Heart Health Protocol
Heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States and has ranked as the #1 killer since the 1920s according to the CDC. When discussing heart health, we want to think about prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, elevated blood pressure, inflammation, and elevated blood sugar. Below you will find general recommendations for preventative care to keep your heart healthy including food as medicine and supplement support, as well as condition-specific recommendations.
Cholesterol is NOT the bad guy!
When it comes to heart disease, it is a misconception that cholesterol is a driving factor and that simply lowering cholesterol will reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Cholesterol is actually a vital component of every cell membrane in our bodies, it builds sex hormones, it plays an integral role in bile production and digestion of fats, and many other important roles. It is so important in the body that LOW cholesterol actually carries a higher risk of all cause mortality than high cholesterol! We have an entire podcast episode dedicated to the benefits of cholesterol called Cholesterol as Medicine, you can listen to it here.
The age old picture of cholesterol coming in and “clogging” our arteries is simply inaccurate. Injury to a vessel can occur with elevated blood glucose, toxin exposure, elevated blood pressure, and oxidative stress. This injury will drive an immune mediated inflammatory response and cholesterol is part of the body’s response to try to repair the injury. Cholesterol is like the firefighter at the scene of a fire, it is present but it is not the driving cause.
Strategies for Prevention of Heart Disease
When thinking about preventing heart disease and slowing progression, we want to focus on:
Most diseases in the body, including cardiovascular disease, are caused by inflammation. Luckily, this is also one of the risk factors that is most modifiable by diet. Instead of focusing myopically on reducing cholesterol, we need to switch our focus to lowering inflammation.
Foods to avoid:
- Processed Foods: These are devoid of nutrients and can add stressors and toxins to the diet
- Oxidized fats: avoid industrialized oils including corn, soybean, canola, safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, grapeseed and rice bran oils
- Trans fats (banned by the FDA yet still may be found in some packaged foods)
- Refined sugar and carbohydrates: these are a culprit of elevated triglycerides as well as small dense LDL, plus elevated blood sugar causes damage to arteries
Reducing Oxidative Stress
The other place where diet can really shine is in reducing oxidative stress via an antioxidant rich diet. Polyphenol-rich foods can trigger activating pathways in endothelial cells, promoting an increased formation of nitric oxide and endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization supporting vasodilation.
Foods to include to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress:
- Resveratrol: grapes, red wine such as Dry Farm Wines (these are lab tested low sugar, glyphosate free, low toxin, antioxidant rich)
- Quercetin: found in citrus, apples, and onions
- Vitamin C: citrus, bell peppers
- Green and black teas
- Cacao, dark chocolate
- Cruciferous veggies
- Herbs, seasonings, and spices
Regulating Bacterial Balance
Gut health is linked to heart health! When bacterial imbalance is present, there is an increase of foam cell production which can advance cardiovascular disease.
Include probiotic rich foods in the diet:
- Fermented veggies
- Full Fat Greek Yogurt
- Raw Milk
- Raw Aged Cheese
Ensure supplementing with a quality probiotic such as our Restore Baseline Probiotic. If you don’t tolerate probiotic foods or supplements, or if you suspect dysbiosis or microbiome imbalance, do a Probiotic Challenge.
More Food as Medicine for Heart Health
Beyond antioxidant rich foods and probiotics, focus on:
- Carnitine: grassfed red meat
- Glycine: bone broth, bone-in, skin-on protein selections
- Omega 3s: wild caught fish, shellfish, eggs
- CoQ10: oysters, organ meat
- Methylation support: organs, leafy greens, broccoli, cruciferous veggies
Supplementation Protocol for Heart Health
Our Heart Health Bundle provides intensive support for anyone looking to enhance cardiovascular health. With potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support, the Heart Health Bundle can be used for those with family or personal history of cardiovascular disease, those currently on medications such as statins, and those simply looking for preventative care!
