Dr. Jonny Bowden Interview Part TwoFebruary 3, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
There’s a lot more to cardiovascular health than just blindly following your doctor’s instructions about what to eat and what medications to take. In order to receive the highest quality of care, you need to ask informed questions and stay up-to-date on the latest scientific data – just in case your physicians are behind the times. A prime example of this recently made the news. A meta-analysis in the current edition of The Lancet recommends that blood pressure be taken using both arms rather than just one. The reason is explained in the authors’ concluding statement: “A difference in SBP (systolic blood pressure) of 10 mm Hg or more, or of 15 mm Hg or more, between arms might help to identify patients who need further vascular assessment. A difference of 15 mm Hg or more could be a useful indicator of risk of vascular disease and death.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had any doctor require that my blood pressure to be taken in this way. However, from this point forward, you can be sure that I’ll insist that they do. What’s more, I’ll recommend that my clients, family and friends request the same quality of care. After all, there’s no additional cost involved or side effects.
In part two of my interview with Dr. Jonny Bowden, he’ll address other pieces of the cardiovascular puzzle that many physicians have yet to adopt. That’s where your participation in your own health care becomes vital. Share what you learn here and elsewhere with your medical team. Doing so will likely improve the quality of care you receive, and it may positively affect the way your doctor treats other patients as well.
JP – Are you supportive of the use of “alternate day” or “intermittent” fasting as a means of lowering risks factors associated with diabetes, heart disease and overweight?
Jonny – It certainly is a technique worth trying, but let’s remember why it works. It lowers insulin, or at least lowers the number of times blood sugar and insulin get raised. While eating less (and taking occasional fasts) is one way to do this, another is to eat less foods that drive blood sugar and insulin through the roof, namely processed carbohydrates!
JP – The link between cholesterol and heart disease has become rather controversial and murky in recent years. Please share your thoughts about the importance, or lack thereof, of lipid levels.
Jonny – This is the subject of our entire book. My basic thoughts are as follows:
1) We have been fed a bill of goods about cholesterol
2) Cholesterol does not cause NOR predict heart disease
3) There are far, far more important risk factors than cholesterol and those are the ones we should be concentrating on. Examples: inflammation, oxidative damage and stress.
4) Lipid levels are important but we’re measuring the wrong ones. Total cholesterol is irrelevant, and the old division between “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol is way past its sell-by date. There are at least five different kinds of LDL cholesterol and several different kinds of HDL; the newer tests, which look at cholesterol particle size are far more telling and important than the old ones. Another important metric is triglycerides, as well as the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol (the lower the better).
JP – Homocysteine is another topic of lively debate. Do homocysteine lowering therapies such as the use of folate, Vitamin B6 and B12 still serve a purpose in relation to arterial integrity?
Jonny – In my opinion, absolutely. Homocysteine is another measure of inflammation.
JP – Are there any specific tests patients should ask their doctors to perform that might indicate cardiovascular risk?
Jonny – Particle size cholesterol (VAP test, etc) and CRP (C-reactive protein), which is a systemic measure of inflammation. People should also check their ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. Those with a high ratio (i.e. 4-5) have 16x higher risk of heart attack than those with low ratios (2 or under). Homocysteine is important as well. And I’d always recommended having vitamin D levels checked.
Non-Alkalized Cocoa Support Healthier Blood Pressure & Circulation
Source: Circulation. 2009 Mar 17;119(10):1433-41. (link)
JP – In which dietary supplements do you have the most confidence in relation to the promotion of cardiovascular well being?
Jonny – Number one with a bullet, Coenzyme Q10. If you’re on a statin drug and your doctor hasn’t insisted you supplement with CoQ10 I believe it borders on medical malpractice. This vital nutrient – essential for the heart – is completely obliterated by statin drugs, and must be replaced with supplementation. Even if you’re not on a statin, CoQ10 is a vital nutrient for the heart.
Omega-3’s are the most anti-inflammatory molecule on the planet and absolutely everyone, in my opinion, should supplement with them.
Magnesium is also very important, as is vitamin K. There is a widespread national deficiency of both vitamin D and vitamin B12 both of which should be supplemented.
L-carnitine is a very useful nutrient for the heart as well.
Cocoa flavanols have been found to offer serious health benefits which are particularly important for the heart. In addition to lowering blood pressure (possibly the most serious risk factor for heart disease), they also appear to be associated with longer life in general. Those who don’t want to indulge in dark chocolate can now get 450 mg of cocoa flavanols in two capsules of Reserveage’s CocoaWell. Best of all, this same company – Reserveage Organics – markets a product that combines cocoa flavanols with a clinically meaningful dose of CoQ10 in one product called CocoaWell Advanced CoQ10 Heart. Highly recommended.
I’m also a huge fan of curcumin, which I take on a daily basis. It’s resume expands almost daily as its proven health benefits – for the heart, as an anti-inflammatory, as an anti-cancer agent – continue to grow. The quality of curcumin on the supplement marketplace is very variable – the brand I rely on and think is the highest quality is CuraMed by Terry Naturally, also available at most health food stores.
JP – Can you offer any general guidelines about how to best employ physical activity in this arena?
Jonny – Walk. It’s not going to put you on the cover of “Ms Fitness”, but it is going to protect your brain and your heart as well as any other exercise on earth. Do it frequently and briskly. 30 minutes a day five days a week (or the equivalent) will do it.
JP – Are there any mind-body therapies that you think are particularly well suited for individuals concerned about heart disease?
Jonny – Meditation. And if you can’t manage that, simple deep breathing exercises a few times a day. Meditation has been shown in research to lower stress (and the stress hormones that contribute to heart disease) as well as blood pressure. It works.
A wealth of additional information about a holistic approach to heart disease and wellness in general can found on Dr. Bowden’s web site. I also recommend keeping an eye out for his upcoming book with the famed cardiologist, Stephen Sinatra. Finally, any serious discussion about cardiovascular health needs to address one of the most prevalent health threats of the modern age: overweight.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Chocolate, CoQ10, Meditation
Posted in Heart Health, Interviews, Nutritional Supplements