DEALING WITH CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

                                         FROM A NUTRITIONAL PERSPECTIVE


        The number one degenerative problem that we continue to deal with in this country is heart disease.  Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from heart disease and yet the first heart attack ever recorded in a medical journal was in 1912.  It is only in the past eighty years or so that heart disease has become a significant killer.  American soldiers killed in World War I and autopsied, were seldom found to have cardiovascular disease.  Soldiers killed in the Vietnam War and autopsied, were rarely found not to have the beginning or even the advanced stages of cardiovascular disease (CVD).  CVD includes congestive heart problems, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to disposition of calcium in arterial walls), atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries due to build up of plaque), and high blood pressure.

       It is interesting to note that the raise in CVD parallels our nations shift from whole foods to refined foods and from very active life styles to very sedentary life styles.   Add the thousands of chemicals that have entered our environment in the last eighty years and the stressful lives many live, it becomes apparent we have greatly compromised our health and one of the results is CVD.

       We may not be able to do a lot about the chemicals or even the stress in our lives.  We can do a great deal about our diets and sedentary lives.  If you are overweight you must lose weight.  Overweight is a major risk factor in CVD.  Increased weight places increased stress on the heart and the entire cardiovascular system.  Many overweight people are diabetic. High blood sugar damages the vascular system and increases the risk for CVD.  The pathway to weight loss, reduced blood sugar levels and reduced risk of CVD is the same. Diet and exercise are the two most important dynamics!

       Diet is the most important dynamic:  The diet must be adjusted to include a predominance of raw and mildly cooked vegetables, some raw fruit, moderate amounts of lightly processed grains and legumes (beans), nuts and seeds, and moderate amounts of meats and dairy foods.  Eating at a fast food restaurant must become a very occasional event. Boxed, canned and packaged foods must be largely avoided. Soda water should be eliminated and alcoholic beverages consumed in moderation.  The diet must become nutritionally dense and not calorie dense.  A nutritionally dense diet will provide the body with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, glyconutrients, anti-oxidants and other food factors which are required by the body on a daily basis.  Most Americans eat a diet high in processed and refined foods which supply calories but have little nutrition due to nutrients being destroyed in food processing.  Your diet should contain 40 to 50 grams of water and non-water soluble fiber on a daily basis.  Fiber helps regulate blood sugar and facilitates the removal of cholesterol and other fats through the stool.

       If you are overweight, you must loss weight. Excess weight places more stress on the cardiovascular system.  If you need to lose weight, please read my article entitled: The Pathway To Weight Loss.

       Exercise is a must: 

       Our bodies were designed to be active.  Exercise is critical to lowering the risk of CVD and improving health in general.  Exercise will burn calories and lower blood sugar.  Exercise is not, however, a quick pathway to weight loss.  The average pound of stored fat in the body is equal to 3,600 calories of stored energy.  Running an eight minute mile will burn up approximately 100 calories.  Dancing for twenty minutes, bicycling two and one-half miles in nine minutes or walking one mile in twenty minutes will do the same.  To put it another way, you would have to run thirty six miles at eight minutes a mile to lose one pound of stored fat.  You can readily see that exercise, in and of itself, is not a quick pathway to weight loss.  This is why diet is the more critical dynamic.

         What exercise will do for you is strengthen the heart muscle and the entire vascular system. Exercise dilates blood vessels and improves circulation.  Exercise increases the oxygen utilization capacity of the body.  Exercise will raise your basic metabolic rate and keep it elevated for hours after you have finished exercising.  This results in an increase in the rate at which calories are burned.  This can help to reduce weight through more efficient metabolism. 

       For example, walking one hour per day with no increase in daily calorie intake could result in the loss of thirty pounds in one year.  Exercise will increase the rate at which fat is burned while at the same time increasing the synthesis of protein.  Exercise will also increase the burning of brown fat, which is felt to be a primary factor in weight management.  Brown fat is a metabolically active fat that is found close to the skeleton and is responsible for the production of body heat. Overweight individuals are often found to poorly utilize brown fat.

