Guest post by John Dixon, DC.
Most people are aware that cardiovascular diseases remains among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States today.
What they may not be aware of is the ability to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease with diet, exercise, and proper nutrition.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) and myocardial infarction (heart attack) are the most lethal forms of CHD. The five major risk factors for CHD are: high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and obesity.
These five account for about 80% of the risk for developing CHD.
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Nonpharmacological interventions (non-drug-based) can help improve all of these and decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease and the consequences such as: heart attack, angina, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
Dyslipdemia refers to altered blood fats, including: high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high VLDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Nutritional and dietary therapy, weight loss, exercise, and science-based nutritional supplementation should be used initially in appropriately selected patients to manage low to moderate risk.
People with high trigylcerides, obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes are particularly at risk and deserve special attention.
Many patients prefer non-drug therapies for many reasons including adverse reactions from lipid lowering drugs called statins. These can include: fatigue, depression, myopathy (muscle pain) and severe kidney and liver problems.
Optimal nutrition and proper aerobic and resistance exercise form the cornerstone for the management of dyslipidemia.
Proper body composition coupled with weight loss can cause dramatic changes in serum lipid levels. Diets focusing on CHD risk reduction incorporate whole foods rather than food components.
Recent dietary studies suggest three strategies for the promotion of improved cardiovascular health.
First, the substitution of non-hydrogenated unsaturated fats for saturated and trans fats.
Second, increased dietary consumption of omega 3 fatty acids from fish and plant sources.
Third, increased consumption of low glycemic fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains, and reduced refined grain products.
These three components are also the essentials of the modern Mediterranean diet.
There is an abundance of evidence suggesting regular moderate exercise prevents the development and progression of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
Data suggests that 61% of all Americans do not engage in regular physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week or preferably 20 minutes of vigorous exercise daily.
Older adults benefit from resistance exercise training (weight lifting).
Recommendations include 8-10 exercises 2 or more days a week using all major muscle groups. This would include weight lifting and resistance band training.
Scientific literature is replete with studies on the clinical use of nutritional supplements to improve serum lipid levels. It has now been more than 30 years since Danish scientists first began to link low mortality rates from cardiovascular disease to the consumption of high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and other marine animals.
Recent studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, help silence the genes that up-regulate inflammatory cytokines in the body. In doses of 4 grams per day EPA and DHA can help reduce serum triglycerides, and VLDL levels.
In addition to reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, several nutritional supplements have other positive effects. Reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol has been documented with niacin, green tea extract, resveratrol, garlic, policosanol, and vitamin E.
Based on current clinical data the following nutritional supplements have been shown to provide improved outcomes in cardiovascular disease:
1) Omega-3 fatty acids 3-5 grams per day. Always look for high concentrations of EPA and DHA.
2) Niacin ( nicotinic acid ) 500-3000 mg per day.
3) Red yeast rice (high quality and standardized) 2400 mg per night.
4) Curcumin 500 mg per day
5) Green tea extract: standardized to 250 to 500 mg of EGCG twice per day.
6) Probiotics: standardized to provide the optimal bacterial count
Other clinical studies clearly indicate that daily of fiber can lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Based on this data it is recommended that dyslipdemic patients consume a mixture of soluble fibers such as oats, psyllium, and pectin at a dose of at least 10 grams per day.
Clinical studies support the ability of diet, lifestyle modifications, lowered body fat percentages, and nutritional supplements to help reduce serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by 30 to 40 percent.
Remember to be proactive and informed regarding your health and healthcare decisions.
Find Dr. Dixon at Natural Medicine Group.