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Heart Disease - Integrative Nutrition for Prevention

Heart Disease: Integrative Nutrition for Prevention

Heart disease, a term that is generally interchangeable with cardiovascular disease, is the number one killer of Americans. There are several risk factors for heart disease, including: smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fats and processed foods. When most people think of what kind of diet causes heart disease, they often think of fatty, greasy foods, and this may certainly be true for some people at risk. However, the term processed foods doesn’t just include lunch meats and sausages: the majority of processed food is from carbohydrates (sugars). Ironically, for many people the amount of fat they eat in their diet may not be a prime contributor to their development of heart disease; it may be excess sugar intake instead that is causing problems.

Why would this be true? Digested sugar is broken down (metabolized) to completion, generating energy and heat. The body prefers to break down sugars first, followed by fats, and then proteins last. Unfortunately, when too much sugar is taken in, fat burning ends up slowing down while the body tries to get rid of the excess carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, excess sugar is not automatically converted to fat: it stays in the bloodstream until it is finally taken up by the body’s cells. In time, sugars can corrode the lining of the bloodstream (the arteries), contributing to heart disease.

The hormone insulin is responsible for bringing sugars from the bloodstream into the body’s cells, where the sugar is then used for energy. The more sugar enters the bloodstream, the more insulin is used to help shuttle it into the cells. Excess insulin in the bloodstream does a number of destructive things to the body. These include: thickening the arteries, lowering the heart-friendly minerals potassium and magnesium, narrowing the arterial passages, stimulating blood clot formation, and increasing the damage of fats in the bloodstream. The body’s insulin receptors then try to adapt by becoming less responsive to insulin, known as insulin resistance. There is evidence that insulin resistance itself can be a major factor in the progression of heart disease.

So far, we have only discussed the ways that excess sugar can cause heart disease. On the surface, it can sound strange that sugars can cause as much heart disease (or more), as fats do. If you are skeptical about the correlation between sugar intake and heart disease, take a look at the following statistics: in the 19th century, sugar consumption in America rose from 15 lbs per person per year to 85 lbs per person per year. As of 1993, sugar consumption averaged a whopping 135 lbs per person per year (that’s almost six ounces of sugar per person per day, which is about 670 calories worth of simple carbohydrates). What about the rates of cardiovascular disease? In 1800, death from cardiovascular disease was uncommon enough to not even be included in mortality statistics. In 1900, one in seven Americans died from this disease. By the 1990’s, a staggering one person in three died from cardiovascular disease. Clearly, something is going on that modern medicine cannot easily address. If you would like more information about heart disease, you can use the Contact page to mail Dr. Jensen, or call 1-800-390-5365.

Dr. Jensen provides science-based holistic health care and guidance. He can advise you on specific problems you are experiencing, or help you create a comprehensive health care plan for optimum health.

Dr. Jensen will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and suggest a course of action.

Contact Dr. Jensen at 1-800-390-5365 or use the contact form.

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