Heart disease is one of the leading killers in the United States and in 2008 it was responsible for 25% of the deaths in this country. It has been atop our leading causes of death list since the 1950’s. This was also around the time when cholesterol was found clogged in arteries and inaccurately blamed for causing the disease. A previous post of mine talks more about the benefits of cholesterol and why it is not the cause of heart disease. But if it isn’t the cause then why are our doctors so focused on lowing it?
Well it turns out that western medicine is very good at identifying various signs and symptoms of an unhealthy heart and most cardiologists are on the cholesterol band wagon. However, once they find these signs and symptoms in the hearts of America they do not have very effective ways of treating those hearts. Based on their treatments it is safe to assume that they think that heart disease is genetic and that other than taking medications to suppress symptoms there is little one could do about it once it starts. This is not true and the results of taking statins to lower cholesterol and beta blockers to lower blood pressure have been less than ideal. They don’t work and eventually patients end up having to have some sort of surgery anyways.
The reason heart disease happens is not solely because of genetics or a lack of heart medications or heart surgery. Heart disease is a result of imbalances in our body that happens over a lifetime of living in an environment not fit for our physiology. Your genes get instructions from the things in your personal environment and if they get the wrong instructions then disease can happen. Three big ways that our genes get the wrong instructions leading to heart disease are when we are exposed to unnatural amounts of stress and we lose the ability to deal with it through what is called a decreased vagus nerve tone, we eat inflammatory foods and not enough heart healthy fats, and when we don’t have enough structured water in our bodies which leads to a breakdown in the physics of our physiology. Let’s explore each of these topics further.
Unnatural amounts of stress play a huge role in disease today. Our physiology is made to handle short-term high stress situations and then be in non-stress states at all other times. These days we humans tend to have constant stress from jobs, family, finances, and a general fast paced life. Our bodies tend to have life threatening responses to the non-life threatening stresses of modern society. Society has a way of keeping us in stress response mode and over time this can lead to a decrease in our ability to get back in our non-stress state. In a non-stress state we maintain the ability to stimulate our vagus nerve--the nerve that goes to all our organs--but when we lose the ability to get into this state it can have negative effects on our internal organs, most notably our heart.
Conventional wisdom sates that heart attacks are caused by clogged arteries. Yet there have been studies on autopsies of heart attack patients that show that there were blockages big enough to cause heart attacks in only 20% of the patients studied. The real cause of heart attacks is when we lose the ability to get into the non-stress state and then have a stressful event on top of that. This causes a cascade of events in the heart that we know as a heart attack. A detailed account of these events can be found in Dr. Thomas Cowans’ article What Causes Heart Attacks.
One of the major factors leading to this cascade of events is the body is when the heart relies too heavily on burning glucose rather than fat. This takes us right into the second factor that contributes to heart attacks, poor diet. Cholesterol and saturated fat have been vilified for too long and it is time to start realizing that heart disease, among other chronic diseases, has skyrocketed since we have been on this low fat craze. The preferred fuel source of our body is fat, especially in our organs. When we eat a high sugar, high grain diet it forces our body to learn how to burn glucose instead of fat and this is very stressful on the heart. If the heart is unable to burn its preferred fuel source and that is combined with a stressful event this can start the cascade of events known as a heart attack.
The final factor that contributes to heart attacks forces us to look at the physics of the body rather than the biochemistry. Dr. Gerald Pollack at the University of Washington has shown us that water has some pretty unique properties. When water is in its structured state, what Pollack calls 4th phase water, then it does some interesting things. For instance, when a hydrophilic tube is placed in structured water then the water starts to move through the tube without anything acting on it. It turns out that we have lots of hydrophilic tubes in our bodies called blood vessels and we have lots of structured water in the form of blood in those tubes. The movement of blood through those tubes is largely dependent on that fluid staying structured. If we lose that structure then our hearts have to work too hard. This is at the root of conditions like congestive heart failure.
Now that you know three factors that lead to heart attacks how can we work to correct them? Well, you can increase your ability to get into a non-stress state by increasing the tone of your vagus nerve. This can be accomplished by doing things like meditating, doing yoga, spending time in nature, exercise, breathing slowly and deeply, a cold shower, gargling, prayer, and laughter. Secondly, you can help your body become more fat burning by eating plenty of good fats. These include grass-fed meat, nuts, avocados, grass-fed butter or ghee, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, wild caught fish, and pastured lard, goose fat, or duck fat. Lastly, you can increase the amount of structured water in your body by getting in contact with the Earth and spending time in the sun. You can also expose yourself to infrared light and pulsed electromagnetic frequency devices that mimic the Earths’ effects on us.
If you are struggling with heart disease and not satisfied with how western medicine is treating your condition know that there are many approaches to heart health. With functional medicine we get to the true underlying imbalances of why someone may have heart disease and work to correct them allowing the body to restore health on its own.