       Additional benefits of regular exercise include a decrease in the resting pulse rate and blood pressure, an increase in hemoglobin and therefore better oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, increase in HDL cholesterol, a decrease in LDL cholesterol, and an increase in the number of capillaries carrying blood throughout the body.  Typical forms of exercise include walking, running, rebounding, swimming, biking, push-ups, chin-ups and working out with free weights, weight machines and stretching equipment such as Xertubes      

       Cholesterol and CVD: 

       Cholesterol is not a bad guy!  Cholesterol has the very important function of keeping the membranes of our cells functioning properly.  Every cell in your body has the ability to synthesize cholesterol.  The liver, intestines, adrenal glands and sex glands also make cholesterol as necessary. All our steroid hormones are made from cholesterol.  This includes cortisol, testosterone, estrogens and progesterone. Vitamin D is, in part, synthesized from cholesterol.  Bile acids, secreted into the small intestine from the gall bladder, are made from cholesterol and play a vital role in the digestion of fats consumed in the diet. Cholesterol is secreted by the glands in the skin to protect the skin from dehydration.

       Twenty-five percent of the cholesterol in the body is found in the brain.  Cholesterol is vital to neurotransmission, the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other.  A recent study done by the National Institutes of Health showed that in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol.

       Research has shown that LDL cholesterol is involved in deactivating a number of pathogenic bacteria and thus plays a role in the body’s immune response.  The liver produces between 1500 and 2000 milligrams of cholesterol per day.  This should tell you how important cholesterol is to the body.

       As can be seen, cholesterol is vital to the health and function of the body.  Cholesterol, as is true of other types of fats, is not water soluble and must be complexed with various proteins in order to be carried in the blood stream and utilized by the body. These complexes are called lipoproteins.  Cholesterol is primarily transported in the blood as either very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), low density  lipoprotein (LDL) or high density lipoprotein (HDL).

       Where there is more cholesterol and other fats in a lipoprotein complex than there is protein, the complex is called a low density lipoprotein. Where there is a greater amount of protein in a lipoprotein complex, the complex is called a high density lipoprotein. It is the amount of protein in a lipoprotein that determines density. 

        For example, VLDL is less dense than LDL which is less dense than HDL. VLDL consists mainly of triglycerides along with some cholesterol and a little protein. VLDL is made in the liver and delivers triglycerides to cells in the body.  As triglycerides get delivered to cells, VLDL becomes LDL because of losing the triglycerides that formerly made it a VLDL.   It is LDL that is responsible for carrying cholesterol to cells that need it. HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is made in the liver and intestines, helps to remove LDL cholesterol by collecting it and returning it to the liver.

       Cholesterol can become a risk factor for CVD when LDL and VLDL (low and very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol becomes oxidized and creates free radical activity causing damage to the walls of the arterial system. The body repairs this damage which leads to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. 

       One way to guard against such oxidation is to insure that you are consuming a large variety of anti-oxidant nutrients on a daily basis.  Another way to protect against such oxidative damage is to increase the level of HDL cholesterol. Aerobic and resistive exercise is effective in raising HDL levels.  Consumption of certain foods has been found to increase HDL levels.  Japanese researchers found that eating a raw onion per day raised HDL levels by 30%. Drinking moderate amounts of red wine has been shown to raise HDL. 

What should be your cholesterol levels?

       Since excessive cholesterol in the blood can lead to excessive oxidative damage of the arterial system, it is wise to maintain a total cholesterol of around 200 mg per deciliter of blood with an LDL at between 100 and 130 mg per deciliter of blood and HDL of 60 or more mg per deciliter of blood.  A 200 total cholesterol and a 60 HDL will give you an ideal total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio of around 3:1 which would put you at one-half the risk for CVD. Most Americans fall far short of this ideal with ratios much higher.  As your ratio increases so do your risks increase for oxidized cholesterol causing arterial damage.   

       Your total cholesterol reading is not as important as your total cholesterol to HDL ratio. If your total cholesterol reading is on the high side and you HDL is also on the high side resulting in a ratio of around 5:1, it puts you at average risk for CVD. For example, if your total cholesterol is 240 and your HDL is 50, your ration would be 4.8:1 which puts you a little below average risk for CVD.  If you total cholesterol is 240 and you HDL is 30, your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL would be 8:1 putting you close to being at double the risk for CVD.    

       You can lower LDL cholesterol levels in the body by moving bile through the colon and out the stool.  As mentioned above, bile acids are made from cholesterol and used by the body in digestion of fats.  After completing its digestive function, bile acids pass into the colon which reabsorbs some of these acids for reuse by the body and eliminates the rest through the stool.  Failure to eliminate excess bile acids can result in greater re-absorption of these acids leading to  excess cholesterol circulating in the arterial system which may end up as deposits in the arteries. Consuming forty to fifty grams of water soluble and other fibers per day will insure the elimination of cholesterol waste.  Oat bran, rice bran, apple pectin, flax fiber and psyllium are all examples of fibers that will facilitate this process.

