I can’t think of one person who’s ever said ‘Gee, I’d like to have a heart attack or stroke just to see what it feels like”, yet cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide – higher than cancer – claiming 17.3 million lives annually. Do you know what your inherited and earned cardiovascular risks are?
Cardiovascular disease risks
We all know some of the things that increase our risks of suffering a cardiovascular health crisis, right? Things like elevated triglycerides, elevated LDL cholesterol, being overweight, being sedentary, and having type II diabetes – they all increase your risks of cardiovascular problems. What about your inherited risks? Do you know what they are or how to find out what they are (short of going to 23andme for DNA testing)?
Your heart has veins coming into it and arteries leaving from it. Veins bring blood back to the heart. There is much less pressure pushing blood through the veins than there is pushing blood through the arteries.
Because of the increased pressure the arteries must repeatedly sustain, they are more thickly muscled. When cholesterol and minerals (also known as plaque) build up inside them, blood flow gets restricted, the heart ends up working too hard to push the blood out, and blood flow to the entire body suffers.
If the arteries that feed the heart get blocked, that part of the heart muscle gets damaged. This is a heart attack. If only a tiny area is damaged, the rest of the heart can often compensate and keep working. If a large enough part of the muscle gets damaged, and the heart can’t work well enough, death often ensues.
If a blood clot forms in the brain, or if a chunk of plaque breaks off and flows to the brain, circulation in the brain gets blocked, a part of the brain dies, and a stroke is the end result.
Obviously, we want to prevent the formation of plaque, right? Where does this plaque come from? The easy list is hydrogenated fats (think junk food, fast food, and packaged refined food) and foods high in refined carbohydrates (think baked goods, things loaded with sugar, carbonated beverages, sugary beverages, alcoholic beverages). Even though artificial sweeteners aren’t high in carbs, they have now been proven to increase the risks of long-term weight gain, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. (Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2017; 189 (28): E929 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.161390)
The real question, then, is what CAN you eat to reduce your cardiovascular disease risks?
1. Eat veggies – lots and lots and lots of veggies – focusing on leafy salad veggies.
2. Eat a wide variety of veggies – including sturdier veggies – get lots of different colors. The nutrients and antioxidants in veggies are generally very cardiovascular supportive, and the fiber in the veggies helps to keep cholesterol in check.
3. Eat protein. For those of us who like animal protein, I suggest balancing it at about 50-50 animal source – vegetarian source.
4. Drink water – clean water – lots of water – and perhaps some herbal tea.
5. Eat whole grains – avoid refined grains. The higher nutrient levels and fiber in whole grains provide a win-win again.
Basically it comes down to “eat plant-based foods in as natural a state as possible”.
Your heart likes to work. Sitting has been called the ‘new smoking’. Get up and move. Even if you work out hard three or four or five times each week, get up and move every day during the day! Go for short walks to break up the inactivity of sitting!
How to tell if you have genetic cardiovascular disease risks
This all is leading to the BIG question of the day – how can YOU tell if you have genetic predispositions to cardiovascular risks? You could ask your parents, if they are alive, but just because they have problems doesn’t mean you have a genetic predisposition, and just because they don’t have problems doesn’t mean you are totally safe.
So how do you know? Your genetic predisposition to cardiovascular problems shows in your eyes! Having specific iris markings – some of which you may have inherited, and others you might have earned on your own – increases your risks, and if you know you have increased risks you can take action to minimize those risks, right?
I invite you to join me for a webinar on November 1 to learn some of the most obvious and easy-to-see iris cardiovascular indicators. The registration link and details are in the description below.
And in the meantime – learn how to show your cardiovascular system a little love by watching this video.
And for more information, watch this webinar: