Mended Hearts Open Forum

  • 1.  My CVD prevention nutritional discoveries

    Posted 23 days ago
    My mother died of heart disease in 2010, then my doctors sounded alarms about my own blood lipids scores. Thus began a quest to discover nutritional ways to prevent my own heart disease before it starts. Bottom line: I'm not gonna do a gung-ho exercise program because I'm lazy and indolent. Likewise, I'm not gonna eat raw sticks and bugs to "eat healthy" because eating foods I LIKE is basic to my idea of Quality of Life. Besides, I've discovered that the American food industry and food culture are riddled with deficiencies that make even alleged "heart healthy" diets a formula for eventual thrombosis, etc., plus conventional medical wisdom re: nutrition is often seriously in error. Basically, Big Medicine isn't nearly as interested in nutrition as it should be. So my own approach has been to discover, via research, certain "magic bullet" supplements that I can add to my daily routine, which I then take religiously. The following is a digest of my discoveries so far, which combine the benefits of both Mediterranean and Japanese food traditions.

    1) fish oil
    It all started when my doctor wanted to put me on Vascepa, a prescription pure-EPA fish oil that does remarkable things to lipids scores. I can't afford Vascepa, but I discovered there are OTC equivalents nearly as good at one fifth the price. Any old drug store fish oil does NOT work because a) the proportion of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in these is often shockingly low (read the nutrition panel closely), and b) of the omega-3s they do have, the proportion of DHA is too high. Only EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) has the desired effect. DHA actually counteracts it, so you want a fish oil that's as close to pure EPA as you can get, which is the whole gimmick of Vascepa.
    The fish oil I take: OmegaVia EPA500, morning and evening, with meals, 4 gelcaps (2 grams) each time. This is the same regimen as Vascepa. The effect on my lipids scores has been dramatic. This fish oil is produced using supercritical CO2 refinement, a method superior to the molecular distillation used to produce most fish oils.
    These products also look good: Carlson Elite EPA Gems (very reputable brand); iGennus Pure & Essential Ultra EPA Concentrate

    2) olive leaf extract (OLE)
    As you may know, people of the Mediterranean are long-lived, have low rates of heart disease, and like to guzzle super-premium emerald-green olive oil by the glass. OLE in supplement form is actually a better way to get the same olive polyphenols they're imbibing. The benefits of OLE, especially its key constituent, oleuropein, are too many to go into here. Pubmed, the website of the National Institutes of Health, has endless hardcore research articles about that. I'll just stick to why it's a good heart disease preventative, which boils down to three antis: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-coagulant: 
    • It specifically inhibits LDLs from oxidizing and thus clumping together to form the waxy solids that are the basic substance of arterial plaques; 
    • It inhibits both arterial endothelial cells and macrophages (white blood cells) from getting together to become "foam cells" (the strange, mostly dead quasi cellular tissue inside plaques). 
    • Elevated cholesterol gets all the publicity for causing atherosclerosis, but chronic low-level vascular inflammation deserves lots of it too; olive polyphenols are anti-inflammatory in just the right way to nip that problem in the bud. 
    • Chronic generalized inflammation and oxidative stress are similarly implicated in ageing writ large; olive polyphenols specifically counteract both problems. 
    • In the event that a plaque does rupture, olive polyphenols are also anti-coagulant and thus mitigate the runaway clotting that follows (the dire event that actually causes arterial blockage, heart attack, and stroke). I can confirm the OLE I take makes me bleed just like I'm on a blood thinner. 
    My OLE is: Triquetra Health Total Olive Full Spectrum Olive Extract, morning and evening, with meals, one capsule each time. It took me forever to find an OLE made using supercritical CO2 technology. I know of no other, which is the entire selling point of this one. It also has an exceptionally high concentration of oleuropein. Virtually every other OLE is made using water and/or alcohol extraction, which just ain't as good.

