We often hear of people-both young and old, dropping dead from a heart attack. Most commonly, the killer is Atherosclerosis. Understanding what this actually means can help us go a long way in preventing ourselves and our families from such life-threatening events.
What is Atherosclerosis?!
Atherosclerosis means “hardening” of the arteries by fatty substances called plaques. These lead to reduced or blocked blood flow and eventually to more fatal consequences like coronary heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
How it is caused?
The main cause of cardiovascular (in the heart) atherosclerosis is the deposition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often called “bad cholesterol” in the arteries.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, family history of heart diseases can all contribute to increases LDL and thus, to atherosclerosis. The reverse- atherosclerosis leading to all these troubles- is also possible. As you can see, it is indeed a vicious cycle.
How will I know if I have Atherosclerosis?
Most symptoms of atherosclerosis don’t show until a blockage occurs. Common symptoms include:
- chest pain or angina
- pain in your leg, arm, and anywhere else that has a blocked artery
- shortness of breath
- confusion, which occurs if the blockage affects circulation to your brain
- muscle weakness in your legs from lack of circulation
How can I fight it?
Two factors: Change in lifestyle and nutrition
Regular exercise conditions the heart, improves circulation, and promotes the formation of new blood vessels. Smoking and alcohol should be avoided because they damage arteries and increase the risk of atherosclerosis. Check here for tips on how to get healthy in 7 days.
In addition, a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, is an effective way to prevent this disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids that from fish and fish oil supplements, regulate blood pressure and get rid of bad cholesterol in your body.
Your game plan:
Here is a fantastic list of commonly found foods that can prevent atherosclerosis. So, before you think there’s nothing you can do to protect your arteries; think again.
A do-able diet
Consume Lean Proteins: chicken breast, skimmed milk, tuna, salmon, herring, trout, legumes, whey and egg whites.
Include Soluble Fiber- either through vegetables, whole grains or psyllium husk, around 10 grams each day. Whole grains that contain a high amount of soluble fiber include barley, brown rice, millet, quinoa, whole wheat and wheat bran. One cup of oatmeal provides around 4-5 grams of soluble fiber. You can also add banana to your oatmeal as it will increase the amount of insoluble fiber by around 3-4 grams. Kidney beans, pears, prunes and apples are also good food sources of soluble fiber.
Consume Healthy Fats: high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids found in almonds, pistachios, flax seeds, walnuts, peanuts and fish.
Avoid Trans Fats – present in partially hydrogenated oils, processed baked foods such as cakes, biscuits, muffins, cookies, pies, brownies, frozen and fried foods.
Avoid Meat: you don’t have to be a vegetarian to reduce atherosclerosis, but the proteins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are easier for the body to break down than those in meat. Furthermore, they tend to have less dangerous fats. Just try to eat an 80:20 ratio of vegetables to meat.
Cut out Processed Foods: this is a very effective way to reduce the effects and severity of atherosclerosis. Many processed foods contain hydrogenated fats, which can cause even more problems than dangerous saturated fats
About the Author:
Dr. Sneha Kerkar is an aspiring young Homoeopath who is interning at our clinic. Besides trying to broaden her Homoeopathic horizons; she is actively involved in medical camps conducted through Lion’s Club. Dr. Kerkar is keen on helping patients use simple nutritional methods to improve overall health. To consult her for a customized heart-friendly diet or for a homoeopathic consultation; contact her on +91-8408082019 or email@example.com