mature-couple-350x122Coronary artery disease (CAD) kills 370,000 Americans every year, making it the most common form of cardiovascular disease. For most people, the first indication of heart trouble is a heart attack, often a fatal heart attack. If you want to avoid this experience, you must know that plaque buildup and heart disease are completely avoidable.

    First, you must know this: Your doctor cannot help you avoid a heart attack. Conventional medical education consists of – at most – three hours of nutrition information. Instead, doctors are trained to identify illness and treat it with pharmaceutical medications. Fortunately, you can take steps as an individual to avoid cardiovascular disease through your own lifestyle and diet choices.

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body.” The important issue is how and why the plaque forms in the first place.

    The formation of plaque is an inherently intelligent response by your body, attempting to repair an injured area of the circulatory system. The injury is usually the result of inflammation, which occurs as a result of an accumulation of poor diet. Toxic fats, sugars, and chemical additives are the underlying problem.
    CDC recommendations include lifestyle changes. They say to lower sodium and fat intake, quit smoking and exercise more. That is fine, as far as it goes. But most people need additional guidance.

    “The answer is so simple that people will not take it seriously,” according to Dr. Hans Diehl, a heart specialist and health educator. Most people living in first world countries have not received sufficient education in nutrition, and government guidelines are erroneous and inadequate.

    The standard American diet is heavy in toxic, factory-raised meats, processed foods loaded with chemicals, toxic vegetable oils, foods that have been genetically modified (GMOs), and particularly, sugar. If you’ve been eating this way for years, it is not too late to make a change.

    A number of health experts recommend, and the outcomes of numerous studies support, an eating program that focuses on fresh organic vegetables and fruits, big salads and leafy greens, legumes and whole grains. Eat a handful of raw nuts every day. Don’t be afraid to use healthy fats like avocados, olive oil and coconut oil. If you eat meat, you should do so infrequently, and choose grain-fed beef and organic, humanely-raised chicken. Fish should be fresh caught. As an indulgence, have a glass of red wine or a bite of very dark chocolate and a bowl of berries.

    Get at least half an hour a day of exercise. Even gentle walking will help your cardiovascular health, and when you feel ready, add some stretching (perhaps yoga or Pilates). You may want to consider some light weight lifting.

    Avoid stress, and when stress is unavoidable, learn to manage it better. Meditation is an excellent tool for managing stress, as is time spent in nature, regular exercise, and time spent with the people you enjoy.

    Finally, consult with a holistic health practitioner and make sure you are getting the correct nutrition, including the vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, omega-3s, and CoQ10.