Heart Health and Leaky Gut: How It’s Affecting You

I had the recent pleasure of listening to a week long summit on heart health hosted by Dr. Steven Masley.  In the midst of caring for four small children, I decided to jump into it and treat it as my job for a full week.  After listening to and watching interview after interview, I believeThree_generations_of_a_family_(1) that the information I gained was worth the time and extensive note taking.  It is knowledge that can not only save both your and my life, but the precious lives of the ones we love.

On the cusp of 30 with no health concerns, I at first thought this information irrelevant.  My intention was to take advantage of the free interviews with real doctors and nutritionists and pass that information on to you.  From the very first interview, I realized I was entirely wrong!  For example, we are all aware that heart disease is the number 1 killer in America, yet we are still oblivious to the fact that it is 90% preventable.  We need to realize that we are inflicting this disease upon our own bodies through our daily habits.  This information applies to me, just as much as it applies to you and your loved ones.  This is a game changer.

The Shift

I quickly realized that the purpose of this summit was not to talk about the run of the mill “treatment” of heart disease; the typical diet, exercise and cholesterol medication protocol.  Dr. Masley, along with every other participant in the summit, have all come together to reveal that the previous methods of treating heart disease, as well as nearly every other disease, is flawed.  There is now a “Shift” in the treatment of patients.   The shift from treating heart disease as a single, compartmentalized problem in the body, to treating it as a systemic issue.  How do you treat a systemic issue?  By treating the whole body!  This is so medically revolutionary it has me buzzing in my seat with excitement.  Health care is massively shifting to holistic, functional medicine.  What are these doctors seeing that makes them break apart from the mainstream method of health care?

The Problem

Every single speaker within the summit agrees, heart disease originates from diet.  Yes, you may be more susceptible, genetically prone to have heart issues, but that does not mean, in any way, that you will have heart disease.  It all depends on what you put in your body.

Heart disease is the accumulation of arterial plaque.  There are two different types of cholesterol, one good, and one bad.  HDL are big, flaky cholesterol that support cell and brain function.  They’re the good guys.  LDL are small, inflammatory cholesterol that build up within your arteries, causing blockages, oxidation in the bloodstream, and steady inflammation.  These guys can, and do, start building up within your arteries from a young age.  Dr. Joel Kahn relates the sobering fact that 60% of patients have an abnormal CT Scan (measuring arterial plaque growth), all with little to no symptoms.  Heart disease is silent!

Mark Hyman, MD states that we have a “Diabesity” epidemic on our hands.  Over seventy percent of Americans are overweight and fifty percent of Americans suffer from blood sugar imbalances, a condition called pre-diabetes.  I think the word “diabesity” is perfect as it encompasses the issue of obesity and diabetes together, as they are inextricably linked within the body.  Surprisingly, Dr. Masley has found that cholesterol markers are not the biggest indicator for heart disease.  Weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar are.  Visceral fat (belly fat) is the biggest indicator for heart disease and one of the biggest contributors of inflammation in the body.

He has also found that the commonly prescribed cholesterol medication, statins, actually increase the risk of diabetes (the higher the dose, the higher the risk).  Statins also cause a multitude of side-effects such as muscle aches or even muscle atrophy.  They are neurotoxic, raise blood sugar levels, and lower testosterone.  Statins do lower cholesterol levels and act as an anti-inflammatory, yet Dr. Masley has seen that statins have no consistent effect among female users.  He and Dr. Jonny Bowden agree that statins should have a risk to benefit analysis before being used.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  What two ingredients in our diet are the culprit for such systemic inflammation and arterial plaque growth?  Most of us can guess easily, yet remain critical solely based on the fact that we don’t want to give it up.  Not only do sugar and flour create an insulin response, causing our body to store fat, but they raise LDL, inflammation, and the stress hormone cortisol.  They wreak havoc on our gut lining and gut flora, cause headaches, lethargy, and most unfortunately, brain wash our palette to constantly want more of it. Nutritionist J.J. Virgin states that the number one cause of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mood swings, etc. is sugar and Dr. Hyman explains that flour has the same impact on our bodies and an even worse impact on our blood sugar levels, than sugar itself!

Our immune system was impeccably created to support our body and fight illness and infection.  Too many Americans are still under the impression that disease is natural, that cancer is irreversible, and that vaccinations are the only means of keeping our children healthy.  Did I lose about half of you there?  Hold on for just a bit longer if you’re skeptical or even completely opposed to what I just stated.  When there is inflammation in the body, our immune system is compromised!  Over time, the protective barrier lining our gut becomes “leaky”, allowing more pathogenic bacteria, toxins, and food particles into our blood stream that further increase inflammation and lead to a host of auto-immune issues and diseases.  Here’s a link to my post on probiotics which goes in depth to why our bodies depend on them http://wp.me/p5weJb-20.  When we catch a cold, we won’t fight it off as well, and those with extremely compromised systems can develop life threatening complications.

One of the most overlooked problems of leaky gut is that we are no longer absorbing nutrients properly.  Just as malnourished children in third world countries are dying from illness and infection because their bodies lack the strength to recover, so are we seeing death and disease run rampant in first world America.  Unfortunately, pharmaceuticals are king in our society and health problems are “managed” instead of cured.  Another reason I am so grateful and excited to hear about this shift in healthcare!

