In last week’s article, I shared with you the truth about two major myths in healthcare. The first truth I addressed was how dietary cholesterol does not actually raise blood cholesterol levels. The second was how high cholesterol levels do not cause heart disease in most individuals.
As promised, this week’s article will focus on the real cause of heart disease and several ways you could be putting yourself at risk.
Let’s dive right in …
#1 Killer: Inflammation
Simply put, inflammation is your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as bacteria, toxins or a virus.
When inflammation works like nature intended, it is actually a good thing. It protects us from all sorts of dangers in our everyday lives like when you bruise your knee, burn your hand or catch a cold.
When the body is injured in some way, it releases various inflammatory mediators. These in turn initiate more blood flow to the area — turning it the familiar red color we all know.
During this process, white blood cells, plasma and vital nutrients rush to the injured area to begin an acute healing process, which in effect leaves behind scar tissue in the body.
With the increased plasma retention at the site of the injury, the body releases another inflammatory mediator called bradykinin. Bradykinin increases pain sensitivity at the site, discouraging usage of the injured area so the body can heal properly.
As I said, this is an acute healing process and meant to be short and sweet. …
When inflammation becomes chronic and systemic, big problems arise.
Chronic inflammation is just as harmful, as acute inflammation is beneficial.
Think of inflammation like a sprinkler. Normally, a sprinkler will stay on for a half hour or so, hydrating a garden and keeping the plants alive. However, if left on, the water from the sprinkler will flood the garden and drown the plants to death.
‘The constant presence of heart inflammation causes cardiovascular disease, and it’s actually inflammation that causes the walls of your arties to clog.
Chronic inflammation occurs when our body is constantly under attack by a multitude of stressors.
Health and fitness expert, Mark Sisson, provides a fantastic list on various stressors that cause chronic inflammation.
- Toxic diets: High-sugar, high-processed carbs, high-industrial fat, high-gluten, high-CAFO meat, low-food is an accurate descriptor of the modern Western diet.
- Insufficient omega-3 intake: Omega-3 fats form the precursors for anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, which are an integral part of the inflammatory response. Poor omega-3 status means insufficient production of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids and a lopsided inflammatory response to normal stimuli.
- Excessive omega-6 intake: Omega-6 fats form the precursors for inflammatory eicosanoids, which are an integral part of the inflammatory response. High omega-6 status (especially when combined with poor omega-3 status) means excessive production of inflammatory eicosanoids and a lopsided inflammatory response to normal stimuli.
- Lack of sleep: Poor sleep is linked to elevated inflammatory markers. Poor sleep is a chronic problem in developed nations. Either we go to bed too late, wake up too early, or use too many electronics late at night and disrupt the quality of what little sleep we get. Or… all three at once.
- Lack of movement: People lead sedentary lives for the most part, and a lack of activity is strongly linked to systemic, low-grade inflammation. People don’t have to walk to get to places anymore. They take escalators and elevators, they sit for hours on end, and they don’t make time for regular exercise.
- Poor recovery: Other people move too much, with too little rest and recovery. When I ran 100+ miles a week, I certainly wasn’t sedentary, but I was chronically inflamed as a result of overtraining.
- Chronic stress: Modern life is stressful. Bills, work, commuting, politics, exercise that you hate — it all adds up and it doesn’t seem to let up or go away. If it becomes too much for you to handle (I know it’s too much for me at times), your body will have a physiological, inflammatory response to emotional stress.
- Lack of downtime: When you’re always on the computer, checking your e-mail/Facebook/smartphone, you are always “on.” You may think you’re relaxing because your body is stationary, but you’re not relaxing. Take time to unplug.
- Lack of nature time: We spend too much time contained in cubicles, cars, trains and cities — away from trees, leaves and soft earth. In a way, nature is home for us. Going home certainly has its measured benefits.
- Poor gut health: The gut houses the bulk of the human immune system. When it’s unhealthy, so is your inflammatory regulation. Give yourself a gut check.
- Poor acute stressor/chronic stress ratio: We respond far better to acute stressors than repeated, sustained stress — even if the latter is of a lower intensity.
- Last but not least, smoking: Need I say more?
All these stressors result in chronic inflammation and oxidation, which damage the cardiac tissue in the heart.
Regarding the cholesterol myth, this is where another key piece of information comes into play.
Just as inflammation leaves behind scar tissue in other parts of the body, inflammation leaves behind plaque on the walls of arteries in the heart.
However, mainstream medicine and big pharma want you to believe this plaque was directly caused by eating too much cholesterol and/or having high cholesterol levels.
They miss a critical component of the process by which artery plaque is made.
As I said before, when an area of the body is injured, white blood cells, plasma and nutrients rush to this site to heal the tissue.
One of those factors is cholesterol. Remember, cholesterol is vital to every cell in the body … and no cell can form without it. When your body is attempting to replace a bunch of damaged cells, it signals the liver to make more cholesterol and release it into the bloodstream.
However, when stressors like those listed above put the body in a constant state of inflammation, cholesterol levels will also be high because they are simply trying to do their natural duty of replenishing cells in the body.
This is why doctors initially believed high cholesterol levels were responsible for cardiac disease. They mistakenly turned correlation into harmful causation.
However, the latest research has shown us the root cause of heart disease is actually inflammation. When the body is in a state of chronic inflammation, the walls of the arteries begin to clog because of all the plaque left behind.
Therefore, what it really comes down to is your own ability to limit inflammation in your body through the correct diet and lifestyle.
Next week, I’ll show you exactly how you can safely and naturally limit inflammation in your life. All it takes are a few simple steps to dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease.
Happy and Healthy Investing,