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Stroke and Heart Attack Prevention, The Pros and Cons of Vegetarian Diets, Heartburn Meds.

Stroke and Heart Attack Prevention: Last newsletter, I addressed dementia. Now that you have that knocked and are doing everything I recommended, let's talk about prevention of heart attacks and strokes, or in short, keeping your cardiovascular system in tip top condition. About 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States, and one in every three deaths is due to cardiovascular disease. Globally, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death. Let's not be part of this statistic.

Most heart attacks and strokes have to do with coagulation or clots. You get a clot in your brain and you have a stroke. You get a clot in your heart and you have a heart attack. Rarely do you have an uncontrolled bleeding event in the brain, AKA a hemorrhagic stroke which is an entirely different animal from a stroke caused by a clot. Hemorrhagic strokes may be caused by too much aspirin, NSAIDs or blood thinners and/or an undiagnosed problem with the brain's circulatory system  ie. crinkled arteries, especially in a place called the Circle of Willis where a bunch of arteries come together in a dangerous looking tangle.

So what is a good way to prevent clots? First of all, you might want me to check you out with my coagulation vials. If I haven't done this, ask me to do it next time I see you. If you test positive on the coagulation vials, then I will probably suggest some nutritional assistance. Also, if you have suffered from a TIA, I will also suggest nutritional assistance.

Clots form from an injured endothelium, which is the inner protective layer of every artery. Let's say we breathed in something noxious last Thursday on I25, subsequently injuring our endothelium. The endothelium sends out distress signals which are picked up by platelets, tiny blood cells that help your body form clots. Platelets run to the injured site, stick to the exposed wound and form a clot. This is called platelet aggregation. Multiply these injuries by a million times over a lifetime and there you have the basics for many, many injuries to the endothelium and much platelet aggregation (these can be seen in layers  much like the rings in a tree - upon autopsy) with many possibilities for heart attacks and strokes by the time we are middle-aged and beyond. Platelets are doing their jobs, but over time, we can get in the danger zone.

I like four products for heart attack and stroke prevention and they are: 1) Nattokinase which can dissolve clots. 2) Gingko Biloba which inhibits platelet aggregation. 3) High potency fish oil and 4) Vitamin E isomers. This means not just the usual alpha fraction of vitamin E, but also the beta, gamma and delta forms, or a complete form of vitamin E.

There is a 5th thing as well: HYDRATION! You must drink your complement of water every day, and this is ½ your body weight in ounces. For example, I weigh 107 lbs, so I chug down (and not always happily) at least 55 ounces (I measure it) of water every day.

Depending on your risk factors, like hypertension, genetics and any cardiovascular issues, I may add other supplements, but these are my basics. Next time you are in, let me know if you are interested. I like to look at your labs as well: What are your fibrinogen levels? Your inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein (CRP), ESR, uric acid, homocysteine? Then the tried and trues, a CBC and vitamin D levels.

Pros and Cons of Vegetarian Diets: We will never agree, will we? I am pretty Paleo-ish and believe that grass fed beef and organic butter and cold pressed olive oil are good for you and that most carbs  even the so-called "good ones" are not all that good for you. Paleo suits me and vegetarianism seems lacking to me. I guess I need the ballast of meat. Here are the plus sides of vegetarianism: 1) Vegetarians are 50% less likely to develop heart disease and they have a 40% chance lower cancer rate. 2) Meat eaters are 9 times more likely to be obese than vegans, who don't eat any animal products whatsoever, a horrible diet to a Paleo person. 3) Vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters. 4) Vegetarians and vegans live, on average 6 to 10 years longer than meat eaters.

Whoa! But, these stats are from the GoVeg.com website, so I must say that we are seeing some skewed-ness here, and I don't know where they got their figures because there are no references. So, take them with a grain of salt until you research it.

Let's go to the opposite side, to the Weston Price Foundation, which eschews most carbs and feels that humans are meant to eat meat. They say things like "the benefits of vegetarianism cannot be substantiated and some are simply false and dangerous", and "most people function better on a diet with animal products", and "saturated fats do not clog arteries or cause heart disease, in fact the preferred food for the heart is saturated fat.", and "humans are meat eaters and always have been." and "a good number of people have a hard time assimilating vitamins, minerals and protein and other factors solely from plant foods."

So what is a body to do with such discrepancy here? Here is my opinion for what it is worth to you: I think, bottom line, you have to tune into yourself at all times, feel into what kind of food your body is wanting, on this particular day and do that. The exception, of course, is sugar. Don't do it. That will kill you.

If I had to, I would label myself as Paleo because I usually want some protein from eggs or fowl or fish every day and maybe grass fed beef twice or three times a month and I don't do many grains. I don't think it's healthy to ascribe to any sort of diet, except the no sugar, no bad carbs diet. I think it's unhealthy to say that I am a this or a that, and ignore the signals your body is giving you. I have a staunchly vegetarian friend who had a hip replacement and after the surgery felt a huge need for bison, of all things. She ate a bison pattie every day for 15 days straight, then found no need for it anymore. That's the way to do it. You may have an affinity for either Paleo or Vegetarianism, but the best thing to do is to listen to your body and do what it wants in the moment.

Heartburn Meds: Proton Pump Inhibitors are one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. You have heartburn? No problem take Prilosec, or Prevacid or Nexium. First of all, how do you know you have too much acid? You don't. Quite often, especially in older people, the heartburn is from too little acid and the heartburn comes from rotting and fermenting food in the stomach. So, reducing your acid further is a terrible thing to do and makes no sense.

Another harmful side effect of PPI's is an increased risk of developing a C. difficle or Campylobactor infection. You wouldn't want your worst enemy to get these two resistant gut bugs. Another side effect? PPI's not only increase the production of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain (Alzheimer's and dementia) but slows the ability of the body to eliminate them as well. And another? Long term use of PPI's are associated with a 16% increased risk of heart attack. And another? You will have an increased risk of fracture because the acid in your stomach actually has a job and that is to help with the absorption of calcium. This is particularly bad for menopausal women.

Instead of going the pharmaceutical route, why not let me check you for food intolerances, lack of digestive enzymes, an irritated lining of your stomach or small intestine, a lack of good bacteria in your gut or an infection from some critter or another. Let me help you figure this gut thing out and let's treat it naturally.

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