Stressed Hearts and TCM: Surprising Twists in American Heart Health

American heart health is in trouble today. Despite advances in understanding and treating cardiovascular disease, it remains the number one cause of death. The majority of people blame lifestyle factors, such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. However, statistics suggest chronic stress, anger, and a fast-paced life lacking sleep could be playing a bigger role.

Recent research indicates that our perception of stress isn’t the actual problem but rather how we feel about it. Preliminary studies suggest that when people believe stress isn’t harmful and that it’s useful for work or general life, they may exhibit better cardiovascular health than people who don’t experience chronic stress.

Diet, dehydration, and caloric intake remain significant contributors to poor heart health, particularly since they cause inflammation, high blood pressure, cholesterol oxidized deposits in arteries, and hardening of the cardiovascular tissues.

While both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine differ in diagnosing and addressing various cardiovascular issues, implementing a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle can make a big difference.

Following a low-sugar diet with balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fats can significantly improve heart health. Consuming phytonutrient-rich vegetables and fruits helps combat inflammation and keeps arteries clear. Restricting calories is also important; regardless of the healthiness of your diet, overeating will still cause weight gain.

Moreover, ensuring a sufficient mineral intake, including electrolytes, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and selenium, can support many aspects of cardiovascular health.

In terms of lifestyle, slowing down, getting enough rest, and reducing chronic stress are crucial. Practicing mindful meditation for just 10 minutes a day can lower cortisol levels, alleviate anxiety and depression, and exhibit more significant results than antidepressant drugs.

There are several categories of supplements that can assist with cardiovascular health. The standard category includes B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D3, E, and K2, as well as the previously mentioned minerals. Tibetan herbal formulas and other individual herbs, such as Dan Shen and Hawthorn Berry, can also support cardiovascular health in various ways.

Supplements that block the biological protein galectin-3 can protect against chronic inflammation and remodeling blood vessels and heart tissue. Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is particularly promising, as the American Heart Association published a study demonstrating MCP’s ability to reverse the effects of hardening arteries and atherosclerosis.

Enzymes such as nattokinase and lumbrokinase can help with hyperviscosity, reducing arterial plaque formation and improving circulation.

In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a galectin-3 blood test, which measures the risk and progression of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. Elevated levels of galectin-3 can also indicate risks associated with metastatic cancer, arthritis, hepatitis, and type 2 diabetes.

Staying on track with a heart health program involves focusing on motivation, which often diminishes under stress. Addressing stress, engaging in daily meditation practice, and exercising regularly can help maintain motivation and improve outlook.

Maintaining good hydration is often overlooked, but doing so can reduce cravings for sweets, supporting better dietary choices.