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Serving Healthy

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RECALL!!! - Treating the Cause Rather than the Symptoms

 

Inspired by a news article regarding the recent world-wide recall of the medication Valsartan, I was reminded about the difference between treating the symptoms of a disease and the underlying causes of the disease.  Valsartan was used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).  Several variations of the recalled drug are thought to cause cancer. [1] 

Many medications have potentially harmful side effects; just think about the last prescription drug advertisement you saw on television! [2]

What if you could stop the progression of chronic disease, and in some cases reverse the disease by changing what you eat?  It may be possible to prevent or reverse high blood pressure and other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes without the reliance on medications. 

I am thankful for medication; especially those that help people recover from acute infectious diseases like tuberculosis.  Other medications can control the symptoms of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but they don’t necessarily fix the cause of the disease. 

Hypertension:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  about 75 million adult Americans have high blood pressure, which is roughly one in three adults.  There are many people who don’t know they have high blood pressure; I was one of those people several years ago.  Rather than choosing to take a medication, I decided to make changes to my diet and lifestyle to correct the problem.  The changes I made were easy for me, but the changes may be a little more difficult for others.  The result of my choices led me to where I am today, helping others create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and improving the quality of their life and the lives of their loved ones.

High blood pressure is commonly called a silent killer because there are very few warning signs or symptoms.  High blood pressure can result in ischemic heart disease, which can ultimately result in coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis).  Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, so it is important to recognize and correct all related issues as early as possible.  To recognize, prevent, or control high blood pressure, the CDC recommends getting your blood pressure checked regularly, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, limit alcohol, don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, and control your diabetes. 

Exercise:

The CDC recommends being physically active to help prevent and control high blood pressure.  Physical activity can help with weight loss, and weight loss can ultimately help control other chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Any exercise is better than none, and the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, which equates to 30 minutes of fast walking five days a week.  However; more exercise is better as explained in this video by Dr. Michael Greger.  https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-should-you-exercise .  Exercise alone may not be the answer, a healthy diet combined with exercise is the key to maintaining health. 

Healthy Diet:

What is a healthy diet?  Eating a healthy diet is something that is confusing to many people.  Advertising would lead you to believe that everything from a high protein/low carbohydrate diet to a high carbohydrate/starch filled diet is the healthiest option.  Your body converts carbohydrates to a simple sugar called glucose.  Glucose is the primary fuel source for your body, including your brain and nervous system.  The key to eating carbohydrates is to eliminate processed foods and stick with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Don’t be fooled by the low carbohydrate, high protein diets.  These diets may help you lose weight in the short term, but they are not healthy over the long term.  Your body runs on carbohydrates, eating a low carbohydrate diet with a high amount of protein is similar to trying to run an unleaded gasoline car on diesel fuel, it won’t go very far and it will cause internal problems!

High cholesterol is often associated with heart disease.  Cholesterol is important to the human biological process and aids in hormone production, but there is no need to consume cholesterol because the human body can create all that it needs.  The only dietary sources of cholesterol come from animal products such as dairy, meat, eggs, and fish, so it is best to avoid animal products to eliminate dietary cholesterol.

Dietary intake of saturated fat can increase in LDL (bad) Cholesterol and can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.  The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both recommend limiting dietary intake of saturated fats.  Animal products contain saturated fats, and tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil are very high in saturated fats.   For heart health, it is best to eliminate saturated fat and limit your intake of all fats.

Sodium is known to contribute to high blood pressure.  While the CDC recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, the American Heart Association suggests 1,500 mg per day, with the average person needing around 500 mg per day to survive.  According to the CDC, Americans average more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day.  Studies have shown that reducing sodium can help control blood pressure as explained in this video from Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.orghttps://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-evidence-that-salt-raises-blood-pressure/

The key to eating a healthy diet is to get enough carbohydrates to fuel your body, brain, and nervous system.  Eat enough protein to repair and build muscle as needed, and eat only a limited amount of fat to meet your caloric needs when necessary.  There is one way of healthy eating that is proven to support people in meeting their nutritional needs by getting enough carbohydrates, protein and fat – a whole food plant based diet.  The scientific evidence is clear that a whole food, plant based diet can help prevent or control, and in many cases reverse chronic diseases like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. [3]

Diabetes:

Although the CDC suggests that controlling diabetes can help control high blood pressure, not everyone has diabetes.  According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in America.  The CDC estimates that 9.4 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than 84 million Americans have prediabetes, which can ultimately lead to type-2 diabetes.  According to the CDC, more than one in three Americans are currently living with prediabetes or diabetes, and it is likely that one in four adults living with prediabetes or diabetes don’t know they have a problem.  Scientific evidence shows that Type-2 diabetes can be caused by fat in your cells (intramyocellular lipids) that prevent insulin from transporting the blood sugars (glucose) from your blood into your cells. [4]  With Type-2 diabetes, your pancreas may produce enough insulin, but excess fat in your cells prevents insulin from doing its job, resulting in the glucose concentrating in your blood rather than being fed to your cells where it is needed.  The excess fat in your cells most likely comes from the food you eat, so eating less fat and getting more exercise can help control diabetes.  For more information on diabetes, please refer to the CDC web page at https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html

Do you need medication?

Your physician will know what medications you need for the treatment of acute and chronic conditions.  Many medications have negative side effects, and it might be possible to prevent, control, or reverse chronic health issues by converting to a healthy diet that is based on whole plant foods and adding some exercise to your daily routine. Please do your research or contact me if you want more information regarding a healthy lifestyle that can help maintain or improve your health.  I recommend starting your research with the website NutritionFacts.org or any of the links on my Morsels/Media page or my Morsels/Readings page. 

Eat well and live well.  My mission is to provide you with the knowledge, guidance, and inspiration to enjoy a healthy and happy life. 


[1]  Recall information for Valsartan can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website at the following link: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm613916.htm

[2] Note that the United States and New Zealand are the only countries that currently allow prescription drug manufacturers to advertise on television.

[3] Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and research on coronary artery disease: http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/articles-studies/

[4]  American Diabetes Association: http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/52/1/138.long     

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