The Three Greatest Risk Factors To Your Cardiac Health
Controlling Metabolic Syndrome
On an upcoming episode of THE TONIC Talk Show and Podcast, which will air on February 11, 2020, I’ll be interviewing Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND regarding the greatest health risks to heart disease. We’ll cover the natural approach to dealing with these risks. The following is an excerpt of our discussion. For the full interview with show notes and links, visit thetonic.ca which will go live after the interview airs.
Q. What is Metabolic Syndrome?
A.It is the constellation of the three biggest risk factors to cardiac health: Diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. It is very common for these risk factors to cluster together. We have a term for that, comorbidity.
Q. Are there hereditary and lifestyle factors that lead to these risks?
A. 80 to 95% of Metabolic Syndrome is lifestyle driven, which drives these metabolic abnormalities. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. 70% of North Americans are overweight or obese and it absolutely is killing us.
Q. What is the greatest factor that leads to the increased risk of developing heart disease?
A. The single greatest factor is waist circumference. There are thousands of ways to measure adiposity: how much you weigh, etc. But in a really eloquent study comparing MRI to all other methods concluded that the best method is waist circumference. It’s a tape measure around your belly button and your love handles (the widest part of your waist). Because that is relating to two different types of fat we have. Subcutaneous, which is under our skin. We might not like how that looks, but it isn’t detrimental to our health. The one that is detrimental to our health is the fat that surrounds our organs. We call that the visceral fat, which is very hormonally active. It drives systemic inflammation in our body and weight loss corrects that.
Q. These health risks aren’t instantaneous, are they?
A. The health risks build over time. Proper weight loss and exercise over time can address all three metabolic abnormalities. What I stress about exercise is that everybody has this misconception about what we mean. We’re not trying to turn everyone into Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’re talking about potentially a 20 minute walk per day. That can be a life changing amount of physical activity. That difference between “0” and doing something is 90% of the battle. The jump between doing something and being an elite athlete really doesn’t afford that much health benefit.
Q. If I wanted to affect change what should I do and what should be my reasonable expectations as to how long those changes should take?
A.This is my favourite part of what I do. The changes occur absurdly quickly. If you do something for a day you’ll see the change…unless you go right back to your old habits. How long does it take to impact blood sugar levels? Less than 12 hours. If you make changes to your diet today you will wake up tomorrow with a radically different blood sugar reading tomorrow. And as long as you continue to do those diet and lifestyle changes, you’ll never see those old readings. Cholesterol takes 2 to 3 weeks. The problem is, can you sustain the necessary changes? I don’t really care what your cholesterol readings are 3 weeks later. I do care what they are a year later. Blood pressure takes a little longer. It is a slower process that will maximize in about 5 to 6 weeks.
Q. What are the types of things that people can do to affect the changes we’re talking about?
A.Exercise and weight loss, if appropriate are absolutely key. The Mediterranean Dietary pattern for weight loss. Specific to blood pressure is something called the Dash Diet. If you increase vegetables, increase fruit, add olive oil and nuts you crush blood pressure, you radically increase glucose control and you lower bad cholesterol. Olive oil and nuts do this to the level of a prescription drug. Two teaspoons of unheated olive oil a day lowers bad cholesterol, improves glucose control and lowers blood pressure. Nuts, specifically almonds, walnuts and pistachios, raw, unroasted and unsalted powerfully lowers all three risk factors.
Q.Is there a supplement we should consider if we’re trying to treat all three risk factors?
A.The supplement to try is fish oil. It very clearly reduces cardiovascular risk and the likelihood of sudden fatal heart attack. It can reduce the chances of non-fatal coronary events.
Q.What lifestyle strategies other than diet and exercise would you recommend to specifically avoid diabetes?
A.If we’re going to discuss supplements, diabetes is an area where the supplement industry is outdated. A lot of the natural products available for glucose control are, in my opinion, inappropriate. The recent evidence highlights three powerful substances that can help with glucose control. Inositol is very effective and cost-efficient. It’s related to the B family of vitamins. It’s offered as a powder and a scoop a day is the dose. It has so many other wide ranging benefits. It gets into cell membranes and can assist with mental health issues. Cinnamon is pretty well known and has been used to control glucose for a long time. The third supplement will shock people. You’ll have heard of it in the context of treatment of other things, but it has great effectiveness in treating blood sugar levels and that is curcumin (or turmeric).
Q.What if we want to focus on dealing with our cholesterol?
A.I’ve been teaching about this for 16 years, but nobody really knows about it: paper-filtered coffee. If the coffee you’re drinking isn’t paper filtered it aggressively increases the amount of bad cholesterol. There are two molecules in the coffee bean, cafestrol and kawheol that impact the liver to increase bad cholesterol. If you paper filter the coffee, you remove these fats. This goes to the cholesterol that is produced by the body itself. Fish oil again is helpful. It crushes triglycerides. The other supplement I’d recommend is plant sterols.
Q. Lastly, what about blood pressure?
A. The most important lifestyle hack for blood pressure – meditation breathing. This is a medically approved intervention for hyper-tension. Calming deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is effective. Regarding supplements I’d recommend COQ10, which is very well known. You can take it daily.
Jamie Bussin is the Publisher of Tonic Magazine and the Host of THE TONIC Talk Show and Podcast. And when he isn’t doing that, he eats well and exercises (a lot).