Protect Yourself From Heart Disease With Simple Lifestyle Changes

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September 06, 2003 | 30,983 views

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege

Even if your lifestyle is currently conducive to heart disease, for example you eat mostly fast food and are sedentary, overweight and heavily stressed, you can actually reverse the process of heart disease by replacing your bad habits with good ones.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A recent study published in the journal of the American Medical Association found that about 90 percent of people who had a heart attack also had at least one major risk factor for heart disease such as cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Obviously, although it may take some work, cigarette smoking is something that can be stopped. But did you know that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes can also be reversed? They can--and you don’t need dangerous statins or other drugs to do it.

Contrary to what you hear on the news, it is not the saturated fat in the foods we eat that is causing all of this heart disease, but rather, and far more, it is the excess carbohydrates from our starch- and sugar-laden diet that is making people fat and unhealthy, and leading to epidemic levels of a host of diseases such as diabetes and later, heart disease.

The bottom line is this: Americans need to reduce their intake of grains, including corn-based foods, and all sweets and potatoes, dramatically. Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbohydrates promotes fat and makes it more difficult for the body to lose fat, and excess weight is one of the major contributors to heart disease. You can find out more about the impact of grains on health in my book, Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program. Also, check out my nutrition plan to get your diet on the right track.

It’s important not to get caught up in the "no-fat" craze. Some saturated fats are necessary and beneficial to human health. For instance, coconut oil, a medium-chain saturated fat, can actually help you to lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve diabetic conditions and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish and krill oil, also protect against heart disease. 

Vitamin K, which can be found in ample quantities in leafy green vegetables and natto, a fermented soy product, and, to a lesser extent, in eggs, is another necessary component of an anti-heart disease diet. Vitamin K helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure. If you feel you are unable to obtain enough vitamin K from fresh vegetables, then you might want to consider the form of vitamin K that we are now carrying in our store.

Of course, exercise is a great way to strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system. Even low- to moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or gardening, can have great benefits.

However, the most common contributing factor to heart disease--and for that matter, cancer--is unresolved emotional stresses. Anger, stress, guilt, sadness--really any emotion that doesn’t make you feel good--can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Even the best diet in the world is not likely to overcome the damage created by lingering emotional stresses.

So how can you resolve your emotional issues and get rid of negative feelings? My favorite way is with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping your body’s energy meridians while voicing positive affirmations. This works to clear the "short-circuit"--the emotional block--from your body's bioenergy system. Although this may sound strange, I encourage you to try it for yourself. You can review my free 25-page EFT manual for more information.

For further help with stress relief and relaxation, you may want to consider the Insight audio CD. While EFT eliminates negative emotions that sabotage health and replaces them with positives, the Insight CD does a phenomenal job of enhancing and expanding emotional, mental and spiritual capabilities--and ultimately health.

Remember, you don’t have to get heart disease. Regardless of what stage your health is at right now, you can make major improvements by changing your lifestyle to one that promotes health rather than discourages it.