Dr. Dwight Lundell Banner Heart Hospital

When a heart surgeon who has seen the insides of 5,000 people’s arteries has a “change of heart” it’s definitely something to take note of!

Especially if you want to protect your health, and the health of the ones you care for. The doctor, Dwight Lundell, actually caught onto something that, in hind-sight is pretty obvious. However, with his medical expertise, he was able to not only shed more light on the topic, but also figure out the all-important WHY of the matter.

The problem is, it seems to fly in the face of a lot of “common medical knowledge” and goes against all sorts of rhetoric the public has been hearing for years. The topic is heart disease, cholesterol, and heart-attacks. Heart disease is the #1 killer of people in the USA today, and it’s likely to keep its top spot so long as no one changes their diet. Pharmaceutical companies would love the answer to be ‘cut cholesterol’. But, what if cholesterol build up on artery walls was only a SIDE EFFECT of something else going on in the body?

To study this further, you need to understand inflammation. Inflammation is a body’s natural reaction to some harmful substance. A bee-sting will certainly cause inflammation of the surrounding tissue, until the poison and histamines are removed from the area. Inflammation can be good if only continued for short periods of time. The problem occurs when certain parts of the body are frequently, or constantly inflamed. Then, instead of being beneficial, the inflammation turns to harm…and can even be deadly.

In the case of the cholesterol side-effect, it’s the arteries of the body that are under attack from frequent inflammation. Cholesterol is used by the body to coat the arteries and protect them from inflammation. The problem is, this restricts blood flow and can cause dangerous pieces of this coating to break off and cause any number of maladies. This is what people today see: cholesterol as the enemy, building up to ‘attack’ people in various ways.

The root however, lies deeper

What if you could stop cholesterol from building up? Sure, you could take expensive medicines, but wouldn’t it be better to fight back at the core cause: inflammation?

You are what you eat

This is a fairly simple illustration, and perhaps that’s why it’s often overlooked. With the abundance of unsaturated fats, vegetable oils, low-fat foods, diets, low-carb alternatives, artificial sweeteners, 0-calorie (non-water) drinks, pills, prescriptions, and any number of countless other “health foods” is obesity and heart disease actually on the RISE?

No one can answer that question. If all that stuff really was as good for you as it was said, then everyone today should be super fit. Heart disease should be on its way into the history books, not at the head of the charts. The answer isn’t “Oh, people are being bad and skipping all that sort of thing”. Can 60% of Americans be that far off base? (60% of Americans are considered over weight today, in 2009) It’s very hard to believe that this many people could be so enamored of doing the wrong thing so consistently.

What’s the real problem?

These low-carb, artificially sweetened, omega-6 oil rich foods are actually the culprit in causing inflammation in the arteries. The main enemies are simple carbohydrates found in processed foods (these turn to sugars very quickly) , refined sugar, and omega 6 oils (oils that when out of balance produce cytokines, the inflammatory molecules).

“What does all this have to do with inflammation?  Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range.  Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation.  When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.”

While refined sugar and simple starches may be a bit easier to avoid, what about the omega 6 oil? Your body DOES need some of it for healthy function, but it must be balanced with the healthy omega-3 oil. The ideal ratio is more omega 3 than 6. However, with saturated fats, animal fats, and other sources of omega 3 being labeled as “fattening” or “less healthy” the balance has been thrown off. Omega 6 fat also gives foods a longer shelf-life which is best for the bottom line not you!

The truth is, while omega-6 may look attractive on the surface (such as soy oil, sunflower oil, corn oil) due to slower spoilage and being ‘unsaturated’, they’re actually behind a lot of the inflammation that’s keeping people at risk and over-weight!

“Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labeled polyunsaturated.  Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades.  The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent.  The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak.  Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.”

So what’s the good news in all of this?

It’s not too late! Chances are, if you are reading this article, you CAN reverse the damage to your artery walls. And you can also prevent more inflammation from occurring in the future. When you cut out inflammation, you also stop the body’s need to plaster the artery walls with potentially harmful cholesterol. There are also many delicious solutions, and great reasons to raise omega-3 levels.

Omega-3 may actually play a part in weight loss success! Jade Beutler an author of Understanding Fats & Oils says “Omega 3 fatty acids are gaining popularity with those looking to lose weight while attaining optimal health and the latest research has revealed numerous slimming secrets attributed to Omega-3s”. USA Weekend magazine also reports on a study where overweight dieters who included omega 3s in their eating plan lost 2 more pounds monthly than the control group, who did not.

