One of the reasons I love writing for the Coastal Post is readers' reaction to my articles. We all love praise, but pissing someone off is like ringing the bell on the sledgehammer swing.
A friend came up angrily pointing to my cardiac care column. "Man, my wife was nagging the hell outta me. If I have to give up cigarettes, hamburgers, fries and ice cream, I'd rather die!"
Since I didn't write that, it was disappointing, but people always get more furious from what they think I wrote.
Although I would definitely say that greasy, fatty foods like hamburgers, fried foods including chips, and cream, milk and sugar products are not heart healthy, most readers are not likely to change their diet, even if they are at risk for heart disease. I wrote about other practices which have been shown to protect the heart.
So I told him, "Listen, there's not enough Social Security to go around anyway, so pig out, dude." Actually that would have been cruel, so I said "Maybe you should just bring her flowers."
Studies have shown that marital harmony is good for the heart, just like beans and whole grains are. Since having friends and acquaintances has been linked with healthier hearts, I try not to alienate all my friends at once, choosing to rotate them.
People who feel lonely and isolated are three to five times more likely to die of a heart attack and most other causes of premature death. Our heart is more than just a blood pump with hoses called arteries and veins. Humans are social creatures, and those people who regularly attend church, a social organization or support group have much less chance of dying from heart disease and longer survival times if they become ill. Lose Weight, Feel Better, Great Sex
The American Diet is a national disaster, mostly fast or processed foods, high in fat, sugar, salt with little nutrition. It seems difficult for most people to shift to healthier habits, even though they would lose weight, feel better and get laid.
The big food companies do their part to convince us to eat our hearts out. The federal government promoted heart disease for forty years with their "four basic food groups" advertising campaign. Meat, eggs and milk products were pushed on kids and adults. As the cardiac rates climbed the experts finally changed to a pyramid plan in the 80's, with whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits as the foundation of a healthier diet. Eating five or more 4 oz servings a day of vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of most diseases.
There are no guarantees, and the most cardiac conscious person could step in front of a sausage truck on their daily walk. Life is too uncertain to feel as if we are depriving ourselves of sensual pleasures. A less is more approach to unhealthy foods and drink, replacing them gradually with healthier choices, shouldn't feel like deprivation. The most sensual pleasure of all is a healthy body.
Drinking more water and walking a few miles a day is pleasurable once you get in the habit, and taking a few vitamins and minerals with meals is no harder than buckling your seatbelt.
Since compassion is beneficial for our hearts. I watch the news and feel sorry for the Serbian refugees, knowing we will spend the social security surplus on bombing their country. Compassion is not one of my strong points, but my mother always told us kids, " Remember, there but for the grace of god, go I." Humans can imagine themselves in someone else's slippers, a heartfelt emotion. Road Rage Kills
Our emotions and psychological attitudes influence our health, and in some cases actually cause disease. Heart disease is more common in angry, hostile, competitive and lonely people. Even though Americans are bred to be individualistic, and always claim to have done it on their own, we'd all die at birth without the care, love and assistance of many.
Caring is good for our immune system, which is not as separate from our heart as western medicine likes to diagram. This biomechanical view is simplistic, and denies our soul which infuses our flesh.
It's easy to forget that we have an immortal soul in this instant culture, unless you use psychedelics to remind you. Our body is an amazing pet for our soul. Your dog shouldn't get better care and training than your body, just because your mind says I cannot change or I will surely die. Surely you will not die sooner, from eating an apple, taking the antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta carotene, an aspirin, drinking green tea or one alcohol drink a day and cutting down on eggs and ham.
The Chinese say the heart is the home for the spirit, and if the spirit is restless it disturbs the heart. Americans are born with a restless spirit, which might be why our cardiovascular disease rate is so much greater than theirs. Of course most Chinese exercise, eat a low fat diet, and many practice Qui Gong and Tai Chi.
The American news and entertainment complex profits from Fear and Violence, and restless spirits. Perhaps someday they'll be sued like the tobacco companies for causing billions in health damages and taxed heavily for their unhealthy messages. High Blood Pressure And Impotence
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it leads to increased heart disease, strokes, impotence and blindness. Stress. Smoking and Sodium (mostly excess salt hidden in processed foods) can cause high blood pressure.
Stress can cause a fight or flight reaction, which raises blood pressure and pumps out adrenaline. It also diminishes blood supply to our extremities to minimize bleeding, so if your hands are cold you're stressing. Learning how to relax and practicing it regularly can lower overall blood pressure, and reduce the effects of stress.
Yoga is energy efficient and has been shown to help people with heart disease, the doctors gave up on. The most recommended pose for cardiac patients is lying back down over pillows with your arched chest higher than your head and pelvis, for at least five minutes. Remember to Breathe.
Cigarettes constrict the blood vessels which raises blood pressure while Cannabis relaxes smooth muscle tissue and blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Some people smoke tobacco to relieve stress, so nagging them probably won't work.
The fluid balance in our body is regulated by a sodium potassium exchange in our cell walls. Too much sodium or not enough potassium, which is higher in many fruits, vegetables and leafy greens, causes water retention, which raises blood pressure.
Our arteries carry oxygenated blood away from our heart in a series of pulses generated by our heart beating. The blood pressure measured during the beat is the diastolic pressure, and between pulses is the systolic. Elevated levels of either for your age increase health risks.
The arteries are like flexible hoses with silky smooth linings, which are continually being repaired. Any nutritional deficiency over time will reduce the ability of the self repairing function of our body. High blood pressure increases damage to the arterial lining which is repaired with cholesterol. Cholesterol-A Little Goes A Long Way
Cholesterol is a lipoprotein-a fatty protein which is essential to health. It transports fat soluble vitamins and is used to repair tears in the blood vessel walls. It can build up as a deposit on the lining of the wall, restricting blood flow or inside the cell walls. If this bursts it sends a large clot to block the flow of blood to the heart, causing unbearable pain, and usually death. Vitamin E and C strengthen these cell walls, and reduce heart attacks.
High blood levels of cholesterol for a person's age is linked with heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise, vegetarian, low fat diets, and improved nutrition can all lower cholesterol blood levels. A Chinese food condiment, "rice rust" has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels effectively.
Many Americans will probably not change their diet and exercise habits. They can always quote the original hedonist, Roman general Mark Anthony, as he waited for Caesar's army to invade Alexandria to execute him and Queen Cleopatra, "Let us Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for tomorrow we may die."