Heart Disease and disease of the circulatory system account for 1 in every 3 deaths in the industrialised world. One adult dies from heart disease every three minutes. Yet sadly, most of these deaths are preventable, if people would just adopt healthier dietary and lifestyle choices.
Conventional medicine asserts that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease (lipid theory) because it is found in the plaques that block the arteries, but there is little scientific evidence to support this and none to support the idea that high-fat foods are contributing to heart disease.
Furthermore, conventional drugs like statins seem to offer only very limited protection for a small part of the population while coming with a whole host of side effects. Scientific evidence, however, does support the idea that inflamed arteries form plaque so a reduction in inflammation may reverse cardiovascular conditions. This may, in fact, be the reason why statins do have some positive effect; they are anti-inflammatory.
The Functional Medicine Approach
Cholesterol is part of the Cardiovascular story, but not the actual cause of heart disease. It has been found that one type of cholesterol sticks to the arteries (LDL) but another type (HDL) prevents this from happening. Furthermore, what's not been appreciated by conventional medicine, but is supported in the scientific literature, is that not all LDL is bad. Oxidised LDL, which forms small dense particles stick to the arteries, while the non-oxidised particles which appear large and fluffy do not. This would suggest that free radical damage caused by exposure to toxins plus a low level of anti-oxidants needed to combat free radical damage, may be an important part of the picture.
One cause of free radical damage in the arteries is poor blood sugar regulation. This explains why diabetics suffer from heart disease. High blood sugar binds with protein and fat molecules to form advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These cause free radical damage to the arteries and oxide LDL particles. Clearly reducing blood sugar spikes or high blood sugar is a crucial step in healing the arteries and improving cardiovascular function.
In 1992, various scientists were awarded the Nobel prize for the discovery that Nitric Oxide plays a key role in Cardiovascular function and that low levels of Nitric Oxide could lead to heart disease due to vascular constriction. In fact, plaque interferes with the production of Nitric Oxide, hence the arteries lose their ability to regulate themselves and blood pressure. Restoring proper nitric oxide production is a key part of improving cardiovascular function.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter.
Conventional medicine uses a simple model of reducing cholesterol levels with drugs and low-fat diets or fixing defective arteries with surgery. Both methods come with side effects and health costs. It appears that to truly improve cardiovascular health a multi-faceted approach needs to be taken both in prevention and cure. As practitioners of functional medicine, we aim to get to the heart of the matter by addressing the biochemical imbalances that lie underneath the symptoms. We employ both nutritional and lifestyle changes that lead to an improvement in these imbalances.
Some of the biochemical imbalances include high blood homocysteine levels, insulin resistance, oxidised cholesterol markers along with cholesterol particle size, stress levels, mineral levels, nitric oxide levels and anti-oxidant levels.
At the International Institute of Nutrition, we test for these markers using a state of the art blood test which gives us valuable data and allows us to accurately assess your cardiovascular health. We take a holistic approach to healing and recovery. We use sound diet to improve blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. We use employ groundbreaking nutraceuticals to improve cellular energy, heart muscle function and the health of the arteries. We make lifestyle changes to reduce stress and improve healing.
If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help you, you can book in for a free 20-minute skype consultation by clicking on the button below.