Things are not always as they appear and the underlying cause of atherosclerosis is no exception. With heart disease claiming the lives of about 610,000 every year in the United States (that’s 1 in 4 deaths), making it the leading cause of death according to the CDC, it is a good idea to look at real prevention.
Often we think in terms of cholesterol and inflammation as underlying causes. However, new research is pointing to bacteria in your mouth as a major culprit. This also helps explain the gum disease – heart disease connection. In a nut shell, arteries clog when fatty substances build up on the walls of arteries and capillaries. The blood vessel walls become inflamed and the immune system sends cells to deal with the inflammation. Looking at the cause of inflammation can lead us down the path of understanding wellness. And it is quite possible (probable in my opinion) that the cause of inflammation lies in an underlying bacteria issue.
Basically, we have a cluster of fatty substances and immune cells lining the walls of the circulatory system. When this cluster grows it can limit, or block altogether, the flow of blood. Things can get bad when sticky pieces break off and float in the bloodstream landing who knows where. Additionally, this build-up limits the flexibility and suppleness of the arteries and capillaries leading to high blood pressure. In the past many believed this buildup was the result of eating cholesterol rich foods; however, natural medicine has long debunked this thought.
There is more going on than eating a good steak every now and then - which by the way can be a very healthy protein for blood type O individuals! Bad bacteria seem to be a significant culprit here. Studies pointing to harmful fat producing bacteria, called Bacteroidetes, reveal the importance of ensuring our bodies have the right balance of bacteria. Here is an article in Longevity Magazine if you would like to read more: Bacteria may be the blame for heart disease.
Trillions of Microbes
So what can we do? Let’s start with some simple math. The human body contains approximately 4 trillion cells that carry our DNA. These are the cells that contain our genetic material passed onto us from our mom and dad. Your DNA makeup is uniquely yours. However, the human body also carries anywhere from 10 to 40 to 100 trillion microorganisms – little hitchhikers going along for the ride. The makeup of these microorganisms in your body is also unique to you. Simply put, your DNA containing cells are outnumbered. That’s right – we carry around within us more microbes then our own DNA carrying cells. This means we have more bacteria, more fungi, more parasites, and more amoebas than our own cells! Some of these microbes nourish our bodies and some of them harm our cells – some even causing cell death. Yikes!
However, not all is lost. Since some of those microbes support our cells we need these good guys to thrive if we are going to experience great health. In order to enjoy health and vitality, including tip top cardiovascular health, we must take the steps necessary to support the growth of healthy microbes. Fortunately, we have significant control over what types of microbes grow in our body. We can take steps to nourish the helpful microbes. As well, we can take steps to kill off harmful microbes.
What we put in our bodies including food, remedies, and medications; along with our emotional and spiritual state, all play a part in the creation of our internal “terrain”. The key is to create an internal terrain that feeds, nourishes, and encourages the growth of the good guys while discourages (or killing off) the bad guys! Processed foods, foods high in white sugar, corn syrup, alcohol (including wine), and white flour all feed the bad guys. As well, elevated stress hormones will also produce the same effect. However, eating whole foods and developing a healthy state of mind will support the growth of microbes that nourish our bodies.
A quick test I like to use to monitor levels of microbes is something I call "The TP Test". It’s simple. If you find yourself using an excess amount of toilet paper after a bowl movement this could be a sign that your internal terrain is supportive of the growth of unhealthy microbes – microbes that can lead to disease, weight gain, inflammation, and immune dysfunction. After all, most of the volume of your stool is bacteria that lived their life, died, and have now been eliminated from your body. The quality of your stool is a helpful marker that we can use to access your overall health. What is an excess amount of TP you ask? In my opinion, if you need to wipe more than once this is a call to take action and support the growth of healthy microbes. This can be done through a combination of diet, herbs, probiotics, and homeopathic remedies.
Of course, everyone is different and our nutritional needs are unique as well. If you would like to learn how you can rebalance your healthy microbes feel free to reach out to our office here: Contact Us. Or, contact a local natural health care practitioner.