By Debbie Janak, RN, FNP-C
Heart health begins with a healthy diet and stable blood sugar. We are what we eat. For many of us, our diet gets a bit off course during the holidays and we indulge in too many sweets and starchy carbohydrates. Then we step on the scale and oh my goodness, we know for sure how far our normally healthy diet has strayed. Some of us have a hard time getting “Sister Sugar” back under control because our brains like the taste and the easy energy source. Does this sound familiar?
Cleaning up the diet by repeating Yeast-Free With Me every January helps us get back on track. Too many starchy carbohydrates and refined sugar not only sets us up for weight gain, but raises our blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar or glucose leads to inflammation. Inflammation is a main key to heart disease.
Lab Tests to Monitor Heart Health
The blood marker we check for inflammation is the C-reactive protein and a healthy level is less than 1. Other lab tests that show how our body is handling sugar and carbohydrates: the fasting glucose, which for real health should be below 75; the Hemoglobin A1c, which is a 90 day average of the blood sugar, should be less than 5.3; and fasting triglycerides should be less than 100. Lab ranges are much higher than healthy levels because we are a nation of insulin resistant individuals and many have progressed to Metabolic Syndrome or the Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. A broad range of people are used to make up the statistical norms for the lab ranges.
Inflammation can also occur if the animal protein source you are eating is corn fed. Corn fed protein sources increase the proportion of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. This is why omega 3s from fish or fish oil, flaxseed, hemp seeds or walnuts are recommended. Omega 3s block inflammation and also act as appetite suppressants.
7 Tips for Heart Health
1. To summarize heart health, we want a higher protein diet with healthy carbohydrates from richly colored vegetables and limited starch intake.
2. We want a stable blood sugar and should strive for a fasting level less than 75.
3. We should exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
4. We need vitamin C to prevent microfissures from forming in the endothelium of the arteries and to prevent cholesterol from starting plaque formation. Cholesterol thinks a microfissure is a fire and does its best to smother the fire.
5. We need to take vitamin K2 to keep calcium in the bones and out of the vasculature.
6. We need periodic carotid ultrasounds done to see if plaque is present, because if plaque is seen in the carotid arteries, it is also present in other arteries in the body.
7. Lastly, get a heart scan done every 5 years to monitor for the beginning of calcification or more frequently to monitor calcium progression. If there is calcification, we have a supplement program to help slow progression
Functional Medicine Facts
Did you know…
- Magnesium is necessary to metabolize sugar and starchy carbohydrates. This lab test, the RBC magnesium, is routinely checked at HHWC.
- Uric acid, which has a lab test, is considered to be an antioxidant. Elevated uric acid is a compensatory reaction to buffer oxidative stress. Elevated uric acid is a risk factor for the future development of Metabolic Syndrome.
- The body needs zinc to process insulin.
- Chromium is a mineral that optimizes insulin signaling and limits the rise in insulin after meals.
- Low vitamin D level is associated with insulin resistance.
- Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization with antioxidants. It occurs with sugar consumption and insufficient intake of antioxidants from richly colored foods or antioxidant supplements, and lessens the satiety signal sent to the brain.
- Saturated fats, usually from meats and butter, can stimulate the appetite and can actually raise blood sugar too.
- Monosaturated fats from olive oil, avocados, and fish oils act as appetite suppressants.
- Fructose from corn, which is being rebranded as “corn sugar”, metabolizes to triglycerides in the liver, and is associated with systolic hypertension.
- Table sugar increases endorphin levels in the brain as does nicotine and cocaine.
- Fat on the body is not just a storage unit for excess calories, but also functions as an organ creating inflammatory cytokines and causes inflammation.
The 8-Point Treatment Regimen that Dr. Hotze designed for the Hotze Health & Wellness Center is to address wellness through balanced hormone levels, healthy diet, exercise, detoxification, and vitamin and mineral supplementation to help you obtain and maintain the best version of a healthy you. Take our symptom checker quiz today to discover how we can help you obtain optimal health.