Based on my talks at the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key (November 7, 2010) and at Dr. C. Purser's wellness group (January 27, 2011).
Imagine driving along a busy road lined with red brick walled buildings. As you are driving along, without warning, a seemingly endless cascade of bricks falls out of nowhere and completely obstructs the road in front of you. This is what happens when one has a heart attack. The blood vessels, also called arteries are complex structures that transport red blood cells. During a heart attack, the blood vessels in the heart are suddenly blocked preventing red blood cells from reaching the heart muscle downstream. Red blood cells are important because they have hemoglobin, which transports oxygen. When the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, this results in death of the cells of the heart and ultimately forms a scar tissue. Depending on how much heart muscle is involved and how long it is deprived of oxygen, the efficiency of the pumping mechanism of the heart is correspondingly reduced.
The rather sudden nature of a heart attack has its roots in our childhood. The central theme of all heart attacks is buildup of plaque or blockage in the blood vessels. This process of plaque formation starts very early in our lives. Diet plays a very important role in the formation of these blockages.
We are going to explore how blockages or plaques form in our blood vessels by tracing the pathways of food metabolism.
- Three major food groups: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
- End product of food metabolism is carbon dioxide and water, regardless of the type of food.
- Excess carbohydrates and proteins are converted to fat for long-term storage.
- Cholesterol is important for integrity of all cells in the body, helps in the absorption and digestion of fats in the intestine, precursor of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
- Cholesterol and fats are insoluble in blood, are transported in the bloodstream attached to particles called lipoproteins. One such lipoprotein called LDL or bad cholesterol is responsible for the formation of blood vessel clogging plaques.
- Better the diet (lower calories: remember, carbohydrates, proteins and fats are interchangable, excess is ultimately stored as fat), less need for blood stream lipoprotein (LDL) transport of cholesterol and fat .
- Less circulating lipoproteins (LDL), less probability of plaque formation which leads to clogging of blood vessels.
- Mind influences diet to a large extent.