Healing Cardiovascular Conditions
September 24, 2018
Srinika Narayan: Hi. Thank you for tuning in to Srinika Healing. Tonight we’re going to be talking about cardiovascular conditions, and I have my friend and colleague here, Kim Bower, a certified nutrition health coach of Steppingstone Wellness, and we’re going to be talking today about cardiovascular conditions, about heart disease, because it’s obviously a major issue in our country.
Srinika Narayan: So, one in four deaths are from heart disease. So, you can imagine there’s a lot of research out there, and mainstream media and mainstream science is telling us a lot of misinformation. So, we’re here to clear up some of that misinformation and talk more about the cutting edge research that’s coming out in functional medicine as well as what I find in my practice of nutritional analysis, what are some underlying causes of heart disease?
Srinika Narayan: So Kim, thank you so much for being here.
Kim Baur: Thanks so much for having me, Srinika. I’m so happy I could be here.
Srinika Narayan: Thank you. I know you keep up a lot on research from functional medicine doctors, and what is the latest research out there on heart disease?
Kim Baur: So, every person is a bio individual, and there are different factors involved, but for the most part, it’s been shown that it’s not cholesterol so much as it is inflammation in the body and in the arteries that causes cardiovascular disease.
Kim Baur: So, the good news about that is that we can change inflammation in the body in a variety of ways and primarily through dietary changes, which is great news that makes it so much easier for people, and they don’t have to spend money on expensive stents.
Srinika Narayan: Right, right. Exactly. In terms of dietary changes, what are the main changes that you encourage your clients to go towards?
Kim Baur: So, for someone who is concerned about cardiovascular disease, I would suggest a Paleo-style diet, which is, in general, very low in carbs and lots of vegetables and some meat. When it comes to meat, definitely I recommend organic and grass fed if possible and coming from farms that treat the animals in a humane manner.
Srinika Narayan: And in terms of sugar, I mean now there’s more and more research that, it’s not fat that causes heart disease, it’s more of a high blood sugar. Do you encourage people reduced sugar? What about things like honey, maple syrup, those kinds of sweeteners?
Kim Baur: Right. So, sugar can be as addictive as cocaine, and it’s really a problem for causing inflammation in our bodies. So, I suggest if you can avoid the white sugar, that would be the best. There are some alternative sweeteners that I think are okay in very small amounts such as honey or maple syrup or coconut sugar, but you really want to avoid added sugars and processed foods. I would say those are what’s going to be the things that have … Also high salt, which we can talk about a little bit later.
Kim Baur: Other things that can cause inflammation in the body is stress. So, we have a lot of stress in our lives these days, and many of the clients that I work with, it’s sleep and stress that causes them to eat poorly. They’re tired. They don’t have the energy to prepare food after work or in the morning before they leave or even on the weekends sometimes.
Kim Baur: So, creating small routines, both in the morning and the evening, can help quite a bit in both of those areas.
Srinika Narayan: Okay. Yeah. So it’s kind of a rollercoaster of poor sleep plus stress lead to less likely to be able to make healthy choices, cook healthy foods, and then which can just make the problem worse basically.
Kim Baur: Exactly. So oftentimes I like to get people having more of a solid foundation in those areas, core areas of lifestyle before even addressing making changes in their diet because I find they’ll be more successful that way.
Srinika Narayan: Yeah. Great. That could certainly be the benefits of a health coach. I could see that. And in terms of physical activities, are there things that you recommend more than others or is it just based on the individual?
Kim Baur: One of the things that’s most important about physical activity is finding something that you enjoy, because if you don’t enjoy it and it’s not convenient to get to, it’s not going to happen. So, sometimes I’ll ask people what did they enjoy doing when they were a child? Were they on the swim team? Did they enjoy running? Did they just kind of get away from it once they had kids and things got busy, and they kind of forgot about what kind of activity they enjoy when they were young. So, finding something that you enjoy can be great, or trying something new. Oftentimes, I’ll suggest yoga, or Pilates is also another great kind of exercise that really helps build strength and balance for people.
Srinika Narayan: Okay. Great. And stress relief. So movement-
Kim Baur: And stress relief.
Srinika Narayan: Plus stress relief, but also probably helping sleep as well.
Kim Baur: And a lot of yoga instructors really include discussions throughout the yoga class that can help to calm our minds and bring more stillness into that monkey mind that doesn’t ever want to stop talking.
Srinika Narayan: So kind of a meditation.
Kim Baur: And worrying. Exactly. Meditations, sometimes chanting, sometimes there can be a little bit of singing involved or just music. It’s amazing how music can calm our bodies, lower our blood pressure.
