Healthy strategies to prevent a heart attack and brain attack (stroke),so YOU do not have to be a victim of your genes! Part 2
Yesterday, I finally began reading & listening to (that’s how I do books that I really want to understand;) Metabiological – by Dr. Robert Lustig, a retired Pediatric Endocrinologist, who also has a degree in nutritional biochemistry. It is PROFOUND!! I highly recommend it, and I will certainly be sharing some of the pearls in upcoming articles/blog posts. One of the main points of his work for years has been the role of sugar and insulin resistance on the causes of Cardiovascular Disease. Well, the root cause of almost every disease, really!. There has been new research done, presented in the British Medical Journal, Lancet, March 2020, that finally showed that a high carbohydrate diet, far outpaced, the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diets in mortality and morbidity (a.k.a. death and the cause of other diseases). The study finally proved that HIGH FAT is NOT all bad. I will go into a lot more detail on this in the future, however, in a nutshell, It’s not the FAT, but the TYPE of fat that is the problem. Today’s article will go into more information on Glutathione, as well as various kinds of fat, and how to navigate your world through the world of fats. It is NOT FAT that is the problem, but as Dr. Lustig so beautifully articulates, it’s what done to our food (in this case fats) that is the real problem, and, cause of disease and death. I hope you garner new insights and tools to support your wise choices and your enhanced Vitality!
Increase Your Glutathione
In my previous article, I discussed the importance of glutathione (GSH) on every single cell in the body. In particular, in the article about COVID, I focused on glutathione’s amazing role in boosting the immune system. Today, I’m focusing on its major antioxidant role. GSH is THE master antioxidant, even more, powerful than Vitamin C. In fact, it even recycles itself once it has done its magic. GSH’s critical role in the health of the endothelium is how it deals with Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or Oxidative Stress—caused by the list of inflammatory triggers above.
Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the body’s production of free radicals and the body’s antioxidant capacity to neutralize their harmful effects. Oxidative stress damages cells and DNA contributes to aging and plays a role in the development of numerous health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. In a study from 2019, researchers looked at the role of oxidative stress in the development of atherosclerosis. The study concluded: “Serum Glutathione (GSH) levels and Catalase (CAT) and Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX) activities were significantly greater in healthy controls than in CHD patients.”(1) What this study reaffirms is that Endogenous (made inside your own cells) glutathione deficiency is a risk for Coronary Artery Disease. Supporting your GSH levels, especially if you have a family history, is very prudent. The best glutathione support I have found was detailed here.
Reduce Trans and Saturated FatsAre you totally confused about fats? I know I was until I had a Genomics Wellness Test to learn what works best for me and for my body. Bobbi Horne, a DNA genomic specialist, and expert in fats shared her insights about fats and the risk associated with various genotypes. First, dietary fats are an essential food source. According to the American Heart Association: “Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat.”We are not, however, created equally in our ability to process fat. Think of the old nursery rhyme, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean.”
Your “lipid panel” is the main hub for a heart-based diet. It begins with a particular genotype called Apolipoprotein E (Apo-lipo-protein E). All of us have a genotype based on how our body processes dietary fats. Knowing your APOE will give you the roadmap for what fats are best for you.
We all have genetic variants that negatively impact the concentration of lipids in our blood in response to the amount and type of fat we eat. Think about how this shows up in your bloodwork—total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and Triglyceride levels.
What about your family history? It is one of the key indicators of your risk for cardiovascular disease. Answering the following question is a good start:
Have any of your close family members experienced a heart attack or stroke prior to age 65?
If your answer is YES, you are likely at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the good news is that your family history and your genetics do not have to determine your ultimate roadmap. The choice is yours! Selecting the right sources of fat for you, combined with exercise and lifestyle changes, can determine your future health.
Know the Types of Dietary Fat
Let’s take a closer look at the different fats so you’ll know the good from the bad.
Mono-Unsaturated Fats – These “good” fats are sometimes called MUFAs and are your best sources of dietary fat. Think of avocados, olives, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds. According to Molecular Geneticist, Dr. Margaret Smith, “MUFAs can reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood which reduces cardiovascular disease risk.”
Poly-Unsaturated Fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) – We have all heard that Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil (i.e. salmon, krill, and sardines) are good for us, but what are the benefits? Omega 3 fatty acids help to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, slow the development of plaque in the arteries, reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke, and reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.
Omega 6 fats, which we get mainly from vegetable oils (i.e. safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn oil) are beneficial as they can help to lower harmful LDL cholesterol, increase protective HDL, and help to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The perfect ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is 1:1. Unfortunately, high consumption of processed foods in the Western diet have resulted in ratios as high as 17:1. Consuming too many Omega 6 fats may raise your blood pressure, cause your body to retain fluids, and lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke.
Saturated Fats – These are tasty, but not your best choice. Found mostly in animal products, saturated fats are the least healthy form of fat. You may have heard that we should cut back on red meat, dairy, dark poultry meat, pork, butter, and cheeses. Too much saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries, raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. So, choose your saturated fats wisely and limit consumption.
Trans or Hydrogenated Fats – These fats are the really bad stuff. The primary source for Trans Fats is partially hydrogenated oils. These “Frankenfats,” as they have been called, pose a higher danger for both cardiovascular disease—think heart attack and brain attack (stroke)—and certain cancers. They are commonly found in commercial baked goods, (i.e. donuts, cookies, crackers, and pizza dough) and also in fried and processed foods (i.e. microwave popcorn, non-dairy creamers, margarine, and shortening). In the process of hydrogenation, food manufacturers chemically alter the structure of vegetable oil; partial hydrogenation results in trans fats. The purpose for this is to create a longer shelf life. Years ago, I did an experiment with the hamburger buns that someone brought to our home. I left them in our pantry for 4 months, and they still did not grow mold!!! Four months! That’s the power of trans fats and other fake ingredients in our processed foods.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires all food companies to phase out artificial trans fats (or partially hydrogenated oils), many products containing trans fats still sit on store shelves and may do so for years, as the distribution process cycles through. So, watch out for trans fats in the products you buy. They are typically on the inside shelves of the grocery store where the more processed foods are stocked.
And finally…Know Your DNA – Genetically, some of us can handle higher levels of fat in our diet than others. If you have a family history of heart disease, look at switching away from processed foods and vegetable oils. Switch to olive and avocado oils for cooking. Reduce consumption of red meat to no more than once a week. Increase your consumption of lean poultry, fish, and eggs. Making small changes in your fat intake can have a significant effect on your bloodwork—total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides.
The best diet is based on your DNA. There is no magic bullet and your dietary plans should be customized to support your DNA. However, as you address these factors discussed today, you will be surprised to see the results on your weight, your numbers, and your total inflammatory scores.
During this Coronavirus pandemic we realize that most are focused on their immune health, not to mention mental and emotional health. However, with the significant risk that cardiovascular disease has on risk and outcomes with the Coronavirus, we encourage you to take inventory of your health habits and see how you can improve your cardiovascular health. Again, remember, anything you do to improve your heart health will improve your brain health, too. References