Gary's new website

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More about Reversing Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Quality of Life

Far from being anti-doctor, I am all for them - with some reservations about specific treatments, as you would gather when reading my articles.  Anyway, I went to see my Dr, a long time acquaintance who completed the same University of Otago sports medicine course I went through.  It was several years since I last saw him - That was for a gashed forearm following an "unplanned dismount" off my bicycle!

It was time for a cardiovascular health check to see how the blood tests, etc matched with my Hair Tissue Mineral Analyses and general good health.

Please read what follows in conjunction with this article about reversing cardiovascular disease.  
I suggest that you read it first then come back to this one 
(there is a link back to here at the end of the the article).

My doctor is very good at telling me where I am while not necessarily the best at telling me how I got there.  So, where am I right now health-wise?

I now have records of blood cholesterol, blood sugar, body composition and blood pressure stretching back as far as 25 years.

During those years up until 5 years ago:
  • Blood pressure gradually crept upwards to about 130/90 and sometimes higher despite an increasingly low salt diet.
  • Cholesterol trended to unhealthy ratios despite an increasingly low cholesterol diet.
  • Muscle declined and fatness increased to about 16-17%.
  • And, of course, my general well-being and athletic performance did a steady dive!
Over the last five years I have progressively resorted to:
  • Liberally salting my food with Himalayan Salt.
  • I am currently eating up to six eggs every day (We have a friend with free range chickens), I eat the fat on meat, use butter and drink full cream milk daily (All in relative moderation and combined with physical activity).
  • I use dietary supplements daily as per the guidance from repeated Hair Tissue Mineral Analyses.
My latest medical tests as compared to 2002/3:
  • Body composition has body fat now at ~10% while muscle has increased by about 3kg.
  • Blood pressure in the Dr's surgery was 100/60 (A bit low in my opinion).
  • Blood sugar 5.0 (was 5.1)
  • Total Cholesterol is 5.8 (was 5.3)
  • Triglycerides 0.7 (was 0.9)
  • HDL Cholesterol 1.49 (was 1.07)
  • LDL Cholesterol 4.1 (was 3.9)
  • Chol/HDL ratio 4.0 (was 5.0)
Let me explain what these figures mean:

Blood sugar, insulin and body composition

As we get older, it is usual for insulin resistance to increase.  This may show as the blood sugar levels creeping upwards. What this means is we get poor at using fats and sugars.  Insulin resistance is regarded as one of the best measures of biological ageing as compared to chronological ageing.  This process of gradual decline shows as:
  • Increasingly fluctuating energy levels, 
  • Reducing physical endurance,
  • Food cravings,
  • Gaining fat, no matter what, about the hips and waist,
  • Increasing difficulty getting rid of belly and hip fat and
  • Loss of muscle and loss of strength.
  • Insulin resistance may lead to Type II Diabetes.
In my case, this trend of biological ageing has been reversed:
  • Blood sugar is a steady 5.0 despite being older,
  • I have increased muscle without a single visit to the gym,
  • Body fat has dropped and is very low for age and gender and
  • The time I can go on a bike without the need for sustenance has stretched from 2.5 hours to a remarkable 4+ hours.
  • Muscle power has increased dramatically.
Blood Pressure

As we get older, our arteries tend to become hardened, brittle and inflexible due to oxidative damage, calcium deposits and progressive clogging with fatty plaque.  These processes are present in at least 80% of the population, beginning from a very early age and will ultimately result in diseases such as:

  • Heart attack,
  • Stroke,
  • Impotence,
  • Diseases of dementia and
  • Arthritis.

This gradual process of declining circulatory health will show in the early stages as increasing blood pressure, decreasing maximum heart rate during extreme effort, decreasing physical performance, impotence, joint pain, cramping and brain fog.  The usual calculation for this if 220 beats per minute minus your age, so at 58 years, my maximum heart rate should be about 162.  The sooner the causes of this gradual decline are identified and corrected, the better your chances of success.

Here's the circulation facts for me:
  • Blood pressure is now120/80 or less,
  • Libido is at about where it was during my 20's,
  • Maximum heart rate is an impressive 180+ beats per minute and
  • I am riding "A" Grade in cyclocross racing which is just about as intense a cardiovascular sport you can get (There are "A", "B" and "C" Grades and the "A" is generously populated by some of the best in NZ). 
  • Total cholesterol has increased.  This is healthy because cholesterols are the building blocks for cells and hormones.  Too little cholesterol and health fails terribly.  High cholesterol is healthy - so long as your body is turning it over fast and so long as the ratios between cholesterols are "healthy". Let me explain:
  • Triglyceride at 0.7 is very healthy and well below the threshold of 1.7.
  • HDL Cholesterol has increased to 1.49.  HDL is the protective form of Cholesterol and is now well above the threshold for healthy (>1)
  • LDL Cholesterol (the "unhealthy" one) has increased from 3.9 to 4.1; but this is offset by lower Triglycerides and higher HDL as follows:
  • The Cholesterol/HDL ratio (this is the important one) has improved from 5.0 to 4.0 (4.0 or lower is considered healthy).
According to my doctor, I am now in the bottom 5% of the population, for age and gender, for cardiovascular risk.

