I don???t know about you, but I like to get out ahead of problems, rather than play catch up. So when a middle-aged patient tells me he???s worried about his heart, but he hates vegetables or he???s ???too busy??? to exercise, guess who???s getting a trip to the woodshed.
Because here???s the thing???heart disease still claims more lives each year than any other cause. We all know this. So why not take steps now to protect your heart? Why wait for the chest pains, ambulance, and a trip to the hospital before changing your ways?
The majority of heart attacks are preventable. That means that you actually have the ability to dramatically reduce your risk of heart attack???without prescription drugs, fancy gadgets, or expensive treatments.
In other words, I???m not talking about statins, blood pressure medication, or any of the Big Pharma solutions to heart health. Those all come with significant side effects, including insomnia, headaches, muscle pains, memory problems, and an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.
You have the keys to a healthy heart in what???s known as ???lifestyle factors.???
There are five behaviors that several recent studies have shown to reduce the likelihood of a heart attack. They are:
- Keep alcohol consumption in the moderate range
- Don???t smoke
- Eat a nutrient-rich, whole foods diet, consisting mainly of plant-based foods
- Exercise for at least 40 minutes a day
- Maintain a healthy weight
I know how challenging it can be to do all of these and I work hard with my patients to keep them motivated and on track because the pay-off is huge!
In addition to these five lifestyle goals here are some other key steps to help you avoid a heart disease disaster.
Unfortunately, some doctors still don???t recommend nutritional supplements to their patients. But even if your doctor is behind the times, I urge you to take a large dose of omega-3 EFAs (essential fatty acids) every day.
Literally hundreds of very good clinical studies examining omega-3 EFAs show that they reduce triglycerides and raise HDL (???good???) cholesterol. In addition they improve circulation, thin the blood (so your blood is more like red wine as it should be???rather than ketchup), ease high blood pressure, and reduce inflammation.
Omega 3s used to be common in our food supply, back when cows grazed in fields and chickens scratched for seeds in the barnyard. But factory farming changed all that, now that farm animals are all fed a steady diet of GMO corn.
And now, with polluted oceans and lakes, I can???t recommend eating fish, another prime source of EFAs, more than once a week. You just shouldn???t be consuming all of that mercury and other toxins.
You can purchase eggs enriched with omega-3s and buy only grass-fed beef, both good???if expensive???sources of EFAs. But even if you do that, I still suggest taking omega-3 EFA supplements daily, to ensure your body has a steady supply.
Look for a product from a sustainable source that has been molecularly distilled to remove all toxins, and take 3,000 mg daily
Number Two on my heart healthy list is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Every cell in your body contains this vitamin-like substance. And there are thousands of studies showing it has profound health benefits, especially for your heart.
CoQ10 is an essential ingredient in your body???s energy production process. Whenever patients complain of fatigue, one of the first things that comes to mind is a CoQ10 deficiency.
Remember, your heart and brain are both ???on??? 24/7. Keeping them fired up requires lots of CoQ10, yet your body???s production slows dramatically as you age.
Additionally, if you???re taking cholesterol-lowering medication known as statins, which block the production of CoQ10, you???re likely to be feeling drained, if not completely exhausted.
My recommendation: Take at least 120 mg of CoQ10 daily.
Curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, offers a long list of benefits, including reducing inflammation, a known enemy of cardiovascular health, as well as a cancer marker.
In addition, curcumin can help you maintain healthy triglyceride levels, prevent oxidation of artery-clogging LDL (???bad???) cholesterol, and improve circulation.
And those are just the heart benefits! I recommend curcumin to cancer patients, too, for its outstanding ability to reduce inflammation and tackle cancer cells head on. I???m such a believer in this substance, that I???m one of the few doctors in the world who treats cancer with intravenous curcumin.
Take at least 500 mg of curcumin one to three times daily. Be aware, though, that ordinary curcumin can be difficult to absorb. Look for a product that features enhanced absorption or bioavailability, so you get the benefits you???re paying for.
Vitamin D3 may be best known as a prime ingredient in strong bones and healthy immunity. But studies repeatedly show that vitamin D3 supports your heart by encouraging good circulation, helping regulate heartbeat, and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans are deficient in this remarkable nutrient. And even if you do spend a little time in the sun to help your body manufacture D3, aging reduces that ability.
Supplements are the best source of vitamin D3, since it???s hard to get therapeutic levels from your diet. I recommend taking at least 1,500 mg daily.
Your heart is the hardest-working organ in your body, so I urge you to give it the support it needs. Combine the lifestyle changes I mentioned earlier with nutritional supplements known to prevent heart problems. Many of my patients have done this and they???re all thrilled with the results.
Yes, change can be a little scary. But having a heart attack and becoming a heart patient puts you on the merry-go-round of multiple medications, test after test, and time-consuming medical appointments for the rest of your life. Given the choice, doesn???t improving your lifestyle make a lot more sense?