       Triglycerides and CVD: 

       Triglycerides are the most abundant fats found in the diet and in the blood stream.  They are used by the body as fuel in the energy making process with excess amounts stored in the body as fat.  Triglycerides are also manufactured in the liver.   While the body primarily uses carbohydrates as fuel in the energy making process, excess carbohydrates are converted to triglycerides by the liver and released into the blood stream as VLDL (very low density lipoprotein cholesterol).  This is especially true of the sugar fructose which goes directly to the liver and is easily converted to triglycerides.  Thus the overall cholesterol load in the body can be increased by high triglycerides levels.  The eating of diets high in processed carbohydrates where fructose is a common ingredient is a primary cause of obesity and correspondingly high levels of both triglycerides and cholesterol.  A low carbohydrate diet can do more to lower both triglyceride and cholesterol levels than a low fat diet.

       It is instructive that the size of the LDL cholesterol particles in the blood stream is a determinative factor as to the risk for CVD. Small sized LDL particles put one at greater risk for the development of atherosclerosis than do larger sized LDL particles.  When excess dietary carbohydrates are converted by the liver to triglycerides and enter the blood stream as small sized VLDL, these small particles are prone to stick to the walls of the arteries. On the other hand, saturated fat produces larger and more buoyant LDL particles that are less likely to stick to the walls of the arteries. This suggests that a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrate puts one at less risk for CVD.   

       Research has show that the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol is a better marker of CVD risk than the total cholesterol to HDL ratio.  It’s been demonstrated that the lower the triglyceride to HDL ratio, the lower your risk of CVD.  You can determine both the cholesterol to HDL and triglycerides to HDL ratios by dividing the larger number by the smaller number.  For example, if your triglycerides are at 150 mg per deciliter of blood and your HDL is 50, you would have a 2.5:1 ratio of triglycerides to HDL which is very good.  Triglyceride levels of 150 mg per deciliter of blood or lower is considered a healthy triglyceride level.   

       Statin drugs, CoQ10 and CVD: 

       Many people are using prescription Statin drugs such as Crestor, Zocor, Lipitor and Mevacor to lower cholesterol levels. Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA Reductase that catalyzes the production of cholesterol in the liver.  The mechanism by which Statin drugs lower cholesterol also inhibits the biosynthesis of CoQ10 in the liver.  CoQ10 is absolutely necessary for proper function of the heart as it is vital to the energy making process of the heart muscle.  CoQ10 is found in every cell of the body. In addition to its role in the production of energy, it functions as a major antioxidant. 

       CoQ10 is found in small amounts in a wide variety of foods but is particularly high in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts. CoQ10 is also synthesized in the body from the amino acid tyrosine in a process requiring at least eight vitamins and several trace elements. You can see the importance of eating a quality diet in order for your body to make CoQ10. 

       The adult human body reserve of CoQ10 has been found to be approximately two grams (2000 milligrams) with the body requiring replacement of about 500 milligrams per day. This must be supplied either by synthesis in the body or obtained from food.  Synthesis within the body decreases progressively in humans after age 21. Since the average CoQ10 content of the western diet is less than 5 milligrams per day, it is difficult to maintain adequate CoQ10 levels unless you eat a very nutrition dense diet.  Therefore, supplementation with CoQ10 should be seriously considered. In a recent study reported in the May 22, 2012 International Journal of Cardiology, it was shown that taking 200 mg of CoQ10 per day along with 200 mcg of the trace mineral selenium reduced the risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease by nearly 50%. Selenium is a mineral that is involved in the body's production of the important antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase.  

      Some doctors have observed a marked increase in heart failure, among those using statin drugs.  It even has a name, “Statin Cardiomyopathy.”   Anyone using Statins or experiencing cardio problems should take a CoQ10 supplement.  CoQ10 can also be taken as a preventive as it will support cardio function and perform strong antioxidant activity in the body.

       A natural substance called Red Yeast Rice Extract contains similar compounds to that found in Statins.  Red yeast Rice extracts lower cholesterol levels by the same mechanism as Statins but because they are weaker, they don’t have the negative side effects of toxicity to the liver or muscle weakness that Statins tend to have.  Since Red Yeast Rice extracts interfere with COQ10 production just like Statins, users should supplement with COQ10.

