There are too many misconceptions about heart diseases. There are too many questions that revolve around the said disease as well. Heart disease is intimidating and scary to know. It makes you look into your family medical history to check if you have a higher chance of acquiring the disease.
In all honesty, heart diseases come from lifestyle more than genes. Some people have a history of heart disease but do not acquire it. Then there are those who do not have a history but end up having cardiovascular diseases due to bad lifestyle choices.
Heart diseases are more complex than we think. Genes may be a factor in developing the disease, but it is only the spark. The environment becomes the fire. And so, here are the things you need to remember in caring for your heart.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
People initially relate cholesterol to heart diseases. Although it is indeed connected with such a condition, it is not all that. Cholesterols help supply your body with vitamins and hormones. However, buildup happens when our body takes more cholesterol than it needs. Plaques form in parts of the cardiovascular system like arteries.
In having a checkup for your cholesterol levels, you may be familiar with these terms. The terms are total cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglyceride. Certain levels of these fats may determine your likeliness of having heart disease.
As stated above, cholesterol is a factor, but it is not all about it. In fact, many think that this is the only determining factor, but it is not. As long as the good cholesterol is high, you must be free from heart disease, right? Well, in-depth cholesterol testing helps in determining cholesterol particle sizes.
High HDL doesn’t mean a good outcome for you. A test must determine particle sizes to judge how you fare with your cholesterol levels. Technically, imagine cholesterol as a beach ball that bounces off of surfaces. Then, there will be cholesterol like a golf ball that is compact and does damage when it sticks to a surface and builds up in plaques.
It will help if you refer to cholesterol as a beach ball because it “bounces” around your arteries and does less damage. And so, even if you have a lot of good cholesterol but are as big as a golf ball, it is still bad for you.
Similarly, if a person has a lot of cholesterol but is like a beach ball, he is safer than those who have less cholesterol but is like a golf ball. And so, knowing your cholesterol levels is essential. More than that, knowing its particle size is necessary.
Inflammation and Heart Disease
It’s been an ongoing misconception that when someone has high cholesterol, they will automatically acquire heart disease. That is not the case at all. Half of those who have heart diseases have normal levels of cholesterol. So what contributes to heart diseases?
It turns out that inflammation has a lot to do with heart diseases. Inflammation is one of the critical factors. That fact alone warrants the importance of a CRP or c-reactive protein test. This kind of protein is from our liver and goes straight into our blood.
Producing CRP to our bloodstream is a response of our body to inflammation. High CRP means there is acute inflammation. People with high cholesterol without inflammation have less chance of heart disease than their counterparts. But of course, people with high cholesterol and high inflammation are at higher risk.
Although, there are medications that can help with your risk of heart disease. Doctors prescribe statins to lower the risk of heart disease like heart attacks. Aside from reducing cholesterol, it is also a good anti-inflammatory, which means it’s good for your heart’s health.
Inflammation and Its Causes
Now you know that inflammation has more to do with the health of our heart. And so, it is essential to understand how you avoid inflammation. There are myriad ways to cause it, but here are some for you.
Even though people with high cholesterol do not indicate a risk for heart disease, people with pre-diabetes or diabetes do. It turns out that diabetes is a high predictor of having a heart attack. That is because their diets cause inflammation, forming plaques due to cholesterol.
Remember that cardiovascular disease is mainly due to inflammation that includes the role of cholesterol. In this whole ordeal, pre-diabetes and diabetes intensify their role. While avoiding greasy foods is preferable, sugary and starchy foods are the main foods to avoid.
While both sugar and starch are sometimes interchangeable, sugar and starch have distinct differences. Starch is more complex because it consists of long carbohydrate chains of sugar. Meaning that starch needs to be broken down before digestion.
On the other hand, sugar is a simple carbohydrate that does not need to be broken down. That is because it is already in its simplest form. And so, in eating foods rich in starch, the cells in our mouth produce enzymes to help digestion. For this reason, starch is broken down at a fast rate into glucose.
When our body breaks down starch quickly, blood sugar rises, which causes the pancreas to release a large insulin dose. Releasing that much insulin is now followed by an inflammation response. And so, sugar and starch have a lot to do with inflammation. Then, inflammation triggers a higher risk of heart diseases.
