CALORIE RESTRICTION PREVENTS HEART DISEASE
Did you know that 30% of people who die each year die because of heart disease? It’s one of the world’s biggest killers and can cause a heart attack without warning. Often there are some signs preceding a heart attack, but many people are not aware of them and shrug them off. Heart disease can be debilitating and can lead to death. Millions of people suffer needlessly. Doctors throw medications like statins at the problem; and although they do work to some extent, they come with side effects and there are already natural and very powerful ways to lower inflammation and cholesterol which lead to the disease.
What are the risk factors for heart disease?
- Being overweight or obese
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being inactive
- Having a family history of heart disease
Did you know the beginning stages of heart disease begins in childhood!?
Does that surprise you? It surprised me when I first heard this. A study was conducted in the 1960s and it showed that the process of atherosclerosis starts early in life. One-hundred percent of kids were found to have fatty streaks in their arteries. These fatty streaks are the first stage to an atherosclerotic plaque which typically starts around 20 years of age. (1,2).
So if you think about it, we should be doing something to prevent heart disease much earlier. Kids should be given healthier diets at home and in school. They should be encouraged to exercise and partake in activities that will keep them active. Parents have a responsibility to give their kids the best start in life, wouldn’t you agree?
But what if I am already 20 or older?
The good news is that you’re not too late. In fact, you’re never too late to actually doing something that will impact your life in a positive way. Taking action right now will give you better results than if you wait for even longer.
If there’s damage already done to the heart, then it is currently difficult to reverse this without resorting to experimental gene therapy or stem cells (these are getting better all the time), but for now while we wait for those technologies to mature and become very effective, we can use nature to heal our hearts, clean our blood vessels and prevent anything from going bad in the first place.
People tend to think they are immortal in their 20s and immune to everything. The fact is though, how you treat your body early in life will determine the quality of life you have when you reach middle and old age.
What’s the most effective way to prevent heart disease?
Firstly you want to obviously maintain a healthy weight. If you exercise and have a high BMI, then maybe you’re okay, but if you’re like most people, then the extra weight is most likely fat, and that’s not good! The body can take a lot of insults and damage before things start to fall apart, so don’t be fooled thinking what you’re eating and doing right now has no implications down the road. It all adds up over time until the body cannot repair the damage properly anymore, and there is a domino effect where multiple systems are failing and the tissue/organ level and cellular level.
THINGS TO AVOID OR LIMIT
- Avoid trans fatty acids! These are the worst kind of fats and have even been banned from being used in commercial products in the UK!
- Lower your intake of sugar. High intakes of sugar lead to more inflammation, greater risk of insulin resistance, Sugar also increases Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) which stiffen blood vessels. These processes occur and damage the functioning of the body over a long period of time. Sugar also significantly raises levels of triglycerides and is predictive of heart disease.
- Lower your intake of saturated fat. Despite the controversy over how much of a role saturated fat plays, there is still plenty of evidence to support limiting intake of animals products and foods that are high in saturated fat with the exception of Stearic acid. The effect of saturated fat in a person doing calorie restriction may be more dramatic because of the person having very low cholesterol levels. In the Framingham study they found that no person with a cholesterol level under 150 mg/dl died of a heart attack. It’s quite common for a person on a raw food vegan diet or a calorie restriction diet to have cholesterol levels below this number.
- Reduce the level of stress in your life. Avoid toxic situations and toxic people. Levels of adrenaline and cortisol increase during times of stress. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid stress, but we can learn to deal with it in a better way.
- Avoid polluted areas. People living in the city area can expect to live shorter lives because of high levels of pollution. If you can, try to live a bit away from the city in a natural environment with lots of trees and greenery. This also includes avoiding places where you are exposed to smoking.
- Avoid sitting too long. Sitting for long periods of time has been found to be associated with higher risk of heart disease and overall mortality
THINGS TO INCLUDE
- Eat fresh leafy green vegetables. Whether you get them in the form of juices, smoothies, or just eat them whole, you must include plenty of these in your diet. These are very low in calories. They are vitamin and mineral rich, and the darker the greens the better. Kale and Spinach are both excellent!
- Consume fresh fruits or fruit juices. Include a lot of berries in your diet! Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants and are rich in
- Consume nuts daily: walnuts (contains omega 3) and almonds are great!
- Drink green tea! High in polyphenols that protect against heart disease (see sencha vs green tea)
- Practice meditation and do yoga. Join a class that is local and learn the methods and technique properly with an instructor
- Periodic fasting could be beneficial. Strengthens the cells by upregulating protective mechanisms
- High-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rich in polyphenols that protection against cardiovascular disease
- Add Garlic to your to your menu. Garlic is a good blood thinner, a vasodilator. Garlic is also a good antibacterial.
- Eat Dark Chocolate. Rich in antioxidants. Vasodilates blood vessels and protects against free radical damage
Remember it’s about Quality and Quantity!
Let’s not forget that. Reducing calories without paying any attention to nutrition is not going to end well. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will act synergistically with calorie restriction to improve your health even further than just restricting the bad foods you eat without introducing healthy foods into the diet. Reducing calorie intake will fundamentally slow down the rate of ageing, and in doing so lower all-cause mortality at any age, Including all these beneficial foods and practices into your lifestyle will lower the risk of diseases like heart disease by reducing the burden on the body. When you stop putting bad food into your body, it can function at its most optimal state.
Would Calorie Restriction Eliminate Heart disease?
The effect of calorie restriction on the risk factors for heart disease has been studied in animals before, but it was just 10 years ago when Dr Luigi Fontana studied people who had been restricting their calories for a long time. The results? Incredible!
Calorie restriction had reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke to pretty much ZERO. It was found that people on calorie restriction had extremely low levels of inflammation (almost undetectable), extremely low levels of triglycerides, low levels of LDL, and high HDL. Blood pressure of people on calorie restriction was 100/60 – the equivalent of a 10-year-old.
The conclusion: People on calorie restriction, even though they are not “genetically lucky” have practically zero risks of developing heart disease. People on calorie restriction gave their previous medical records and had shown that calorie restriction was responsible for these beneficial changes. A later study in the same group found that people on calorie restriction had hearts that functioned like someone 15 – 20 years younger! A possible reversal and normalization of heart function.
Lastly, there will always be people that have defects and problems relating the heart and blood vessels that will not be improved by calorie restriction; but these are a smaller percentage of people. By in large, the majority of people suffer heart disease as a result of their lifestyle, and therefore heart disease is a modifiable disease – even if it ‘runs in the family’.
People on Calorie Restriction have a “ONE in a MILLION” chance of a heart attack or stroke” Dr Luigi Fontana
Main Findings of the study
- CR had reduced LDL (bad cholesterol) levels to a comparable level of the lowest 10 percent of the population in their age groups.
- CR increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels to 90th percentile (high is good!) for middle-aged men
- CR reduced triglycerides to a level that were lower than 95 percent of people in their 20s
- CR reduced inflammation to almost undetectable levels as measured by TNF-a and C-reactive protein
- CR reduced blood pressure to that of a 10-year-old
- People on CR had very low insulin levels
See the page on the Beneficial Effects of Calorie Restriction for references and other information relating to the life-extending and health-promoting effects of the diet.