In light of a recent influx of messages about numerous friends and relatives who have been afflicted with various forms of heart disease, including atherosclerosis, I began to wonder what research says about the ability to reverse this common killer. What I discovered makes sense and also supports everything that we teach here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness.
Now or Never?
According to Harvard Health, “some studies suggest that regression of atherosclerosis is possible” based on intensive lifestyle changes and proper medications. The problem is that the same studies also acknowledge that these changes are more difficult than most people will be able to successfully accomplish. (1) There’s a difference between Coronary Artery Disease and Coronary or Ischemic Heart Disease. These changes that the studies refer to are intended to possibly reverse Coronary Artery Disease. David did a good job of explaining the difference in his article, Hyperinsulinemia and Your Heart .
Old Habits Die Hard
If you have always eaten large quantities of junk foods with little to no nutritional value and spent your life on the couch, you will most likely either not know how, or have the initiative, to make the changes necessary to alter the course of atherosclerosis. It is imperative that you consult your medical doctor for recommendations concerning nutrition and exercise and seek support to encourage you to make changes that most people perceive as extremely difficult.
NEVER ATTEMPT SELF TREATMENT OF HEART DISEASE OR ATHEROSCLEROSIS. ALWAYS REMAIN UNDER THE CARE OF YOUR MEDICAL DOCTOR AND FOLLOW HIS ORDERS TO THE LETTER.
While we DO NOT diagnose or treat ANY medical condition, we do teach people how to avoid a lot of sickness in the first place. If we AVOID OR PREVENT disease, we don’t have to try to reverse it.
Live Life to the Fullest!
Which do you think is better, to ignore the tenets of good health and see what happens or to be proactive where our health is concerned so that many, or most, health problems are not a part of our lives? I recently visited my doctor for a Wellness Screening and was told, once again, that the only way I’m going to die is to get hit by a bus. Since I’m 66 years old, that’s a little unusual. I live the lifestyle that we promote and it’s paying off. I work full-time, work out religiously and care for my special needs son in my home. I also have two dogs and no help whatsoever in my household. When my doctor looked at me incredulously and asked, “WHAT DO YOU EAT!?!” the first words out of my mouth were, “Well, I DON”T eat sugar.” I am in the “Negative Risk” category, which means that years are added onto my life based on my lab findings. One reason that I don’t eat sugar is because it’s inflammatory. When arteries become inflamed, cholesterol sticks to the walls, and you have atherosclerosis.
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The principles that we promote, and live by, are simple. They cost nothing. Anyone can do it. I am not a doctor and am NOT advising you. I am stating what I do every day to be healthy. The way that you choose to live your life is entirely your decision but remember this. You will live, or die, based on the decisions that you make. Make good ones.
- I DON’T eat added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars in dairy, fruits and vegetables are fine but when we add sugar to food, we have created a recipe for disaster. Added sugar causes inflammation throughout the body and inflammation is the beginning of most disease. (2)(3)
- I count the calories that I eat EVERY DAY. Although I have been on the front lines of weight control my whole life and know how many calories are in most foods, I still track what I eat religiously. My mother put me on my first diet at age 4 and I have been on every diet you can name. The ONLY thing that works in the long run is calorie control. I WILL NOT even have the absurd discussions made popular by people who hate the accountability of calorie counting. Their arguments are nonsensical and a waste of my time. I’ve lived this AND I’m a science geek. Those arguments are an insult to intelligence.
- I eat a lot of protein and moderate complex carbs. Protein stimulates the metabolism and repairs and builds new tissues in our bodies. It enhances the thermic effect of food by requiring more calories to digest than carbs or fats. About 25% of the calories in a protein are used to digest that same protein. Compared to the mere 10% utilized by carb digestion, that’s a true calorie bargain. If you eat 100 calories of protein, only 75 are still available after digestion. 100 calories of carbs will yield 90 to be stored or burned. If that doesn’t seem significant, consider this. For every 1000 calories, the protein “saves” you 250 calories while the carbs “save” 100. That 150 calorie difference can yield a pound of fat in 23 days. Imagine that. Simply by focusing a bit more on getting adequate protein, it is possible to drop a few pounds if your diet is currently full of carbs and skimping on protein. Protein deficiency is all too common and diets full of simple carbs and other added sugars are the mainstay in many diets. David has written an excellent, educational article on protein, Protein Supplements
- I fiercely defend my right to live a healthy lifestyle regardless of what anyone thinks, feels or says about it. Many years ago, a family member made the comment that “You eat WEIRD.” simply because I eat nutritionally dense food and no added sugars. Since that time, the family member has had numerous, serious health problems, including digestive tract illness that could have possibly been prevented by a healthy diet. At this time, I have none. Although my lifestyle can make others somewhat uncomfortable when I refuse to join them in their debacle of sugar and other refined carbs, I had rather be strong and resilient than popular.
- I make my world small by associating only with people who are like-minded. I wrote an article, Social Contagion, that discusses a very real phenomenon where we adopt the habits of the people with whom we associate. Someone who tries to get you to live an unhealthy lifestyle is not your friend. We pick up the habits of the people that we associate with so choose your friends well. If someone’s idea of a good time is a day of shopping with breakfast pastries, a huge lunch, alcohol and cupcakes in the afternoon then we don’t need to hang out. I get along better with someone who wants to hike and eat a lot of protein.
- I exercise REGULARLY. It’s not enough to talk the talk. We have to walk the walk if we want to reap the benefits of exercise. Working out occasionally is not effective and can be dangerous. If you are not conditioned to exercise and your doctor has not approved a regular program for you that you are adhering to, you can push yourself into injuries and even death by choosing to randomly exercise. When I first began strength training, David told me to do it like it’s my job. That was some of the best advice I have ever been given. When we work out regularly, our conditioning consistently improves. If we are on and off again, we lose our hard-earned gains and start over every time we work out. Consistency is the key to successful exercise.
- Rest is imperative. In the fast-paced world that we live in, rest can be a rare luxury, but it is mandatory for good health. When we rest our bodies repair damage from the stresses of everyday life as well as the small tears brought on by strength training. Repair of most cells and systems keeps us in good working order but repair of those muscle tears brought on by strength training is what builds muscle. Muscle is more than looks. It facilitates movement and stability. Falls, which can occur due to instability, are the second leading cause of accidental deaths. Facial expression depends on muscle. We cannot BREATH without adequate muscle. Muscle supports and protects our internal organs. Muscle helps to maintain our body temperature. When we get too cold and shiver, it’s our muscular system saving our lives. Our blood is circulated by the most important muscle in our bodies, the heart. Rest repairs it all. Get your zzz’s!
Why settle for the roll of the dice where your health is concerned? YOU have the POWER to control the course of your life in most cases. Now get busy and choose the scenic route. It’s a lot more fun.