Is the fear of heart disease enough to spur lifestyle change?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • I’ve seen Dr. Oz weigh in on a variety of topics related to heart disease.   It’s clear that he believes lifestyle choices have a dramatic impact on the risk for heart disease, and he implicates trans fat and saturated fat, but also a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates as big contributors to the likelihood of one developing heart issues (and other conditions driven by inflammation).  He also implicates persistent stress, behaviors that increase inflammation in an individual’s body, and excess weight, especially abdominal weight.  In fact, though any excess weight is bad for health, it is still a prominent theory that abdominal fat and “visceral fat that is internal and not visible” contribute to risk for heart disease, as well as diabetes and cancers.  More recently, inflammation has drawn significant attention from the cardiac community because of its believed contribution to heart disease.

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    Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting a foreign invader.  Its intent is to protect you.  When the body is chronically exposed to injury by toxins, like the by-products of processed and refined foods, which it was never meant to encounter, you create chronic and persistent inflammation.   So why would a smart person eat a diet rich in foods like red meats, meats with the skin on, full fat dairy, processed and refined and fast foods, that can cause significant and cumulative harm?  Because they tastes good, and because we have become habitually familiar with these foods, and because change is hard.  And then there’s the silent aspect of early disease.  If you don’t see it, it’s not happening, right??


    Much of the initial damage sustained from carrying excess weight and eating a high fat, highly refined diet is silent.  Go try and convince someone whose lab work is normal, or someone who feels “fine” despite excess weight, or someone who is eating a horrible diet filled with fast food daily but is slim – that they are working their way towards serious heart disease.  Most of those individuals will blow you off.   They will tell you it is too hard or expensive to change their fast food diet, or it is too hard to give up daily treats, or it is too hard or time-consuming to exercise, or that you are “wrong” despite being an expert in the field.  That denial and refusal to “deal with the facts” is further discussed in my previous blog.  And I encounter it daily from clients and patients.  They do not want to buy “whole foods,” they do not want to cook even simple meals (or learn to cook), and they especially do not want to face reality.  They in fact often believe that they are "healthy and fat."


    So, Dr. Oz, and other cardiac surgeons get to perform their “rotor rooter magic” if you are lucky enough to get early warning signs of heart disease and actually seek help.   Many individuals don’t have clear symptoms or don’t seek help when the warning signs present themselves.  So quite often they die or they suffer sustained impairment despite medical and surgical intervention.   And you usually have to start takaing a long list of medications...costly medications.  If you want to keep cardiologists and cardiac surgeons financially solvent – you just have to keep eating that inflammatory, high fat, highly processed and refined diet, and choose to not exercise…..

  • Next up: A diet that tastes good and can save your life...if you choose to change

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    Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch?  Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.  Catch her guest appearances on local and national news and talk shows, and check out her website.  Follow my blogs.

Published On: December 05, 2013