Before we talk about heart disease and the weekly menu, please take another look at the prior post, which belatedly has the pictures added. Our lovely and talented daughters help with the blog, one as designer and the other as photographer. They do this as a service, fitting it in while delivering babies, caring for family, exercising and tending to professional work and church duties. They wear a lot of hats and I'm terribley proud of them. Moms can appeciate how all this is sometimes overwhelming. We work to get out three post each week: a) the Healthy Change, b) recipe, and c) the weekly menu. But we do it around busy schedules, so thanks for your patience if our posts are delayed a day or two.
Worst Plague in History
What’s the worst plague in history? Maybe you’re thinking the bubonic plague or Spanish flu but those horrors don’t even compare. The worst plague in history is still running—it’s today’s epidemic of heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the #1 cause of premature death, not just in the U.S., but worldwide.
CHD is a fascinating example of how hard it is for a nation to solve a complex problem. CHD was thrust into our national consciousness in 1955 when President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack. In the 56 years since we’ve not only failed to stop the disease, we haven’t even agreed on the cause.
We spent the last generation wrongly blaming saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. We were urged to eat margarine instead of butter because the hydrogenated polyunsaturated fats in margarine were supposed to be heart-healthy. We avoided saturated fats, which mankind had safely eaten for millennia, invented low-fat versions of just about every processed food, and spent billions on statin drugs to lower serum cholesterol. By chasing the wrong villian, we actually made things worse.
The chief architect of the misguided war against saturated fat, Dr. Ancel Keys, once had a moment of clarity. There was a known disturbing fact: Saturated fat intake was actually dropping as heart disease was increasing. It was also known that our intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils had been increasing just ahead of heart disease, so Dr. Keys wondered, “Could these hydrogenated vegetable oils be the cause of heart disease?” Dr. Keys was partly right, but the idea was brushed aside—it threatened an established industry.
The Inflammatory Lifestyle
Here's a much cited article worth another look: “Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease.” Dr. Dwight Lundell, a cardiologist who has performed over 5000 open-heart surgeries, argues that the real cause of heart disease is the inflammatory life style. Inflammation is the acute response of our immune system to foreign threats. But when our life style is threatening our health, the immune system is forced into unrelenting overdrive and inflammation becomes chronic.
Here are a few of the lifestyle habits that cause inflammation:
- A diet high in omega-6 fats (those found in the hydrogenated, polyunsaturated vegetable oils that were supposed to be heart-healthy) and low in omega-3 fats (removed from our diet by processes like hydrogenation).
- The use of tobacco, especially cigarette smoking.
- Processed and fast foods rich in sugar, refined grains, and refined vegetable oils.
- Excessive, protracted stress where you never seem to find the escape hatch.
- TV—advocates a bunch of bad values plus contributes to sedentary life rather than physical activity.
- Too little sleep. We're so confused we think burning the midnight oil is a virtue.
CHD isn’t caused by one thing, rather by risk factors endemic to the 20th century lifestyle. Dr. Lundell’s advice on diet will sound familiar to you regular readers:
“What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the [modern] American diet.”
The Cure for Heart Disease
We talked about inflammation in the post, “The Chemical Fire Within,” that discussed the risks of the modern lifestyle and suggested a cure—the anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
We also linked chronic inflammation to the condition of metabolic syndrome in this post, “Last Person Standing.” a risk factor for chronic disease and reviewed the early warning signs of metabolic syndrome.
Menu for Week #14
- Rotisserie chicken (Costco)
- Roasted potatoes
- Green salad with Craisins, avocado, strawberries, gorgonzola cheese and sliced almonds.
- Leftover chicken
- Skip’s Peanut Coleslaw (A leftover night as the beautiful wife was gone to a meeting.)
- Poached Copper River Salmon (This healthy wild salmon is in markets now; we found it for $7/lb.)
- Wild rice
- Pineapple (Yes, a fruit for a vegetable, but I had just finished carving a pineapple for our Easter dinner.)
Easter Sunday (Skip cooked a couple of his favorites)
- Ham with pineapple
- Skip’s Scalloped Potatoes
- Skip’s Homemade Applesauce, (In Martha Stewart Living with a pix of our lunch on the lawn)
- Deviled eggs
- Strawberry shortcake, for dessert
Hope you all had a memorable Easter Sunday.