Constitutional Health Network:
Healthy Heart Lifestyle

High blood pressure. Carrying too much weight. Diabetes. A family history of heart attacks. These are things everyone knows make you more likely to have a heart attack. You might be surprised, though, at some of the lesser-known things which also raise your heart attack risk. Are you taking ibuprofen or using antibacterial soap? You might want to switch to a natural product. Did you have a triple cheeseburger and fries for lunch? The old phrase “heart attack on a bun” might be right on target—but not for the reasons you expect. Below are 15 little-known triggers that can raise your risk of a heart attack, and sometimes even double it. They just might make you look at your habits in a whole new light. Trigger #1: Getting angry A 2015 Australian study found that people were more likely to have heart attacks in the two hours following an episode of intense anger. Those who said they’d been, “furious,” “enraged,” or ...

We all know exercise is good for us. We know it’s one of the best ways to prevent heart disease, and one of the keys to recovering from a heart attack.   However, fitness is big business. And like most big businesses, the industry puts out a lot of questionable information and calls it the truth. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know a lot about the science of exercise, and sorting fact from fiction may be hard—so here are 10 harmful myths about fitness that you just shouldn’t believe. 1. Myth: If you don’t exercise when you’re young, it’s dangerous when you get older. Truth: Any age is the perfect time to start an exercise program. Whether you’re nine, nineteen, or ninety, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start. In fact, a 2009 study from Hebrew University Medical center found that people who began exercising as senior citizens lived longer than those who didn’t, even if they’d never ...

A mere decade ago, conventional medicine scoffed at the idea that vitamin D deficiency was a problem in the U.S. Forward-thinking doctors who suggested taking more than the amount included in a  multivitamin were labeled quacks. “Experts” warned about the dangers of high doses of this essential vitamin, predicting dire results.   Today the tables have turned. Insufficient vitamin D intake has been tied to a score of health problems from heart disease to depression to cancer. Even Big Medicine can’t ignore the problem anymore. So if you think you get enough vitamin D just because you take a multivitamin or eat fortified foods, think again. You probably need considerably more than what you’re getting. Understanding RDAs for vitamins and minerals If you look at any supplement bottle, next to each vitamin or mineral you will see the “RDA” or Recommended Daily Allowance. Most people think that this is the optimal amount you ...

Nearly every year Big Pharma rolls out another diabetes drug, like a car manufacturer introducing the latest model. Often the new model isn’t a bit more effective than the older, safer ones, and even more often the new model hasn’t been safety tested. This can mean serious health problems for the human guinea pigs who get a prescription. We are not keen on being a test-crash dummy, now is the time to tell Big Pharma where to stick its pills. Here are 6 tools for controlling blood sugar naturally: 1. Supplement for diet with this kitchen staple The spice cabinet holds one of the most potent and well-researched natural diabetes treatments out there. Sweet and spicy, it’s been a staple of cooking for thousands of years. Now, science says it can lower blood glucose too. I’m talking about cinnamon. Plain, powdered cinnamon. The stuff you sprinkle on cinnamon toast and apple pie. A now-famous study published in the journal Diabetes Care back in ...

You’ve probably heard it before. It seems like everyone from part-time gym rats to professional fitness trainers is telling us we shouldn’t do it. “You shouldn’t exercise at night, because…” The “because” might be any one of a dozen things, but the most common I hear are: “It releases endorphins.” (True, but that’s not a bad thing.) “It increases your adrenaline levels.” (Also true, but not a reason to not exercise at night as long as you don’t do it too close to bedtime.) “It raises your core temperature for several hours.” (True. Exercise does raise your core temperature for 5-6 hours afterward. Is that a reason not to exercise at night? Maybe, maybe not.) “You won’t sleep as well.” (Not necessarily true—the evidence is conflicting.) What you won’t hear is the REAL reason you shouldn’t work out at night. It’s ...

