In this post I am excited to talk about a great book by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition), Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, processed food and the connection with inflammation and heart disease, amino acids as the building blocks for the heart’s repair system, cholesterol: the myths, power, and the media, vitamin D and heart health, other common health concerns such as atherosclerosis and the connection between our overall health/digestive system, how we exercise, the connection between blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease, how the heart runs on fat (it’s preferred source of fuel), my experience with inflammation and healing from an injury, and how education can liberate us from the feeling that disease and deterioration are inevitable.
Put Your Heart in Your Mouth
In her book Put Your Heart in Your Mouth Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition) talks about heart health in terms of the food we choose to put in our mouths. Foods that are alive can heal and dead foods can kill.
Dr. Campbell-McBride describes how heart disease is inextricably linked to the harms of eating processed foods, refined carbs/sugar, and denatured foods. Whole foods including good quality organic, pastured eggs, meat, and dairy (for those who can tolerate it and choose to eat them) offer necessary nutrients for the heart. Meat and fat have been attacked as being the cause of heart disease, heart attacks, and other diseases that ail the heart. Good quality protein (which is properly digested and assimilated) is necessary to create amino acids taurine and carnation which are vital to the heart. The amino acids taurine and carnation are the precursors which help to repair and renew muscles, vessels, and much more in the heart. It is also extremely important for the heart that we have a good stomach pH to digest and assimilate calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
cholesterol: the myths, power, and the media
Dr. Campbell-McBride breaks down the myths of cholesterol and fat in our culture. The author asks the reader to consider who may be benefiting from these myths that animal fats and meat with cholesterol are bad for the heart. She gives detailed and clear examples of scientific research and work that has been done to directly contradict these harmful stories. Dr. Campbell-McBride explains that the people in power continue to benefit from these myths because the general population are not taught to dispute these false messages. Big food companies put a lot of money into making sure contradictory research about quality animal fats and products stays out of the mainstream media. We need to educate ourselves. She asks the reader to question processed food. If we take a good long look at the list of ingredients we can’t understand and how we feel after we eat them, are we really that surprised when hear theories and research that challenge that processed foods are not harmful? Many of the natural vitamins/minerals have been processed out of these foods and then synthetic vitamins are injected back in that our bodies cannot assimilate. The cereal box and pasteurized milk sells itself to you as being rich with vitamin D, calcium, and fiber and yet who is that serving?
vitamin D and heart health
Dr. Campbell-McBride breaks down the importance of vitamin D for the heart. The heart contracts with the help of calcium and relaxes with the necessary magnesium. Calcium is a game of cofactors. Vitamin D and the other fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K must be present in ample amounts for calcium to be absorbed and used properly by the heart. She draws attention to the fact that many common health concerns in America (and more and more globally) are exacerbated by vitamin D deficiency. We need vitamin D to support mental health concerns, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and blood sugar regulation, chronic pain, auto-immune diseases, osteoarthritis, rickets and osteomalacia, muscle weakness, cancer, high blood pressure, immunity challenges, and hyperthyroidism to name some of the major concerns. The body is such a precise and tactful physiological system. If we do not have the cofactors and precursors we need (which we can obtain through fully digesting a whole food, properly prepared diet) we can cause serious damage one little deficiency at a time. A uncomplicated act (which is no less important) like sitting in the sun and getting vitamin D can help us to prevent heart disease and much more. Sitting in the sun is cheep and lovely - so that’s also great.
Good stuff in, bad stuff out - inflammation, the endothelium, and atherosclerosis
Dr. Campbell-McBride breaks down that atherosclerosis is a disease which is caused by inflammation. Our blood vessels that lead to the heart need to be healthy for our heart to be. The endothelium is a layer of cells in the walls of our blood vessels. It does very important jobs which science is still working on understanding. This controls how we make and dissolve blood clots and muscle tone, produce many hormones, immune function, movement, and helps with the balance of electrolytes and minerals to name only a few of the things the endothelium regulates.
We see a lot of dysfunction today with this important endothelium. It unfortunately does not often get the nutrition it needs through a processed food diet and is forced to focus on helping with inflammation and repair. If the focus stays on inflammation, imagine what happens when all the jobs listed above are done with half or less of the attention necessary. It’s like a team at work where most of the members are sick. It is extremely hard to complete the necessary daily tasks of the organization. If this imbalance is allowed to continue we see the signs and symptoms of atherosclerosis. Man-made chemicals, pesticides, smoking, processed foods, poor digestion, and a lack of healthy gut flora and acid production, and nutritional deficiencies aggravate atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis and other imbalances that contribute may start with signs and symptoms from these toxins and if they are allowed to continue they will lead to disease. Digestion is fundamental to nutrition and to heart health so that we can get the nutrients the heart and all of it’s support systems need to function.
how we exercise
We can change our fate. We do not have to succumb to heart disease and cranky old age. Dr. Campbell-McBride emphasizes the importance of eating alive foods and exercise. The heart loves movement and cardio as we are now seeing more and more in main stream America. This is not just your gym trying to make money, the heart needs exercise to improve circulation and to receive large and hopefully lovely amounts of oxygen from clean air. There are many toxins where many of us exercise in gyms and cities today. It is important to be aware that we take deeper breaths when we exercise and so clean air will greatly improve our health.