This bundle supports:
- Balanced lipid levels: increased HDL and lower triglycerides
- Reduced inflammation HS-CRP
- Reduced vascular inflammation abd lower homocysteine levels
- Improved energy and body fat burn
- Reduced blood pressure
- Normalized heart rhythm
- Improved mitochondrial function and cellular energy
- Enhanced insulin sensitivity
EPA DHA Extra provides a concentrated pure dosage of omega-3s which have been shown in research to reduce cardiovascular mortality and improve cardiovascular outcomes. Research supports 4g/day of EPA and DHA delivered in 4 capsules daily can reduce triglyceride levels by 30% or greater. Beyond triglyceride lowering effects omega-3s support vascular elasticity, prevent blood clots, and reduce inflammation, a primary risk factor. Our formula features a concentrated, purified source of omega-3 fatty acids from sustainably sourced, cold water fish, in the most bioavailable form. Each soft gel provides a total of 710 mg EPA and 290 mg DHA. We test every batch for freshness, microbial contaminants, quality measures, heavy metals, environmental toxins and pesticides. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce joint pain and support brain health.
CoQ10 Complex features a unique encapsulation of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for stability, purity, and bioavailability. Studies have shown efficacy of COQ10 in treatment of heart failure and CVD while increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. When considering myocarditis risk, the inflammatory process induced by the virus was suppressed by the COQ10 treatment which can reduce the impact of inflammatory spike protein making CoQ10 a considerable tool for infection and infection risk. Low CoQ10 levels have been associated with greater damage to the tissues after a heart attack or stroke. CoQ10 is an essential supplement for those taking a statin medication as we see these drugs to deplete CoQ10 levels. Supplementation with CoQ10 can reduce statin-related muscle symptoms such as aches and weakness.
Methyl Complete is a comprehensive formula that features L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate—a body-ready folate—along with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), vitamins B6 and B12, and betaine. Together, these nutrients support methylation and promote healthy homocysteine metabolism as well as vascular health. Homocysteine is a vascular marker of inflammation and rigidity, when you provide the body with ample methylation support the vessels work better and are less at risk for incident. As homocysteine is also a neurotoxin we see regulating levels as a great way to support healthy aging and cognitive function.
Boost and Burn This liquid metabolism booster is a tasty way to get high doses of ribose and carnitine, two very important nutrients known for heart health, along with vitamin B5 for energy enhancement and muscle recovery. Carnitine has been shown to reduce chest pain, cardiovascular incident, and heart failure serving as an essential tool for those with a history of heart disease or cardiovascular risk. Carnitine specifically increases energy levels by helping body fat to be available to be burned for energy. This product is a great tool for those following a ketogenic diet program where fat is the primary energy source and may increase the body's ability to produce ketones.
How to take:
EPA DHA Extra 1 at breakfast, 1 at dinner
CoQ10 100 Complex 1 at rise
Methyl Complete 1 at rise, 1 mid day
Boost and Burn 1 tsp at rise
Note: this dosage is for general wellness support and in this amount our bundle lasts about 2 months. For specific conditions, higher dose may be appropriate. See Additional Considerations below.
Lab Testing for Cardiovascular Risk
A standard lipid panel tells us very little about true cardiovascular risk. It is important to monitor particle size, oxidation, inflammatory markers, homocysteine and many other values to understand the full picture!
The Cardiometabolic Panel includes:
- Total Cholesterol
- HDL Cholesterol
- LDL Cholesterol
- LDL Particle Count & Distribution
- Lipoprotein (a)
- C-Reactive Protein
- LP PLA2 Activity
- Oxidized LDL
- Fasting Insulin
- Fasting Glucose
Learn more about this panel and how to interpret your results in Episode 284 of the Naturally Nourished Podcast!
Arrhythmia and Atrial fibrillation (A-fib)
If dealing with irregular heart rate, focus on electrolytes and stress reduction.
Check out this YouTube video on how to naturally enhance your electrolyte status:
Relax and Regulate 1-2 scoops at bed
Low magnesium levels have been shown to increase incidence of arrhythmia and a-fib.
Calm and Clear 1-2 capsules three times daily
This powerful player contains adaptogenic herbs, nervines, and B vitamins to aid in the stress response. It also contains taurine shown to help regulate electrolyte levels and decrease excitability of the myocardium.
If lipids are dysregulated, consider the Cardiometabolic Panel to assess true risk. Remember lower is not necessarily better when it comes to total cholesterol or LDL! Watching excessive refined carbs and sugar is key as is fiber as increased fiber can support binding excess circulating cholesterol while boosting HDL by 10-15%.
