Nutrient Benefits

Words: Dr Richard FIRSHEIN

Joe Delantoni was a sixty-five-year-old retired pilot. Although his faithful fighter jet was no longer soaring, his cholesterol levels were. He was recently diagnosed with heart disease. He was experiencing chronic chest pain, excessive hair loss, hyperthyroidism, and insomnia. His cholesterol wasn’t the only risk factor flying high: his triglycerides, homocysteine levels, weight, and iron levels were also at the outer limits. Joe’s father had died of a heart attack, and with Joe’s risk factors and the spare tyre around his sedentary middle predicting a similar demise, I knew we had to get him help — fast.

Joe’s diet emphasised hamburgers, fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot dogs. I knew that his diet and his high iron levels [iron is believed to be a risk factor in heart disease] had to be controlled if his health was to improve. Joe told me he knew that heart-healthy diets were severely restricted in fat and that he had to cut his cholesterol intake, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop eating fried, fatty treats.

Meanwhile, all the chemicals from these fibreless, greasy foods were leaving him constipated. He visited the bathroom constantly, straining to push stool out in what’s called the Valsalva manoeuvre [yes, this has a name]. The manoeuvre actually puts pressure on the heart, aggravating Joe’s already serious condition.

Fibre Power

Fibre was one solution. Not only can fibre decrease cholesterol production, reduce sugar release, and cleanse the body, it also binds with iron and safely ushers it out of the body. Iron in the blood binds with vitamin C and oxidises; it can cause serious free radical damage to blood vessels. Studies show that blood donors and menstruating women have a lower incidence of heart disease than the average male because they lose iron as they release blood [Although we need iron for our red blood cells to be healthy, too much iron can cause a problem]. I told Joe to take fibre in the potent form of flaxseed powder, stirring it into juice, or fruit shakes for easy consumption.

I also gave him vitamin B3 [niacin], which works in the liver to suppress cholesterol production, and vitamin E, which is known to be a heart tonic, along with vitamin B12 [cobalamin] and folate, which counteracts high homocysteine levels [known to be a risk factor in heart disease]. Finally, I persuaded him to cut processed foods and carbohydrates out of his diet and boost fruits and vegetables. I do not believe that cholesterol is as crucial a risk factor in heart disease as we once imagined, but high levels serve as a fairly good indication of a potentially serious problem.

Joe was enjoying his retired life, staying home with his wife and preparing for the arrival of grandchildren, so he was determined to do whatever it took to rescue his heart. The blood test I took during his first visit to my office told me that his heart was in serious need of repair. But, by his very next blood test, three months later, Joe’s cholesterol had dropped from 260 to 190, and his homocysteine levels had also dropped significantly. Statistics shows that for every cholesterol point you lower, you reduce your risk for heart disease by 2 per cent.

Joe’s levels still aren’t optimal, and despite changes in his diet and lots of fibre that spare tyre around his stomach hasn’t totally disappeared. He’s lucky he hasn’t been urged to undergo bypass surgery; two of his arteries are dangerously narrowed, and surgery may be recommended if three are completely blocked. In the meantime, he is amazed and content with the improvement that he’s derived from flaxseed and its supporting cast of nutrients; indeed, his chest pain has disappeared.

For Joe, powerful nutraceuticals have been enough to fend off the often-fatal consequences of heart disease. I will continue to monitor Joe in the hope that further use of these supplements will steer him farther away from the danger zone.

The Constipation Question 

Constipation causes most people concern — it often causes physical discomfort as well. It is true that constipation may be a warning sign of internal toxicity. But skipping a day, or two of ‘number two,’ doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy’ or that you require serious treatment. In fact, too much stool can mean the loss of important minerals from the body. Regular bowel movements are the optimal way to ensure that you’re expelling toxins from the body. If you’re eating healthily, exercising, and drinking lots of fluids, however, don’t fret when you miss an occasional trip to the toilet.

Dr RICHARD FIRSHEIN, DO, is the Founder-Director of The Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. He is a leading innovator and authority in the field of preventative and nutritional medicine, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has served as professor of family medicine. An internationally recognised leader in the field of integrative medicine and healthy aging, a cancer researcher, prolific author and writer, Dr Firshein has written several ground-breaking books, including the bestselling Reversing AsthmaYour Asthma-Free ChildThe Nutraceutical Revolution and The Vitamin Prescription [For Life]. This article is ©Dr Richard Firshein.

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