With the approaching holiday season, it’s time to gift yourself, and those you love, the gift of Health thru Education™.
Most individuals, specifically in the U.S., consume meals very high in fat during the holidays, never considering the health-depleting affects and potentially life-threatening consequences. Ah! Those gravies, sauces, butter and desserts can set up individuals for an event that just the name makes the hair on your arms stand to attention.
Heart attacks seldom happen without some kind of warning. They are often explained by medical history, including high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or by family history of heart disease. But can they also be explained by external circumstances, like time of year or time of day? Are there certain occasions that pose greater risk for those with excessive stress, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity? Absolutely!
That beautifully buttered turkey or ham with all the trimmings might set the stage for an individual’s heart to go over the edge during a stressful holiday season.
Increases in stress levels equate to increases in heart attacks, and it’s hard to find a more stressful time than the holidays. In the U.S., there are greater than 50 percent more heart attacks in winter months than in summer, and it’s mostly due to stress, including those high fat meals. Stress is one of the most difficult heart-attack risk factors to eliminate from our lives. Yet for people with high blood pressure (hypertension), it’s crucial to do so.
High blood pressure damages arteries because of the increased force of blood pumping through them and pushing hard against arterial walls. Damage to the arterial walls encourages plaque to form there, leading to clogged arteries. It’s not clear exactly why stress can lead to heart attacks in people with hypertension, but it’s probably related to the release of adrenaline. Stressful situations cause your brain to flood the body with adrenaline, the “stress hormone,” which triggers a fight-or-flight response—speeding your heart rate. With the heart trying to pump more blood in less time, it makes sense that the risk of heart damage would increase.
You can stop eating trans-fats and start walking around more; but it’s a bit trickier to tell your family members that you’re not joining them for the holidays. Holiday-related stres makes November through the end of December—also known as Thanksgiving through New Year’s in the U.S.—the most popular time of year for heart attacks.
It’s not hard to see why. Stress makes us do some unhealthy things, like eat the rest of the pumpkin pie after everyone leaves or skip a morning walk because we’re exhausted from entertaining and too much sugar. Along those lines, stress increases heart attack numbers in two related ways: by decreasing healthy behaviors and increasing risky ones.
The overall result is that we abandon the activities that could keep us healthy, just when we need them most. To avoid the increased risk of heart attack during the winter holidays, it’s important to maintain some balance. Drink one glass of high-fat, high-alcohol eggnog instead of two. If you feel yourself getting overly stressed, skip that one holiday party you didn’t want to go to anyway. Start your holiday shopping six months in advance so you can avoid the last minute panic and the adrenaline surge that could put your heart over the edge. Use creative ways to adapt high fat recipes.
Other Deadly Days
The holidays aren’t the only big times for heart attacks. Major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the World Cup always see an increase in heart attacks, as do big bank failures, due to increases in stress levels.
In the United States, about 1.1 million people suffer heart attacks every year, and about half of those heart attacks result in death.
According to the latest government reports, one in three U.S. adults, or 65 million people, have high blood pressure. Of these, only two-thirds know they have it and only one in three has the condition under control.Cutting Your Risks, Naturally
Here’s where Health thru Education™ comes in—natural ways to reduce the health-depleting effects of those high fat diets.
Lecithin is an important phospholipid needed by all living cells. Lecithin is produced within our own bodies—found in major organs: the heart, liver, and the kidneys. Lecithin aids in maintaining our overall health and is utilized by every cell in our bodies. Though it is produced within our own bodies, we do not always consume enough of the foods that provide the nutrition needed to produce adequate amounts. Lecithin can be found in many foods such as: cabbage, cauliflower, garbanzo beans, soy beans, split peas, organic meat, seeds, nuts and eggs. Today’s average diet, however, does not provide enough lecithin to successfully protect our cells and reap its benefits. Of its many benefits, lecithin has been proven to decrease cholesterol, promote cardiovascular health, restore damaged livers and improve the brain’s memory function.
One way lecithin aids in preventing or reversing certain diseases and conditions is that since it is predominately comprised of fat itself, it adheres to our cell and nerve linings, forming a sheath—preventing cholesterol and other fats from sticking. By doing this, in the case of patients with high cholesterol, it decreases the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol across the intestinal wall, thus lowering total cholesterol, including LDL’s (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol). With the reduction of blood cholesterol, research shows its ability to reverse atherosclerosis—hardening of the arteries. Though there are pharmaceutical products on the market that control and aid in the control of these diseases, lecithin, is capable of doing this in a much more natural way and at a significantly reduced price.
Similarly, lecithin intervenes with the body’s ability to form fat deposits—reversing damage caused by coronary artery disease. By creating a slippery lining, it prevents large fat deposits from accumulating, allowing the blood to flow smoothly when it once was clogged with fat deposits that would lead to blood clots. When it breaks down the body fat, not only does it prevent the fat from collecting in large deposits in our bodies, it then transports it to the liver and converts it into usable energy. Lecithin is also known to repair livers that have been damaged by abuse such as too much alcohol or drug consumption (over-the-counter and prescription).
Lecithin supplements are produced from soybeans, meats and eggs and can be taken either as liquid, granules, or as a capsule. You can find lecithin supplements at your health food store. Lecithin is non-toxic and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It can be taken daily but dosage varies from product to product. However, if you consistently eat healthy, well-balanced meals, you probably do not need to supplement your diet.
I sprinkle lecithin onto my gravies made from pan drippings to absorb the extra fat; it’s easy and healthy and doesn’t change the taste. During a high fat meal, like during holidays, be sure to supplement with lecithin, it could save your life. Lipase is an enzyme used by the body to break down dietary fats into an absorbable form, facilitating absorption within the intestines by breaking down neutral fats (triglycerides) into glycerol (an alcohol) and fatty acids.
Lipase is important in maintaining optimum cell permeability, which allows nutrients to flow easily into the cells, and wastes to flow out. Two conditions arising from lipase deficiency are diabetes and glucosuria (sugar in the urine without symptoms of diabetes). Most people associate diabetes with sugar intolerance, but fat intolerance is the major enzyme culprit—the inability to digest fat interferes with insulin metabolism and the transport of glucose into the cell by insulin.
Most of the body’s lipase is manufactured in the pancreas, although some is secreted in the saliva as well. Individuals with pancreatic insufficiency, cystic fibrosis, celiac—Crohn’s disease, and indigestion in general, are most likely deficient in pancreatic enzymes including lipase.
This valuable enzyme is usually included in a complex formula of digestive enzymes. That said, those with conditions mentioned in this article would benefit by taking additional lipase with each meal, especially those containing high fat.
Think of your body as a processing unit. If you cannot retrieve enough nutrients from the food you take in, your body receives a signal that it needs to store more fat against the threat of starvation and holds on to even more fat in reaction. It will also send a signal that you need to take in more food. This can result in a vicious cycle of eating more and more, and still always feeling hungry. The right digestive enzyme formula can stop this kind of triggered response and help your body normalize, as well as helping the body deal with high fat meals.
Lipase interferes with Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) — Orlistat is used to treat obesity by blocking lipase from breaking down fats so the body doesn’t absorb them.
Holidays are an important time to connect with others and enjoy meals we don’t always take the time to prepare and share. Knowing how you can protect yourself from the potential deadly affects of those fat-saturated meals is one of the foundational goals of my continued commitment of Health thru Education™, Naturally.