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The Causes of Cardiovascular Disease and How to Avoid Them

The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Pesek, MD.

Heart disease gets a lot of attention, and it should because it claims more American lives than any other disease.

Greater than 50% of Americans have heart disease, and over 70% of these individuals are on at least one medication. I know it’s scary, but when you understand and act on the two key points below, you can protect your body from cardiovascular disease. Knowledge is power, but only when you take action.

1. Inflammation Drives Disease

Have you ever accidentally touched a hot stove? Your skin turns bright red, blisters form and the resulting pain lasts for what seems like an eternity. Although it’s no walk in the park, this acute inflammatory response is a positive sign that your immune system is healthy and doing its job.

But what happens when your immune system fails to shut off? Like a forgotten pot of water left to boil over on a hot stove, this persistent internal inflammation—called chronic inflammation—is a totally different scenario. It’s much more worrisome, especially because you can’t see or feel it! It’s literally doing silent damage.

Unlike the repair that occurs during acute inflammation, chronic inflammation does not allow for this healing and can drive serious diseases like diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and arterial disease, which leads to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

You will be relieved to know there are measures you can take today to cool this inflammation, and it starts with what you put in your mouth.

2. Fat Toxicity Triggers Inflammation

A diet rich in processed food made up of unhealthy fats, refined sugars and an overabundance of animal protein—also known as the standard American diet (or “SAD” diet)—is literally making us sick and inflamed.

Healthy fats in avocados, nuts and seeds aren’t the problem. The inflammation-triggering fats I’m speaking of are those found in animal products and industrial seed oils, like vegetable, corn, cottonseed and canola. Take a look at any packaged convenience food and you’ll likely find one or more of these oils hiding in the ingredient list. Frozen meals, chips, cereal, pastries and fast food are all fair game.

When inflammatory fats are eaten over time, they eventually get deposited in the innermost layer of blood vessels where they form plaques. This is what’s known as atherosclerosis. The resulting inflammation and restricted blood flow lead to life-threatening conditions like heart disease and heart attack, stroke, circulation disorders, high blood pressure, clotting and even aneurism.

If we want to prevent—and in some cases reverse—disease, shifting to a diet based on the 7 Fx Pillars is a great way to start. Don’t worry, it’s not as challenging as you may think.

Key Takeaway

Take the first step towards minimizing your consumption of unhealthy fats by simply cutting back on processed food and reducing your portions of meat.

Want to go a little further? Begin replacing some of your animal proteins with plant-based varieties like beans, lentils and tempeh. The good news is you don’t have to give up meat! Just remember the protein hierarchy offered in Fx Pillar 4: choose plants over fish, over fowl, over grass-fed beef.

Dr. Todd Pesek, MD

By Dr. Todd Pesek, MD

Todd Pesek, M.D. is a holistic physician who specializes in disease prevention and reversal toward longevity and vital living. In addition to being Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd is the founder of VitalHealth Partners, a private group medical practice that focuses on preventive, integrative, holistic healthcare.

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