Recently I attended a “Cardiology conference” designed to recruit more business for a local HMO. Sure, there were enough clinical tips to make the experience resemble an educational opportunity for doctors around the area. Predictably, the emphasis was on surgical intervention for serious cardiac problems; no doubt it is a valid and life-saving tool in many cases.
Interestingly, one of their own doctors presented a less invasive pharmaceutical approach, arguing that it was just as successful as and much safer and cheaper than the surgical techniques being emphasized by his colleagues. He could not hide his strong convictions, grounded in good scientific evidence; his contempt for the surgeons was palpable as he implied that they were over-treating patients for financial gain, an opinion shared by many.1
After the conference was over, I approached him to congratulate him for his beliefs since I agree with him. I added that I felt the same way he did as I compared a nutritional, preventive approach to cardiology against his pharmaceutical approach. I naively hoped he would see the parallel between him and me as we dealt with very good scientific evidence. Predictably, he dismissed my evidence saying that nutrition does not work: “patients cannot sustain Spartan diets like you propose.”
And I agree that patients addicted to refined sugars and trans-hydrogenated fats cannot overcome said addictions without intensive help from health care workers who understand these concepts and live by them themselves. It turns out my colleague, the rebellious cardiologist, is grossly overweight.
Hugo Rodier, MD
We have already reviewed several studies that document that 80% of heart disease may be treated and prevented with lifestyle changes; they improve the health of the lining cells of our arteries: “Effect of Intensive Lifestyle Changes on Endothelial Function and on Inflammatory Markers of Atherosclerosis.”2 Here is a review of the latest articles on nutrition and the heart:
“Oxidative Stress Regulates Left Ventricular PDE5 Expression in the Failing Heart”3 tell us that the heart loses its ability to pump effectively as we age; one of the factors involved is Oxidation, just like any engine that is not maintained well with frequent tune ups. And how can we maintain our pump healthy? Consuming foods redolent with antioxidants, instead of the addicting foods Americans love; they have too many calories and lack said antioxidants.
One of the antioxidants we need the most is the amino acid arginine, indispensable for the maintenance of the lining of our arteries: “L-Arginine supplementation improves exercise capacity after a heart transplant.”4 We have already discussed many other references that demonstrate that arginine helps our heart even before we end up with a heart transplant. The point of this article is that even in those so dramatically compromised, arginine may still help.
We could lower our chance of ending up with some cadaver’s heart beating in our chest if we ate a lot of nuts: “Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels: A Pooled Analysis of 25 Intervention Trials.”5 Yet, I still hear patients tell me they don’t eat nuts because it makes them gain weight, never mind all the twinkies they inhale on a daily basis. If you are decide to try nuts, focus on pine nuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias and pistachios;6 and avoid the salted nuts: “Population Strategies to Decrease Sodium Intake and the Burden of Cardiovascular Disease: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis.”7
Sure, some of us may be allergic to nuts; other food allergies or chemical/environmental allergies may predispose to poor handling of cholesterol which may lead to arterial injury: “Histamine H1 Receptor Promotes Atherosclerotic Lesion Formation by Increasing Vascular Permeability for Low-Density Lipoproteins.”8 Said allergies compound the low levels of
B-complex vitamins in our diet, particularly folic acid: “Low folate levels may be an atherogenic factor regardless of homocysteine levels in young healthy nonsmokers.”9
This is why supplementing these antioxidants and eating diets based on whole foods lower the risk of heart disease: “Evidence That Niacin Inhibits Acute Vascular Inflammation and Improves Endothelial Dysfunction Independent of Changes in Plasma Lipids.”10 “Niacin inhibits vascular inflammation and protects against endothelial dysfunction independent of these changes in plasma lipid levels.”
Fear of fractures as we age
Bone thinning or osteoporosis strikes fear in the minds of aging people. Big Pharma stokes the fires to sell more drugs that claim to reduce the risk of fractures. These drugs tend to have side effects and their effectiveness is often exaggerated. Yet, simpler interventions get short-changed, even though they are more effective, safer and cheaper. We have already discussed whole foods as opposed to refines foods and maintaining good intestinal function to absorb the minerals our bones need to thrive.
The article “Effect of High-Dosage Cholecalciferol and Extended Physiotherapy on Complications After Hip Fracture: A Randomized Controlled Trial”11 demonstrated that “extended physical therapy was successful in reducing fallsbut not hospital readmissions, whereas cholecalciferol treatment, 2000 IU/d, was successful in reducing hospital readmission but not falls. Thus, the 2 strategies may be useful together because they address 2 different and important complications after hip fracture.”
Cellular furnaces; the mitochondria
Everything about our body and its 50 trillion cells revolves around using energy to sustain them. Each cell has hundreds-thousands of smaller cells within, the mitochondria; they specialize in transforming the food we eat into ATP through the process of phosphorylation to fuel every function of the cell they live in. Modern science has shown that diseases have a degree of mitochondrial dysfunction, specifically oxidation. This problem may lead to insulin resistance,12 which is the slippery slide leading to practically all diseases
Take for instance, the hormone thyroid; most people readily state that thyroid dies practically everything in the body; well, it powers the mitochondria of each cell.13 And you may do the same with diets high in antioxidants. The foods that fuel the mitochondria the best are sardines, cruciferous veggies, green tea, and whey. Supplements include CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, SAMe. D-ribose and glutathione.
We already discussed the 2009 Nobel Prize winning research on the telomere, the tail of the chromosome and how good diets increase its length and decrease chronic disease,14 including cancer.15 Here are more articles validating this point
“Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the
differential effects of lycopene consumed in tomato paste and lycopene in the form of a purified extract on target genes of cancer prostatic cells”16 tells us that both tomato preparations are equally effective in prostate cancer; we used to think that tomato paste was better.
The best diet for cancer prevention is vegetarian, which is not easy to do. If you are going to eat meat, make it lean poultry and fish, not red or processed meats: “Meat, fish, and ovarian cancer risk: results from 2 Australian case-control studies, a systematic review, and meta-analysis low consumption of processed meat and higher consumption of poultry and fish may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.”17
If you are still against soy, despite the hundreds of articles I have provided for you over the years, then, this one will not make any difference to you: “Isoflavones from Phytoestrogens and Gastric Cancer Risk: A Nested Case-Control Study within the Korean Multicenter Cancer Cohort” showed less stomach cancer.18 Fermented soy is even better; any fermented food is. For example, fermented wheat germ lowers the risk of cancer19 and arthritis.20
But, still the most important thing to keep in mind about diet and cancer is the 1931 Nobel Prize winning research that showed that high sugar diets depress the immune system and increase the risk of cancer; I see studies like “Dietary glycemic index and load in relation to risk of uterine leiomyomata in the Black Women’s Health Study”21 often; yet, Americans are not being told about the dire consequences of their addiction to sugar.
“Vegetarian diets and childhood obesity prevention.”22
“Effects of resveratrol on cerebral blood flow variables and cognitive performance in humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover investigation.”23 Resveratrol is an antioxidant form grapes; 250-500 mg/D improve brain blood flow
Oxidative stress makes autism-susceptible genes more likely to express themselves.24