Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Greetings Journal Reader! As summer arrives, it’s time to get up, get out, and invest more time in your most important asset—your health! It’s easier than you think. For example, maybe for you, it’s getting to bed a little earlier, or choosing to have an apple during break instead of potato chips or cookies. Here’s a novel idea: how about getting up 10 minutes sooner to actually have breakfast, instead of a latte on the go? More often than not, you’ll be surprised how starting a simple habit like these examples can make a huge difference in your overall health. Isn’t it time for you to get better with age? Isn’t it time for you to achieve YOUR maximum health & vitality? Start today! This month’s column begins a series on heart health. Make sure to share it with your friends & family.
Q: Dr. P, my dad had a heart attack in his 60s, & my medical doctor says I’m at risk. I want to make sure to prevent having a heart attack as well as help my dad live longer. What would be the naturopathic approach for us? Thanks, Mike
Mike, at my office we would approach both you and your dad with a comprehensive & tailored plan covering several key elements: Risk Factor Reduction; Therapeutic Diet/ Nutrition; Use of Antioxidants & Other Nutrients; Addressing Toxicity; Using Heart Strengthening Herbal Medicines; and Optimizing Lipid (cholesterol) Status. I’ll discuss the first few in this month’s column.
Let’s address risk factors first. Mike, you may have heard of how smoking, obesity & inactivity are risk factors, but did you know that depression can double your likelihood of heart disease? Did you also know that aggression increases your cholesterol, and worrying more than doubles your risk of a heart attack? These are risk factors that must be addressed. And, they can be using breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, reframing, and other tools to cope with stress. Nutritional changes, and even herbal medicines can also make a big impact when necessary.
Let’s talk about diet next. What do you think—low fat, low cholesterol? Well, in a recent study conducted in 32 different countries, the strongest dietary links to heart disease were non-fat milk and sugar! Another study showed caffeine (at 4 or more cups of coffee / day) nearly tripled the risk of heart attack in women. Are there things you can add to your diet to help? You bet! Having plenty of vegetables can reduce your risk of heart disease & heart damage after a heart attack. In one study where people who had suffered a heart attack were given vegetables right after, they had less damage to their hearts. Other possibilities of heart healthy foods are soy (which can improve your lipid status,) fish & fish oil (decreases your risk of heart attack,) and fiber. Each of these things makes small differences that can add up to a big result. Most importantly perhaps is eliminating food allergies, which I’ve seen normalize high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and reverse irregular heartbeats often with no other treatment necessary. In a study published in the Archives of Family Medicine, participants eliminated food allergies, sugar, milk and grains, while getting most of their calories from beef. Surprisingly, their average cholesterol dropped from 263 to 189; average triglycerides fell from 113 to 74, and average HDLs (good cholesterol) grew from 21% to 32%. These are very favorable results for someone trying to prevent heart disease. The take home message: the answers are different for every person. And, to really get the best result, you need to work with someone who will spend enough time with you to determine your unique needs. Make sure to join me next month, when I’ll continue more on how to have a healthy heart. Be well!
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