Prescription 2018: Natural Heart Health for MenDecember 7, 2018 Written by JP [Font too small?]
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that men and women share the same leading cause of death: heart disease. That said, how one goes about addressing this shared risk is affected by the distinct biochemistry of females and males. Today, I’ll discuss three steps men can take to protect their cardiovascular system. In my next blog, I’ll do same with regard to women.
A really inspiring study about diet and cardiovascular function can be found in the November 14th issue of the journal, Nutrients. In it, a group of healthy men were fed a high- and low-polyphenol diet (LAD) for two weeks on separate occasions with a “wash out” period in-between. The results of this crossover trial were quite dramatic. Although the experimental LAD was short-term, a significantly negative effect on vascular function was found during the low-polyphenol leg of the research. This was evidenced by undesirable changes in nitric oxide, thromboxane A2 and prostaglandin I2. I find this encouraging because it illustrates how even brief dietary interventions can impact blood flow (in harmful or healthful ways) and possibly the long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Note: Polyphenols are antioxidant, organic compounds mainly found in fruits, herbs, spices, tea, vegetables and select treats including coffee, dark chocolate and red wine. In fact, in the LAD segment of the research, participants were, “asked not to consume more than 2 servings of fruits or vegetables per day and their consumption of polyphenol-rich items, such as coffee, tea or chocolate, was restricted.” This provides a general guideline about which foods we ought to emphasize.
Upgrading your diet and lifestyle is clearly a good starting point for improving heart health. But, not everyone is physically active and/or achieves a nutrient dense eating pattern all the time. Frequently, poor dietary choices involve added sources of sugar, such as fructose. Excessive fructose and a sedentary lifestyle have long been associated with elevated cardiometabolic risk. Fortunately, a recent experiment found that some of the harm caused by fructose overfeeding and a lack of exercise may be counteracted by supplementing with a nutraceutical “cocktail” containing fish oil, polyphenols, selenium and Vitamin E. In the 20 day trial, this nutritional blend protected against a predicted drop in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a rise in triglycerides. Also, there was an improvement in antioxidant capacity and no decline in total fat oxidation and de novo lipogenesis – suggesting a possible benefit for weight management.
Next, I want to highlight two studies that tie into one of the hottest wellness trends of 2018. You’ve probably noticed that the topic of gut microbiota has taken on a place of prime significance in both conventional and integrative medicine. Many non-digestive conditions and diseases are now thought to be connected – directly or indirectly – to microorganisms in the gut. Having said that, there is still much to be discovered about the exact roles that specific, beneficial bacteria or probiotics exert on our physiology. One particular probiotic strain that appears to benefit a man’s “ticker” is Lactobacillus planetarium 299v (Lp299v). A recent study from October 2018 found that taking 20 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of Lp299v daily improved endothelial function and reduced inflammation in a group of men with stable coronary artery disease. A previous trial from 2002 noted a number of cardiovascular benefits in a group of smokers given the very same probiotic.
Part of the value of the above research is that it suggests that men have a fair amount of control over their cardiovascular destiny. Obviously, I don’t suggest regularly eating a nutrient-poor diet or foregoing physical activity. And, there are many other factors that impart cardioprotection that I haven’t touched on today, such as proper sleep hygiene, social connectedness, spending time in natural settings, stress management and more. The point of today’s content is that it’s also good to have some unconventional resources on hand in case complementary support is indicated. So, keep these alternatives in your back pocket in the event you need them. And, consider sharing them with someone who might benefit from learning about this mostly obscure knowledge.
Note: Interestingly, Lactobacillus planetarium 299v (Lp299v) is sold in the US as a probiotic that may reduce IBS severity. It’s manufactured by Jarrow Formulas and sold under the name, Ideal Bowel Support.
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!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Leading Causes of Death (LCOD) in Males United States … (link)
Study 2 – Leading Causes of Death (LCOD) in Females United States … (link)
Study 3 – Changing to a Low-Polyphenol Diet Alters Vascular Biomarkers … (link)
Study 4 – Fructose-Containing Caloric Sweeteners as a Cause of Obesity … (link)
Study 5 – A Nutrient Cocktail Prevents Lipid Metabolism Alterations Induced … (link)
Study 6 – Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v Supplementation Improves Vascular … (link)
Study 7 – Effect of Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v on Cardiovascular Disease … (link)
L. Plantarum 299v May Protect Cardiovascular Health, In Part, By Lowering Inflammation
Source: Circ Res. 2018 Oct 12;123(9):1091-1102. (link)
Tags: Antioxidants, Polyphenols, Probiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Men's Health