With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be great to focus on heart-related health this week. With heart disease on the rise in our culture, it’s easy to understand why some call it a modern plague. There are many types of heart disease, but the most common one people refer to when discussing it is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Why? Because it’s the number 1 killer in the Western world. At the beginning of the 20th century CHD was so rare that it was not described in major medical text books because doctors virtually never saw it. Today, 2,500 people die from heart disease everyday in the US. So what is causing this rapid change in our nation's health?
Have you ever heard the word atherosclerosis? It’s a long one and not commonly used in reference to everyday diseases. But it is the cause for one of the most common diseases affecting our nation today: CHD. But what is it? Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arterial wall that leads to the narrowing and obstruction of the artery. The narrowing is due to the development of raised patches called plaque in the inner lining of the arterial wall. Depending on which organ in the body that artery feeds, atherosclerosis will impair the blood flow to that organ.
So what is causing the plaque to build up in the arteries? Processed foods. You see, back in the early 1950’s Dr. Ancel Keys came up with the diet-heart hypothesis, basically claiming that dietary fats, including cholesterol, cause heart disease, and by avoiding these foods we can avoid developing heart disease. This claim immediately appealed to politicians and the medical community because heart disease was becoming an important public issue and they were desperate to provide an explanation.
So, what does the diet-heart hypothesis have to do with processed foods? I’m so glad you asked! Money started pouring in to create “low-fat”, “fat-free”, “low-cholesterol”, “protects your heart” foods… and that’s when we started removing all natural fats from our diets and filling our cupboards with vegetable oils, margarines, snacks, cookies, ready made sauces, and condiments with plenty of chemically mutated fats. And to make these foods taste good, they loaded them up with sugar! These “Frankenfoods” have been found to have a damaging affect on our cardiovascular system, along with our immune system, reproductive system, energy metabolism, essential fatty acid metabolism, liver and cell membranes.
Never before in human history has our physiology been exposed to so many large amounts of chemically altered vegetable oils as in the last few decades. Our bodies are not designed to use these kinds of fats. They are dangerous to our health and have been shown to contribute to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, immune abnormalities and other health problems.
Our bodies were made to use the foods found in nature. Seeds, nuts, and other plant oils are good for us, along with animal fats from humanely raised, sustainable animals. In fact, they supply our bodies with many vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health!
So make sure to clear out all those nasty man-made oils from your pantry and fridge and replace them with ones found in nature like, grass-fed butter, lard, palm oil, coconut oil, cold pressed nut and seed oils, and wild caught fish oil. Your heart, and the ones who love you, will thank you.
In good health,