       Cautionary note:  When Statins or Red Yeast Rice products are consumed in conjunction with Grapefruit juice, the blood concentration of their active ingredient Mevinolin is increased by up to 15-fold.  Such increases are dangerous. Don’t drink grapefruit juice when taking these products.

       Another natural substance shown to lower cholesterol is Policosanol, a lipid alcohol derived from sugar cane wax.  A number of studies show this substance to effectively lower total cholesterol, raise HDL levels and guard against LDL oxidation.  This product is well tolerated and has no significant side effects. 

       Most of your cholesterol is made in the liver.  Only animal products contain cholesterol and eating them is not a major cause of high cholesterol levels as is often assumed.  On the other hand, triglyceride fats, which are also found in animal products, will tend to push up your own livers production of cholesterol as will the consumption of hydrogenated fats.  All hydrogenated fats such as margarine should be eliminated from the diet.  Hydrogenated fats are man-made fats that create what are called trans-fatty acids.  Trans-fats are stickier than normal “cis” fats like found in butter. They encourage fatty deposits in the arteries, liver, and other body organs.  These fats also make your blood clotting platelets more sticky and therefore increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Trans-fats have been shown to raise blood levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides and in general create free radicals.  Trans-fats also interfere with the action of what are called the essential fatty acids which are discussed below.

       The risk/benefit ratio of Statins: 

       The medical community has placed great emphasis on lowering cholesterol levels as the pathway to lowering the incidence of CVD.  While Statin drugs do lower cholesterol levels, and have also been found to reduce inflammation, more and more health professionals are questioning whether lowering cholesterol to the levels being suggested by the medical community is wise.  Since cholesterol is very important to a variety of body functions, the concern is that we may be doing more harm than good with our almost phobic concerns about cholesterol and CVD.  There is concern that the use of Statins is contributing to lower synthesis of vitamin D and steroid hormones and negatively affecting neuro transmission.  This is in addition to Statins interfering with the production of the vital nutrient CoQ10 and contributing to muscle pain in some users.  There have been a number of reports of memory loss and reduced libido associated with the use of Statins. Furthermore, a number of studies have demonstrated that lowering cholesterol has little if any effects on mortality rates. 

        Statins and liver disease:

       Since Statins are designed to inhibit the livers production of cholesterol, these drugs interfere with a normal and necessary body function.  There is an enzyme produced in the liver called alanine aminotransferase (ALT).  When this enzyme becomes elevated it indicates liver cell injury.  About 10% of those taking Statin drugs show an elevation of this enzyme.  What this says as to liver damage is unknown as there have been no long term studies done to determine what effect Statins have on the health of the liver.  This, of course, doesn’t mean that damage doesn’t occur.  Any time you interfere with a normal physiological function there may be risk of damage.  The fact that ALT levels do increase in some users of Statins would indicate possible liver damage in some users.   

       As covered above, it is not cholesterol per se that is responsible for CVD.  It is the oxidation of cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries.  Following the dietary and exercise recommendations discussed above and using the supplements discussed below may be a more prudent approach to preventing and dealing with CVD.  For further insights into the matter of cholesterol and CVD, I recommend the book, ”The Great Cholesterol Myth” written by cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and nutritionist Jonny Bowden.

       Essential fatty acids and CVD: 

       Of all the fats you consume, the two essential fatty acids (EFA’s), linoleic (omega 6) and linolenic (omega 3), are the most important to your health.  These fats must be obtained from the diet, as your body does not make them.  In the body, omega 3 linolenic acid converts to the fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoate acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).  EPA and DHA lead to reduction in inflammation, help thin the blood, and play a role in the regulation of cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism.       

       As we get older or become diabetic, our bodies do not efficiently convert linolenic acid to EPA and DHA.  Fortunately, you can obtain EPA and DHA direct from the diet by eating fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and herring.  Taking a fish oil supplement will insure a steady intake of these important omega 3 fatty acids.  We recommend Wholemega from the company New Chapter or the omega-3 product Vectomega from the company EuroPharma.

      Homocysteine and CVD: 

       Homocysteine is an amino acid formed when the amino acid methionine found in red meat and dairy products is metabolized in the body.  Excessive homocysteine may cause abnormal blood clotting, aneurysms, hardening of the arteries, the deposition of cholesterol around the heart muscle, angina, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.  When homocysteine builds up to excessive levels in the blood it creates inflammation which damages the walls of arteries creating the need for the body to repair such damage which results in plaque buildup.  Elevated homocysteine has been identified as a major risk factor in CVD.  The body will break down homocysteine and convert it back to methionine with the help of vitamins B6, folic acid and B12.  Supplementing with a good quality B-vitamin complex will insure you are getting the B-6, B-12 and folic acid necessary for the breakdown of homocysteine.