This is despite all of the extra salt, protein and fatty cholesterol that I have been eating over the last five years.  I will qualify this by saying that I have been generally very careful about choosing fresh, natural foods, home cooking, not over-indulging and exercising.

How did I get to where I am now?
  • Annual Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.  This test has removed most of the guessing about what to eat and what supplements to take.  When repeated, it tells us where the action has been and what changes to make.  I could not have achieved what I have without this test.  (If you want my help with improving your health, you will probably need to get one of these tests completed and be prepared to repeat it annually).
  • Quality and targeted supplementation.  The key to supplementation is small amounts, often and for a long time.

Small amounts, often and for a long time

  • Going back to traditional foods and home cooking.  As a general rule of thumb: If it comes in a packet, has a long shelf life and needs minimal preparation, then leave it out - its not really food.  We seldom eat out and purchase raw food which is then prepared and cooked from scratch.  We grow vegetables and purchase from local farmers' markets.
  • Exercise is less than what I used to do and only as and when I feel like it.  I choose to ride a bike for now because it is gentle on joints (Depending on the dismounts!).
  • I am constantly seeking ways to reduce stress in my life.  This includes taking every opportunity to chill out on the balcony in natural light.  I now work from an office/clinic at home, employ nobody and we keep do not waste anything, including energy (Meaning we do not have to work long hours to pay for waste).  We take holidays at every opportunity with the theme of getting outdoors, into nature and exploring.
  • I expose my body to sunlight.  We are not meant to be cave dwellers. Sunlight is actually good for you.  My skin health has surprisingly improved since doing this and the sun is definitely invigorating and a wonderful antidepressant.

We are Creatures of the Light - Not of the Night

In summary:  

It is possible to reverse the processes of cardiovascular disease; but it takes time, a lot of patience, some money and scientific testing to guide you on your journey.

It is inevitable that our bodies will gradually fall into states of disrepair and eventually fail at which point our toes point upwards and we die.  For many people, this process of sad decline is well in hand by 30 years and gaining momentum.  Medically, the only hope is to last out the rest of life well preserved by an expensive concoction of toxic drugs!   But this is hardly my idea of  living and more like waving the white flag of surrender.

Death is more certain than being born and even more certain than paying taxes

It is a sobering fact that every person in human history eventually died.  This rather depressing inevitability does not mean that we should give up on trying to stay healthy as we age.  To the contrary, Life is throwing each and every one of us the challenge to see how long we can keep the wheels of our cellular machinery screwed on tight and well lubed.  Of course, this is one plan that is doomed to fail from the very beginning!  Before the beginning, in fact.

The Grand Plan is to die healthy - one morning to wake up  dead!

I, for one, am enjoying this, the most  vain of challenges.  You are welcome to tag along with me if you feel up to it!

About this website
The advice in these articles is given freely without promise or obligation.  Its all about giving you and your family the tools and information to take control of your health and fitness.  Please give me your support by subscribing to my free email updates. Please shop at my Online Store. Please encourage your family and friends to do the same. While we may not always be able to compete with the big operators on price, we aim to more than compensate through personal service!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz
Do you have a question?  Email Gary: Include any relevant background information to your question.  Please be patient and be aware that I may not be able to answer every inquiry in detail, depending on workloads (My paying clients take precedence!). I will either reply by email or, most likely, by way of an article (Personal identifying details will be removed before publication).

1 comment: said...

I would say much of the improvement is also not following the advice of nutritionists. ie instead of eating pasta bread rice eating eggs meat and teh fat. plus the salt. ie mush of your change is because of your diet not inspite of.

I would also suggest that many of the negative heart profiles of distance runners is the damage by their refined carb Uncle Tobys diet based diet not the running. When I was an athelete on the carb diet I struggled at the 90 minute point.Now on Garys diet,plus supplements not only did I fix my incurable arthritis but also now i can easily ride 150 k at a heart rate of 150 plus without feeding and finish like i have been for a walk in the park and also my sexual functiom at 54 is just like when i was in my 20's.