February is heart health month, so I thought it'd be a good time to break down the "heart healthy" myths that are unfortunately exactly the opposite and causing more health problems for people, and cover the most important things to focus on for keeping our heart healthy!
Look at these statistics. Most people think their heart is fine but 1 out of every 3 deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease! Clearly something needs to change!
And the same things that contribute to heart disease are the same things that cause high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol. The worst irony is the things being recommended by dietitians and doctors today for all of these things are often the main things that contribute to these problems!
So we're going to break through the myths and bad info and replace them with a few simple truths that will go a long way in helping keep your heart healthy!
Myth #1: "3 grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, like Cheerios cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
There are many problems with this phrase. I'll break it down simply:
1. A diet high in grains causes major inflammation. And heart disease is caused by inflammation. This dietary myth promotes grains as healthy. While grains are not entirely evil, our diet should not contain substantial amounts of grains. And the grains we do consume should be properly prepared in order to make them digestible. (Because when we don't digest our food properly, it causes inflammation.)
Extruding grains to make them into marketable puffy shapes for breakfast cereal is not properly preparing them. In fact, it makes the grains even worse for us. The extrusion process, treats the grains with very high heat and pressure and destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process.
Even boxed cereals sold in health food stores are made using the extrusion process. They are made with the same kind of machines and mostly in the same factories.
In an experiment with rats, animals that were fed extruded cereal died before animals that were fed the cardboard box that the cereal came in! (Click here to read more about that experiment and the problem with extruded grains here. )
2. Cereals, especially Cheerios, contain added refined sugars. Refined sugars create inflammation, deplete essential minerals for healthy blood vessels and heart health, and cause many other problems. We'll talk more about that in Myth #2.
3. This statement makes grains sound healthy and saturated fats healthy. We'll get into the myth of saturated fats being unhealthy in Myth #3.
The American Heart Association promotes that reducing dietary salt is important for reducing blood pressure and risk of heart disease. This advice is not only wrong on many levels but is dangerous.
Many people are requesting salt-free foods at fast-food restaurants and stores because their doctor has told them to avoid sodium. There's a big problem with this.
When all sodium is removed from the diet, it triggers a famine-type survival response in the body, especially the adrenals where the hormone aldosterone is produced in order to provide proper electrolyte balance. This can overload the adrenals and weaken the body's ability to maintain proper electrolyte balance. The resulting inflammation actually contributes to more lipids and hormones in the blood, increasing risk of heart disease.
There are actually many studies showing that sodium restriction is associated with a higher rate of mortality. Many of them are laid out well in this article: https://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-the-dangers-of-salt-restriction/
To simplify, salt isn't necessarily the bad guy. Processed foods with highly-processed salt, especially salts like monosodium glutamate and sodium phosphate. Those with weakened adrenals actually do better with increasing intake of salt. But the salt we consume should, as much as possible, be from good sources such as Himalayan salt and RealSalt.
Saturated fats and foods high in cholesterol have been villainized for too long. Even recently, the AHA came out trying to promote GMO "vegetable" oils and claimed virgin coconut oil is harmful to health.
The truth is that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol.
Most importantly, cholesterol is quite necessary for good health, namely mental health and hormone health. We'll talk more about this in Truth #2.
Our focus should be shifted from salt onto the more likely culprit: sugar. A review in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) stated the following:
Healthy fats actually promote heart health and are very necessary for good overall health.
Research shows that deaths due to increased consumption of trans fats, found in many processed foods, however, went up by 4%.
So what are the good fats we should be consuming? They include:
- Butter/ghee (preferably from grass-fed organically-raised animals)
- Virgin coconut oil (expeller-pressed is okay but not as beneficial)
- Avocados/avocado oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Omega 3's from wild-caught fish and fish/cod liver oils
- Eggs (from pasture-raised hens)
- Grass-fed beef and tallow (beef fat)
- Full-fat raw dairy from organically-raised, grass-fed animals
I know many of you are thinking cardio exercise is great for your health, but that is actually not always the case.