The concept of Body Mass Index or BMI carries entirely too much weight in the medical world. We’re judged on and according to BMI in many cases, whether that judgement is warranted or not. And far too often that same judgement can have a real effect on our health. Those of us with a BMI above the “normal” range are more likely to be subjected to tests and offered “treatments” we may or may not actually need. And of course we already know that the more tests you’re given the more likely you are to end up with drugs you don’t need, or injuries or illness stemming from the testing itself. Medicine’s mandate is to find something wrong with us and sell us a treatment no matter how hard it may have to work to find a problem. Meanwhile, people in the “normal” range are given a pass and assumed to be “healthy” merely because their BMI number is more acceptable. Nevermind the fact that the BMI scale was ...

Decades ago medicine, in its infinite wisdom, declared that too much salt causes high blood pressure. (Just as it declared that fat is bad for you and dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.) Everyone was advised to sharply limit their salt intake regardless of what their blood pressure was. And people whose pressure was already high were often put not just on a low-salt but a no salt diet. It didn’t take long for the research disputing this advice to start stacking up. But as usual, any study that called the new “standard of care” into question was largely ignored by those who make the rules. We all know how it goes: once a new “guideline” is issued, any research that contradicts it is denied, ridiculed, or outright buried. And that’s exactly what happened with salt. The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back to the lowest amount ever. This goes against mounting evidence that too much salt doesn’t actually ...

The world of exercise and fitness is full of clichés. Some of them are ridiculous—“no pain, no gain” comes to mind—and the majority of them are little more than thinly-disguised judgements against anyone who isn’t a gym rat.  But many of the things that we think of as clichés were, when someone first said them, not just true but strikingly true. And that even includes a handful of fitness clichés. Like this one:   Question: What kind of exercise is the best one for X? Answer: The one you’ll actually DO.   This is hands-down the truest statement I’ve ever heard about exercise, and it’s as true when it comes to heart health as to anything else. It doesn’t matter what kind of amazing benefits any given workout may offer if it’s not something you’ll actually jump in and do. So the first rule when it comes to exercise for your heart is this: pick something you enjoy. ...

When you hear the phrase “heart disease,” what springs to mind is probably coronary artery disease—plaque buildup in the arteries of your heart. In reality, “heart disease” isn’t any single disease but a catch-all term that includes a lot of different conditions from coronary artery disease to congestive heart failure and more. Most of us know that chest pain and pain down one arm might mean we’re having a heart attack. We probably know that sudden weakness on one side of the body could indicate a stroke. But the signs and symptoms of many types of heart problems can be much more subtle. Some are easily overlooked. Some can be mistaken for other conditions. The issues below fall into this category. They might not be anything to worry about. But depending on the state of your health—and especially if you’re suffering from more than one of them—they just might be a sign that something is going on with your ...

In the first part of this series we talked about how losing weight—and keeping it off—is about more than just counting calories or following a special diet for a set time. Of course these things can help you lose weight. However, as studies show us time and again, losing weight this way tends to be a temporary fix. People who “diet” generally put the weight right back on—and often gain more than they lost in the first place. The bottom line is this: diets simply don’t work in the long term. If you want to lose weight, diets just set you up for failure. Why? Because they only change your eating habits short-term. They don’t address what lies beneath your eating habits—your beliefs about and relationship to food. To lose weight and be successful, this is what has to change. Now here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear—the reason so many try fad diets and ultimately fail: this kind of change doesn’t ...

As far back as the 1960s, scientists noticed an interesting connection between water and heart disease. It appeared that if you had “hard” water—that is, water containing lots of minerals, the kind of water that ruins the heating element in your water heater and creates a scaly buildup in your teakettle—you were less likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.   They couldn’t explain why, but it was an effect they saw over and over again: the “harder” your water, the lower your risk of heart problems. In fact, more than fifty studies scattered over nine different countries show this effect. More investigation revealed that this was partially due to the high magnesium content of hard water. Since then it’s been repeatedly shown that the higher your magnesium intake, the less likely you are to suffer a variety of heart problems including:   Coronary artery disease. Cardiac arrhythmia. Or ...

