Article – Preventing and Managing Heart Disease from a Holistic Perspective
Katie Rose, NMD
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and its killing at a rate of 1 death every 40 seconds (1). Now, I typically don’t believe in using fear to change behavior, but those are some scary statistics. What’s even scarier to me is that heart disease is preventable, yet the tools for prevention are not being widely used. The risk factors for heart disease identified by the American Heart Association include smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Inflammation and oxidative stress are also major contributors to heart disease, and as a naturopath, it’s these underlying issues that I’m addressing on a daily basis as part of disease prevention and managing existing heart disease.
What I am seeing all too often is someone who has been diagnosed with high cholesterol and hypertension and has been prescribed a statin along with one or two blood pressure lowering medications, but no direction as to how they should reduce their inflammation, what specific dietary changes they should be making, or how to reduce stress. And while statin drugs do reduce total cholesterol, they have not been shown to reduce inflammatory markers associated with heart disease. Like many quick fixes, statins don’t get to the root of the problem, and in some cases can cause more problems such as liver inflammation and muscle pain and weakness…but that’s a rant for another day. What I want to share with you in this post is how to prevent heart disease and how to reverse existing heart disease from a holistic standpoint- addressing all areas of life that affect heart health.
- Clean up the diet. In my experience, there is no one right diet for every person, but there are some general guidelines that can help everyone reduce inflammation and optimize blood sugar. Reducing or eliminating processed foods which are generally high in sugar, vegetable oils, and sodium will go a long way towards getting inflammation under control. If you eat animal products, try to buy organic, free range or grass fed as much as possible- these products will be higher in omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in or free of antibiotics and pesticides which disrupt your body’s hormones and gut health. Although I generally do not advocate for a 100% plant based diet, for those who already have a diagnosis of heart disease, a plant based diet has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol more than any other diet(2). Get veggies- and lots of them! Five to seven servings a day of vegetables (not including fruit) should be a minimum to help your body get enough antioxidants and fiber. Here again, going organic as much as possible (especially with the Dirty Dozen(3)) is important to minimize exposure to toxins. Fruit is okay, especially as an alternative to processed snacks, but if you have issues regulating blood sugar or have certain digestive issues, be cautious with eating more than 1-2 servings per day. Berries, pomegranate, and other dark colored fruits like acai are the best option as the rich colors represent powerful antioxidants that reduce cardiovascular inflammation. Get enough healthy fat and even some cholesterol (gasp!). Believe it or not we actually need some fat-olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds are all healthy sources. Cholesterol is important too- we need it to produce steroid hormones like testosterone. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen in practice who come in requesting testosterone replacement therapy only for me to find out they’ve been heavily medicated to lower cholesterol and have been on a low fat diet for years and years.
- Get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to raise your “good” cholesterol, or HDL, which reduces the risk of a cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack. It can also help reduce stress, balance hormones and blood sugar, and has countless other positive effects on the body. If you haven’t been physically active in some time, it is best to consult your physician and an experienced personal trainer about the best exercise for you. Your goal should be to work up to five hours per week of moderate to intense exercise.
- Manage Stress. Stress seems to be ubiquitous this day and age. When we experience stress, our body goes into “fight or flight mode” and the hormones that are released in this state, like cortisol and adrenaline, can raise blood sugar, blood pressure, and in some people chest pain due to coronary artery spasm. Whether you’re stuck in a job you hate, have a marriage that is full of tension, are caretaking for a loved one, or just generally multi-tasking 24/7- it’s all stress! And no one seems to be taking the stress too seriously because, “Hey, I’m no more stressed out than anyone else.” We live in a culture that idealizes multitasking and powering through, but doesn’t exactly promote relaxation and un-plugging. Exercise, getting out in nature, meditation and mindfulness, acupuncture, and breathing exercises have all been shown to be effective tools in reducing stress. Mindfulness and meditation are tools that take practice. Think of them as exercise for your brain and as with any exercise you may need to start slow and find the method that works best for you.
- Look at alternatives to medication. Unfortunately, most medications have side effects. Many medications are derived from something found in nature, and ironically that naturally occurring substance is usually less likely to cause a side effect due to the synergistic activity of the active constituents in the whole substance. Supplements like red yeast rice, plant sterols, Bergamot, fish oil, coenzyme Q 10, and several others(4) have been shown to not only reduce cholesterol, but also inflammation and oxidative stress. Before starting any supplement, consult your physician. If your physician has limited knowledge about these alternatives, seek out a naturopathic physician or a physician who has completed a fellowship in integrative medicine.
