Cardiovascular disease is currently the single leading cause of death in the industrialized world, responsible for approximately one in every three fatalities. Even though some surveys have indicated that the percentage of deaths due to this disease has actually decreased, others have indicated just the opposite. According to some sources, it is apparently some of the reported cases which have declined, not the actual incidences.
As director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, Dr. Esselstyn indicates that heart disease is “completely a food borne illness”. Stints and bypasses are not dealing with the cause of this disease. Prevention is key and most people in western societies usually know what life activities should be done to prevent this condition; eat healthy, avoid abuse of prescription and recreational drugs, lose weight and increase physical activity. Instead, the rate of obesity, diabetes and use of drugs linked to heart disease are on a continual rise. Approximately two thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese and this condition is mounting in increasing numbers, bleeding off into the adolescent and teenage population. Most people realize when they are asking for potential heart problems with their lifestyles but seem to disregard the threat, sometimes to a point of even developing excuses for bad eating habits based on false premises. Many of us have heard the stories; “My grandfather smoked 4 cartons of cigarettes a day and ate ½ gallon of rendered lard every morning and lived to the age of 83, so you can’t convince me that certain foods are bad for you”.
One human trait which often seems consistent is that people are reactive rather than active when dealing with a threat. In the realm of health, only when one experiences a life threatening scenario does one generally respond with attentiveness to the problem; even if for only a brief period after an incident.
PDAY (Pathological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youths) indicates that heart disease can and generally does originate from adolescence; therefore attention should be directed at prevention efforts from childhood. Unfortunately, the marketing arena regarding many health detrimental foods are directed at attracting the attention of children, so extra efforts are required from the health conscience parent to steer their children away from consuming the various types of food products which are detrimental in the long term for health. These types of processed foods have a significant factor in advancing the probability of many other health complications besides just heart diseases.
Diabetes and obesity usually have a common link with heart disease, as either one of these diseases almost always leads to some degree of a cardio-vascular health problem. In fact, the incidence of diabetes is growing so rapidly that it is expected to overtake cancer in the near future as the second leading cause for health related deaths in America.
It becomes obvious to most individuals that dietary patterns are, at least in part, a contributing factor to heart disease. It is interesting to note that the countries with the lowest incidences of cardio-vascular disease are those with the lowest consumption of processed foods, trans-fats and sugars and a comparatively high intake of whole grains and vegetables. Also, these same countries have almost a non-existence of the other related diseases; diabetes and obesity.
Heart disease is, for the most part, preventable as Dr. Esselstyn suggest. We can see evidence of this in almost every part of our modern day environment and this evidence becomes outstanding when we use past references as a comparative analysis.
The Barnum and Bailey 1900 circus conducted a “Freak Show” which included such individuals as the bearded woman (hirsutism), the alligator man (Ichthyosis) and the fat man. It is encouraged that the reader looks up the postcard photo of the “fat man” from Barnum’s 1900 “Freak Show”. One may find themselves surprised that this individual, which people found freakish beyond belief for that time and actually paid to see this very unusual sight, would fit in as just an average overweight American by today’s standards.
Misunderstandings can often come from the “health/vitamin industry” as well regarding over the counter supplements. For example calcium supplementation is promoted for bone health when it can in fact increase the risk for certain cardio-vascular diseases and when combining this ion with other supplements, can often potentiate its negative effects.
A healthy approach to heart health is a common sense scenario; good eating, non-stressful physical activity and moderate to no unnecessary drug use. Diet has been considered the most important part of a cardio-vascular health regiment by many, focusing on low to no fat and/or oil, high vegetable and moderate carbohydrate intake. This common sense scenario is carried forth by many indigenous societies who have little or no exposure to industrialized foods. These societies have never been taught eating habits, but rely on their own natural resources for their meals out of necessity. In the mountainous regions of many third world countries to many societies on the continent of Africa, we observe some of the lowest incidences of cardio-vascular diseases in the modern world. Diet still proves to be the major keystone for good heart health.
- By Kevin Meehan