The Cure

Yes, heart disease, as well as many other diseases and disorders, can be cured!  I don’t personally guarantee this, of course, as I don’t know you or what you eat, what your health problems are, and I’m not a doctor.  It boils down to these rules for what you can and can not eat.

  1. No added sugar.  If you need to, wean yourself off in stages, as nutritionist J.J. Virgin advocates in her tested system called The Virgin Diet.
  2. No gluten.  Some doctors advise that it is okay in people without gluten sensitivity.  It’s a good idea to eliminate it for up to three months to see whether or not you are sensitive to it.  Dr. Tom O’Bryan explains that gluten does not break down in anyone’s gut and remains a larger clump of molecules that can tear holes in the gut’s lining.   He also states that 70% of Americans would test positive for gluten sensitivity, not celiac, if testing was perfect.
  3. Clean foods.  Pastured poultry, grass fed beef and butter, no factory farmed anything!  Here is a link as to why http://www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm.
  4. Be afraid of sugar, not fat.  Clean sources of fat are grass fed butter, lard, ghee, organic coconut, olive, and avocado oils.
  5. Do not cook on high heat with oils like coconut and olive, as it denatures and turns toxic.  Ghee and avocado oil are some of the best oils to cook with.
  6. Eat cultured foods and/or take probiotics.  To strengthen your immune system and heal inflammation, you have to rebalance your gut by reintroducing beneficial bacteria and keep them there!  Daily maintenance is key.
  7. Identify toxins.  Use glass, not plastic (and NEVER heat food in plastic containers).  Steer clear of non-stick cooking surfaces.  Replace metal fillings in your mouth that leak toxins.
  8. Hydrate.  This is extra important when you lose weight, as your fat will release stored toxins and you want to flush those out of your system to reduce any healing crisis.
  9. Eat more fiber.  Leafy greens and soaked legumes (to reduce phytic acid) are great sources of fiber.  For people with severe digestive problems, fiber must be eliminated until the intestinal lining is healed.  The GAPS Diet Protocol has had incredible success in healing the gut. http://www.gapsdiet.com
  10. Eat organic.  Even the WHO (World Health Organization) has stated that glyphosate (the pesticide in round-up) is a possible carcinogen.  Our bodies store toxins and metals that it cannot process.  Also, organic produce is more sustainable, nutritious, and economically friendly than genetically modified and pesticide laden foods.    GMO’s have also been purported to interfere with proper cell function.
  11. No processed foods.  Nearly all processed food has sugar or flour as an ingredient, sometimes under different names, and sometimes manufactured on the same equipment.  Nutrients also break down after processing, making processed foods close to pointless for nutritional value.  More than likely, your brain will tell you to eat more in order to get the nutrition lacking in what you just ate.

All of these nutritionists and cardiologists stressed the importance of exercise, rest, and stress reduction techniques as well.  Burst training is the most effective form of exercise, as Dr. Josh Axe described.  Even one night of bad sleep can raise cortisol levels, according to Sara Gottfried.  Surprisingly, most speakers also heavily recommended meditation.  Not only does it reduce cortisol levels, it increases self-awareness, self-worth, and overall happiness.

Take Home Points

No wonder obesity and heart disease run rampant.  If you just read my list, it seems next to impossible to live according to this lifestyle.  We live in a society that lines our grocery shelves with inflammation inducing foods and pesticide laden fruits and vegetables.  We live with a federal department of agriculture that protects major food manufacturers instead of farmers, charging hefty fees and fines to organic farmers; the reason that good food is so expensive.  Not to mention it is far easier to pick up fast food, especially when you have kids, than cook a home made meal yourself.

Take heart!  Pun intended.  Start slow.  The key is designing your environment and not relying on will power.  Throw out the bad food and surround yourself with foods that you can have.  Time constraints are legit and you should prepare and schedule in advance to ensure success.  Take your habits into consideration, substituting something healthy yet similar for a favorite unhealthy snack.  Look online for any small businesses that ship organic foods to your door.  Search also for local tailgate markets.  Farmer’s markets can sound good but not have a single stand with organic produce, offering resold food instead.  If you’re really gung-ho, find a local farmer.  Seeing where your food comes from creates a relationship with your food, solidifying your resolve to eat healthy.  I always ask myself, when I pay for this, where is the money going?  The last thing I want to do is give our hard earned money to greedy corporations that are creating a future environmental breakdown.

If you want to purchase the host of talks, if they are still available, here is the link.  https://ez233.isrefer.com/go/summitorder/Scottishsix/.  Thank you for taking the time to read this massive amount of information which is really only a snippet of the information given in the summit.  Again, I am not a doctor and I don’t expect you to trust me.  Research the doctors I mentioned.  Research the scientific evidence against the foods I have pointed out as detrimental to your health.  No one will change their life based solely on someone else’s advice, you have to decide for yourself what you want your future health to be and begin making those changes.

“If you want a healthy heart, you need a healthy gut.”  Dr. Steven Masley.


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