For elevated triglycerides:
- Lower Carbs, Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup
- EPA DHA Extra 2 capsules twice daily
- 10 Day Detox quarterly, supporting the liver can regulate lipid levels or Detox Packs 1 at rise, 1 at bed
For elevated LDL and for low HDL:
- PhytoFiber 1 tsp daily added to a smoothie or shake
- Check out Episode 237: Mediterranean Keto
- Add chia or flax seeds to the diet at 1-2 Tbsp daily
- Ensure getting 2-3 cups leafy greens
- Consider beans at ½ cup 3-4x/week
- B-complex 1 daily at rise with niacin to lower LDL and raise HDL
This is a systemic inflammatory marker that can indicate cardiovascular risk. Note that it can also be driven up by injury or infection and simply indicates presence of inflammation, not where the inflammation is located. We want to see this marker <0.8 as optimal.
- EPA DHA Extra at 2 capsules twice daily
- Super Turmeric at 2 capsules twice daily
- Inflammazyme at 2-3 capsules at rise, 2-3 capsules at bed, this proteolytic enzyme blend is also a go-to for reducing clotting risk
- Increase consumption of wild caught fish
- Mediterranean diet can lower by 20%, check out our Mediterranean Keto approach
- Consider the MRT Food Sensitivity Panel to assess food drivers of inflammation in the diet if levels are 3.0 or higher
Hypertension or elevated blood pressure can drive damage to the arteries, create less elasticity, and decrease blood flow to the heart.
- Relax and Regulate 1-2 scoops at bed
Magnesium supplementation has been shown in studies to significantly improve systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- CoQ10 Complex 200 1 capsule daily (or 100 twice daily)
CoQ10 has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure by 17mm Hg and diastolic by 10 mm Hg
- Check out this podcast for more strategies for getting blood pressure under control: Episode 143: Functional Approaches to Blood Pressure Highs and Lows
Inflammation of the heart muscle is becoming increasingly common, potentially driven by COVID-19 infection or injection. The spike protein can cause damage to the cardiovascular system resulting in injuries to the heart muscle, arrhythmias, myocarditis, and shock. Besides directly damaging the heart muscle cells, the spike protein itself is very inflammatory and may cause systemic inflammation that indirectly causes heart problems.
- Cellular Antiox 1 twice daily for wellness, 2 capsules 2-4 times daily for viral illness or vaccination
NAC can bind to spike protein and reduce damage and glutathione reduces tissue damage
- CoQ10 Complex 200 1 twice daily during COVID infection or injection
CoQ10 suppresses the inflammatory process induced by COVID-19 and can directly reduce myocardial damage
Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of CVD, including venous thrombosis, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Homocysteine is toxic to neurons driving cognitive decline and neurological damage.
- Know your Homocysteine level--we want to see <8 for optimal
- Balance meat consumption with snout-to-tail, incorporate organs and bone broth into the diet
- 2-3 cups leafy greens daily
- Avoid synthetic B-vitamins fol-“ic” acid (interferes with methylation) this also includes many synthetically enriched foods such as cereals and snacks
- Go flour free! No wheat or white flour which is synthetically enriched
- Check out Episode 331: Homocysteine and Methylation
- Methyl Complete 1 twice daily
Favorite Heart Supporting Recipes
- Changes of Blood Pressure and Hemodynamic Parameters after Oral Magnesium Supplementation in Patients with Essential Hypertension
- A Potential Therapeutic Role of Myoinositol in the Metabolic and Cardiovascular Profile of PCOS Iranian Women Aged between 30 and 40 Years
- The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease
- Potential of Food and Natural Products to Promote Endothelial and Vascular Health
- Role of Fibrinolytic Enzymes in Anti-Thrombosis Therapy
- Influence of enhanced bioavailable curcumin on obesity-associated cardiovascular disease risk factors and arterial function: A double-blinded, randomized, controlled trial
- Anti-oxidant effects of coenzyme Q10 on experimental viral myocarditis in mice
- Combination Therapy With Coenzyme Q10 and Trimetazidine in Patients With Acute Viral Myocarditis
- Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome
- Coenzyme Q10 in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: Current State of the Problem
- The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial
- Effect of coenzyme Q10 therapy in patients with congestive heart failure: a long-term multicenter randomized study
- Atorvastatin Decreases the Coenzyme Q10 Level in the Blood of Patients at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
- Effect of coenzyme Q10 on the incidence of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure
- Coenzyme Q10 in essential hypertension
- Coenzyme Q10 in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: Current State of the Problem