Srinika Narayan: Yup. Yup. For sure. I mean we’re, we’re thinking like, wow, can something like meditation, yoga, music really create a difference in blood pressure and cholesterol when you have doctors telling us, well we need to go on statins or get a stint. And yes, indeed, these practices actually do make quite a difference, and it’s just a matter of kind of keeping the mind open and trying these things out and seeing the numbers go down.
Srinika Narayan: But speaking of numbers, one thing about cholesterol, there’s so many myths out there about cholesterol, and now even mainstream science is asking, well, what does cholesterol really mean? What do these numbers mean? And there’s a big controversy whether cholesterol even is a precursor to heart disease or to the hardening of the plaque in the arteries.
Srinika Narayan: So, in my practice when people come with high cholesterol numbers and they want to see how they can bring them down, I explain this to them, and I say what’s actually more important is the health of your blood vessels, the health of your body in general than just these numbers.
Srinika Narayan: One number I do look at though are triglycerides, and these do seem to be a precursor to plaque or indicator of plaque, and triglycerides are a certain type of fat that is in the bloodstream. So, when the triglycerides are high, what I found with nutritional analysis is … So what I do is kind of do a body scan to find out what are the main organs involved with these issues. So, we might think, oh, it must be the heart. Okay, it’s the heart. It’s the blood vessels. It’s also usually the liver is involved as well, and liver is kind of like … The seat of any health issue, the liver’s involved.
Srinika Narayan: So, oftentimes with liver issues, it’s a matter of kind of getting the liver unclogged because it’s a big filter in the body. And so, it can be filtering out for us all of our environmental toxicities, all the kind of stuff we get from foods that are basically not good for us. So, when I start test what’s going on with the liver, basically the liver itself kind of tells me, okay, these are the issues that it’s dealing with. And the big ones that come up, the common themes that come up in people … So heavy metals are a very common theme that comes up, especially mercury. It’s one of those metals that are hard to just get out of the system on its own. It needs some help usually. Other things are pesticides, and that can be certainly from nonorganic foods. It can also be just someone sprayed some ant spray, and you were right there and inhaled it, and it gets in the system, or you live in the Central Valley, and it’s just all over in the air and the water, and you’re just kind of inhaling it, ingesting it, and it gets in the system, and it doesn’t come out.
Srinika Narayan: And things like this create inflammation in our body. It creates inflammation in the liver and then from there starts creating inflammation in the blood vessels. So generally in this situation, what I suggest is try out foods that benefit the liver. So you mentioned some of those foods. Certainly vegetables, in general, benefit the liver, but the cruciferous vegetables are especially good at detoxing the liver. Greens in general, green juices are great. And then herbs that also benefit the liver would be things like milk thistle, dandelion, burdock root. You can find these herbs … You can make teas out of these herbs, or you can find these herbs just at any regular a health food store as a liver cleanse product. They’re safe. It’s safe to do a liver cleanse, and it’s a good thing to do every now and then, every few months just to basically get that liver working better and unclogged and get that filter working a bit better. So, those are generally things I suggest when people come in with high triglycerides.
Srinika Narayan: And the next thing I want to talk about was high blood pressure because that’s also another face of cardiovascular disease. And so you know what I found with high blood pressure? The main organs that come up during the body scan are again the liver. Liver is always involved by the way. Kidneys and adrenals. And the kidneys and adrenals kind of regulate how much water or blood volume is in the body.
Srinika Narayan: So oftentimes, it’s the same things that come up, heavy metals getting caught in some of these organs, pesticides, GMOs, just other chemicals that we’re exposed to. So again, a lot of it is trying to just gently detox these organs. Again, all the things I suggested before. The vegetables, liver cleansing, herbs are all helpful for kidneys and adrenals as well.
Srinika Narayan: And then, important to note is kidneys and adrenals are very sensitive to mineral balances in the body. So my test for okay, what’s going on? Is there too little potassium, too much potassium, sodium, calcium? Those are the main big minerals in the body that can produce high blood pressure basically. And you know, the whole thing about salt, it’s controversial because if you have high blood pressure, that’s one thing your regular MD will tell you right away is cut down or cut out salt, but salt’s an important … It has important minerals that our body needs. Oftentimes cutting down salt does help with blood pressure, but it’s not really the cause of why the blood pressures there. So, with salt, I generally tell people don’t use table salt, and minimize, but don’t think that is indeed the cause of high blood pressure. We can look for the other causes, get that straightened out, and then you can bring some more salt back into your diet. But what is your take on salt, Kim?
Kim Baur: So, I agree that thought should be contemplated, but there’s different kinds of salt, and pink Himalayan salt, for example, has so many more minerals than the table salt or kosher salt. These days with all the plastic in the ocean, we also need to be careful about that, and there’s a brand called [inaudible 00:12:29] that comes from an ancient mine where you don’t need to worry about plastics being in the salt.
