Most doctors, including myself will tell you that a healthy heart is key to a long life lived in good health. Even better, when you take steps to care for your heart, you do your whole body a good turn. That's because many of the processes that underlie heart disease also contribute to the formation of other diseases.
Yet as modern science gets more advanced, new and exciting diagnostic tools become available. Just recently, I've researched some innovating indicators and risk factors that could have major contributors to heart disease.
Scientist are just starting to unveil breaking medical news about the effects of artery inflammation and a process called glycation that has a direct correlation to your heart health. And with heart disease being the leading killer in the United States, this information could have been an important healthy answer to preventing heart damage.
Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk Factors
Most heart disease discussions begin and end with cholesterol. That's unfortunate because there are many other important risk factors. Cholesterol is very important, but lower cholesterol alone is often not enough.
The problem begins when cholesterol is combined with other factors. Cholesterol by itself will not hurt you. But when you have high LDL cholesterol levels in the presence of free radicals or inflammation, the cholesterol can oxidize damage your arteries and forming plaques. Along with your concerns of cholesterol comes a new warning, and it's probably one you never heard about before.
The Heart Disease Risk Factor You Never Heard of Before
If you have not heard of glycation, do not feel bad. Most people have not. It often goes overlooked by doctors, as well. When you eat foods high in sugar and starch, the glucose that enters your bloodstream can bind with proteins or cholesterol. This process is called crosslinking, and it's not good. Some researchers have found that glycation and crosslinked proteins contribute more to the development of heart disease than either cholesterol or diabetes. 1
When glycation occurs, it results in the formation of compounds called advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs for short. That nickname is appropriate. AGEs cause you to age at a cellular level. AGEs cause your arms and the heart muscle itself to become stiffer and less functional. They can also affect how your heart uses calcium, causing a further decline in function. 2
Preventing glycation does not include taking any fancy drugs. It just takes a small change in your eating habits. Glycation happens when you consume an excess of sugar-especially fructose. High fructose corn syrup is the worst offender.
In animal studies, researchers show that fructose results in glycation and arterial damage when combined with cholesterol. The damage is much worse than that caused by cholesterol alone. 3 To stop this from occurring in your arms, eat more lean protein and more vegetables. Avoid foods with that contain high fructose corn syrup.
New News on Inflammation and Heart Disease
Inflammation is another important heart disease risk factor. Low-level infection that is chronic and systemic damages your body through. The endothelial lining within your arms is particularly vulnerable.
Many things cause low-grade inflammation including obesity, infections, environmental pollutants, certain foods, hormone imbalances, and a lack of physical activity. Research shows that people with the highest levels of low-grade inflammation are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those with the lowest levels. 4
Fortunately, your doctor can do a new test to determine if infection is putting you in danger. The test is called the Silent Inflammation Profile, or SIP. It measures the ratio between inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA) and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids (which your body makes from EPA, one of the omega-3 essential fatty acids). This ratio is a very accurate indicator of your low-grade inflation levels. If the number is high, then it is relatively inflammation is silently damaging your most vital systems … including your heart.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your infection levels. They provide a number of benefits to your heart. They help to lower your blood pressure, and they give your body the tools it needs to make anti-inflammatory compounds that will extremely lower your inflation levels. 5
Another way to reduce your infection levels is to get more exercise, especially short bursts of strenuous exercise. Becoming more physically active can reduce your infection levels by up to 35%. 6 If you have any existing health conditions, you should talk with you doctor first to make sure this kind of exercise is safe for you.
Reducing your heart disease risk factors goes well beyond monitoring and controlling your cholesterol. Cholesterol control is important, but by reducing your glycation and infection levels, you can cut down on the potential harm that high cholesterol can cause.