Men often are not as concerned about their everyday health, but are definitely concerned when it comes to heart. This is likely due to the fact that heart disease for years has been ranked as the number one cause of death for men in North America. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more concerned about overall health, and in the past were less affected by cardio related disease and death. However, as the Bob Dylan song says, “the times, they are a changing”.
Cardio vascular mortality ranks as the number one cause of death in Canada, but it may surprise you that rates are actually higher for women than men.
According to one set of statistics, Canada’s overall mortality rates from all cardio vascular related deaths runs about 38%. For comparison purposes, we are doing about the same as France, and considerably better than the U.S., whose rate is over 50%.
Let’s clarify what is meant by ‘cardio vascular’. The cardio refers to the heart, so this would encompass everything from angina, which is pain in the heart muscle, through to heart attack, which can cause death. This would also include problems with the valves, which can become gummed up just like a carburetor valve in the engine of a car; and problems with the rhythmic beating of the heart, which could be compared to the electrical system, such as distributor cap or battery connections of a car.
The vascular portion includes problems with the arteries which deliver oxygen rich blood and nutrients to every centimeter of our body, and the veins which bring back carbon dioxide and other waste products to be eliminated. This includes circulatory challenges such as poor circulation, Reynaud’s, varicose veins, macular degeneration, right up to deaths due to embolisms and strokes.
Cardio vascular disease is considered to be largely preventable and lifestyle related. This is not just in the complementary health care arena. Major medical centres have conducted research to study the effects of diet, supplementation, stress, exercise and some more open minded studies have even looked into emotional health factors.
I’ll briefly cover these one at a time, starting with Diet.
One thing that most experts in the field of nutrition agree on is that the average diet, which we can call ‘SAD’ (Standard American Diet), leaves something to be desired. It is generally lacking in the necessary vitamins and minerals, especially anti-oxidants necessary for good circulatory health.
Dr. Bernard Jensen, North America’s most renowned nutritionist, outlined an ideal daily ratio to meet our dietary requirements: 6 servings of vegetable, 2 servings of fruit, one serving of complex carbohydrates and one serving of protein. This was fifty years ago and this still holds reason today. You don’t have to count calories, ounces or grams; buy exotic or packaged, or expensive food. You can have all the variety you want. You can adjust your serving size to age, climate and geographic location. You can choose from a large variety to suit individual preferences and tastes. You can choose to avoid allergies, adjust according to your blood type, metabolic type or body type, but it is still easy to follow the general guidelines.
Eating meals at regular hours helps to ensure our blood sugar levels remain constant and helps us to avoid binging and unhealthy snacking.
The bottom line is: we need to restrict our carbohydrate intake to only the best sources: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. You can get more detailed as to high glycemic or low glycemic index foods, but there is not space to cover this in this article.
Another specific dietary recommendation for cardio vascular health is to avoid or limit caffeine consumption to none or one per day. Many people have been able to decrease high blood pressure just by adopting this healthier lifestyle. Liquid Chlorophyll, taken hot or cold is a great substitute for kicking the coffee habit – instead of depleting vitamins and minerals you will be adding them with every sip!
Exercise is critical for cardio vascular health. Three 20 minute periods of exercise that you enjoy per week, that raises your pulse to an acceptable cardio level is required to exercise your heart. Any gym, fitness instructor, or health books will help you get started on a program that suits you, or just start with walking briskly, skating, cross country skiing, jumping on a mini trampoline, bicycling, swimming, dancing or, jogging. Most important is to start with something, anything – as soon as you finish this article!
Next is emotional. The heart is strongly connected with feelings of love, including self love. Hugging and pats on the back are so important to heart health. These positive feelings need to extend into all areas of our life, including relationship and work.
Dealing with stress is part of everyday life. Dealing with stress effectively is a whole other issue. This involves decreasing stress whenever possible and learning to manage what can be avoided.
There are herbs and other nutrients that we can supplement to improve our cardio vascular health. I will briefly mention some that I have had consistently positive results with in my clinic over the last 15 years.
Oral chelating programs, which help people, decrease arterial plaque which then improves circulation. Think of it a roto rooter for your circulatory system. Some reported benefits have been warmer hands and feet, elimination of leg pain and muscle cramps, improved breathing, walking and exercising due to improved circulation, right up to avoiding bypass surgery. This is a specific program, which requires some commitment, but the results are very worthwhile!
For healthy arteries, it has been proven that we need a daily supply of anti oxidants to keep the artery walls healthy. It is tiny breakages or injuries in the lining of the arterial wall, which causes cholesterol to adhere in an attempt to ‘patch’ the tears. So preventing these injuries is our best protection. I prefer a daily packet, which contains Vitamins C, A, Beta Carotene, E, with minerals Zinc and Selenium, plus one of the strongest anti oxidants known, proanthocyanidins, I recommend a packet per day as maintenance for everyone; two if there are cardio vascular challenges or if one is working or living in a toxic environment.
Capsicum, Garlic and Parsley, combined in a formula has helped many people lower their blood pressure. Capsicum is known as a cardio and circulatory stimulant, is high in antioxidants, stops internal bleeding and helps to balance blood pressure. This means if you have high blood pressure, it will help reduce it; if you have low blood pressure, it will help increase it. This ‘thinking’ action of herbs is one of the wonders that scientists often cannot comprehend and causes some of the mistrust in herbs. However, this balancing effect of many herbs is what makes them so much safer than specific action drugs. This works because herbs provide the nourishment, which the body uses to balance itself.
Gingko Hawthorne combines the benefits of Hawthorne, known for centuries as the heart herb, with the added effectiveness of Gingko Biloba, known as the tree of life. Hawthorne helps to strengthen the heart muscle, plus regulate the heartbeat. It is another ‘thinking’ herb – if heart beat is too weak or slow it will help to speed it up; if it is too rapid, it will help it to relax. Hawthorne is also high in absorbable Vitamin C and is relaxing and calming to the adrenal glands, which have a close correlation with heart health and circulation. Gingko helps to especially promote circulation and send more nutrients to the brain. Many people report better concentration and clearer thinking as part of the general improved circulation.
Essential fatty acids are essential for overall health, but especially for circulatory and nerve health as an important addition to your everyday diet.
Some people, who complain of “heartburn”, are actually suffering from indigestion. Excess gas from fermentation in the stomach forces up against the cardiac sphincter and causes pressure on the heart. GERD, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, can also cause a burning sensation. These people will benefit from digestive enzymes as maintenance to ensure better utilization of your improved diet. Generally people will feel lighter, have fewer problems with the three B’s: Belching, Burping, Bloating, an increase in energy, and a reduction or disappearance of the burning sensations.
A Stress Formula containing B Complex, Vitamin C, and herbs such as Hops, Valerian and Passion Flower that are supporting to the nervous system frayed from stress. This particular Stress formula has helped many people decrease high blood pressure, especially when it is related to excess stress.