Srinika Narayan: Yeah, I just read about that, about sea salt being contaminated by little, little plastics.
Kim Baur: And also with detoxification, herbs like cilantro. I recommend three times a week, have Cilantro in your diet, and then also a way to avoid some mercury in your diet is to avoid the big fish like tuna and the sword fish, and instead, go for cold water fish or there’s the initials that spell out SMASH. S, M, A, S, H stands for sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring. Those all have high omega three oils which are going to help to reduce the inflammation in your body as well.
Srinika Narayan: Yeah, kind of fish is one of those things also … It’s controversial because it brings in omega threes, but it also does bring in mercury, so I do tell people, be aware, especially of tuna. Tuna is, across the board, very high in mercury. It’s one of those easily accessible fish because tuna fish in can. We can make sandwiches so easily, but I suggest just totally avoid tuna because it is super high in mercury, but the SMASH fish are lower in mercury, especially [crosstalk 00:13:50].
Kim Baur: Just sardine salad with the same ingredients as tuna, and it’s going to be healthy. You’re going to have calcium in it, and it can be delicious.
Srinika Narayan: Low in mercury.
Kim Baur: I like to add some parsley to it as well, and that kind of helps add a fresher flavor to it.
Srinika Narayan: Great. The great thing about Kim, she’s a health coach. She’s also a great cook, so she has cooking classes, and you can learn so much about not just eating healthy but eating yummily and healthy delicious food in a healthy way. So, she always tosses in a few tips here and there, which is great.
Srinika Narayan: Alright. Well great. Red meat, your take.
Kim Baur: So, red meat, again, I think a lot of times people think red meat is bad because of the cholesterol, but in small quantities, I think red meat is actually okay. Again, look for grass fed. Look for animals that have come from a farm that raises them humanely and doesn’t give them antibiotics.
Srinika Narayan: Great. Because he knows there are the China study, this study, that study about heart disease, and they … A lot of these studies vilify red meat, but when you look at the studies, they don’t really differentiate between grass fed red meat and organic GMO corn-fed a cow eating these products, red meat. And so there’s a big difference. And most of these studies don’t differentiate, so you can’t just go by what these studies say about red meat and automatically say, okay, no, I’m going to do without. Red meat has actually a lot of nutrients that fish and poultry just don’t have.
Kim Baur: I think it’s really about the portion. That’s where you want to be mindful. And when you’re looking at your dinner plate, think about filling it half to three quarters with vegetables, vegetables that are grown above the ground, like the leafy greens are always going to be great. There’s never anything going to be bad about the leafy greens. I should say, except spinach because you don’t want to eat too much spinach because it has oxalates in it. And other vegetables that are grown above the ground, such as the broccoli, the cauliflower, the asparagus, brussel sprouts, and don’t have too much if the root vegetables, because those are high in carbs. So root vegetables like parsnips and potatoes or sweet potatoes and carrots, beets, are very high in sugar as well.
Srinika Narayan: Eat in moderation.
Kim Baur: Exactly.
Srinika Narayan: Even they are a little bit high in sugar, right? Great. Well thank you so much. Kim. Is there anything else you want to see about heart disease or just about how to seek health in general for people watching?
Kim Baur: I would really encourage the audience to focus on health from mind to toe, not just one part of their body. I think that’s where the traditional doctors these days don’t always do the greatest job. I have to say that a lot of the time they’re doing sick care and not healthcare. So, the key to stay healthy is to think about your health from mind to toe, and the mind being the stress management, the sleep, eight to nine hours a night. And primary care doctors usually don’t have very much time for their patients. So, that’s why healthy coaching is a growing practice because I typically have an hour, a full hour, with my patients and clients. And then I also will do follow up email with them, and we’ll go over the suggestions that we talked about or provide additional resources, and they can come back to me with questions.
Kim Baur: So, it’s about creating small, achievable goals with your diet and your lifestyle.
Srinika Narayan: And you see the full picture of what’s going on, not just this one heart disease, the heart.
Kim Baur: And it’s creating a whole entourage of healthcare practitioners like yourself, like adding a massage therapist, having a good Palates studio or yoga studio. Acupuncture is great. Chiropractic is great. It’s really about building health care team and not just about having a primary care physician who you usually see either for an annual physical or when you’re already sick.
Srinika Narayan: Having an entourage. I believe in that totally. It just is helpful to have many different people helping you in different modalities and in different ways and wellness care really.
Srinika Narayan: So, thank you so much Kim, for being with us. If you want to learn more about Kim and her practice, go to steppingstone-wellness.com, and you can learn more, and if you want to learn more about my practice, I’m at Srinicahealing.com. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I will see you next time.