, 2014). Sources of phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine are especially meats, egg yolk and high fat dairy products.

The following is a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

When 4007 patients having coronary angiography were followed for 3 years, increased levels of TMAO were associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events (Tang WH, et al. 2013). Angiography is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside, or lumen of blood vessels.

What can you do?

A plant based diet will not produce high levels of TMAO because it contains less phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine , but also because of another interesting reason.

When omnivores and vegans were given the same amount of carnitine it was found that vegans had a markedly reduced capacity to produce TMAO because their bacterial flora was very different (Koeth RA, et al. 2013).

By eating a plant based diet you can avoid high levels of TMAO.

 

 

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

 

 

Brown JM1, Hazen SL. Metaorganismal nutrient metabolism as a basis of cardiovascular disease. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2014 Feb;25(1):48-53. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000036.
Koeth RA1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Buffa JA, Org E, Sheehy BT, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Li L, Smith JD, DiDonato JA, Chen J, Li H, Wu GD, Lewis JD, Warrier M, Brown JM, Krauss RM, Tang WH, Bushman FD, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat Med. 2013 May;19(5):576-85. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145. Epub 2013 Apr 7.
Tang WH1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 25;368(17):1575-84. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109400. 
Wang Z1, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, Koeth R, Levison BS, Dugar B, Feldstein AE, Britt EB, Fu X, Chung YM, Wu Y, Schauer P, Smith JD, Allayee H, Tang WH, DiDonato JA, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature. 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):57-63. doi: 10.1038/nature09922.