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Originally published December 5 2004

Q&A: How do I avoid atherosclerosis and improve cardiovascular health? What if I have been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse?

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

In the first part of this question on avoiding atherosclerosis and improving cardiovascular health, we talked about what to avoid so that you don't worsen your situation. Here in the second part, we'll talk about more proactive strategies that you can use for reversing the build up of plaque in your arteries.

First off, one of the better-known therapies for eliminating the buildup of arterial plaque is called intravenous chelation. This is a therapy that can truly work miracles and help people avoid heart bypass surgery and other complications from atherosclerosis. Intravenous chelation involves the introduction of certain minerals and binding compounds into the human bloodstream through an intravenous solution. In other words, they put an IV in your arm and drip fluids containing chelated minerals into your bloodstream.

What does this do? This chelation solution binds with the plaque in your cardiovascular system and then helps flush it out of your system. At the same time, it is also very useful for removing heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, and lead from your body.

But because this is an invasive procedure, it is only performed by trained medical professionals. Typically, you're only going to have access to this by visiting a naturopathic clinic or some kind of alternative health clinic that pursues pioneering medicine. But by no mean is this intravenous chelation a brand new technology. It's been around for decades and has been well proven to reduce the buildup of atherosclerosis or plaque in your arteries.

However, remember that if you continue to pursue a diet and lifestyle that created the plaque in the first place, then engaging in intravenous chelation is really only going to help for the short term. To have long-term results, you need to change your lifestyle, as was discussed in part one of this article.

Next on the list is what's called oral chelation. This is a strategy where you take supplements known as EDTA that claim to work in the same way as intravenous chelation. These substances bind with heavy metals and plaque in your arteries and help flush them out of your system. Unfortunately, my information on oral chelation is rather sparse at the moment. I haven't fully investigated this, so I can't say whether I support it or whether it has been proven to work. I plan to look more closely at this in the future.

Another thing you can do from a nutritional standpoint to enhance your cardiovascular health is to be sure to take a plentiful supply of antioxidants. Of course you want to get those from natural sources, and some of the best sources of antioxidants are berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and so on. You can also get antioxidants from superfoods such as various sprouts, Spirulina, Chlorella, and seaweed.

One of my favorite sources of antioxidants is a substance I'm calling Vitamin X. It is known as astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is just now emerging on the scene. Most people don't know about it yet, but it's a powerful antioxidant that belongs to the same carotenoid family as the better-known zeaxanthin, which is quite well known to be important for eye health -- that is, the health of the retina and in preventing macular degeneration.

To my knowledge, there aren't many studies available right now showing the relationship between astaxanthin and heart health, but I think those studies will be coming down the road. So this is one of those areas where, if you're taking the supplement, it's not necessarily proven for cardiovascular health but it probably will be down the road. And in the meantime, you're giving yourself worthy antioxidant protection by taking it.

Moving on to heart health in general, one of the main points I want to get across to readers here is that many of the defects that are diagnosed in people's hearts are really not physical defects at all. There's a great tendency in conventional medicine to misdiagnose functional disorders as physical or structural disorders. For example, one of the most common diagnoses in heart health is the so-called mitral valve prolapse. This is generally explained to patients as being some kind of physical defect with their heart valve. Often it's called a genetic defect or a birth defect; but far more often than not, this is really just the lack of fitness of the heart muscle due to chronic malnutrition, typically a lack of B vitamins.

So, if you think about it, any muscle in the body that isn't fit, that doesn't have good nutrition and plenty of hydration, will lose its tone, and muscles will begin to sag or deform or not have the structural strength they once had. This is especially evident in people with back pain who have experienced a loss of muscle tension in the lower spine so that when they sit, their lower back begins to hurt. I'm quite familiar with this. I suffered from it for more than 10 years before I transformed my own health.

The very same thing can be true with the heart. If a person isn't getting adequate nutrition (and remember that most Americans are nutritionally deficient even though they're overeating in terms of calories), then their hearts can lose a level of fitness. They no longer retain the shape -- that is, the physical shape -- that they should retain in order to properly pump blood. So of course a conventionally-trained medical doctor is going to see this misshaped heart and diagnose it as some kind of physical, structural deformity, typically one that can only be resolved through surgical procedures.

But that's about as crazy as telling someone who has weak shoulder muscles that the solution is to cut into their shoulder with sharp instruments and insert a balloon that can be pumped up so that their shoulder appears larger. The real solution, of course, is to strength train the shoulder. Engage in some strength training, and get proper nutrition so that the muscles can have the nutrients they need to grow on their own.

When it comes to heart health and subsequently cardiovascular health, nutrition is the key. Virtually all surgical procedures conducted for mitral valve prolapse are medically unnecessary. What the patient really needs is adequate hydration, a brand new approach to nutrition, and the avoidance of all dietary substances that are known to worsen cardiovascular health and deplete water soluble vitamins from the body. And of course, B vitamins are water soluble vitamins.

Moving on in the herbs category, of course there are many, many healing herbs for heart health, including herbs like garlic, onions, and juniper berries. But I think that the big solution here when it comes to avoiding atherosclerosis, and doing what many people describe as unclogging their arteries, really comes down to avoiding hydrogenated oils, fried foods, and trans fatty acids.

This is a disorder for which avoidance is really the best treatment. In fact, if you avoid those foods and engage in basic nutritional supplementation and cardiovascular exercise, your body will clean out the arteries for you over time all on its own. But don't forget it also means shifting to healthy oils and getting plenty of omega-3 oils, fish oils, and other healthy oils into your diet on a regular basis.


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