       An underlying cause of elevated homocysteine levels appears to be under active thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism. You can easily determine thyroid activity with the following simple test:  Before going to sleep, place an oral thermometer at an accessible place beside your bed. The very moment you awake, after a good night of sleep, stay in bed and place the thermometer firmly in the armpit and leave it there for ten minutes.  If your reading is lower than 97.8, (normal resting temperature), it’s an indication that your thyroid is under-active.  It is wise to repeat this test several times in a row in order to make a proper determination.  If you are a women of child bearing years, perform this test on only the second and third days of menstruation for a more accurate reading.

       Research has shown that correction of under-active thyroid function automatically normalizes homocysteine levels in the blood. The minerals iodine and selenium and the amino acid L Tyrosine are important to proper thyroid function.  We recommend the products Tri-Iodine and Thyroid Care from EuroPharma and Thyroid Factors from Michael’s company.

       It has also been found that chlorine and fluoride in our water supple and various pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, interfere with thyroid function.  I recommend drinking distilled or reverse osmosis treated water to get rid of chlorine and fluoride and eating organically grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible to limit ingestion of chemicals used on these foods. 

       C-reactive protein and CVD: 

       C-reactive protein (CRP) is a special type of protein produced by the liver that is only present during episodes of acute inflammation. The most important role of CRP is its interaction with the “complement system” which is one of the body's immunologic defense mechanisms.  Recently, new studies have suggested that CRP may also be elevated in heart attacks. The role of CRP in coronary artery disease remains unclear. It is not known whether it is merely a marker of such disease or whether it actually plays a role in causing the disease. Many consider elevated CRP to be a risk factor for coronary artery disease. 

       Many studies have shown an association between elevated levels of inflammatory markers (including CRP) and the future development of heart disease. This is true even for apparently healthy men and women who have normal cholesterol levels. In patients already suffering from heart disease, doctors can use CRP levels to determine which patients are at high risk for recurring coronary events by performing a simple blood test

       Inflammation and CVD:

        It is increasingly being demonstrated in research that inflammation is at the heart of most degenerative disease including CVD.  In animal studies involving induced atherosclerosis (intentional facilitation of fat accumulation in the arteries), signs of inflammation occur hand-in-hand with fat accumulation on the artery wall. For example, white blood cells called leukocytes, which present themselves in cases of acute inflammation, are seen to bind to the endothelium lining of the blood vessels in the earliest stages of atherosclerosis.  This same phenomenon has been seen in human studies.  Since healthy endothelium does not in general support binding of white blood cells, their appearance in the arteries after initiation of an atherogenic diet indicates the presence of inflammation.  If such inflammation continues over a prolonged period of time, it results in destruction of the endothelium and subsequent breakdown of the arteries responsible for blood flow to the heart.

       As already discussed, it is not so much the accumulation of fats in the arteries but the oxidation of such fats that causes lesions in the walls of the arteries.  The body sees the creation of lesions in the arterial wall as an injury to the body and mobilizes an inflammatory response to deal with the injury.  If this process continues unabated, destruction of the arterial wall will occur which can lead to insufficient blood flow to the heart. 

       While a diet low in processed and refined foods and rich in nutrient dense foods is the most important consideration in reducing inflammation, adding certain herbs to the diet will help this process.  A number of herbs have been identified as helpful in this regard.  Herbs such as green tea, ginger, holy basil, rosemary, oregano and boswellia have all been found to be effective in reducing inflammation without unwanted side effects. 

       The king of anti-inflammatory herbs is turmeric. The herb turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids which are phenolic compounds known to facilitate anti-inflammatory effects.  They appear to block inflammatory processes by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, down-regulating the COX-2 enzyme and suppressing pro-inflammatory genes.  Turmeric’s most active and dominant curcuminoid is curcumin.  Research has shown that curcumin is an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Curcumin has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a variety of health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. 

       At Milk ‘N Honey we make available a high quality turmeric extract from the company New Chapter called Turmeric Force and a product called Curamin from the company EuroPharma.

