Whenever I implicate carbs instead of fat as a major risk factor for obesity and heart disease, I am met with rolling eyes and eventually that look that says “you’re insane.”
In an ongoing effort to convince my audience that I am NOT nuts, I encourage them to read the advice of someone with better qualifications on the subject: a cardiologist.
Not just any cardiologist mind you, but a rare breed actually concerned with prevention:
Dr. William Davis.
Dr. Davis’ Heart Scan Blog is full of great info but there is a LOT to wade through.
To make your first encounter with Dr. D easier, let me start you off with a few recommendations:
1. Know your risk factors for heart disease
2. Understanding cholesterol Values
The LDL/HDL/Total cholesterol numbers are NOT a good indication of your risk of heart disease. These number can mislead by underestimating or overestimating risk. Learn what Lipoprotein analysis (NMR) is and understand what small LDL particles are.
3. Reducing your risks and reversing heart disease
There is no one post that pulls this all together* but his advice is consistent:
- Eliminate sugars, wheat and cornstarch
Eliminate–not reduce, but eliminate wheat products from your diet, whether or not the fancy label on the package says it’s healthy, high in fiber, a "healthy low-fat snack", etc. This means no bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, breads, chips, pancakes, waffles, breading on chicken, rolls, bagels, cakes, breakfast cereal. This includes…
- Eliminate junk foods
such as candies, cookies, pretzels, rice cakes, potato chips, etc.
- Take Omega 3
It must be from fish oil There is no need for expensive brands like Lovaza (aka Omacor). Dosing frequently (eg 2-3 times per day) seems to enhance the effect. Take a minimum EPA + DHA of 1200 mg per day (ie 4000mg standard fish oil) or more.
- Take Vitamin D3
This should be oil based (ie gel not tablet). Dr. D has on occasion recommended Carlson’s and Vitamin Shoppe brands.
"Though needs vary widely, the majority of men require 6000 units per day, women 5000 units per day. Only then do most men and women achieve what I’d define as desirable: 60-70 ng/ml 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level." ref
Dr. D has also mentioned that exercise may enhance the benefits of these changes but he does not discuss exercise much.
Likewise he has stated that one should not allow saturated fats to dominate but again his blog does spend a lot of time on this recommendation. In this respect he is more conservative than much of the low-carb community particularly given that he remains anti-egg yolk: "One yolk per day is clearly too much."
* Note that this list is my own compilation from various posts and may not accurately reflect Dr. Davis’ protocol due to errors of omission or emphasis.
Cause or effect?
Young adults who lose their teeth to cavities or gum disease may have an increased risk of dying from heart disease later in life, a new study suggests. (…) Tooth loss is an indicator of poor oral health. Scientists speculate that the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease may enter the bloodstream and either damage the blood vessel lining directly or trigger inflammation in the body that then contributes to heart disease. – Reuters
Actually this isn’t exactly news. We’ve been hearing about this correlation for years. And as for the cause and effect relationship between oral hygiene and heart health, this is matter of speculation.
The chief culprit in the mouth is Streptococcus mutans, with Lactobacillus species also playing a role. These germs thrive on sugar, and every time we eat a meal or a snack, sugar levels in the mouth increase and nourish the resident bacteria. Within 20 minutes, sticky, destructive plaque begins to form on our teeth, and decay is underway.
The pathogenic S. mutans bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and infect the interior linings of the heart, causing infectious endocarditis, a very serious disease. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to damaged heart valves and congestive heart failure. Concern over the possibility of endocarditis is one reason why dentists usually administer antibiotics before performing invasive procedures on susceptible individuals, such as those with periodontal disease. – More
Perhaps S. mutans is the culprit or perhaps a diet high in sugar leads both to heart disease and tooth decay. The fact is that a third actor may be causing the two. At one time, Helicobacter pylori was suspected of being a player in this correlation.
Whatever the truth, good oral hygeine is always recommended if not for dental health then at least for personal care and for social reasons! Brushing after every meal is also a good way to reduce snacking (how can I get my teeth dirty again?!).
And as always – cut out the sugar.
Scientists report an increase in new cancer cases is correlated with statin use, offesetting the reduced cardiac mortality. Net impact on mortality is neutral. With statins, you don’t die of a heart attack, instead, you die of cancer. Physicians are now investigating how statins can be used without this “unfortunate” side effect… More