You’re All Heart – Cardiovascular Health in Women

When it comes to heart health, women need a wake up call! Heart disease is often considered a man’s diagnosis, however, according the National Institute for Health, heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer of both men and women in America today.

 A staggering 1 in 4 women die from heart disease, whereas 1 in 30 women die from  breast cancer. The U.S. Department of Health reports that nearly two-thirds of American women who die suddenly of a heart attack had no prior symptoms. Yes, that should be shocking! Yet, this is a preventable disease.

Why Are These Numbers So High? 
Likely it is a combination of stress, the Standard American Diet (also known as S.A.D.), lack of exercise, smoking, and other environmental toxins and lifestyle choices that have become a common way of life for many people. 

What Can You Do to Stay Healthy and Heart Happy? 
Think preventative!  Or, if you have already been diagnosed with having heart disease or being at risk of heart disease, then consider making efforts to  bring your body back into balance.  This means taking the time to get to know your body, and then doing what you need to do to thrive!


Where to Start?

Keeping an eye on your cholesterol is key.  It’s all about the ratio. 

We have all heard that high cholesterol is bad.  Many in the health care field, however, believe that “high” is relative, and what is equally important as total cholesterol is the ratio of HDL (“good” cholesterol) to LDL (“bad” cholesterol).  This is not to say that you should throw your total cholesterol number out the window, but rather, educate yourself on the importance of an appropriate total cholesterol, as well as the ratios of HDL and LDL mean. 

Mary Enig, PhD and author of the book “Know Your Fats,”  has spent her life’s work studying the importance of fats and their role in good health.  She states that “blood cholesterol levels between 200 and 240 mg/dl are normal… and in fact they have been shown to be associated with longevity.”  Total cholesterol is determined by combining HDL and LDL, along with other markers like triglycerides.  To obtain a truly accurate evaluation, we must examine the ratios within those numbers.


What Do Healthy Cholesterol Levels Look Like?

  • HDL:LDL ratio of  4 or less.  This ratio is determined by dividing HDL into LDL.  For example, if a person’s HDL is 60 and their LDL is 150, their ratio would be 2.5.  Because their ratio is less than 4, many would consider this to be a healthy.  
  • HDL (good) cholesterol: at least 40
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol: below 100 (slightly more may be alright if HDL is high)
  • Triglycerides: below 150
  • Total cholesterol below 240.  Remember, it is important to make sure HDL is high and that LDL is low.

The Inflammation Factor

There are many factors that play into high cholesterol, one of the key factors being inflammation within the body.  Inflammation can occur for a number of reasons, some of the more common being:

  • Oxidative stress with in the body.  This means you have more free radicals (inflammation promoting atoms which damage cells) in your body than you do antioxidants to quench them.
     
  • Poor diet high in trans or damaged fats.  Examples of damaged fats include fried foods, highly processed fats like partially hydrogenated oils, and fats that have been oxidized by heat or light.
     
  • Inadequate omega-3 fats.
     
  • Exposure to inflammatory toxins.  These may include everyday substances from products like cleaning supplies, pesticides from conventionally grown foods, lotions and shampoo products.
     
  • Elevated Homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body during the process of methionine metabolism.  It has been shown that elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of cardio vascular disease, likely because homocysteine has an inflammatory effect on the arteries.  This promotes the oxidization of LDL, making it more likely for plaque to be laid down in the arteries. The metabolization of homocysteine requires abundant B Vitamins, which help to quickly break down and move homocysteine through and out of the body.  Supplementing with B Vitamins is an excellent way to support healthy homocysteine levels. 
     
  • Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a bloodtest which measures a special type of protein in the blood that is present during times of inflammation. It IS possible to have inflammation in the body, even with a low CRP test result.  A high CRP  test result, however, is a good indication that there is either acute or chronic inflammation in the body that needs to be addressed.   

Weighing In

Maintaining a healthy body weight really does matter.

  • Work on establishing and maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index, or BMI.  BMI is a basic calculation of weight and height, and is a relatively reliable indicator of body fat levels.  You can calculate your BMI here.  There is a direct correlation between excess body weight and increased risk for heart disease, so if you suspect you may be at risk, let’s do something about it! 

  • Become familiar with your waist to hip ratio.  Women should have a waist to hip ratio of about 0.80, and men about 1.0.  If excess fat is stored in the waist (belly) area, there is a higher risk of heart disease associated.  You can evaluate your waist to hip here.

Are You At Risk?