       Achieving coronary health: 

       As already stated, diet and exercise are the critical dynamics in guarding against the development of CVD and treating existing CVD.  Avoiding processed and refined foods and eating a nutrient dense whole food diet is critical.  Exercise is a must.  In addition to these twin dynamics and the various nutrients already discussed, following is a list of foods and nutrients that will provide additional protection and thus lower your risk of CVD.

       Lecithin:  Lecithin is a fatty acid found in egg yolks, soybeans and other foods which in the body acts to make other fats more soluble.  For example, body temperature is 37 degrees centigrade and cholesterol melts at 149 degrees centigrade.  Therefore cholesterol is not easily liquefied in the body unless it is combined with lecithin.  The fat/protein molecules that transport cholesterol as lipoprotein contain lecithin with HDL having almost twice the lecithin as LDL. This is why HDL cholesterol is considered the “good cholesterol” as it helps to make LDL cholesterol more soluble and have the liver process it for excretion.   Lecithin has been found to lower cholesterol levels.  Lecithin can be taken as a supplement in either capsules or as granules. 

       Pantethine:  Pantethine is the biologically active form of pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) and exerts benefits well beyond pantothenic acid. Pantethine is utilized by key enzymes involved in the transport and breakdown of triglycerides and cholesterol.  Pantethine is found in such foods as liver, salmon and brewer's yeast.  Pantethine has been shown to block up to 50% the action of the HMG-CoA enzyme responsible for the livers production of cholesterol.  This results in lower cholesterol production by the liver and causes the liver to compensate for this reduction by removing cholesterol from the blood.  Pantethine can be taken as a supplement and is available at Milk ‘n Honey.

       Plant Sterols:  Plant sterols are the fats of plants and are structurally similar to cholesterol and are therefore able to “stand-in” for cholesterol.  Cholesterol is absorbed from the intestines through receptor sites that are shaped exactly like cholesterol molecules.  Because plant sterols look like cholesterol, they fit perfectly into these receptor sites.  The cholesterol that is blocked by these plant sterols being absorbed instead of cholesterol remains in our intestines and is eventually excreted through the stool.  Our liver will then pull cholesterol from the blood to make up the difference in the same manner as with the use of pantethine.  A product called Moducare from the company Wakunaga provides plant sterols in supplement form.

       Garlic: Considerable research has shown garlic, when consumed on a daily basic, can lower cholesterol, raise HDL, lower LDL, reduce triglycerides and lower blood pressure if it is high.  This action has been largely attributed to the presence in garlic of sulfur compounds known as thiosulfates of which allicin appears to be the most responsible for garlic’s positive effect on cardio health.  A substance called alliin and an enzyme called alliinase are found in separate chambers of a garlic clove.  When garlic is ruptured, alliinase interacts with alliin to produce allicin.  Garlic should be taken in an enteric-coated tablet so the allicin isn’t destroyed by stomach acid.  We recommend Garlinase from Enzymatic Therapy. 

       Nattokinase:  Nattokinase is an enzyme that will break down fibrin in the blood.  Fibrin is a protein that forms in the blood to stop excess blood loss associated with an injury or trauma to the body.  This protein also forms as a result of bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins in the blood that trigger inflammation.  Under such circumstances, since there is no demand for clotting to prevent blood loss, this fibrin will circulate through the blood and stick to the walls of blood vessels.  This contributes to the formation of blood clots, slows blood flow and increases the viscosity of the blood. The result is loss of oxygen to body tissue which can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and senile dementia.  While the body does produce enzymes that break down fibrin, it does not always do so efficiently, especially as we grow older.

      Nattokinase is derived from natto, a fermented soy bean food that is commonly eaten by the Japanese.  Nattokinase has been the subject of 17 studies.  These studies have shown Nattokinase to successfully dissolve clots, facilitate better blood flow and lower blood pressure.  The recommended dosage of Nattokinase is 2000 FU (fibrin units) per day.  At Milk ‘N Honey we carry Nattokinase under the brand name Solaray.     

       Niacin:  Niacin (vitamin B-3) can be taken as a supplement to lower the livers production of cholesterol, reduce LDL, raise HDL, lower triglycerides, and increases circulation. Since niacin dilates blood vessels, you may experience a “flush” in the head and upper body areas which usually goes away in a short period of time.  A buffered form of niacin called niacinamide will not produce this flush but neither will it dilate the blood vessels or have the action on the liver that straight niacin does.  When taking a single B-vitamin such as niacin, it is best to take it as part of a B-complex so that imbalances don’t develop between the various B-vitamins the body uses.     

