Most physicians don’t look at the connection between heart disease and digestion – but YOU certainly should. I am seeing more and more people who have been diagnosed with heart conditions (i.e. high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, TIA) who also have gastrointestinal and digestion problems, so I began to wonder if there was a connection?
Inflammation & Disease
Ask any health practitioner and they’ll tell you that all disease states arise from chronic inflammation. Ask your cardiologist and they too will tell you cardiovascular diseases are inflammation driven.
Let’s take plaque on arterial walls as an example. Plaque is formed as a result of the body’s immune responds. In the arterial walls this creates what is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is actually a result of the body responding to healing an injury – patching up a lesion. So, in order to halt or slow this kind of inflammation driven responds we need to discover what is causing it. In other words figure out just where the inflammation is manifesting.
Conventional medicine would have us believe it’s all related to a high saturated fat diet – or genetic or some combination of both. But there is more to it than this. Unfortunately, too few doctors make the connection between poor digestion (which we know creates inflammation) and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Proper & Impaired Digestion
During proper digestion bile secreted by the gallbladder carries cholesterol out of the body. However, with dysbiosis, (an imbalance of more bad bacteria than good bacteria in the gut) this process falters or fails. The result is a rise in cholesterol (not to mention estrogen and various toxins). When this happens, a simple gut detox and inoculation with beneficial bacteria will most likely help lower cholesterol, but have you ever heard of a patient being given a “prescription” to do this from their cardiologist? (If you have please email me!)
We also know there is a link between helicobacter pylori infection and atherosclerosis. (1) H.pylori, is a bacterium that is able to survive the highly acidic environment of the stomach. It is almost always present with peptic ulcers, gastritis, and duodenitis. In researching this topic I discovered that h.pylori also destroys vascular tissue! And, autopsies are turning up h.pylori in the lesions of stroke and heart attack victims too.(2)
Lack of stomach acid leads to other problems
A healthy stomach has sufficient hydrochloric acid. (HCl) destroys pathogens as soon as they enter. This is essential to a healthy GUT and to proper digestion. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Americans are deficient in HCl, and that h.pylori can be found in 50 percent of the world’s population.
Proton pump inhibitors, such as Prolosec and Plavix work by blocking acid production in the stomach. These are commonly prescribed for people with acid reflux, GERD and duodenal ulcers. Well guess what? The stomach is where protein digestion takes place and stomach acid is absolutely necessary for proper breakdown and digestion of protein.
With out proper stomach acid the protein you eat is not able to be broken down into smaller particles. This leads to these large undigested particles of food passing through your intestines into the blood stream. When this happens – BINGO! You have an immune response reaction (aka = inflammation). This also impairs your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from your food. With out proper digestion and proper absorption of nutrients the body cannot be nourished properly and is left more susceptible to illness and chronic disease.
This had me wondering….?
- How many people who have cardiovascular disease also have poor eating habits (eating the SAD diet)?
- How many people with CVD have systemic inflammation somewhere else in their bodies?
- How many people who have CVD are taking PPI’s because they have been told they have acid reflex or gastritis?
All of these conditions are related to a lack of adequate healthy and diverse gut microbiome and this leads to increased inflammation!
My suspicions were confirmed as I researched these questions. The research I found shows that the types and levels of bacteria in the intestines influence the inflammation cascade. Who knows maybe a probiotic cocktail may one day be used to help prevent future cardiovascular events. (3) This seems to suggest that by paying close attention to our gut microbiome may indeed act as a way to reduce our risks of such events. In the future this information may even be used to predict a person’s likelihood of having a heart attack, and that manipulating these organisms may help reduce heart attack risk. Exciting stuff!
What’s my “prescription” for a healthy heart?
Improve your gut health and replenish a healthy balance of gut bacteria so you can properly digest your food, absorb your nutrients. In doing this you will also be lowering your inflammatory response! Essential and a commonly missed step is that you must complete the healing process by repairing leaky gut to quiet inflammation long term. If you are concerned about your health and reducing your risk these are essential steps to take.
That’s exactly what my Healing from Within Program does.
So if your concerned about improving your health and want a healthy heart it pays to take a look in your gut. Ready to get started? Contact me to see if we are a fit