Most of our health problems are caused by our modern, unnatural and unhealthy lifestyle. Aside from such obvious health-threatening habits as smoking, it is our terrible diet that causes this damage. We eat too much of toxic foods such as refined fats, refined sugar and refined flour together with too few of the whole, health-building foods we need. Cells are nourished by the blood, which picks up oxygen from the lungs and nutrients from the intestines. If the blood cannot pick up what it needs and deliver it to the cells, or if it picks up toxic substances and delivers those to the cells, health will suffer. In fact, it has been said that, "There is only one degenerative disease - poor circulation!"
Diminished circulation due to plaque buildup in our blood vessels is almost universal in our society and it begins at an early age. It plays an important role in many degenerative diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, hearing loss, impotence, gallstones, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and many others, Macular degeneration, for example, is considered to be merely a manifestation of a clogging of the arteries that serve the retina. Too much fat and cholesterol in our modern diet is the main culprit. The animal products which contain these things are not part of the natural diet to which evolution has adapted us.
There are several reasons why heart attacks occur. If your platelets (one type of white blood cell involved in the process of clotting) become too sticky, that is, if they adhere too readily to each other or to rough, irregular surfaces in your arteries, like a plaque, they will clump together and form a clot or thrombosis inside an artery. If this happens in one of your coronary arteries, the blood flow and oxygen supply to the corresponding part of your heart will be injured, possibly irreversibly. This is a heart attack.
But there are several populations in the world with significant plaque in their arteries (Somalis, Masai, and the Udaipur of northern India) but with a very low incidence of heart attacks in spite of having a very high-fat diet. Greenland Eskimos also fall into this group and are felt to have developed a very different set of inherited adaptations to diet and metabolism. But, as their diet changes to one closer to the Standard American diet (SAD), they are suffering more of the problems that SAD eaters do.
Americans at the beginning of this century ate as much saturated fat then as Americans did in 1961, when deaths from heart attacks in this country were near an all-time high, well over 500,000 deaths annually. But heart attacks are said to have been a rare event in 1900. No one knows for sure. Some say that people died of the diseases that were then diagnosed - or of "old age". Many disorders that we now diagnose were not recognized at that time.
One primary difference in the diet between then and now is the rampant use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, introduced early in the century. This toxic oil is the result of a process requiring intense heat, which chemically changes what would normally be a liquid oil at room temperature to a solid, and as a result creates what are called trans fatty acids. Even the refined vegetable oils that have not been hydrogenated and are still in the liquid state have been produced using high heat and other destructive processes. This is why they keep such a long time on the supermarket shelf without refrigeration and why they no longer have the taste and flavor a cold-pressed oil has just after pressing. They are more like motor oil than food. The only safe oil is virgin or extra virgin olive oil, which keeps well although it is basically unrefined.
Trans fatty acids alter the balance of prostaglandins, an extremely important class of hormones in the body. There are favorable and unfavorable prostaglandins, and the kinds of fat in our diet largely control this balance. Too much partially hydrogenated oil will favor the bad prostaglandins. This makes your platelets too sticky and makes your coronary arteries far more susceptible to spasm, another common cause of heart attacks, even in individuals who do not have plaque or elevated cholesterol levels. So these oils can assault your heart by two mechanisms. You will find hydrogenated vegetable oil on the labels of hundreds of foods: margarine, mayonnaise, bread, crackers, cookies, muffins, mixes, cereals, chips, frozen foods, candy bars and artificial creamers. The list goes on and on. According to many nutritional experts, partially hydrogenated oil is one of the most damaging substances in our diet and the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history. You can find packaged foods that lack this type of oil, but you may need to shop in a health food store or locate a supermarket that has a natural foods section.
Sugar also renders platelets more sticky, and you know how sugar permeates our diet. This is another major difference in our diet today compared to 1900. Sugar also can raise blood levels of triglycerides and lower the levels of the favorable HDL cholesterol, increasing susceptibility to heart attacks. Replace the toxic refined sugar in your diet with an unrefined, natural sweetener such as maple syrup.
Another factor behind heart attack is a lack of essential nutrients in our refined diets. For instance, white flour, even enriched, lacks magnesium (and a host of other important nutrients nature endowed whole grains with). A lack of magnesium contributes to platelet stickiness and coronary artery spasm, as well as rendering the heart far more susceptible to dangerous rhythm disturbances, all of which can lead to heart attacks. The lack of magnesium also increases the chance of stress-induced heart attack. If you consume very little fruit or vegetables, the resultant lack of vitamin C will also make your platelets sticky.
Considerable stress is being placed on the value of exercise. Exercise is beneficial, of course, but is no substitute for a proper diet. Its importance is being exaggerated by those people who have a financial interest in selling you fatty foods. If they can convince you that exercise rather than dietary change is your salvation, that means more money for them.
A few truths:
If you crave even more information on the subject of cholesterol, visit Cholesterol Facts.
The proper diet for humans is a vegan diet. That means eating nothing from the animal kingdom. Adopting a vegan lifestyle has another important advantage besides preventing heart disease. Osteoporosis is a serious disorder that strikes many older people. The food industry wants us to believe that we just need more calcium in our diet. The drug industry wants us to believe we need to buy their harmful drugs. The truth is that osteoporosis is caused by the consumption of too much animal protein. This causes an acidic condition in the blood that can only be neutralized by withdrawing calcium from the bones and teeth. That is why Eskimos have more osteoporosis than any other population. Do an Internet search for "negative calcium balance" and learn the truth. When you drink a glass of milk, more calcium is lost from the bones than is found in the milk. The calcium that is withdrawn from the bones leaves the body through the kidneys where it can cause kidney stones. It can also get deposited in other places, like the aortic heart valve.
The drugs that are highly promoted to stop osteoporosis do not solve the problem. They make it worse. They cause new bone to be formed over decayed or damaged bone that can no longer be removed normally by resorption. The result is that bones can become so weak they break on their own without trauma.
Humans have been on this earth for several million years. Why have we become carnivores while other primates, like chimps and gorillas, have not? The reason is that for some reason we developed a bigger brain. That allowed us to develop tools and weapons. Spears, bows and arrows, and traps allowed us to catch animals for food when other food was scarce. We used the furs for clothing. We learned to build shelters and domesticate animals. This enabled us to move into colder climates. But by eating other animals we damage our health. We do not have the characteristics of an animal of prey, such as fangs, claws and high speed. We have a longer digestive tract than a lion, for example. That allows animal products to putrefy before being eliminated, raising the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
It is not our intention to go into this subject in any further depth since obtaining even a minimal education on this subject requires reading several books. We will therefore try to point you in the right direction so you can gain the knowledge you need. See our Booklist.