If you’ve read even one article here at Constitutional Health, you know that I’m about as anti-establishment as it’s possible to be. I’ll never advise a drug if there’s a non-drug treatment or remedy available. I’ll never advise surgery if there’s any way around it. I’ll tell you that if you’re going to do one good thing for your health it’s to ask hard questions and don’t give up till you get answers. I think the average person is much too quick to jump on the medical bandwagon and swallow whatever their doctor recommends without asking any questions. On the other hand, there are plenty of “alternative” treatments, products, and theories that I just can’t get behind. I’m a “show me the science” kind of guy and many facets of alternative medicine are backed by either shoddy science or no science at all. Others fly directly in the face of scientific fact. And as much as I like to ...

The guidelines on what “healthy” blood pressure is are all over the place. For decades, “normal” blood pressure was accepted as whatever your age was plus 100. So a twenty-year old was expected to have a BP no higher than 120/80. A forty-year old, 140/90. And if you were 60, a top number of 160 was considered perfectly acceptable. But medicine changes its mind more often than most of us change our socks, and today some doctors are trying to push blood pressure lower and lower. Many consider a BP of 140 “high” and prescribe drugs no matter what your age. And a growing number want to “aggressively” treat anything higher than 120/80, often using three or more drugs in the effort. This is not a good thing. Not only is there no evidence showing that aggressive treatment like this lowers your risk for heart disease, the side effects from the drugs can be profound. And here’s what no one is telling you: most people can lower ...

Something shocking is happening in the world of “healthcare” right now. There’s the medical equivalent of a catfight going on among “experts,” and it’s all centered on who should be put on blood pressure drugs. That there’s an argument over who’s right going on is no surprise—this happens all the time. Many medical “guidelines” are something that doctors viciously disagree about. “Guidelines” are often created by the most vocal “leaders” in the field, and often these leaders have an axe to grind. No. That there’s a catfight isn’t surprising. What is unheard of is that this one is happening in open sight of the public. So how high is YOUR blood pressure? Are you on medication? Has your doctor piled on more and more drugs in an effort to get it “low enough”? Do you feel like you were pushed into treatment? This post is a handy guide to the argument going on ...

The “liver cleanse” has been a fad for a while now, but a new study suggests that instead of “cleansing” your liver, you might need to put it on a low-cal diet instead. The study came from researchers at Pierre and Marie Curie University in France and was published in the American Journal of Hepatology.   It concluded that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—a condition which often goes hand in hand with obesity and diabetes—raises your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly. The study in question found that people with NAFLD were much more likely to develop fatty deposits in their carotid arteries, the major arteries of the neck which supply blood to the brain. This disease was unheard of before the 1980s—here’s why Whether so-called “nonalcoholic fatty liver disease” is really a disease in and of itself is debatable. As the name implies, people with this condition have too much fat in their livers, ...

Advice urging us to exercise, exercise, exercise is a constant drumbeat in the background of most health advice today. It's good advice, of course. As our jobs and lifestyles have changed over the past few decades, we've come to a point where most of us get a fraction of the exercise we need.  There's another message woven through much of this advice, though. It's seldom stated outright but the subliminal cues are there. It's the idea that "exercise" has to some sort of special project that you take time out for.    You might not notice it, but there's a real bias toward "commercial" types of exercise. There's a subtle message that if you're not going to a gym or maybe running, you're not "really" exercising. There are tons of articles and blog posts on the importance of making time for exercise or how to carve an hour out of your busy day to get some gym time ...

At the tail-end of last year, just in time for Christmas, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic published an intriguing study centered on heart disease. It gave new meaning to the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach — and suggested that it may be more literally true than we ever imagined. In recent years we’ve learned that our “microbiomes” — the incredible colonies of microorganisms that live in our guts — have a profound effect on us. They influence everything from our weight to our moods to our blood sugar levels. They also seem to play a role in heart disease, and this study explained one way in which they might affect heart health. It also suggested what might be a “novel drug treatment” in the near future. If it comes to fruition, it will very likely be one of the next “blockbuster” drugs that rakes in billions of dollars and is prescribed to half the population. It sounds ...

