Kids and Heart Disease

It’s kind of an obvious point, but, I don’t think a lot of people realize this. Heart disease—which reeks havoc on millions of adults—starts young. According to Dr. Fuhrman the seeds of cardiovascular disease are sown way before adulthood. He talks about it in Disease-Proof Your Child:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1 What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels. For many, changing the diet to a plant-based, low-saturated-fat diet in later life does not result in the favorable cholesterol levels that would have been seen if the dietary improvements were started much earlier in life.


As a result of the heart-unfriendly diet, blood vessel damage begins early. Not only does the development of coronary atherosclerosis develop in childhood, but earlier development of atherosclerosis and higher serum cholesterol levels in childhood result in a significantly higher risk of premature sudden death relatively early in life. Sometimes the effects of childhood dietary abuses can be seen relatively early, with premature death or a heart attack at a young age.
And now, it seems there is a movement to test children early on for the risks of heart disease. Karen Pallarito of HealthDay News reports:
Obesity, inactivity and cholesterol are closely linked, and data from the latest U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) finds that 17 percent of U.S. teens are overweight. Just one in four high school students packs enough physical activity into their day, and 12 percent get little or no daily exercise, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


So, measuring kids' cholesterol in a really detailed way may make sense.

"There is growing scientific evidence indicating that cholesterol levels in childhood and adolescence have an effect on the development of plaque in the arteries, which is a clear indication of cardiovascular disease risk," explained study leader Ian Janssen, an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queens University in Ontario, Canada.
We’ve seen these types of initiatives before. A couple years ago the American Heart Association announced plans to target the very young.
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Nutritional Wisdom: Dangers of the Atkins Diet

I admit. It’s easy to poke fun at the low-carb lifestyle. What can I say? I’m a sucker for low-hanging fruit. But truth be told, Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear that carbohydrate restrictive diets—like the Atkins Diet—are no way to achieve optimal long-term health. You only have to check out these posts to see why:

But despite all this, millions of people pledge allegiance to a fad diet centered on animal fat. A huge concern for Dr. Fuhrman because—as he points out in the posts above—any diet where the majority of calories come from animal products increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, and a whole host of life-shortening maladies.


As you’ve seen, I’m quick to knock low-carb living. And so is Dr. Fuhrman, but, he’s smarter than me—yes, a little brownnosing here—so when he takes Atkins-type diets to task, he really exposes them for the over-hyped danger zones that they are.

Curious to hear what that sounds like? You’re in luck. Because it just so happens this week’s episode of Nutrition Wisdom is on that very subject. Here’s a bit I transcribed from the show. In it Dr. Fuhrman talks about how dangerous an Atkins-type diet can be for children and others. In fact, it can have deadly consequences. Take a look:

In recent years with the skyrocketing popularity of the Atkins Diet, there’s been a proportional skyrocketed increase in sudden cardiac death in young women. That parallels the increase in ketogenic diets. Right now we know that sudden cardiac death means irregular heart beat, as in cardiac arrhythmia. There has to be a warning on the Atkins Diet! There must be a warning that severe carbohydrate restriction—restricted ketosis—when you go into ketosis because of severe carbohydrate restriction, as a weight control method. There could be a traumatic increase in sudden death.


There was an important study in the Southern Medical Journal about a sixteen year-old girl who died after two weeks of following an Atkins Diet. They found that she was in profound acidosis, with about a twenty point base deficit because undeniably keto-acidosis caused acidosis in the blood. In other words, you can become highly acidic. We get dramatic lowering of potassium levels, especially when you first start out on the diet.

The continual denial of the dangers by the people who embrace and promote this ketogenic diet—it’s understandable why—because people are often economically invested with their egos and their food preferences into this diet. But, the risk of carbohydrate restriction ketosis is very powerful and with a lot of studies done on children who were put on ketogenic diets for seizure disorders and they use this for people who have seizures that are retractable—meaning they can’t be helped any other way—and they warn the parents of these children that it increases the risk of kidney stones, kidney failure, increases the rate of infection, and sudden cardiac death, including cardiomyopathy and cardiac-arrhythmias. For example, one study following children put on ketogenic diets—like an Atkins-type diet—they showed fifteen percent developed cardiac enlargement and dilated cardiomyopathy. Of course the diet had to be stopped.

Another study followed 129 children and found that seventeen developed severe complications and four people died out of the 129; two of sepsis because of the increased risk of infection, one of cardiomyopathy, and one of lipoid pneumonia. The point is when doctors are very careful they know these are dangerous diets, and they advise people of the dangers, but if a person wants to try it it’s their right. But the claims made by the Atkins people, for example, Atkins himself used say prevent breast cancer with butter, reverse heart disease with fillet mignon, it’s all the lying and misinformation and lack of telling people the risks of a diet that has such a great amount of dangers.