First, eat greener

Try to add more unprocessed foods to your diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables may have carbohydrates, but they are mostly complex-carbohydrates. Even in the sweetest fruits, these are broken down more slowly and blood sugar isn’t so heavily affected. Stay away or minimize starchy foods like white potatoes and white breads. The healthiest food is the food that’s closest to its natural state. Grass fed beef, free-range chicken/turkey, colorful fruits, squash, vegetables, nuts and seeds are the key to stopping inflammation so your natural healing process can take over.

Want to help balance your omega-3 and omega 6?

As you may know, fish and fish oil are rich in healthy omega-3 oils. But what if you don’t want fish every night? Don’t like the idea of cod-liver-oil? Worried about fish absorbing harmful pollutants and spreading them to your family? Or maybe, you want to follow the vegetarian path so that the oceans can recover from over-fishing. No matter what your reason, Omega-3 just got a lot healthier and easier to add to your diet!

The Chia Seed

This tiny seed is nature’s richest plant-based source of omega-3 oil. By weight, it is even richer than salmon, so every spoon full of chia can help you tip the balance to the healthy omega-3 side. The best part is, there’s no flavor. You can add these seeds to whatever you like (unlike fish!) to get your daily amount of omega-3. They’re also full of b-vitamins, more calcium than milk, and more magnesium than broccoli…all with the taste of whatever you’d like!

“Food of convenience” is part of the reason for this obesity and cholesterol epidemic. Easier, faster, tastier, and longer-lasting has been the motto. Chia Seeds may be the ultimate convenient food. What is easier than sprinkling a spoonful onto something you were going to eat or drink anyway? What is more delicious than the best taste that YOU specify? And what natural, uncooked, preservative & pesticide free food lasts 2 years without refrigeration? Nothing else but ‘the chia seed’ can answer yes to all these questions.

(Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital, Mesa, AZ)

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  1. Splash Log Level 2 Again says:

    Heart surgery inspires me to plot a story. Please look into my experience after surgery. I became writer 🙂

    Heres a plot for my story and its supposed to be sci fi but im beginning to doubt that it is. UGHH this is hard. You dont need to read the whole thing but at least tell me if sci fi has to be scary.

    Let’s see…of the top of my head…
    An alien crash-lands on earth one evening in a mountain range nearby a town, where, conveniently as always, our main character is. (Let’s see…we’ll call her Mallory.) After getting over her near heart attack, Mallory takes pity on the little alien and uses her resources to take care of his wounds. (Her mother is a surgeon or something:]) While Mallory is patching him up, she learns his name is Renzo and that he can’t remember anything else. (Memory loss–a classic:]) She hides him in a nearby cave, promising that she’ll return to visit him, but that he must stay away from the town. Mallory exits the cave, greeted by a pile of smoldering spaceship, which she manages to hide well enough, as it’s only about the size of a dinner platter. (Renzo is small, about the length of your knee to your ankle.)
    Mallory returns home late and is promptly lectured by her mother. (No dad, no siblings, one controlling mom. You can imagine she gets lonely, which fuels her compassion and interest for Renzo, the alien.) The next day, she is so tired from healing and hiding Renzo, as well as stowing away his broken spaceship, that she sleeps through most of her classes, earning a detention from a teacher and a grounding from her mom. (This, inconveniently, makes it difficult for Mallory to visit Renzo, no?) After a few days pass, Mallory is convinced that Renzo is dead, dying, or hating her for breaking her promise to visit him.
    Well, well, well. Who does she meet on her roundabout way to school? RENZO!! The alien is very devoted to her by now, thanking her relentlessly for saving his life and his ship. He promises to do her a favor, and decides to follow her around. However, Mallory knows that an alien walking into school with her would be SLIGHTLY weird, no?
    Random quote: “That’s all right,” Renzo said. “I can change form.”
    Mallory, who happens to be an avid artist, though her mother wants her to be something else, promptly sketches someone for Renzo to turn into, and he mimics it perfectly.
    . . .
    Well, you what’s next is predictable. Renzo goes with her to school, plays the “new kid” role, is greeted by hordes of people, causing Mallory to feel insignificant, and follows her home, much to her protests. He returns to alien form and sleeps under her bed.

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