No matter which health goal you have, odds are it ties back to your heart. As we explained in a recent post about heart health statistics and facts, brushing your teeth, stressing less, exercising, losing weight all have a direct, and positive, impact on your heart. One of the ideas we discussed was reducing inflammation, so we followed-up with one of the foremost experts on inflammation and its relationship to heart health, Dr. Barry Sears.
In the household name sense, Dr. Sears is the creator of the Zone Diet, a clinically proven lifestyle program designed for losing weight, fighting the effects of aging, reducing the risk of chronic disorders and improving mental and physical performance. Not to mention, the Zone Diet has a tremendous affect on reducing inflammation.
Watch our interview with Dr. Sears as we discuss the current status of heart health in the U.S., which he calls “under flux.” Dr. Sears also explains what inflammation is, how it affects our hearts, and what we can do to treat or prevent it. Finally, you’ll hear the single most important thing you can do for heart health.
Dr. Sears discusses an interesting aspect of heart health treatment: cholesterol versus inflammation. He says there’s no test for inflammation, but there is for cholesterol, which is why decades ago cholesterol “won” the argument for which is more telling of heart health. However, the number one drug given, that has the “greatest affect on reducing inflammation,” is aspirin, which has no affect on cholesterol. The point? Inflammation is vitally important to the health of your heart.
What is inflammation? “It’s bad,” Dr. Sears states. He says our bodies have to have “some” inflammation, but our diets and lifestyle have lead to a “24-7 attack on our bodies.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, inflammation is “a process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.”
How does inflammation affect the heart? Dr. Sears says there are two kinds:
- “Screaming Pain” – this is when people go to the doctor, and begin treatment.
- “Silent Pain” – this no one knows about and so they can’t make changes to treat it.
How do you treat or prevent inflammation? Simply put, Dr. Sears says with diet, particularly one that has an anti-inflammatory focus. Of course you can take medication, but with a dietary change, Dr. Sears explains that you can do that for a lifetime and there are no side effects, other than the health benefits.
You want a diet that’s low in Omega-6 fatty acids, things like soy oil, safflower oil and corn oil. This type of diet is “inflammatory” and they increase the toxic fat in your body. Sugar, trans fat, refined grains and red meat are other examples. Counter to this, a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is ideal, and includes things like olive oil, almonds, avocados (or fresh guacamole).
Dr. Sears’ recommendation for filling your plate according to an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Zone Diet:
- One-third low-fat protein, a serving no bigger and no thicker than the palm of your hand.
- Two-third colorful carbs (think fruits and vegetables).
He says “This eating style allows you to retake control of your genes… change your genetic future…”.
We asked what is the single most important thing you can do for your heart. Dr. Sears asked if we wanted the easiest or the most important. He quoted Margaret Mead, saying “it’s easier to change your religion than change your diet.” So, the easiest thing you can do for your heart: take fish oil. He said in 15 seconds a day you can do something great for your heart. However, if you’re looking for the most important, then that’s a diet change, as outlined above.