The heart organ is one of the most awe-inspiring creations of nature. There is about 5 liters of blood in the body but the heart effectively pumps over 6000 liters of blood per day. And, with only minimal care for the most part, the organ pumps continuously for 80+ years. There’s no equivalent man-made pump that has that kind of reliability.
But in recent decades, heart function has been challenged with the proinflammatory effects of processed foods including hydrogenated oils and high carbohydrate intake. And, as a whole, we’ve become more sedentary depriving the heart muscles the critical signals needed for healthy tissue remodelling.
Now more than 1.4 million Canadians have heart disease. So every one of us has friends and family affected by this. Unfortunately, “twice as many people with heart disease rate their health as being fair or poor compared to those without any chronic conditions”. This gives us an indication that heart disease has a major impact on the lives of individuals and their families.
Where the Damage is Coming From
Heart conditions refer to a group of conditions including coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, abnormal heart rhythm and many more conditions. And much of the damage we’re seeing is coming from inflammation. Remember the heart and blood vessels (the cardiovascular system) are working 24/7 and blood flow creates constant friction on the lining of the vessels. Infections, autoimmune reactions, high cholesterol, diets high in omega-6 oils and stress all contribute to damaging the vessel walls and heart valves triggering inflammation while reducing the chance for cell repair.
How to Protect the Heart You Love
As you know, fish is heart healthy food. The omega-3 content is given much of the credit for the famous anti-inflammatory power of fish. The omega-3 works against the omega-6 oils so as the omega-3 oils are absorbed into our cells, it tips the inflammation seesaw in our favour. The EPA and DHA omega 3s also help reduce clotting and spasms. Fish oils have also been shown to improve blood sugar levels after eating and reduce blood triglyceride levels. As a whole food, fish also contains Selenium and other healthy vitamins and minerals so including sustainable fish like sardines in your diet is a great heart healthy move.
If cooking fish is not your forte, or you want to quickly boost omega-3 levels, first investigate sources of omega 6 oils in your diet and see if you can reduce those (often this is in processed foods and industrial seed oils.) Then consider adding a moderate dose of high quality fish oil to your daily diet. We love cod liver oil because it also contains Vitamin D and A both critical to our immune system.
Benefits of Seroyal Cod Liver Oil
We use Seroyal Cod Liver Oil because of its naturally-occurring triglyceride form as this form is better absorbed by our bodies (compared to the more commonly found ethyl ester form). This form also prevents much of the icky “fish burps” that you may have heard about from fish oils. Capsules are also helpful, but I find the liquid form makes it more efficient to take larger doses, is easier to digest and more economical. Plus the citrus essential oil helps with the flavour. My 6 year-old niece actually asks for this cod liver oil like it’s a treat! However, if you’re not a fan of the flavour, you may add it to any unheated food or just take a teaspoonful and chase it with some juice or food.
Dr.Carin Matsushita, ND, R.Ac.