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Archive Category: Heart Health

Carnitine and Choline–Friends or Foes?

March 26th, 2019

So, you may or may not have heard the buzz about TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). It is formed in by the gut flora from  TMA (trimethylamine) and has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The resulting response was to recommend diets void of meats, eggs, and dairy since they are sources of TMA. But the answer is not quite that simple. For example, fish consumption is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. And further studies are revealing that the conversion to TMAO is due to the gut microbiome more than the diet itself. Certainly, limit consumption of animal products to healthfully-raised, organic, and in limited quantities (ie, a 4 oz serving max); eat lots of vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower); include berries in your diet; eat some walnuts; include fiber (vegetables again!) and fermented foods; get exercise; get adequate sleep. Eat whole food and avoid packaged and processed foods, period. I just don’t believe that eating should be as difficult as we are making it!

Coronary Artery Calcium Scan — Heart Health

April 13th, 2018

A calcium scan of your heart can be a quick way to check on heart health! While we try and correlate standard blood testing (that is, a cholesterol or lipid panel), we are still essentially guessing as to the level of plaque formation. Elevated LDL and Lp(a) are associated with an increased risk of arterial plaque formation. But many people have effective HDL (the only lipid we associate with removal of lipids from the blood stream) and therefore no plaque formation. A simple coronary artery calcium score (CACS) can further assess your plaque levels. And the reason we do not want arterial plaque is to reduce risks of heart attacks and strokes. Check out this article and schedule an appointment to see if you should get a CACS!

How Do ND’s Approach Cardiovascular Disease??

February 2nd, 2018

This is a great overview of how naturopathic physicians assess and address cardiovascular disease, including referring to cardiologists when needed! There are many tests that help us assess underlying causes and determine helpful treatments. Check out this article:


Dietary Fat Guidelines Not Supported

January 2nd, 2018

This study indicates that the US dietary guidelines for fat consumption and reduced risk of heart disease are NOT supported. To quote the British Journal of Sports Medicine:

“Results Across 7 studies, involving 89 801 participants (94% male), there were 2024 deaths from CHD during the mean follow-up of 11.9±5.6 years. The death rate from CHD was 2.25%. Eight data sets were suitable for inclusion in meta-analysis; all excluded participants with previous heart disease. Risk ratios (RRs) from meta-analysis were not statistically significant for CHD deaths and total or saturated fat consumption. The RR from meta-analysis for total fat intake and CHD deaths was 1.04 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.10). The RR from meta-analysis for saturated fat intake and CHD deaths was 1.08 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.25).

Conclusions Epidemiological evidence to date found no significant difference in CHD mortality and total fat or saturated fat intake and thus does not support the present dietary fat guidelines. The evidence per se lacks generalisability for population-wide guidelines.”  Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(24):1743-1749.

Here are a couple of links to learn more: PubMed and Medscape .

So PLEASE eat healthy fats and avoid trans-fats and processed fats. Limit cooking to avocado oil or coconut oil. Use olive oil only after cooking or on salads, etc., but do NOT heat olive oil. Butter from 100% grass-fed cows is also a healthy source.

To your health!!

Statins May Increase Coronary Plaque Formation

September 8th, 2017

This is an interesting article reporting that statin medications may actually INCREASE arterial plaque formation instead of reducing it. The study uses Coronary Artery Calcium Scores (CACS) which have a good correlation with calcified plaque levels in the arteries of the heart. I will say that Dr. Brownstein’s references are not included in the paper so further digging may be required. I do utilize CACS–OHSU offers it very economically at the time of this writing. If you have elevated cholesterol and/or a family history of coronary artery disease or strokes, please schedule and appointment to see if this assessment may be right for you!

LDL–Not the Demon It is Made Out to Be

March 9th, 2017

While excessive levels of LDL (particularly certain fractions thereof) are associated with plaque formation, LDL is also necessary for transport of chemicals throughout the body, including your BRAIN! There are advanced labs that can be run to further assess lipids and their potential risks. And there is simple imaging to screen for plaque formation. The testing allows us to consider the best treatment approach, if any, per individual needs. Please read the attached article and schedule an appointment for testing. To your health!!

Green Tea for Artery Health

October 18th, 2016

New research is showing that drinking green tea may strengthen arteries. This means that there may be a reduced risk of aneurysm, a deadly condition. Green tea has also been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss! And it is delicious, too–my favorite is matcha tea.

Powdered Matcha tea

Powdered Matcha tea

How The Impact of Sugar Has Been Down-Played

September 14th, 2016

Sugar is associated with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and more. One of my favorite recollections was in medical school when I was scanning the nutrition shelves. I flipped open an OLD nutrition book (from late 1800’s)–the author was emphatically warning of the health consequences of “artificial sweeteners”. I rechecked the publication date, scratched my head, and read on, wondering what “artificial sweetener” this could be. It was CANE SUGAR!! Please read the attached article and watch the Fed-Up movie.

Vitamin D

April 25th, 2016

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–get your Vitamin D levels checked. Low levels have been associated with increased risk of cancers (including breast, ovarian, colon and non-Hodgkins lymphoma), diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart attacks as well as bone fractures. Read more in this attached article. Supplementing without testing may lead to levels too high, however. Insurance may not cover the cost of the testing–but your medical insurance does not have your health as their goal.

Childhood Stress and Hardening of the Arteries

April 5th, 2016

This is a concerning report: the potential association between CHILDHOOD stress and increased risk of arteriosclerosis as an adult. Then add in the tremendous school stress these teens are under and we have a recipe for health disaster. Please read.

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