Here are some of the foods rich in sugar:
- Processed foods
- Fruit juice concentrates
While these are the foods rich in starch:
- Whole grain
- Cereals, oats, rice
Since sugar and starch cause inflammation, a few things can manage inflammation. There are medications available for patients with cholesterol and diabetes. Statins control its levels. However, there might be a dangerous notion that may arise in using medical drugs.
When a person is prescribed medicine and has seen his numbers going down, he might become complacent. Knowing that he has medicines to control cholesterol and diabetes, he might start eating foods carelessly.
Note that although medicines control the numbers, the inflammation process is still ongoing. Taking the medication while being careful with the foods you eat is better. Treatments for cholesterol and diabetes are suitable, but controlling inflammation is better.
Other Causes of Inflammation
More than diet, other factors contribute to inflammation.
Belly Fat is also another cause of inflammation. It is visceral fat, meaning it covers the organs. The bad thing here is that this fat causes inflammation which is called adipose cytokines. And so, in reducing inflammation, a patient must address belly fat. Moreover, lessening belly fat increases the chance of making the bad cholesterol larger and fluffier.
Microbiome is the next contributor to inflammation. They are also known as good and bad bacteria. Studies show that a specific microbiome, HCSU, is usually present in patients with insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. These patients have microbial diversity in the gut, in which significant species are lost. \
These significant species include:
- Butyrate (anti-inflammatory0, and;
- Akkermansia muciniphila
As a result, low diversity causes a loss of integrity of the gut lining. This low diversity means that there would be more absorption of unwanted things in the bloodstream, more calories, and more inflammation. The ending result would be the worsening of insulin resistance.
You can see that it is not just food that contributes to heart disease. It is the change in your microbiome as well. Of course, lack of sleep and stress are the main contributors.
Avoiding Heart Disease
Now that you know the general causes of heart disease, it is time to take the next step. Take it upon yourself to practice these tips regularly so that your heart is in good condition.
Changing or improving your diet is essential. Diet is not only to help you lose weight but also to help change the type of cholesterol you have. It can also help in reducing insulin resistance and inflammation. Lessen your intake of saturated and trans fat and simple sugar. Add colorful vegetables to your meal, add good fats like avocado, and consider intermittent fasting.
A good amount of sleep helps in reducing inflammation. Make sure to create a comfortable environment so that you can sleep well. Invest in sleep paraphernalia such as quality mattresses and pillows, soft blankets, humidifiers, night lamps, etc. Just think of your heart and reducing inflammation.
It is also recommended to exercise regularly. Three hours from your week is good enough. Remember that it is suitable for your heart when you exercise. It also increases the amount of good cholesterol and lowers inflammation and blood triglyceride levels. It also converts small and dense bad cholesterol into larger or fluffier ones.
Stress can significantly affect your overall health, including your heart health. Stress contributes to inflammation and can affect your sleeping patterns. Please take note of the things that cause your stress and work on eliminating them. Isolation and loneliness are stressors as well.
Some supplements can aid your heart health. Omega 3 helps in reducing bad cholesterol and triglycerides. It also works in increasing your good cholesterol. Omega 3 is in fish oil and flax seed.
Additionally, coq10 or Coenzyme q10 helps with cholesterol oxidizing. It decreases as you age. Lastly, red yeast Rice helps lower cholesterol.
People are mindful of the status of their health now. As numbers of deaths contribute to heart diseases, it does not hurt to focus on caring for your heart. Knowing the root causes of a problem is essential. Cholesterol, inflammation, and a dangerous lifestyle contribute to heart diseases.
Regular checkups are a must, even though you do not feel anything wrong with your body. Remember that getting an ailment treated as soon as possible is better. Utilize the advancement of technology by using the internet to search for hearty foods and activities.
Lastly, enjoy life. Although heart disease impacts many people, enjoy life as it is. Maintaining or going back to a healthy lifestyle helps with that. Love your heart.
If you want to be the game changer in your life and prevent the deadly disease, it’s time to start making good choices. And we can help to make that happen, so book an appointment with us here.