- Ask your doctor about other risk markers. Total cholesterol is the most common lab value used to assess cardiovascular disease; however this is not necessarily the only or the most important value. A complete cardiovascular risk assessment should include the following blood markers: total cholesterol, ratios of LDL to HDL, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, lipoprotein (a), Apoproteins A1 and B. Most labs offer these tests. Even more extensive work ups can include genetic markers that increase risk for blood clots, plaque formation, and hypertension- these are generally offered through specialty labs such as Cleveland Heart and Genova Diagnostics.
- Amercian Heart Association, heart.org
Dr. Rose is a naturopathic physician practicing in Tucson, AZ at Nature Medica Naturopathic and Detox Clinic. She believes in practicing compassionate medicine, truly listening to patients, getting to the root cause of disease, and partnering with patients to get long term life changing results. More information can be found at www.drkatierose.com, www.naturemedica.net, and www.facebook.com/drkatierose
1 – What was the reason you decided to go to a trainer?
I went to a trainer to control my weight; and to help with my curvature/scoliosis. I wanted a program that would work well for me given my physical limitations.
2 – Did you consider or participate in any other form of treatment for your reason before seeking a trainer?
I did many varied group aerobic exercise programs.
3 – How did you hear about BodyBasics?
I’ve known Chris for 23 years and have followed him from place to place. When I first met him, he had not even created what we now know as BodyBasics. He was a floor trainer at what used to be called Metro Fitness on Ina/Oracle and was recommended to me by the head of aerobics way back when.
4 – Did you evaluate other gyms or trainers before deciding on coming to us?
That would never be a consideration.
5 – Ultimately, why did you choose BodyBasics over other options?
I train with Chris and this is his company. It’s that simple. I’ve been witness to the growth and development of him and his company all of these years. He’s my guy!
6 – What goals did you have when you started at BodyBasics?
I wanted to lose weight. However, Chris insisted that I expand my thinking. He felt that a focus on fitness and health was more important.
7 – How long have you been training at BodyBasics and what specifically have you achieved over that interval?
Since its inception. I’ve achieved a total shift in my way of thinking. Food is no longer the enemy. Food is simply fuel. Overall, I’ve achieved a state of well being. I’m probably upright because of what we do at BodyBasics.
8 – What current goals are you pursuing with your trainers at BodyBasics?
My goal is to stay as pain free as possible and to maintain my current level of health and fitness.
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
Jon Schladweiler ~ Found us doing a Google search
Jane Spitzer ~ referred by Dr. Tait, owner of Rejuv Medical Southwest
Paul & Dorothy Mullin ~ referred by John Buehler
Laura Haines ~ referred by Kim Foss
Shout outs are about us voicing victories we witness you all having at BodyBasics. We’ll keep it to our top 5 each month.
Mike Blaze ~ for realizing one of his goals upon signing up of getting back on his Harley without pain!
Mary Davis ~ for her year of dedication toward improving her health via Precision Nutrition! Congrats on realizing much more than the incredible weight loss you experienced!
Amanda Ritchie ~ for her ongoing commitment to gaining the most from each and every workout she does. Nice squats! Congrats on your return to badminton!
Tracey Anderson ~ for absolutely rocking a recent hike that she wasn’t quite sure how she’d fare with! It’s all that core and leg work you’re doing!
Pat Brown ~ for all of the balance and agility training she’s practiced in her 12 p.m. groups that recently supported her from having a serious fall when she tripped in her backyard!
Recipe – 10 Hour Crockpot Chicken and Potato Soup
Do you have long work days? The slow cooker is a great appliance but food left in the slow cooker too long can get dried out and ends up tasteless. A client questioned whether or not you can use frozen poultry in the slow cooker and leave it for a long, long time. So I decided to try this out.
Here are some tips for the slow cooker.
- Soups and stews can be cooked for a long time because they have a lot of liquid.
- Roasted or braised chicken or meat dishes can’t be left too long or they will get too dry and burn on the edges.
- Skinless poultry on the bone tastes better than boneless poultry.
- Pick a slow cooker that has a timer and a warm setting that allows you to stop cooking before you get home.
- Make food in bulk. Here’s what it looked like at our house when I made this soup. A couple bowls for dinner and then the rest into glass containers for lunch the next day and some more for the freezer.
Ingredients and Instructions:
- 3 pounds frozen skinless chicken on the bone, organic
- 1 pound bright orange sweet potatoes and/or small new potatoes, organic
- 5 stalks celery, organic
- 5 carrots
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch parsley, organic
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups broth*, Imagine or Pacific brand
- Defrost the chicken just enough so that you can break up the pieces and place in the slow cooker.
- Cube the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onion into bite size pieces and put in the slow cooker. Add more veggies if needed so that you’ve got a bunch in there.
- Mince the garlic and parsley and put in the slow cooker.
- Sprinkle with black pepper.
- Top with broth. Add enough to cover the veggies and chicken with 1-2 inches of liquid on top.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. It can remain on warm for hours; I left it for 10 hours total.
