When we talk about heart disease, there are many misconceptions. First of all, there are risk factors prior to actually having heart disease. Those pesky problems don’t show up in everyday life, you really need to be tested by a doctor and get a blood lipid profile done.
I have been studying in my functional medicine classes about heart disease. Sometimes the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack. Sounds terrible I know but it happens. If you neglect to get a check up, if you are overweight or have pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes you are at higher risk. This is not meant to scare you but it’s just common sense, that we live in a very stressed society. We have 70,000 stimulants bombarding us everyday and if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
Now, the doctor’s visit is loaded with missteps too. Unfortunately from the health coach’s point of view, there is many a slip twixt cup and lip.
The cholesterol test or blood lipid profile test is usually done with at least a 12 hour fast. Sometimes they’ll tell you its okay to not fast, but the numbers will be skewed.
Cholesterol is a magnificent substance that heals the body and provides all kinds or beneficial interactions including delivering hormones and vitamins where and when needed, not to mention it will patch up and prevent blood escaping from little micro abrasions in the arteries. So it is very needed. But here’s the but… Because cholesterol doesn’t have a good PR agent and doesn’t write a blog, and because it is at the scene of the crime when there is atherosclerosis, cholesterol gets blamed for the crime. It’s like blaming police for the crimes when they are called because there is a robbery in progress. The cops come and if you are not witness to the crime, they just seem to be in the way and the cause of the trouble. But it is not so. Had the cholesterol not been in good supply you would have died already. The cholesterol is actually keeping you alive. The real criminal is inflammation, exacerbating things. Inflammation comes from stress, process junk, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and did I mention stress.
Let’s straighten out a few more language problems. Fish oil, omega-3, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and you might add Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA). Are all of these terms the same? No.
Fish oil contains omega-3. Omega is can be in the form of EPA, DHA or ALA. But they are varying degrees of very similar molecules. They are carbon chains called essential fatty acids. They perform vital functions in the body. ALA is from things like walnuts and flaxseed. The body can not use ALA without the liver converting it to EPA. EPA can further be converted into DHA. But it is a lengthy and not very efficient conversion. It happens in the liver and believe me the liver is busy enough as it is already without laying an additional burden on it. Is it good to eat walnuts and flaxseed? Of course. Can you depend fully on those foods to supply you with all the Omega-3 you need? Not even close.
In order to stay healthy you need several grams of EPA and DHA daily or nearly daily. Eating fish twice a week would be fine if we never ate junk food or partake of donuts, eat fried foods and got plenty of outdoor exercise, slept soundly every night and spent most of our waking hours in peaceful meditation. But that is not life as we know it today. We have lots of stress and anxiety and Covid-19 has made life a whole lot tougher with schools closed and trying to figure out how to stay afloat without a job and needing daycare to even think about the next steps of paying the mortgage or paying rent. Whew.
Balancing the omega-3 and omega-6 intake is not easy in today’s world. When I first started using and selling omega-3, we quoted the latest available numbers that showed Americans were consuming 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3. Now in 2020 it’s 30 to 1. These omega-6 fats creep into our diets through baked and fried foods. Canola, soy and other oils that are like flame accelerators to the immune system. Omega-3 are the opposite and helps to quiet the inflammatory response to all those lifestyle sins that surround us.
We used to say after being overseas for a few years and returning to the States, if you breath the air here, you get fat. It certainly seemed that way. But the supermarkets here are inviting, clean and well-lit. Advertising is appealing and “betcha you can’t eat just one.” Nobody can.
So where to begin? Start with taking charge of what you put in your mouth. What would you feed a 3 year old? We know enough about sugar to realize it’s sweet to the taste and bitter to the belly. If you are eating for comfort, then that fact needs to be faced and figure out how to cope with anxiety in a different way. Prayer. Meditation. Enlisting the help of an accountability buddy.
Put in more of the good stuff and eliminate or decrease the bad stuff. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket for real food and stay out of the aisles as much as possible. Take a real dose of Omega-3 twice a day. Even the government calls them Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
Remember the formula is Mind State, Exercise, Diet and Sleep. Take care of correcting and making small changes to these four areas, then diabetes and heart disease will steer clear of you. And your doctor will say, “Good job.”