Heart Health
Author: Connie Kiefiuk
Publish date:
Summary: A healthy heart is crucial for a healthy life. So why don't we take better care of our hearts?
 
 

The heart muscle is an amazing pump that beats minute after minute. The human heart actually begins beating approximately 21 days after conception and will beat about 3 billion times in the average lifespan. It is located a little to the left of the middle of your chest, and it’s about the size of your fist.

The heart sends blood around the body through some 60,000 miles of arteries, providing oxygen and nutrients and also carrying away wastes. It takes less than 60 seconds to pump blood to every cell in your body. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

And yet, cardiovascular disease continues to remain one of the leading causes of death in this country. It kills approximately 45% of North Americans, regardless of the fact that billions of dollars are spent each year in expensive medical procedures that attempt to remedy the effects of our rich diets. If just half of these dollars were spent on educating the public on how to avoid this disease, millions of lives would be saved.

Avoiding Heart Disease

It is a reality that heart disease can be totally prevented by a low-fat (less than 15%), plant-based diet. One of the main components of heart disease is plaque: a greasy layer of proteins, fats (including cholesterol), immune system cells, and other components that accumulate on the inner walls of the coronary arteries.

CC heydrienne on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/heydrienne/22080973/...

It has been said that excess fat is the most harmful element in the Western diet. The cultures that have lower heart disease rates eat less saturated fat and animal protein and more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. In other words, they live mostly on plant foods while we in North America live mostly on animal foods.

Some people suggest that heart disease is genetic, but researchers know this is not the case. For example, Japanese men who live in Hawaii or California have a much higher blood cholesterol level and incidence of coronary heart disease than Japanese men living in Japan. This shows that the cause is environmental, as most of these people have the same genetic heritage.

Researchers have also shown that blood cholesterol increases with dietary intake of saturated fat, animal protein, and dietary cholesterol. Dozens of experimental studies show that feeding rats, rabbits, and pigs animal protein (such as casein) dramatically raises cholesterol levels, whereas plant protein (such as soy) dramatically lowers cholesterol levels. Studies in humans show that eating plant protein has even greater power to lower cholesterol levels than reducing fat or cholesterol intake!

To Treat or to Prevent?

Unfortunately the last fifty years have seen chemicals in medicines and technology in surgery come to the forefront in treating heart disease, as opposed to diet and prevention. Bypass surgery has become particularly popular. This is where a healthy artery is “pasted” over a diseased artery, thereby bypassing the most dangerous plaque on the artery. The costs for this kind of surgery are enormous, as are the side effects and complications.

We also have coronary angioplasty, where a small balloon is inflated in a narrowed, diseased artery, squishing the plaque back against the wall, opening up the passage for increased blood flow. In addition, modern medicine has defibrillators, pacemakers, and even heart transplants.

The fact is these procedures do not address the cause of heart disease or prevent heart attacks. Diet still takes the back seat to drugs and surgery. Sadly, most physicians do not believe that patients will change their diets and lifestyles and so they neglect to bring up the subject, thus withholding lifesaving information. The evidence is everywhere. If we feed ourselves the wrong fuel, our bodies will inevitably earn some sort of degenerative or chronic disease.

The average family of four in North America eats the following per year: ½ steer, 1 hog, and 100 chickens. Could this be why almost half of the North American population is dying of heart disease? Improper diet is the largest cause of disease, not nutrient deficiency but excess nutrients such as excess fats, proteins and refined sweeteners.

So what are the keys to reducing heart disease?

  1. Reduce blood cholesterol with a very low-fat, high fiber vegetarian diet.
  2. Lose weight by eating more foods as grown, and less refined foods and animal products.
  3. Cut the salt to less that 5 grams (1 tsp) per day to drop your high blood pressure and get into a healthy exercise program.
  4. Don’t smoke!

We can prevent this killer disease by making some simple lifestyle choices. Even more encouraging is that we can reverse these diseases by creating the right environment for healing. God constructed our bodies from two cells at conception and He will help us restore them to health if we cooperate with Him.

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Updated November 2009.

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