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Heart Disease Part 2: Prevention

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Did you know that the most common first symptom of heart disease is sudden death? 50% of Americans with heart disease – hundreds of thousands of people each year – die before they even know they have a problem..

That’s why prevention is so important. 

The good news is we can prevent it. Here’s how, based on science, studies & first-hand experience of Dr. Brown with hundreds of bariatric surgery patients at Idaho BMI & Everest Surgical Institute.

Six Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

To prevent heart disease is to prevent oxidative stress, a key topic of the last episode of Brain Over Belly. And most of what you need to do will sound familiar if you’ve listened before, but their importance bears repeating in the context of breaking the overwhelming chronic chain reaction called inflammation..

First is diet, hands down. Americans eat far too much sugar, carbs, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. When we consume these things, or even less suspecting ones like vegetable & seed oils, roughly half of them are already oxidized. That means a quicker start to inflammation and damage to our bodies. Aside from a diet of healthy fats, skipping meals entirely is enormously beneficial. Fasting lowers oxidative stress because it lets the body repair itself.

Beyond the food realm, exercise is the third best avenue of prevention. And it’s a bit tricky, because exercise actually causes oxidative stress in the short term. Think about lifting weights. What’s actually happening is damage; tiny little tears in muscle. Well that may not sound good, but your body repairing that damage is what makes it resilient in the long term.

After a good workout, what do you feel like you need? Water, and most of us need more of it even when not at the gym. It’s estimated 70% of us are chronically dehydrated. And that means more than just thirst! It can mess with our hormone levels and increase anxiety. Many studies also back the relationship between hydration and lower oxidative stress.

Next is sleep, probably the best source of general bodily repair. We’re built to follow the sun and operate at a healthy circadian rhythm; that means being active during the day, winding down and getting to bed early at night. Small tip – you may know melatonin is a popular sleep supplement these days. Well, when your circadian rhythm is in good form, you really shouldn’t need to supplement. Your body will produce all the melatonin you need if you’re taking care of yourself.

Lastly, a great way to reduce oxidative stress is to better manage your daily stress. Look, we all have it. It’s not about getting rid of it, but handling it. Mindfulness practices like resonance breathing, meditation and even cold therapy can directly reduce oxidative stress.

Bariatric Surgery to Improve Heart Health

We’ve covered the things you can do to ward off heart disease. Now for some exciting new stuff science can do. 

A recent study showed that a large group of patients who underwent bariatric surgery had their risk of heart attack and death drop by 56% within four years. 56%!

And it gets even more promising. It’s not just morbidly obese people; anyone who carries risk factors for heart disease and is eligible for bariatric surgery could experience this life-changing benefit. 

Multiple diabetes organizations have come out in support of what they call metabolic surgery, or bariatric surgery, for treatment of diabetes. It’s just another indication of what bariatric surgery can do beyond strictly weight loss. On the most fundamental level, it limits that inflammatory chain reaction which leads to heart disease.

Key Takeaways

The numbers are grim now, sure. But the future is promising. Dr. Brown’s experience in medicine is really a highlight of how. In years past, not many peers would give much value to his beliefs and systems, which were drawn from the data he knew well. Now, he’s gained much more traction, and that is credit to medical professionals opening themselves to new ideas about how to best prevent and treat heart disease.

As for us, we can all do something to lower our risk of heart disease. It’s just about the small steps, and seeing how you can improve them every day. Tiny things like an extra glass of water, to get you an extra hour of fasting, have massive benefits in helping you achieve a longer, healthier, more enjoyable life.

Brain Over Belly is available wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe now for this second episode of a special two-part series on heart disease, and others discussing weight loss, general health and longevity. Brain Over Belly, get it on Listen Boise today. What have you got to lose?

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