According to a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 in Montreal, regular exercise reduces cardiovascular risk by a factor of two or three. But the extended vigorous exercise performed during a marathon raises cardiac risk by seven-fold! Long-distance running also leads to high levels of inflammation that may trigger cardiac events and damage your heart long after the marathon is over.
Ideally, to get the most benefits you need to push your body hard enough for a challenge while allowing adequate time for recovery and repair to take place. Exercise that includes short bursts of high-intensity activities that build muscle and provide some cardio is ideal.
There are a few nutritional supplements that are incredibly fabulous for supporting heart health and have a wealth of research behind them!
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is found in virtually every cell in the body, where it plays a pivotal role in the process whereby the cell is able to convert fuel into energy. Beyond this obviously critical function, CoQ10 also serves as one of the body’s most crucial antioxidants, protecting every cell against the damaging effects of chemicals called free radicals.
Young Living's OmegaGize³™ combines the power of three core daily supplements-omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D-3, and BIOIDENTICAL CoQ10 (ubiquinone). These supplements combine with our proprietary enhancement essential oil blend to create an omega-3, DHA-rich fish oil supplement that may support general wellness. Used daily these ingredients work synergistically to support normal brain, heart, eye, and joint health. https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/omegagize
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for overall health, especially muscle/heart health. Magnesium acts as a smooth muscle relaxant and supports the cardiovascular system. It helps maintain healthy blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements are around 10% absorbable, leaving most people with a debit in their wallet but hardly a dent in their body's need for magnesium.
To make matters worse, most people are having magnesium depleted from their body every day from things like refined sugars, stress, anger, and/or caffeine.
In order to truly benefit our health, we need to have a highly absorbable, bioavailable magnesium. There are two products I've found to do this:
Mineral Essence (Magnesium): Mineral Essence™ is a balanced, full-spectrum ionic mineral complex enhanced with 60 trace minerals and essential oils for more bioavailability than any other ionic mineral product. Ionic minerals are the most fully and quickly absorbed form of minerals available. Mineral Essence is a fabulous source of magnesium combined with other trace minerals. I have not found a single magnesium to be as effective. Most magnesium supplements are poorly-absorbed forms that cause loose bowels before being able to replenish the body's need for magnesium effectively. It's important to note that when we need a higher amount of magnesium, it should come with other minerals in naturally-occurring ratios in order to avoid upsetting the balance of other minerals. If higher doses of magnesium are needed, Mineral Essence and the magnesium below together are recommended. https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/mineral-essence
HFFG's Magnesium Glycinate Complex: Magnesium glycinate is the preferred form of isolated, oral magnesium. For optimal absorption, this formulation uses magnesium combined with amino acid glycine to create a unique chelated compound that is highly bioavailable and well tolerated by even the most sensitive individuals. https://www.healthyfamiliesforgod.com/supplements/magnesium-glycinate-complex
Finally, we can experience the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy for our health. These oil blends from Young Living are some of the best choices for this purpose. Diffuse or use any of these topically for a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere that calms the mind and body.
Did you know that Young Living is not only the World Leader in essential oils but also a complete wellness company?!! This is where we get many of our supplements like those mentioned here today as well as other products for our home and body care to stay healthy!
And because Young Living is a relationship-based marketing company, you don't just get products! Oily Friends Worldwide is a community of over 1,500 Young Living members (and growing daily) started by me, Sara Jo Poff, where our members get free in-depth education, support, and essential resources for living a healthy lifestyle. I love Costco, but their wholesale membership doesn't come with anything like that!!
(But keep in mind that not all Young Living wholesale members that share Young Living offer those kinds of thing, so it varies greatly from person to person.)
Blessings of good health,
Sara Jo Poff
Natural Health Practitioner
Oily Friends Worldwide Leader
Healthy Families for God