In the last few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear world leaders in the field of integrative cardiovascular health care talk about the importance of lifestyle interventions when dealing with cardiovascular disease and it’s related health problems.
Listening to Dr Mark Houston, an integrative cardiologist from America, with more than 4 decades of experience under his belt – one of the most wonderful messages my naturopathic self got from him was “not to just treat the numbers” – ie: lets not just treat the numbers on the cholesterol report or the blood pressure figures – let’s treat the person and the underlying symptoms that are causing these numbers. Just as an example, when the blood pressure number is forced down by way of medication (which, don’t get me wrong, can definitely be life saving – and that is a very wonderful thing indeed!), we haven’t really treated the underlying factors that are pushing those numbers up in the first place have we? This, to me, is where the beauty of naturopathy comes into play. As Naturopaths, we aim to uncover the root cause of such imbalances and aim our treatments towards correcting this. As an analogy, we like to treat the roots and the soil that the tree grows in, to ensure that the tree can grow to a happy, healthy and robust one! In the case of this blog, the tree is our body, and the soil is our vascular system (eg: blood vessels etc).
Fats, including cholesterol, play a critical role in our bodies and in our vascular system. When fats get out of balance, we term this ‘dyslipidemia’ – an all too common occurrence these days. Dyslipidemia commonly results from:
- Chronic inflammation (from causes including dietary, toxicity, etc).
- Immune dysfunction (from chronic infections including viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.), and
- Oxidative stress of the vascular system (basically a lack of health promoting molecules, or an overload of toxic molecules in the body).
The above three examples are actually a natural part of our bodys protective mechanisms. Dyslipidemia, is simply a ‘response’ to these things. Taking imbalanced cholesterol as an example, we can thus interpret it as our bodys way of ‘protecting’ us against some kind of insult including those noted above (eg: toxicity from a bad diet). Basically, it’s busy cleaning up some kind of rubbish in our body.
Cholesterol is responsible for many jobs in our bodies including playing a critical role in vitamin D synthesis. If our protective cholesterol is too busy cleaning up our internal rubbish (ie toxins, viruses, etc), then it’s likely that it’s struggling to take care of these other critical jobs right? So lets start taking out the rubbish!
This is exactly where all those lovely naturopathic principles of detoxing, healing our gut, stress reduction, nutrient dense foods, relaxation techniques etc all come beautifully into play. They allow us to start taking out the rubbish so that the body can get onto doing what it naturally needs to do!
Of course when it comes to our health, there are an endless number of reasons why our bodies become imbalanced in the first place, all of which require investigation from qualified professionals in their fields. If you have any concerns about your health, do not stop or change your medications, supplements, etc without consulting someone qualified to help. There are many amazing minds out there, from many different fields. Find the ones you are happy to work with and who relate well to your personal health philosophy – feel free to include working with me in your considerations! 🙂 I’m available for private consultations every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Dr Houston has published a few books that you may be interested in too. I havent had a chance to read any of them yet, but after hearing him speak, they are definitely on my ‘to do’ list! These are:
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Heart Disease
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension, and
- The Handbook of Hypertension