       L-Arginine:  The amino acid L-Arginine improves blood circulation by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, an endogenous neurotransmitter that helps prevent vasoconstriction and which initiates vasodilation by relaxing the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels.  Nitric oxide is what is produced by the breakdown of nitroglycerin which is used by patients experiencing angina.  The amino acid L-Citrulline can also be used for this purpose as it acts as a precursor to L-Arginine and has been seen to regulate L-Arginine levels in the body.  Both of these amino acids are available at Milk ‘N Honey. 

       When young, our bodies produce ample amounts of nitrates. As we age, our bodies produce less and become less efficient at producing nitric oxide. By the time we reach forty, studies show we only make about half or less of what we made when in our twenties. As we grow older, vegetable nitrate becomes increasingly important to our health.

       Increase your nitric oxide levels by consuming vegetables. Vegetables are a good source of nitrates which convert in the body to nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide provides circulatory and respiratory benefits for the body by relaxing smooth muscles and dilating blood vessels allowing for better blood flow.  Because nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, it can help to reduce high blood pressure.  Beets are an exceptional source of nitrate.  Drinking beet juice or taking a beet juice concentrate will increase nitric oxide levels.  A number of studies have shown consumption of beet juice lowers blood pressure.  At Milk 'N Honey we carry a dehydrated beet juice concentrate called RediBeets. By adding a teaspoon to a glass of water you can make instant beet juice. This product will provide dietary nitrate which is a precursor to nitric oxide in the body. We also carry ready to drink beet juice.

       Taurine:  Taurine is the most abundant and most important amino acid in the heart. It is present in the heart in greater quantities than all other amino acids combined.  Its primary function is to normalize potassium flow into and out of cardiac muscle cells, normalize the electrical excitability of the hearts cell membranes and enhance the contractile strength of the cardiac muscle.  Persons who have experienced a heart attack often exhibit very low taurine levels subsequent to their heart attack indicating that supplemental taurine may be highly advisable for persons who have experienced a heart attack or are experiencing coronary issues. The liver makes taurine from the amino acids cysteine and methionine. It is also found in most animal products. Taurine is available in supplemental form at Milk ‘N Honey. 

       L-Carnitine:  Carnitine is a dipeptide composed of the amino acids lysine and methionine and is chemically similar to choline.  It is manufactured in the liver and kidneys and is found in animal products.  This amino acid facilitates the transportation of fatty acids across cell membranes into the mitochondria of cells.  It is therefore important to the cells utilization of fats as a fuel source for producing energy.  Since the heart is the most energy intense organ in the body, carnitine is of vital importance to coronary health.  People who have cardiovascular disease often exhibit carnitine deficiency.  Some research shows that angina may occur as a result of carnitine deficiency and the taking of 900 - 2,000 mg per day of supplemental carnitine may reduce the pain and other symptoms of angina.  Carnitine is stored primarily in the heart where it facilitates cardiac contractions.  L-Carnitine is available as a supplement at Milk “N Honey.

       Magnesium:  Magnesium is an alkaline macro mineral that functions as an electrolyte. Electrolytes are substances that can conduct an electric charge when in solution.  Magnesium is one of the principal intracellular electrolytes that conduct a positive electrical charge. Therefore, this electrolyte is very important to the heart muscle as it is used to maintain voltages across the hearts cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses to other cells.  Magnesium also serves to relax the arterial system allowing for better blood flow. 

       Green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and collards, are good sources of magnesium. Some legumes, nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews and walnuts) and unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium. Refined grains have much of their magnesium removed.  Data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggest that substantial numbers of adults in the United States fail to consume recommended amounts of magnesium. The average Western dietary intake of magnesium is 200 mg per day for women and 240 mg per day for men.  The optimal daily allowance of magnesium for adults is 500 - 1,000 mg per day depending on weight.  

       Researchers have determined that congestive heart failure is often associated with abnormally low blood magnesium levels and low tissue magnesium levels.  Magnesium deficiency in congestive heart failure patients can lead to cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.  Magnesium deficiency may contribute to the increase in peripheral vascular resistance commonly observed in congestive heart failure patients. Since the body does not produce magnesium, all your magnesium must come from the diet.  Magnesium can also be taken as a supplement.