You may not realize this, but much of the most interesting and most truly useful health news never makes it to the mainstream news sites or print. Instead it gets buried in obscure journals or on organizational websites. Unless it's something that the media can spin into a fear-inducing headline (zika) or a feel-good piece, you may never hear about health news at all. Especially if it's something that doesn't benefit Big Pharma.    Here's one great example: having your teeth professionally cleaned just once every few years significantly lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. And having it done regularly cuts your risk by an amazing 24% and 13% respectively.    That's right. Twenty-four percent. To put that in perspective, the most generous estimate of how much statins — which Big Medicine says one-third of us should be taking — lower heart attack risk is 8%. Some experts put the number at closer to 1% or 2%. ...

While I’m the first to agree that the prescription for health for most of us is to eat better and exercise more, there’s another important message that seldom gets airtime. That being: when it comes to exercise, more isn’t necessarily better. It’s true that the average person today probably doesn’t get the exercise they need. However, being active and fit doesn’t mean you have to work out at the gym for two hours each day or run a marathon. In fact, doing either of those things could very well harm your heart rather than helping it. It’s true that most of us are far more likely to under-exercise than to over-exercise. But for the truly fitness-minded a word of caution is in order. While working out up to an hour per day has huge health benefits, going beyond that hour doesn’t have much of an additional effect. And if you have a grueling cardio training schedule, you could actually end up with scar tissue in your heart. This ...

Earlier this year, the death of a participant in a French drug trial made headlines worldwide. There was public outcry across Europe and even in the U.S. The world called for more stringent rules and more oversight. The trial was halted. And it stayed halted. What didn’t make worldwide headlines — what actually barely made a blip on the radar outside of pharma-stock articles — was the U.S. drug trial that had killed someone a couple of months previously. This trial was “partially” halted. The FDA didn’t feel that one death was enough of a reason to really stop testing, however, and it took a second death and a slew of “adverse events” for them to stop the trial completely. Now the drug manufacturer, Zafgen, is waving data showing the drug’s effectiveness — in spite of the fact that it kills people — under the FDA’s nose and pressuring them to allow the trial to resume. And the FDA is probably going ...

We all know that the typical American diet makes us gain weight. It leads directly to diabetes. It lays the groundwork for heart disease and raises our blood pressure. The average diet is high in carbs, low in nutrition, and all-round bad for us. This isn't news. But information uncovered by a new study from the University of Leipzig, Germany, is.    The study, published in the prestigious journal PLOS One, suggests that the situation may be even worse than we thought.  Our food is making us sick, but the packaging may be worse The study found that a chemical used in plastic food packaging causes weight gain, even at very low levels — levels similar to what we're exposed to daily through our food. The chemical, a type of phthalate, is used in many different types of plastic to make them soft or flexible. It's also added to make them sturdier and more durable.    Researchers looked at how mice responded to ingesting ...

We do a lot of talking about what’s in our food. We talk about calories. We talk about protein and carbs and fat. We talk about additives and preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. We talk a lot about added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. We talk about GMOS and pesticide residues. What we don’t talk so much about is what’s not in our food. And we should. The food we eat today is a different thing than the food we ate 50 years ago. And I don’t mean just the hyper-processed junk that passes for food for so many of us. I’m talking about the real food — the fruits and vegetables, the meat and dairy, the grains. What we’re eating today is fundamentally different than what our grandparents or even our parents ate. It is, in a word, not nearly as nutritious as it used to be. Multiple studies have documented this disturbing fact. One of the most notable came from the University of Texas back in 2004, and it found frightening ...

