Heart Health

Heart Health

The Secrets to a Happy & Healthy Heart

The real culprit of heart disease is chronic inflammation, which is often triggered by factors such as chronic stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and toxins (like smoking and alcohol). This is because chronic inflammation destabilizes cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries, leading to heart attacks and potentially even strokes. Addressing the true culprits of heart disease involves maintaining a balanced diet, reducing intake of processed foods and sugars, engaging in regular physical exercise, and effectively managing stress.

High cholesterol itself does not inherently cause heart disease as many believe — this is known as the “great cholesterol myth.” The great cholesterol myth questions the traditional belief that high cholesterol is a primary driver of heart disease. The myth proposes that other factors including diet, stress, and lifestyle choices have a more impactful role in prompting heart diseases. In recent years, research has indicated that consuming sugar and processed foods, as well as experiencing chronic stress, can cause inflammation and damage tissues, leading to heart disease. Cholesterol is often present at the site of such damage as part of the body’s repair mechanism, leading to the misconception that cholesterol is the cause of the problem, rather than a symptom. The great cholesterol myth does not mean to entirely dismiss cholesterol as irrelevant. Rather, it emphasizes re-evaluating and rethinking our understanding of cholesterol and heart disease.

While some risk factors for heart disease are genetic, many are within your control. Assess your diet, activity levels, sleep habits, and stress management techniques. Identify areas where heart-healthy changes are feasible: eating more vegetables and omega-3s, reducing processed foods, scheduling daily walks, taking up yoga, getting 7-8 hours of sleep — find what works for you and start to take those small, daily steps toward a happier and healthier heart!


Chronic Inflammation

Nourishment, exercise, spinal alignment, rest, hydration, gratitude, generosity, detoxification of the body — all these avenues will promote health and slow or stop damage to your arteries. If you take away the toxins, and give your body proper nourishment, rest, and movement, it will heal itself. God made your body to heal itself! If you cut out sugars and simple, processed carbs, fried foods, and hydrogenated oils such as margarine and shortening and concentrate instead on consuming a diet of raw, organic, fresh food that is high in vegetables and low in grains, you can reduce harmful inflammation.

Certain foods promote inflammation, while others discourage inflammation in the body. If you are working towards a healthier, happier life, obviously you are trying to avoid foods like potato chips, French fries, bread, sweets, dairy, and other known pro-inflammatory substances.


Foods that Encourage Inflammation

  1. Refined Sugar
  2. Saturated Fats
  3. Trans Fats (i.e. baked goods)
  4. Refined Carbohydrates
  5. MSG
  6. Gluten
  7. Casein
  8. Aspartame
  9. Alcohol


Heart Healthy Foods

  1. Oily Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines)
  2. Dark, Leafy Greens
  3. Cruciferous Vegetables
  4. Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts)
  5. Brightly Colored Vegetables
  6. Beets
  7. Olive Oil
  8. Ginger & Turmeric
  9. Garlic & Onions
  10. Berries
  11. Tart Cherries



High Cholesterol

High levels of fats in the bloodstream show up as elevated cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins and a reduction of HDL-C or “good” cholesterol. Good cholesterol helps prevent the buildup of bad cholesterol. This elevation increases the risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, embolism, thrombosis, and scarring in the arteries (atherosclerosis). High cholesterol comes from altered gene expression. This altered genetic expression can come because of four factors: genomic inheritance, low thyroid function, a poor diet, and an abundance of unmitigated stress hormones.

Very little hypercholesterolemia is due to genetic inheritance. Genes load the gun, but lifestyle choices pull the trigger. Low thyroid function should be tested and addressed as a primary causal factor in high cholesterol. A diet high in partially hydrogenated oils, alcohol, sodas, and other refined, simple carbohydrates that turn quickly to sugar causes damaging inflammation to the arteries. To protect those arteries, the liver secretes a calming, waxy substance known as cholesterol. Unfortunately, that cholesterol can build up, raising blood pressure levels and increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Stress hormones can also cause an overproduction of cholesterol. When the body is in a state of “fight or flight” it believes it needs energy to fight that tiger or flip a car off a baby. Glycogen (sugar) stores are pulled up out of the liver to provide that energy. High blood sugar levels cause inflammatory damage to the arteries which the liver addresses by the production of cholesterol.

  • Remove hydrogenated oils from your diet
  • Increase your daily fiber intake (28g per day for women & 30g per day for men)
  • Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet high in antioxidant-rich foods and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Engage in regular physical activity to support metabolic rate and healthy BMI
  • Focus on strength training that decreases dangerous cholesterol while raising good cholesterol
  • AVOID S.C.A.T — Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco (these cause oxidative stress to the cells)



High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure levels can come on suddenly, or they can manifest gradually. One thing is for sure: elevated blood pressure increases the statistical chance of having a heart attack or stroke. This condition increases with age. In fact, nearly 75% of people over sixty have hypertension. HBP can be caused by several different factors like genetic predisposition, nutrient insufficiency, toxic load, sedentary lifestyle, hormonal factors, or kidney issues. Symptoms are not always discernible, though many who struggle with high blood pressure experience headache, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat. Thankfully there are lifestyle and nutritional modifications that can help eliminate or reduce the need for pharmaceutical blood pressure medication. This is important because those medications designed to reduce blood pressure carry side effects that include—dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, lightheadedness, mood and personality changes, erectile dysfunction, high potassium levels, kidney problems, flu like symptoms, facial swelling, sinusitis, dry hacking cough, diarrhea, and cancer from impurities.

  • Reduce sodium & refined sugar intake
  • Increase consumption of magnesium and potassium rich foods (spinach, kale, almonds, black beans, tuna, salmon, avocado)
  • Monitor HRV (heart rate variability) since autonomic nervous system dysfunction can create issues with high blood pressure
  • Get good quality and 7+ hours of sleep each night
  • Manage stress with adaptogenic herbs and practices like stretching and breathwork


“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” — Psalm 51:10

Tip: Prayer and meditation can rejuvenate the heart, mentally and physically.