    3) Vitamin D and Natto
    Okay, I lied-- I don't actually eat natto because natto is DISGUSTING, plus it's impossible to get. What fascinates about natto is that it contains a unique form of vitamin K, menaquinone-7 (MK-7), that is totally absent from the Western diet...
    Like most Americans, I don't get enough sun so I need to take a vitamin D supplement, but It has emerged that taking vitamin D by itself might not be such a great idea. Doing so brings all sorts of swift health benefits but also potentially deadly long-term side effects. D3 needs to be balanced with another nutrient, vitamin K, and not your basic kale 'n' spinach type K either (K1), but a form called K2, found in completely different foods and having a completely different metabolic activity. Many researchers now think K1 and K2 should be treated as separate nutrients.

    Back to D...
    The water-soluble vitamins (B-complex, C) and oil-soluble ones (A, D, E, K) are very different in that the latter can accumulate in your body to toxic levels if you take too much. Too much A, for example, and your skin starts to fall off. Too much D and you get runaway calcification of arteries, heart valves, and brain tissue, resulting in non-Alzheimers dementia. In the context of arteries, calcification is a huge culprit in atherosclerosis, a.k.a. hardening of the arteries. Turns out it's the calcified arterial plaques that are the real killers. The non-calcified ones may partially obstruct blood flow but they don't rupture nearly as much, the catastrophe that completely blocks arteries, resulting in heart attack, stroke, and sudden DEATH.

    5,000 i.u. of D3 is 6.25 times as much D as you're supposed to really need. If you're also drinking milk and getting some sun, that much D starts to get worrisome. The good news is that K2 is an antidote for the toxic effects of too much D. It not only stops the calcification, it actually reverses it, causing the calcium to migrate from arterial plaques and other soft tissues to where it belongs: your bones. Taking both K and D completely corrects your calcium metabolism to a healthy pattern (assuming you're getting enough calcium, usually not a concern).

    More about K...
    K1, which is supplied by dark green leafy vegetables, is crucial to blood clotting and can interact dangerously with Coumadin. K2 doesn't do any of that. It's strictly involved in calcium metabolism and only occurs in animal tissues and certain fermented foods. Our bodies actually make K2 out of K1 but do so slowly and inefficiently. Egg yolks and liver are both good dietary sources of the K2 known as MK-4, but this K2 is rather poorly absorbed. Note that egg yolks and liver are also foods doctors have been scaring everybody away from for 50 years (speaking for myself, I loathe liver anyway).

    So the most desirable form of K2, because it's so easily absorbed in your gut, is MK-7, which only occurs in certain bacteria-fermented foods that Americans NEVER eat, such as NATTO. Natto is soybeans fermented into a horrid putrescent slime by Bacillus subtilis. The Japanese put it on their cheerios for breakfast in the morning. It is most definitely an acquired taste. Note that Japan also has one of the lowest heart disease rates in the developed world, also extraordinary average longevity. Natto may be why.

    Fortunately we need not slurp putrescent slime to get our MK-7 these days. We can get it from pills made from natto, including the growing number of D3 supplements that include MK-7. Those are the ones you want. Even among those, though, the amount of MK-7 is usually paltry. I like to see at least 180 mcg (equivalent to a very generous portion of natto).
    The D I take: Now Foods Mega D3 & Mk-7 (5,000 i.u. + 180 mcg), one capsule in the morning, with food. Now Foods is a somewhat sketchy brand. I'd like to do better, but that big wallop of MK-7 is hard to find.
    Any thoughts? Suggestions? Recommendations? I'd love to hear them.

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    Jon Phalen
    Comer GA
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  • 2.  RE: My CVD prevention nutritional discoveries

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi Jon,
    Interesting narrative...thank you for sharing.  At one point I took K1/K2 supplement and have since decided to get from food.  We now use parsley, cilantro and basil as regular condiments as easy sources of vitamin K1 and get almost all vegetable produce from a local group of farmers.

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    Kat Edwards
    CA
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