Scott: Doctor, what's some of the best ways, and this might sound like an obvious question, but to promote heart health? What can we do?
Jonny Bowden, PhD: We can lower our stress. We can lower the amount of sugar we eat. One thing that I think is very critical, and it requires just a little bit of back story. We need to lower our intake of vegetable oils. Not so much saturated fat.
And here's why. Our bodies make two sets of compounds. One is inflammatory, one is anti-inflammatory. Now a lot of people say to me, well why do we need two? Why do we need the inflammatory ones? You actually need it for the healing process. If you bang your toe and get a splinter and the area gets kind of swollen, well that's white blood cells flooding the area and trying to surround it and prevent the microbe from getting an infection, so you actually need some inflammation as part of the healing process. These two armies need to be balanced.
Omega-6s, which are the fats that are found in vegetables, the ones we've all been told to eat; canola oils, soybean oils, cottonseed oils, safflower. Omega-6s are the parent molecule for our inflammatory compound. Omega-3s, which are found in fish, grass-fed beef, flaxseed, are the parent molecules for our anti-inflammatory compounds. We need both. The ideal ratio is one to one. Some healthy societies it's gone as high as three or four to one in favor of the inflammatory Omega-6s. It seems to be Okay. One-to-one is ideal.
Our diet is 16-to1, in favor of the Omega-6s. So when you ask, what's the cause of inflammation? Well, there's a lot of causes, but that's one of them. You can't swing a rope in a grocery store without a product that has 9000 Omega-6s in it. Everything is made with Omega-6s. Everything. And it's not even a good form. It's highly processed. It doesn't have any antioxidants. It's corn oil that'll sit on the shelf for 10 years because there's nothing in it that will spoil.
Jonny Bowden, PhD: So we're eating too much of that and not enough Omega-3s. So we've got to correct that balance, and we do it by cutting back on some of the vegetable oils. Use some saturated fats. Use coconut oil. Use butter. Cut back on some of the Omega-6s. It's not that they're bad, they're just out of balance. Cut back on those and up your Omega-3s with more fish, more flaxseed, fish oil supplements, whatever you can do to get those Omega-3s up there the most. the most anti-inflammatory molecule on the planet, we don't get enough in the diet. So if we can make that balance it's a very big shift.
If we can reduce stress that's a huge thing. And get some sunshine. Have some happy relationships. Get the toxic people out of your life. These things all have an impact on your heart. Do some exercises.
I've written about this and I get a lot of flack for saying this because it's politically incorrect, but I am the rogue nutritionist. Exercise is a lousy way to lose weight. It's a terrible way to lose weight. It doesn't work very well for weight loss. I know that's a whole other discussion. But it is vitally important if you want to live. It's the most important thing. It's the best anti-aging drug in the world. It will also help keep weight off once you lose it. It's just not the best way to get trim.
But it's the best way to stay healthy. And it's the best way to keep your brain and your heart healthy. So exercise on a regular basis, maintaining a reasonable body weight, eating lots of fish and nuts and grass-fed beef and things that have a lot of Omega-3s in them. Supplements, like Omega-3s, like curcumin, which affects like 16 different pathways and is a miracle supplement. Curcumin with viratrol, an tremendous antioxidant. Vitamin C, magnesium, which not only lowers blood sugar but also helps relax the artery walls so you get a lower blood pressure effect and also less constriction. So there's a lot of things that you can do to keep your heart healthy. What we must remember is that keeping your heart healthy is not the same as keeping your cholesterol low. They are not the same thing.