The Heart and Gut Connection

In Seeking Science by Sharan Malhi

The heart is an innocent bystander suffering (usually) from the kind of blood we decide to build in our bodies — and that can be clean or dirty. That is, the chemicals and toxins that we ingest can injure the heart’s blood supply, leading to plaque, narrowing arteries, heart attacks, and death. Yes, scary and often misunderstood.

In terms of hardening of the arteries, or coronary artery disease (CAD) — the number one killer in Western countries —were issues commonly seen among the older populations. Now many cardiologists are seeing patients younger than 30 with heart issues. But how and why?

It’s all provoked by their depleting gut health! With the leading problems around high fat, sugar, alcohol, and high salt diets, the body is drowning in anti-nutrients. They are destroying tissues slowly and then lacking the nutrients to build and repair these cells and tissues on a daily basis.

Here are a few ways we can keep our blood clean and help avoid heart problems.

Note that they all originate from the GI tract, proving again the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates:

“All disease begins in the gut.”

Skip processed foods that leak endotoxins into your blood.

A healthy GI tract should serve as a barrier between the contents of your gut — more commonly referred to as “poop” — and your bloodstream. But processed foods can cause the cells lining the GI tract to separate (the leaky gut disorder), and allow toxic bowel contents to leak directly into the bloodstream and heart arteries.

In a classic study, volunteers eating an Egg McMuffin showed signs of artery damage within an hour. Further research showed that a bacterial toxin called endotoxin was circulating in the bloodstream following this meal, causing inflammation and injury in the heart and lungs.

Bottom line: Keep your blood clean by avoiding processed foods, including processed meats rich in endotoxins from dead bacteria.

Choose a plant-based diet to lower your TMAO blood levels.

One of the hottest areas of human food science is the recent discovery that eating meat leads to the production of a newly described chemical, biomarker and renal toxin– TMAO or Trimethylamine N-oxide, in our GI tract. This chemical then reaches our heart arteries and stimulates CAD.

In contrast, people who eat a plant-based diet tend to have the “clean blood,” free of TMAO. Therefore, it’s wise to make some, if not all, of your meals meatless in order to lower the TMAO levels in your blood.

Eat more fruits and vegetables to fight cancer.

In an amazing study of prostate cancer patients, Dr. Dean Ornish showed that eating a plant-based diet for three months produced a change in the blood of patients that actually rendered it capable of killing prostate cancer cells.  The patients who remained on their usual diet did not enjoy this remarkable transformation.

Eat more fruits and vegetables to heal your arteries.

In patients with heart disease, eating a plant-based diet for three months was found to alter the activity of genes involved with artery inflammation and damage. In the study, the patients who followed a plant-based diet demonstrated the turning off of genes favoring inflammation and artery damage, and the turning on of genes favoring healing and health.

The concept that heart arteries and the heart itself are innocent bystanders of the blood we bathe them in is important. And I find it liberating to know that I can control the nature of that blood.

The health of our GI tract dictates, to a large degree, the status of our heart arteries. By eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, we are able to create clean blood supply throughout the body.

A pattern of clean nutrition predominant in plant-based items, along with stress management, clean air, clean water, and sound sleep, is a plan that can transform your health.