Regular exercise is as important to heart health as eating the right food, cutting sugar, and eliminating toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, regular exercise is where many of us — not to make a pun — fall down. Too many of us don't exercise even though we may do everything else in our power to improve our health.    There are a lot of reasons for this. Maybe we feel like we just don't have enough time to fit it in. We may think we're not in good enough shape to even start. Some of us may have arthritis, or worry about injuring ourselves because we're not very flexible. Whatever the reasons, by not exercising we're missing out on one of the key tools for maintaining a healthy heart.    The truth is, none of that really matters. It's never too late to start exercising, and you're never too out-of-shape to begin — the hardest part is simply getting started. With that in mind, I've created a simple ...

If you have diabetes, your doctor might just be over-treating you. According to a recent study in the medical journal BMJ, more than half of those with diabetes are getting way too many tests. And as we know, too many tests usually leads to too many — or too strong — medications.   The study looked at how often diabetics were given a hemoglobin A1C test. This is a test designed to look at how well your blood sugar has been controlled in the past three months. It’s intended to be done only once or possibly twice per year if your sugar is well-controlled. The study found that, far from once per year, a whopping 55% of people were tested three to four times. And 6% were tested five times or more.   But when did Big Medicine let a guideline stand in the way of profit?   More frequent testing isn’t just a hassle, or an extra expense. Like so many other “routine” tests, more frequent hemoglobin A1C tests are ...

Although Big Pharma is still fighting tooth and nail to keep its hand in your pocket and millions of prescriptions for statins are still being written each year, the cholesterol train has pretty much left the station.   Over the past couple of years, study after study has debunked the cholesterol-heart disease connection. The evidence — or lack thereof — has been compelling enough that even many doctors are beginning to question whether cholesterol numbers can really predict who will get heart disease. Most doctors, however, continue to toe the party line and prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs like Christmas candy. Why the disconnect between the evidence and their actions?   Peer pressure.   Doctors who speak out are often crucified by others. If they’re Dr. Mehmet Oz or Dr. Joseph Mercola, this might not be the end of the world. When you’re a household name and have a huge marketing machine behind you, a little ...

High blood pressure. Carrying too much weight. Diabetes. A family history of heart attacks. These are things everyone knows make you more likely to have a heart attack. You might be surprised, though, at some of the lesser-known things which also raise your heart attack risk. Are you taking ibuprofen or using antibacterial soap? You might want to switch to a natural product.    Did you have a triple cheeseburger and fries for lunch? The old phrase "heart attack on a bun" might be right on target — but not for the reasons you expect. Below are 15 little-known triggers that can raise your risk of a heart attack, and sometimes even double it. They just might make you look at your habits in a whole new light.  Trigger #1: Getting angry A 2015 Australian study found that people were more likely to have heart attacks in the two hours following an episode of intense anger. Those who said they'd been, "furious," ...

We know a lot about heart disease.    For instance, we know that it's the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.    We know that over 600,000 people die each year from heart disease or related complications.    We know that every 43 seconds, someone in this country suffers a heart attack. Chances are, you or someone you know is at risk for developing heart disease. The problem is very real.    And for as much as we know about the disease, we're still learning more and more about how to prevent it. The fact is, most of the risk factors for heart disease are lifestyle-related. This is actually good news, because it means that there's a lot you can do to protect yourself. Smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity are just a few of the common risk factors that you can control.    You hear about these risk factors almost anywhere - on the television, in the ...

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. It's a billion dollar problem that affects as many as one in three Americans. It's been estimated that one person the United States dies from heart disease every 90 seconds - over 2,000 people per day. But as serious as these statistics are, there's hope. Most of the factors that lead to heart disease are lifestyle-related.    This is a good thing. It means that there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Here are the top five things you can do that will reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your health overall:    #1 Don't worry about eating "right," just eat clean. The "right" foods to eat for your heart usually change with fad diets. But you can't go wrong with simple natural foods. Aim to make the majority of your shopping cart filled with lean meats and animal proteins, ...