Lying? Of course they’re lying. There are millions of dollars at stake here. Can’t let unsightly truths get out—politicians have known this for years, but fortunately the truth does eek its way out every once and a while. For example, get a load of this study in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dr. Fuhrman emailed it to me the other day. Apparently prolonged consumption of a low-carbohydrate–high-protein diet is associated with an increase in total mortality. Read on:

Subjects methods:
Follow-up was performed from 1993 to 2003 in the context of the Greek component of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition. Participants were 22 944 healthy adults, whose diet was assessed through a validated questionnaire. Participants were distributed by increasing deciles according to protein intake or carbohydrate intake, as well as by an additive score generated by increasing decile intake of protein and decreasing decile intake of carbohydrates. Proportional hazards regression was used to assess the relation between high protein, high carbohydrate and the low carbohydrate–high protein score on the one hand and mortality on the other.


Results:
During 113 230 persons years of follow-up, there were 455 deaths. In models with energy adjustment, higher intake of carbohydrates was associated with significant reduction of total mortality, whereas higher intake of protein was associated with nonsignificant increase of total mortality (per decile, mortality ratios 0.94 with 95% CI 0.89 –0.99, and 1.02 with 95% CI 0.98 –1.07 respectively). Even more predictive of higher mortality were high values of the additive low carbohydrate–high protein score (per 5 units, mortality ratio 1.22 with 95% CI 1.09 –to 1.36). Positive associations of this score were noted with respect to both cardiovascular and cancer mortality.

But sadly, this won’t phase the low-carb lemmings of the world. They’ll just yammer on and on about how much weight they lost and how great it feels not to give up their emotional attachments to fatty foods. “Whaa-whaa-whaa! Why can’t I eat steak wrapped in bacon and fried in butter every night—but I want it!”

New Research: Cut Salt, Cut Cardiovascular Risk

Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think consuming salt is a good idea. In fact, he’d have you cut it out completely. And research proves that’s a smart move. A new study shows ditching salt can also reduce cardiovascular risk. Eric Nagourney of The New York Times reports:
It seems obvious that it would, but in a new study, researchers offer what they say is some of the first good evidence that it really does.


The study, which appears online in The British Medical Journal, looked at two groups of people more than a decade after they were asked to reduce their salt intake for up to 48 months. There were more than 3,000 participants, 30 to 54, all of whom had a condition that put them at special risk for high blood pressure.

The researchers, led by Nancy R. Cook of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that those who had significantly reduced their salt intake had a 25 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Their risk of death from the disease was also cut, by as much as a fifth.

Pistachios, Cholesterol, and Health

High cholesterol, not exactly a ticket for extended health and longevity—but don’t take my word for it! I’m just a blogger. According to Dr. Fuhrman, keeping your cholesterol down is a good idea, especially if you plan on living a longtime. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Heart disease begins in our youth and is not easy to reverse. No one should eat more than five grams of saturated fat a day. Over this level, disease rates climb.


All food derived from animals contain cholesterol and tend to be high in the thick, heavy fats called saturated fats. Most plant foods are very low in saturated fat, except for some tropical plant oils like palm and coconut oil that are naturally saturated.

Reducing the consumption of animal foods reduces the consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat. Low intake of cholesterol and saturated fat leads to a leaner body, clean arteries, and reducing risk of developing heart disease and many other diet-related diseases such as stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
So then, how do you keep your cholesterol within a healthy range? Expensive medications and invasive procedures? Well, Dr. Fuhrman wouldn’t recommend this approach. He talks about it in Invasive Cardiology Procedures and Surgeries Are Not Effective:
Bypass surgery and angioplasty only attempt to treat a small segment of the diseased heart, usually with only temporary benefit. Since atherosclerotic plaque blankets all the vessels in the heart, bypassing or removing the most diseased portion, still does not address all the shallow and non-obstructive lipid deposits. The major burden of disease is left intact and therefore the potential for a deadly heart attack is largely unaffected. The vast majority of patients who undergo these interventions do not have fewer new heart attacks or longer survival. The procedures themselves expose the patients to more risk of new heart attacks, strokes, infection, encephalopathy, and death. In addition, the symptomatic benefits erode with time.
Apparently pills and drugs aren’t really miracle workers either. Dr. Fuhrman elaborates in his book Cholesterol Protection for Life:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
Okay, if medications and procedures don’t cut the mustard, what does? Well, it seems wholesome natural food will do the trick. Just check out this report. HealthDay News reports that pistachios have similar heart-healthy effects to leafy green vegetables. Pretty cool, right? Robert Preidt has more:
"Pistachio amounts of 1.5 ounces and three ounces (per day) -- one to two handfuls -- reduced risk for cardiovascular disease by significantly reducing LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, and the higher dose significantly reducing lipoprotein ratios," study author Sarah K. Gebauer, a graduate student in integrative biosciences at Penn State, said in a prepared statement.


The multi-week study, which received funding from the California Pistachio Commission , concluded that three ounces of pistachios a day reduced LDL levels by 11.6 percent, total cholesterol levels by 8.4 percent, and non-high density lipoproteins (non-HDL) by 11.2 percent. Levels of non-HDL are considered reliable predictors of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
This is great news, but hardly new news. Dr. Fuhrman has been talking about the healthful properties of nuts and seeds for years. More on that from Nuts and Seeds Are Excellent Foods:
Nuts and seeds are a natural part of the diet of homo-sapiens. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. No wonder study after study shows raw nuts and seeds not only lower cholesterol, but protect against common diseases of aging. I recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, filberts, and walnuts; and sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds. These delicious natural foods are high in nutrients and healthful unsaturated fats.