Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong About Heart Disease? Part 1


The Kaufmann Diet and Heart Health, Pt. 1

Heart disease has remained the number one killer of Americans for years now, but research has demonstrated that heart disease is largely preventable through simple lifestyle changes. What those lifestyle changes are that would necessarily prevent heart disease, however, are where things get a little murky. 

For years, were told that a diet rich in saturated fats, predominantly from high-fat meats, eggs, and dairy, was responsible for giving all of us heart disease. Eating a diet high in saturated fats was what clogged our arteries, eventually leading to heart attacks, heart failure, etc. Therefore, we were told to eliminate fat and animal protein from the diet, in favor of a diet richer in fiber and carbohydrates. 

Unfortunately, heart disease trends did not respond to our collective dietary changes, and heart disease remained the number one killer of Americas. A piece of the puzzle was still missing.

We know today that inflammation is a key factor in heart disease; inflammation within the arteries is what causes cholesterol and blood fats to oxidize and form plaques in the arteries that eventually constrict blood flow, leading to heart disease. It is not necessarily the cholesterol and triglycerides, themselves, however. Inflammation was the underlying cause; cholesterol was just the bystander. 

Knowing that inflammation plays a key role in the development of heart disease, ideally, we should try to keep inflammation levels low within the body. We can measure inflammation in the body by measuring what is known as C-reactive protein, or CRP. A CRP test is simply a marker for how much inflammation is in the body. When CRP is elevated, inflammation is high. Obviously, when CRP levels are low, inflammation levels are lower, too. 

Kaufmann Diet Guide

The question becomes, what causes CRP levels (or, inflammation) to rise within the body? 

A wide variety of factors are thought to elevate inflammation; stress, smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet are specifically what we know to be the primary culprits behind heart disease. With diet, specifically, we know that eating a diet rich in sugar and simple carbohydrates (the kind of diet the majority of Americans consume) might contribute to inflammation within the body far more than fat or animal products ever did. 

Interestingly, another culprit is known to raise CRP levels––fungus. This means that if you have an underlying fungal issue within the body, the fungus could be responsible for raising levels of inflammation within the body, including the arterial walls, leading to plaque formation and ultimately heart disease. 

This is theoretical, of course, but ultimately we have seen much of the “conventional wisdom” get thrown out the window as research continues to show the complexity of heart disease incidence and progression. Regardless, much of that conventional wisdom is still peddled as sound advice. Ideally, if we are to fight heart disease with diet and lifestyle, we must address the inflammation component. 

How can we do that? Stay tuned for Part 2

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