Makes 6 servings; per serving:
207 calories, 2.4 grams fat, 806 mg sodium (use low sodium broth to reduce this), 29 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 4 grams natural sugar, 18 grams protein
Recipe provided by Nourishing Results, visit their full website at www.nourishingresults.com
Exercise Video of the Month – Physio Ball Rollout
2nd Session of Body Basics Bal-A-Vis-X – September 29th – November 10th (no class October 27th) 10 – 10 :45
Come explore a very unique form of fun and stimulating exercises that help to reduce fall risk, improve memory and reduce anxiety. These exercises are in a program called Bal-A-Vis-X, a series of balance, auditory, vision exercises.
This international program is used to improve function for both young and old with neurological challenges, as well as those who just want to improve their over-all daily functioning. In group settings these exercises promote self-challenge as well as enjoyable social connections.
BodyBasics will again be providing the space for two local Sanctioned Bal-A-Vis-X Practitioners beginning again on Friday, September 29th at 10:00 a.m. for you to experience this innovative form of exercise firsthand. Please call the studio at 498-0359 to register for your spot. Their are only 3 spots left for this session! Body Basics Studio location is at 1631 W. Ina Road, Suite 111.
If you have any questions about Bal-A-Vis-X please contact either Anne Wheaton or Terry Tinney, at 609-1710 and/or visit their website: Integratedstates.com
Saturday Stretch w/ Ben – October 7th at 10 a.m.
Join our newest member of the coaching team, Ben Burton, as he guides you through a very restorative stretch program. First experience for this one is October 7th at 10 a.m. Total time will be 30 minutes. Bring your favorite pillow for added comfort. Cost is $10.
The “Why” behind the “What” of Our Mobility Circuit – October 14th at 8 a.m.
Join Chris Litten on Saturday, October 14th from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. for a free workshop in which we will be exploring our mobility circuit taught at BodyBasics in more detail. The goal will be to ensure that you are getting the absolute best out of this movement sequence by understanding some of the key details we want you to know as you practice it on your own or with us. This workshop is complimentary.
Functional and Regenerative Medicine Health Seminar Series: The Evolution of Pain and Orthopedic Medicine – October 21st at 10 a.m.
Topic: Drop the Pain, Keep Your Joints
What if you could heal your injuries or pain rather than just manage the symptoms?
Many treatments offered for acute or chronic pain and injuries target only the symptoms, rather than the underlying issues that keep you in pain. Some symptom-based treatments will actually impair your body’s ability to heal by disrupting the natural healing mechanisms of your body.
We often see patients who have been living with pain, injuries or illness for years, but have not found success with other treatments.
Rejuv Medical Southwest uniquely combines Functional and Regenerative Medicine to get to the root cause of pain, injuries, and illness. Our approach is to heal injuries and decrease pain by optimizing the overall health and healing mechanisms of your body.
By focusing on the root cause while combining advancements in minimally invasive, non-surgical Regenerative Medicine treatments including stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma therapy, Dr.Tait is able to offer another option not likely presented to patients in the conventional approach to treating pain or injury.
• Do you suffer from painful arthritis, joint pain or back pain?
• Have you tried medications, injections, or even surgery and still have pain?
• Were you told to wait it out until you were ready for surgery?
• Do you not feel your best, but have been told “there is nothing wrong with you”?
If you would like to explore a different path on your journey to recovering your health, diminish the impact pain is having on your life, or are seeking a process to maintain optimal wellness as you age, this is the seminar for you.
Dr. Tait will be teaching attendees about his unique process to treating patients, and discuss cutting-edge, innovative therapies including Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Stem Cell Therapy being used at Rejuv Medical Southwest to treat painful orthopedic conditions without surgery.
There are now other options and advancements in treatments of orthopedic conditions that you must know about!
Location: Tucson Osteopathic Medical Foundation
Address: 3182 N Swan Rd, Tucson, AZ 85712
Time: 10am October 21st, 2017
This will be a 45-minute presentation followed by a question and answer session.
Intro to Learning Tai Chi – October 26th at 6 p.m.
If you’d like to learn about how this longstanding practice can be a support to your health and vitality join us on Thursday, October 26th at 6 p.m. We are looking to include Tai Chi once or twice a week at BodyBasics under the expert guidance of Guosheng Li who has been practicing Tai Chi for 20 years and teaching it for 10. Look for the sign up sheet for this opportunity at the front desk. Mr. Li reached out to us and asked if we would value having a Tai Chi class. I think with the right teacher in him this could be a great addition to our offerings, particularly for those of you who seek to minimize stress, improve balance, and reduce chronic pain. This initial introduction is complimentary.
Check out this video of Guosheng Li in action! You will see that he has created quite a number of educational videos in support of mastering this movement practice as he has.
Chris, Kris, Myrya, Kristian, Lance, Rachel, Ben and Amanda