You've heard about heart disease. For starters, it's the number one cause of death in the United States. Over 600,000 Americans die from it every year. Heart disease is more common in certain parts of the country, like in the South. Heart disease is also more common among certain ethnic groups, like Caucasians and African Americans. The key risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity,  diabetes, and high blood pressure.    You might have noticed that most of the key risk factors are related to lifestyle choices. What does this tell us? That heart disease is largely preventable. This is both good and bad news. The bad news is that, as a country, we're not doing a very good job with keeping ourselves healthy. The good news is that it's possible to change this.   Here's where you come in. You do what you can to stay healthy and keep your heart in good shape. Maybe you talk to your doctor regularly. Maybe you try to ...

It's been a tough year for the American Heart Association and other Pharma-affiliated "expert" groups. Science has finally put the lie to some of the long-standing "dietary guidelines" they've been selling us for decades, and they're not happy about it. First cholesterol got the axe. The evidence that dietary cholesterol DOESN'T cause heart disease is now so compelling that even the USDA took it off their list of bad guys. Of course, that didn't stop the Big Medicine from expanding the guidelines for who should take cholesterol drugs. Big Pharma wants everyone on a pill. And when Big Pharma isn't happy, Big Medicine and the AMA aren't happy either. Saturated fat was also vindicated. Of course the AMA still recommends low fat. And the high-carb diet that has made us sick and overweight is still held up as a shining example — even though the evidence against it is overwhelming. Now salt is under the microscope, and the ...

Have you ever been torn between "what your head is telling you" and "what your heart is telling you"? If so, you might be surprised at just how much your heart does have to say. It's a little-known fact outside of scientific circles, but your heart actually contains some 40,000 neurons — the same cells which make up the bulk of your brain.    And they don't just respond to directions from the brain. The heart also sends messages to the brain — messages that go beyond basic messages like pain signals and other unconscious data. It also sends messages to the parts of the brain which process thoughts and emotions. This means that your heart really can affect your decisions and feelings.    The phrase "listen to your heart" takes on a whole new meaning when you consider this information.  Exploring the "heart mind" The term "heart mind" was coined in 1991 to describe ...

Whether you follow health news regularly or you just like to eat well, unless you live under a rock you’ve probably read about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. We’ve been told for years that this style of eating lowers the risk of a host of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Now European researchers say that eating the Mediterranean way does twice as much good as taking statins for those with heart disease. The study was presented at the world’s largest heart conference, and scientists from across the globe—including the U.S.—attended. The results are the talk of Europe right now. The findings are so profound that there’s ongoing discussion of governments handing out—or at least subsidizing—free fruit and vegetables. But here’s the really interesting thing: The American media just isn’t reporting this story. The study was presented last week, and since then has ...

Anyone who’s truly health-conscious knows by now about the dangers of sugar and the high-carb diet we were told to eat for decades. And some of you—especially regular readers—may know that science has been aware of these dangers since the mid-1900s. In the 1950s and 60s there were two competing theories. One said that heart disease was primarily caused by fat. The other, which had more evidence to back it up, pointed the finger directly at sugar.   The main voice of the anti-sugar movement was a man named John Yudkin. Now Yudkin wasn’t a nobody. He wasn’t some fringe scientist or snake oil salesman. He was a respected professional—the founder of the nutrition department at London’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth College. Like Dr. Robert Lustig today, Yudkin warned that sugar, not fat, was at the root of heart disease and other chronic ills. Unlike Dr. Lustig, Yudkin’s research was buried and his career destroyed because of ...

You’ve probably heard something about the benefits of an alkaline diet—especially if you’re a television or movie fan. It seems like every other celebrity out there is promoting an alkaline diet right now, and there’s a good reason for that. Following the guidelines for an alkaline diet, provided you do it sensibly (more on that later) really does promote good health. Eating an alkaline diet (again, provided you do it sensibly) can help your body fight many of the ills of the modern world including inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, and even brittle bones. It may sound a little “out there,” but there’s actually some valid science behind the idea of eating for alkalinity. However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. Too many self-styled health gurus push the alkaline agenda without really understanding the science behind it. So today I’d like to explain just what an alkaline diet is (and isn’t) plus the ...

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