Knowing that saturated fat and cholesterol have nothing to do with heart disease finally frees you to take a serious look at what does cause this potentially lethal condition. While the film focuses on how things such as cortisol, stress, and telomeres can influence heart disease, for most people heart disease is a result of poor lifestyle choices; some of the most important of which include the following. All of these things are well within your control, and don’t cost much (if any) money to address.
A diet too high in sugar, trans fat, and oxidized cholesterol, and too low in healthy fats Added sugars, and processed fructose in particular, are a primary driver of metabolic dysfunction and heart disease. One recent 15-year long study, which included data for 31,000 Americans, found that those who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who got less than 10 percent of their calories from sugar.
On the whole, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of added sugar in the diet regardless of the age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.
Trans fat may promote heart disease to an even greater degree than sugar. Structurally, trans fats are synthetic fatty acids produced during the hydrogenation process. (They are not present in either animal or vegetable fats.) Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin, which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.
Also, while dietary cholesterol is fine, oxidized cholesterol is not. Oxidized cholesterol forms when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oils) are heated. This oxidizedcholesterol causes increased thromboxane formation — a factor that clots your blood.
So, if you want to protect your heart, avoid all hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils, and replace them with healthy saturated fats such as coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, animal fats like lard, and raw nuts.
Lack of exercise Exercise protects against heart disease primarily by normalizing your insulin and leptin levels, and it is indeed potent medicine. A 2013 meta-review, which included 305 randomized controlled trials and nearly 339,300 people, found “no statistically detectable differences” between exercise and medications for heart disease, including statins. Lack of sun exposure Vitamin D is very important for reducing hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In one study, vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of heart attack by 50 percent. What’s worse, if you have a heart attack and you’re vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying from that heart attack creeps up to nearly 100 percent. Ideally, you want to maintain a vitamin D level of 50 to 70 ng/ml year-round, or 70 to 100 ng/ml if you’re trying to treat heart disease. Lack of grounding to the earth Grounding effectively alleviates inflammation because it thins your blood and infuses you with negatively charged ions through the soles of your feet. It also helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential, which means it improves the energy between your red blood cells.
Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood. Since heart disease is primarily caused by inflammation, regularly grounding yourself to the earth is a simple way to combat inflammation without spending a penny.
Identifying Risk Factors for Heart Disease
If you want to understand what causes heart disease, you have to look at what causes damage to your artery walls, interferes in disease processes, and causes blood clotting. When the endothelial wall is damaged, repair mechanisms are set into motion, creating a “scab.” To prevent this scab from dislodging, the endothelial wall grows over it, causing the area to become thickened. This is what is called atherosclerosis.
There’s no fat (cholesterol) “clogging the pipe” at all; rather the arterial wall is thickened as a result of your body’s natural repair process. So what causes damage to your arteries?
One of the primary culprits is sugar and fructose in particular. So eating a high sugar diet is a sure-fire way to put heart disease on your list of potential health problems. Meanwhile, total cholesterol will tell you virtually nothing about your disease risk, unless it’s exceptionally elevated (above 330 or so, which would be suggestive of familial hypercholesterolemia, which, in my view, would be about the only time a cholesterol-reducing drug would be appropriate).