Coronary Artery Disease is the general overall term to describe various diseases that affect the coronary arteries or Heart. Diseases may include Angina Pectoris, Atrial Fibrillation or Arythmia etc. Two common diseases that stand out statistically when mentioning CAD is Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis. Both are different but are caused by the same contributing factors. Arteriosclerosis is the hardening and thickening and loss of elasticity of walls of Arteries. This process gradually restricts the blood flow to organs and issues by narrowing and increases blood pressure .. Atherosclerosis is caused by the build-up of plaque and other substances on the artery wall eventually restricting the flow of blood through the artery. In the coronary arteries, this can precipitate a Heart Attack. Heart Attacks are still the number one cause of death in Australia. There is lots of information on the internet as to how these diseases form and progress and the health issues that are the result of these progressions such as – Heart Disease, Kidney disease, and Eye disease. What is covered here is more the practical things one can do to prevent such diseases from forming.
- Blood Glucose: It is now generally thought that High blood glucose levels ( sugar molecules ) damage to blood vessels by having a scouring or sandpaper effect, causing oxidative damage. ( oxidation causes aging and inflammation of tissues ) This stress causes inflammation within the blood vessel and inflammatory biochemicals are released as a response. Blood vessels can lose their elasticity and thicken and may cause blood pressure to increase. Damaged tissues within the vessel attract Cholesterol to the area. Cholesterol is not the culprit here as cholesterol is used to repair the damaged cells of the artery and is present in more numbers to promote the healing. Unfortunately, cholesterol molecules can also be oxidized affected by the inflammatory biochemicals.
- Tissue Acidity: The Standard Australian diet ( SAD) mainly consists of a high amount of carbohydrates that are easily converted into sugars in the body leading to altered PH and tissue acidity levels. The body normally has mechanisms for adjusting this but it has been proven that as one’s age increases the body is no longer able to balance or regulate the PH. Consequences of increased acidity in the body can include – calcium being leached out of bones and deposited elsewhere contributing to artery calcification, weakening of muscle and connective tissue, and promoting chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Weak Blood Vessels: Blood vessels and tissues become weak through lack of minerals and plant phytochemicals ( Bioflavonoids and polyphenols ) obtained from the diet .- Lack of these nutrients promotes hardness or stiffening of blood vessels or an inability to repair tissue where normal “wear and tear ” occurs. Collagen is a clear example of this which is used to prevent wrinkles in the skin and to strengthen blood vessel walls and tendons/ligaments. The building blocks of collagen are minerals and Bioflavonoids which are derived from a good plant diet. It is assumed that we are all having an adequate intake of fruit and vegetables but In a survey that was commissioned by the Victorian Government, it was found that 75% of males who were in the nutritional survey did not meet the daily recommended levels of fruit and vegetables as recommended by Dieticians. Plant food is essential for assisting the body to maintain a normal PH and for repairing tissues.
So what to do about the above – what is a good Nutritional prevention program?
- Have an Alkaline Diet: 80% fruit and vegetables especially green vegetables that are high in magnesium. 20% of the diet should be for protein and this would vary depending on one’s occupation or activities. As a general rule, a sedentary worker would have 80% veg on the plate at a dinner meal whereas a bodybuilder or active tradesperson may have up to 30% or more depending on their circumstance. No rice or pasta or bread or bakery products etc. There should be a variety of colored or pigmented foods that supply the Polyphenols and bioflavonoids. Examples are purple carrots, dark grapes, Kale, Beets, Cherries, Blueberries, pomegranates. The compounds in these foods assist to strengthen the walls of the blood vessels and reduce body acidity. The Alkaline diet is similar to the ketogenic diet and the ketogenic diet with its emphasis on controlling blood glucose may be a better option for some especially those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- Have Healthy fats: Healthy fats, like in Olive oil, Ghee, Avocados and Deep sea fish all help tissues to repair through modulation of inflammatory factors as well as helping to the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins that assist tissues to repair. Vit E is but one an example.
- Water and juices: ingesting purified waters, preferably reverse osmosis water are preferable to tap water as fluoride and chlorine all have an adverse effect on tissues and promote inflammation. Reverse osmosis can be mildly acidic but this can be offset but daily ingestion of green drinks or lots of vegetables in the diet. Fruit juices or freshly squeezed juices are not recommended as they contain a lot of sugars. Whole Fruits themselves are ok as they contain a lot of fiber and limit the amount of sugar that we normally would eat . Fruits are nature’s snacks and should be eaten between meals. Green Tea is high in Polyphenols that are good for heart health.
- Supplement: with Natural Anti-Inflammatories such as Grape seed extract, Curcumin, and Fish oils. These can quench inflammation and oxidative stress. One mineral that is essential for blood vessel health is -Magnesium. Magnesium is found in green vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some fruits like bananas. In summation, the role of statins is very limited to prevent Coronary Artery disease as there are many other factors at play leading to cardiovascular events. The use of statins may, in fact, lead one to a false sense of security by not looking at diet and lifestyle. It is interesting that most people who are admitted to Emergency Departments with Heart Attacks have cholesterol levels within normal parameters.