Jonny Bowden, nutritionist and author, outlines the five most effective things you can do to keep your heart strong.
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5 Strategies For Preventing Heart Disease If I had to pick five strategies to reduce the risk of heart disease, I'm going to start with one that every conventional doctor in America that hears this is going to roll their eyes, but all the doctors I've worked with, the cutting edge people are going to be nodding their head and here’s the first one: stop worrying about cholesterol. Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Cholesterol is a bad predictor of heart disease. Fully half the people with elevated cholesterol have perfectly normal hearts and half of the people who get heart attacks have normal cholesterol. It’s a lousy predictor, it’s a $20-billion year industry were focused on the wrong thing. Inflammation, number with the bullet in terms of strategies that will help prevent the risk of heart disease is to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the key here. Omega 3, the number anti-inflammatory compounds on the planet that’s why even orthodox medical organizations said you eat fish twice a week. I would go further, I would say eat fish more often than twice a week and take omega 3 supplements. These are anti-inflammatory. Even cholesterol is not a problem until it becomes oxidized until it becomes damaged. So I think we’ve way, way over concentrated on cholesterol and way under concentrated on real risk factors like inflammation. So that would be the one with the bullet. The second would be to exercise every day. Even 30 minutes a day of walking which will not make you look like Mr. Olympia. It’s not necessarily going to create a lot of weight loss but it has been shown to not completely reduce but significantly reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. It also has been shown to actually grow new brain cells of gray matter. The brain actually gets larger in volume. So walking 30 minutes a day would be top strategy for reducing the risk of heart disease. Number three would eating a lower sugar diet, less calories, less sugar, less processed carbohydrates more vegetable, fruits, proteins, fat and I say good fat and my definition of good fat is not just any fat that isn’t saturated because there's plenty of very saturated fat, non-transfats, non-fried food. So any of the monounsaturated fats and the omega 3, some saturated fats in whole foods like eggs. All of these things are part of a good diet that could certainly reduce heart disease particularly when calories are cut back a little like we talked earlier. Number four, reduce stress. Stress contributes to not only to aging in general but certainly is contributory factor in heart disease and to the extent that you can reduce it you have added to your arsenal of things that can reduce heart disease. Let me give you an example of that, it’s a fabulous study called Bosetto phenomenon and this was done in the early part of 20th century. And it’s an area in Pennsylvania where the people had probably the greatest risk for heart disease that anybody had ever seen. They were smokers. They work in the mines, in areas wherein the most stressful conditions and breading god knows what. They smoke. They had a terrible diet and doctors observed that they had one of the lowest rates of heart anybody have ever seen. It certainly not what you would predict from their risk factors. How did this happen? How did this phenomenon now known as the Bosetta phenomenon happen? And what they found where these Italian immigrants who were very close knit, they stayed in a same community. They had dinner together. They had community events together. They were connected to the people in their communities and this was such a powerful antiaging and anti-heart disease strategy that it actually tends to mitigate these enormous risk factors in their diet and their lifestyle. That’s how important lowering stress is and you can do that again not just with the deep breathing but by community connections, outreach, doing things for others, making gratitude list, deep breathing, thinking about joyous things