Sadly too many of us know families who have lost a loved one suddenly to a heart attack. In fact, heart attack is listed as the number one cause of death and takes a life around every 30 seconds. It is a tragic, shocking event and one that, for the most part, can be prevented by taking good care of our bodies.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our heart is made up of four chambers and veins and arteries. It consists of connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and fat but is mostly comprised of cardiac muscle, a unique type of muscle that contracts rhythmically at its own beat and does not get tired like the skeletal muscle in our limbs. Miraculously, the heart is a tireless pump that keeps on beating from early in a mother’s womb until God’s appointed time for our death.
Risk factors for heart disease
Genetics aside, smokers and those 25 pounds or more above their ideal weight are most at risk for heart disease. However, those with diets high in salt and the wrong type of fat are also more susceptible. Lack of regular exercise, high stress, diabetes, high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol are also factors. Narrowed or blocked blood vessels lead to heart attack, chest pain or stroke. Unfortunately evidence of plaque formation is already being seen in young children being raised on fatty junk food full of artificial chemicals and colors.
Oxidation, combined with the standard American diet (SAD) and the declining hormone levels that come with age, would appear to be huge factors in heart disease. Like the cutting of an apple exposed to air, when heart vessels become damaged macrophages release free radicals that form thick, fatty cells known as foam cells. The combination of sugars and fats acts like glue that forms hard plaque that can cut into the arteries. A blood clot forms in response to heal this area and sets up the perfect scenario for a heart attack in already narrowed arteries.
Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables can help counteract this oxidation. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” may not be just an old wives’ tale.
Reducing the risks
Interestingly, a 2013 Cambridge and Harvard research project showed that certain foods high in saturated fat reduced heart attacks. Foods such as whole eggs, grass-fed meat and butter, olives, avocados and healthy peanut butter, which has double the protein of an egg, are such examples. Flax seed, particularly freshly ground, also reduces inflammation.
CoQ10 and glutathione are great supplements in heart disease prevention, and CoQ10 is vital for those taking cholesterol-lowering medication because of depleted levels. Regular detox will also improve heart health. Dr. Joel Fuhrman MD states in his book Fasting and Eating for Health, “Heart disease is a condition that is reversible through aggressive nutritional intervention.” To reduce atherosclerosis, he encourages people to eat a diet high in fiber, vegetables, beans and raw nuts and allow only 10 percent of their diet to be from animal protein.
Biblical principles for heart health
The Biblical principle of reaping what we sow is applicable. The daily discipline of taking a 30-minute walk will go a long way towards reducing excess weight and improving heart muscle tone. Reducing stress by taking a Sabbath rest, deep breathing exercises, laughing more and enjoying time with friends and family, together with practicing good hygiene is vital. Research seems to show a connection between good dental routines and improved heart health. The same bacteria that causes periodontitis may also cause plaque formation in arteries. It is important to floss, and for those of you who need a little more incentive, you can now find bacon flavored dental floss on the internet. A tongue scraper is also a valuable tool to prevent swallowing early morning toxins that gather on the tongue.
Here is an excellent recipe to open up narrowed arteries:
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup ginger juice
1 cup garlic juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix and simmer on low heat for 60 minutes – reduces to 3 cups.
Remove to cool and then mix with 3 cups of local honey and store in a jar. Drink 1 Tbs daily before breakfast.
With 1.5 million heart attacks each year and 1 million resulting deaths, it is good to know that we can honor God by taking care of our temples and encouraging those we love to do the same.
Andrea Goff hosts Choosing Joy, a support group for people dealing with ongoing medical conditions, pain, anxiety or depression. For information, contact [email protected].