       D-ribose:  D-ribose is a five-carbon sugar that is made in our cells from glucose and is instrumental in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is also present in small amounts in food, primarily in muscle meats.  ATP is the basic energy producing molecule in the body.  Ribose provides the key building block of ATP, and the presence of ribose in the cell stimulates the metabolic pathway our bodies use to actually make ATP. If the cell does not have enough ribose, it cannot make ATP. Therefore, ribose is critical to the heart which utilizes a great deal of energy.  Ribose is made by the cells in response to metabolic demands of the body.  The process of making ribose is slow in the body and when metabolic demand suddenly increases, the body can’t always meet the demand in a timely manner.  For example, when there is a lack of oxygen to the heart resulting from a clogged artery inhibiting blood flow, the metabolic demands of the heart suddenly increase requiring greater ATP which requires more ribose.       

       Research has shown ribose to have a profound effect on heart function in patients with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathy (a weakened heart muscle). In one study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany, patients with congestive heart failure were treated with either 10 grams of ribose or a sugar placebo every day for three weeks. They were then tested for heart function, exercise tolerance and quality of life using a questionnaire designed for this purpose. In this study, ribose therapy had a significant effect on all measures of diastolic heart function, showing that increased energy in the heart allowed the heart to relax, fill, and pump more normally. Patients in the study were also much more tolerant of exercise when they were on ribose.

       Other studies have shown ribose supplementation increased oxygen utilization resulting in patients able to breathe better and use the oxygen they inhaled more efficiently. Improving ability to use oxygen means more oxygen is available to go into the blood and out to the tissues. Having more oxygen available allows the heart and all other muscles to burn fuel more efficiently, helping muscle to keep pace with energy demand.  Supplemental D-ribose is available at Milk ‘N Honey. 

        Hawthorn Berry:   This herb has been shown to support the strength of the heart muscle and help maintain a proper heart rhythm.  Hawthorne berry also appears to help lower high blood pressure and reduce mild chest pain (angina) associated with arterial blockage.  Hawthorn berry can be taken as an individual supplement or it is found in some nutritional supplements formulated specifically for the heart.

       Pomegranate:  Activation of a compound named NF-kappaB leads to development of inflammatory plaque in the arteries.  Compounds in pomegranate have been shown to inhibit the activation of this protein compound and thus help guard against plaque buildup. Pomegranate increases the production of a protective cytokine called prostacyclin which reduces blood clotting in the arterial system which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Pomegranate has been shown to inhibit a blood serum enzyme called ACE that can rise systolic (the upper number) blood pressure and thus it protects against the damaging effects of high blood pressure.

       Pomegranate increases the activity of the enzyme paraoxonase (PON-1).  This enzyme is found in HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol and plays a role in HDL’s ability to collect oxidized LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol from the walls of the arteries and transport it to the liver for processing.  This activity of HDL prevents plaque buildup in the arterial system. In a mouse study reported in May of 2013, it was found that mice treated with pomegranate extract showed a shrinkage of plaque in their arteries and an overall reduction in the number of arteries clogged with plaque.  Research has demonstrated that pomegranate reduces the various parameters that lead to heart disease by reducing macrophage lipid peroxidation and cholesterol accumulation in the arterial system. 

              At Milk ‘N Honey we offer a 100% pomegranate juice and pomegranate in softgels. Our softgel product is called PomXtra from the company EuroPharma. Taking two softgels is equal to drinking 14 ounces of pomegranate juice.  PomXtra contains pomegranate seed oil extract which is rich in punicic acid and pomegranate seed extract which is high in polyphenols. 

       Chelation therapy:  

       Chelation therapy is the process of removing from the body positively charged ionic minerals. This is done by intravenously or orally taking a compound which has suitable chelating properties. The word chelation is derived from the Greek word “chele” and means to claw or grab (like that done by a scorpion or crab). Atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries is a combination of cholesterol, other fatty acids and minerals such as calcium which hold the fatty acids in place.  Chelation of plaque from the arteries is accomplished by using the synthetic amino acid EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid) and other chelating agents to come into contact with positively charged metals such as calcium and “grab” them, thus removing them from the body via the urine which results in the breakup of plaque. 

       EDTA was first used in the 1940's for treatment of heavy metal poisoning. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council in the late 1960's indicated that EDTA was considered possibly effective in the treatment of occlusive vascular disorders caused by arteriosclerosis. One way to think about the chelation process is to compare it to the way we unclog a plugged sink drain. We add a chemical to the drain and it dissolves the blockage. The resulting compound is removed from the drain using the existing plumbing system. Chelation works in a similar manner in our body.  At Milk ‘N Honey we carry an oral chelation product from the company Vaxa called Tri-Cardia.