The most common risk factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Eating a nutrient poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic Syndrome. Risks for metabolic syndrome include:
    1. High fasting glucose levels
    2. High (poor ratio) cholesterol
    3. High blood pressure
    4. Being overweight, especially in the abdomen

What You Can Do About It


Providing your body with the extra support it needs can go a long way in keeping your heart happy. These excellent supplements are available at Energetic Nutrition.

→ Healthy Heart Support 

Vitalzym CARDIO is a unique enzyme formula designed specifically to support heart health by supplying enzymes that may cleanse the blood of excess fibrin and arterial plaque.  It also lowers C-Reactive Protein levels, which is the cause of vascular inflammation.

Omega-3 fats like the ones found in ArcticPure Omega-3 are a critical component of any heart health plan. Omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, raise HDL, support healthy circulation and promote heart health by thinning the blood and dilating blood vessels.

 A good quality multi-vitamin like Life Essence Multiple provides essential vitamins and minerals along with anti-oxidants, amino acids, and countless other co-nutrients necessary to keep your body strong and your heart whistling a happy tune.

Detoxify

Environmental toxins have a tremendous impact on heart health. A simple herbal spring cleanse (see our PuraCell Systemic Cleansing System) can help support the natural release of stored toxins that collect over the winter months. Combined with delicious organic foods and some sweating, your heart will surely be grateful.

Hormone Balance

Estrogens play a complex role in non-reproductive tissues including the brain and cardiovascular system. The risk of stroke and heart disease is increased dramatically when a person is estrogen dominant. Water logging of the cells and an increase in intercellular sodium, which predispose a person to high blood pressure or hypertension, frequently occur with estrogen dominance.Balance is key. 

 DIM promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism and healthy hormonal balance.  DIM protects against hormone-related cancer and heart disease.

Myomin is an all-natural Chinese herbal blend ideal for normalizing estrogen levels in both men and women. Additionally, Myomin can also induce more interferon in the system, which activates natural killer cells, a major component of the immune system. 

→  Fuel Your Body with Antioxidants
 

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant which has been shown to safeguard LDL cholesterol from oxidation.  CoQ10 is a critical component in the primary energy cycle, and is most abundant in the heart. Deficiencies in CoQ10 strongly correlate with heart disease. 

Antioxidants like Vitamin E have been shown to help neutralize destructive free radicals and support cardiovascular health by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol and inhibiting plaque formation. Oxidized cholesterol is an unstable molecule that damages the integrity of arteries.

Eat for Health

A healthy diet goes a long way to longevity.

Choose an array of organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free whole foods.

Portion size is important if you are trying not to overeat. Eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep blood sugar regulated and dietary stress at a minimum.  Try to include: 

  • Up to 7 servings of delicious garden vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Two servings of juicy fresh fruits.
  • Meats, poultry and fish without fillers and chemicals.  A serving size is about the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of a deck of cards.
  • Nuts and seeds, healthy oils, avocados and olives in moderation. Be sure you are getting  adequate fiber (at least 30 g/day), as fiber has been shown to lower LDL by helping to escort it out of the body.

Keep That Body Moving

Moderate exercise 3-4 times per week for at least 30 minutes is essential to support circulation, vitality, and heart health.  Consider exploring the outdoors, getting to the gym, or even just sweating it out at home. Swim, run, bike, dance or do whatever keeps your heart pumping. Add in some weight training a couple of days a week and treat your muscles to some stretching or yoga and you’ll have a recipe for a healthy metabolism and a happy, strong heart.

 

Stress Less

Stress is a major concern when it comes to hypertension and heart health. Keep those stress hormones in check and that blood pressure down by taking time to relax, meditate, walk, take a bath, or do whatever it is you do that relaxes you.  Even if it is only for 5-10 minutes per day, it makes a difference.

Electromagnetic stress from things like cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices also contribute to our “total load,” or the total amount of stress that our body is required to deal with. Keeping EMF’s at bay while using your favorite electronic tools can make a difference in your health.

The Aulterra Neutralizer and Enhance by Aulterra are both excellent to reduce EMF stress and protect the body on a cellular level.

We sometimes forget that our heart is working day in and day out to keep us moving.  It is easy for women to overlook heart health, especially with so much emphasis being put on so many other health issues today.  Recent statistics on women and heart health, however, are showing that our hearts are in need some extra love!  So consider taking the time to give your heart the support it deserves, it will surely appreciate the extra TLC.

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Dansette