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Center For Natural Medicine                   


Center For Natural Medicine Newsletter  
February is Heart Health Month in honor of Valentines Day February 2007
in this issue
  • Heart Health linked to lifestyle
  • Lifestyle includes Diet
  • "Bad" fats in our foods
  • High Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
  • Co Q10

  • Dear Casey,

    There is truth in the thought that Love is a matter of the heart. Studies now show that companionship and love do protect and heal the heart. Fortunately romance is not necessary. Romance may be lovely, but not always present in our lives. Love and companionship are things each of us can pursue every day.

    Joy can come from a pet, communication with close friends or even a warm conversation with the grocery clerk. I recall that for weeks after the 9/11 terrorism people went out of their way to be kind and considerate even to strangers. It was lovely. So tell those you love how you feel, cuddle with your pet (unless it is an iguana), and practice random acts of kindness. The side effect is a healthier heart.

    new dana pic
    Dr.Dana Keaton
    Heart Health linked to lifestyle

    Our lifestyle is directly related to our heart health in other ways as well. Americans suffer heart disease more than “primitive” cultures. Our affluence and rush to attain more is hard on us. Most of us rush about more than we exercise. Twenty minutes of sustained aerobic activity three times a week will protect our heart. There are old and new studies that prove exercise always shows a benefit. If you do not take time now you may live fewer days or experience less quality of life. It is an issue of commitment now.

    Commit to what you can do, and stick to your plan. Whether it is weekend hikes, finding a tennis league, walking on the treadmill while watching the news, climbing stairs on your lunch break, joining your children to play sports or dance. Each of us needs to make exercise happen in our lives. Even walking just a couple of miles most days of the week helps protect you from heart disease and stroke according to Duke university research. As Nike says “Just do It”.

    Lifestyle includes Diet

    Lifestyle includes diet. Remember it is not the occasional treat, but our general pattern of eating that determines our health. Each serving of vegetable or fruit reduces your risk of heart disease by up to 7%. Fast food is the fast track to ill health. If it is in a package it should not be a large part of your regular meals. Our bodies require the fiber and nutrients from whole foods to function properly.

    Half of what you eat should be vegetables and fruits that are raw or minimally cooked. Beans and whole grains should replace bread, pasta, white rice and “boxed starches”. Consuming fish one or two times per week (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, mackerel) reduces risk of stroke and heart attack by 36%.

    Learn ways to cook and eat fish and vegetable proteins such as tofu to replace meat and dairy in your diet. Our office has recipes to help. Most of us eat similar meals from week to week. We have patterns. Try a new healthier meal once every week or two. If you enjoy the meal it can become a part of your new pattern.

    "Bad" fats in our foods

    Saturated and trans fats have a bigger detrimental effect on blood cholesterol levels, and heart health, than the cholesterol we ingest. Twenty years ago, when I was in medical school we learned the dangers of “bad” fats in our food. Marketing had people believe that eating cholesterol was the culprit causing high cholesterol.

    We knew that saturated fat found in dairy, meat and fried foods was the danger. Companies duped people into the trans fat margarine disaster. For twenty years the risk has been known, but finally the news is reporting to the public that trans fats are a huge health risk.

    Avoid packaged foods containing “partially hydrogenated fats”. Olive oil, flax oil and even butter are more safe, but in moderation. Two tablespoons a day of healthy oil is enough.

    High Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

    When we eat calories our body turns them to useable “currency”. Glucose (sugar) is for immediate use and fats are for storage of excess calories (hopefully to burn later). Fats are transported as cholesterol. The LDL package is used to transport to the cells and the HDL portion is moving back to the liver for use. If we eat more sugar or starch than we can use right away it will be turned to fat for storage.

    One study showed in women sugar and starch were often the cause of elevated cholesterol more than fat in the diet. Diabetes is fast becoming our nations number one health concern. High cholesterol and high blood sugar cause heart disease. If a person manages their cholesterol levels with a statin drug and ignores the lifestyle changes, heart disease is still an issue.

    Poisoning the livers’ ability to make cholesterol (statin drugs) does not help us metabolize the extra calories. We are only exchanging one health hazard for another. Optimal cholesterol levels should be around 180. When cholesterol drops below 160 the risk of stroke increases.

    Co Q10

    If you know anyone who is on a statin drug or red yeast rice extract please advise him or her about Co Q10. Co Q10 is essential to heart health as well as many other energy functions in the body. The enzyme in our cells that produces Co Q10 is the same enzyme that makes cholesterol.

    When we poison the enzyme to lower cholesterol production we also lower the Co Q10 production. As my cancer patients know, this Co Q10 helps prevent and even slow the progress of some cancers.

    For heart health month commit to exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables and allowing love in your life.