Dr. Campbell-McBride provides wonderful motivation to eat well and move our bodies. After get that walk, run, canoe ride, swim, or class in she provides yummy recipes for the readers to look forward to. I have only tried a couple myself and I look forward to trying more. It is so helpful when trying to eat a whole food diet to make it fun and enjoyable! Eating more for healing doesn't have to be just another thing we have to do that takes away everything we knew and enjoyed. Whole foods can remind our bodies who we are and give us vitalism. If it’s not enjoyable at first Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends we listen to ourselves and what we like, go slow, and do what makes sense for our lives in the moment. There is a lot to learn and thank goodness we are blessed with this life to learn it.
our hearts and blood sugar regulation
There is a strong connection between blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. One of the significant causes of heart disease is inflammation. Cortisol is a hormone involved in regulating our blood sugar levels. Inflammation is exacerbated by high levels of cortisol in the system that are often present due to blood sugar imbalances caused by diets high in refined sugar/carbs and processed foods. When cortisol is produced in a balanced way it has an anti-inflammatory affect. When there is too much of it we have harmful amounts of inflammation and we may begin to see signs and symptoms of insulin resistance. Over time if this goes unaddressed, diabetes and heart disease can result. This can be prevented with a properly prepared, nutrient dense whole food diet. I acknowledge there is always bio-individuality to consider and we are not in control of everything. We do design the plan and the way that we put food in our mouths. We have the power to not develop heart disease.
fat and the heart are friends
The heart runs on fat. We need essentially fatty acids (and also good quality proteins and complex carbs) for the cells of the heart to have a healthy lipid bilayer which allows nutrients to get into the heart cells and for toxins to be released for detox by the liver. Fish oils and cod liver oil are like sweet, sweet music for the heart. It is the fuel that will keep our hearts healthier and stronger for longer. The good quality fats for the cells are especially important for the calcium and magnesium to enter into the cels of the heart through the functioning lipid bilayer so that the heart can contract and release.
Cholesterol does not clog up our arteries and cause heart disease as we have been taught by mainstream pharmaceutical companies and by people in power who have a stake in keeping this belief system in place for profit. These large corporations would perpetuate the belief that animal and good quality fats like coconut oil clog our arteries to make money and not with our health in mind. Cholesterol is like spackle for holes in our walls. It goes into the space created by deficiency and repairs what is damaged. To cut cholesterol out of our diets is dangerous and reckless.
Final thoughts of love for this book & my experience
Put Your Heart in Your Mouth by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition) goes beautifully with the book Know Your Fats: Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol by Dr. Mary Enig which breaks down the science behind fats on a molecular level. I love these two books together because they break down the myths that good quality fats and cholesterol are horrible for us, cause heart disease, and will make us fat or obese. We need more people that understand the physiological role of fats in the body in order to contradict these myths. I believe this would help America and the world to be more empowered and happy as it would give us all more energy and feelings of good health. It has given this to me and to members of my community who are willing to challenge that what we’ve been taught about butter, animal fat, and cholesterol is incorrect.
My personal experience has shown me that inflammation aggravates dysfunction. I was injured and I was not healing because I was in denial and I was sad about being limited. While I respect that this is what I felt, I also noticed that I had to address this or nothing was going to transform. I stopped eating sugar last winter of 2014. I ate it again the following thanksgiving. Man was it not worth it. The week after suddenly honey was in everything again and I felt worse. So I stopped again and this time I stopped eating grains, processed food, sugar, dairy, and legumes (beans for example), and drinking alcohol. I went extreme because I was tired of being sick and tired. I wrote more about this if you want to read on :)
It has not been fast. I still experience the secondary injuries from the original harm. And yet I am finally better! I noticed a few days ago that I have not been experiencing muscle spasms as I was before! I have noticed that sugar aggravated inflammation for me and that it was making my injury worse. Not living with the feeling of waking up with my muscles clenching like I was being choked is worth not having a cookie. Oh yes. It’s glorious.
Sometimes we give up something only to realize we were in our own way and that our old habits were not serving us. Good riddance! I am thankful for this education which has been liberating.
Moreover, we need more strong, intelligent doctors who know and share this information such as these two professional and intelligent women do. It makes me feel hope that we have the resources and the potential in this world to contradict the myths that are truly causing heart disease such as processed sugar and foods. I love Put Your Heart in Your Mouth by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition)! I will be reading this again and again and I have been recommending it to all my loved ones and clients who are open or who are questioning the myths surrounding food, more traditional methods of cooking/eating, and heart disease. I am so grateful, thank you!