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Changing Lifestyles for a Healthier Heart

Cardiovascular Health Cardiovascular Health
Longevity By Nature

Regardless of age, everybody can keep their hearts healthy.

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. It transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body while also expelling carbon dioxide and other waste products.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In 2021 alone, approximately 695,000 people died from heart disease, one in every five deaths.

Every year more than 800,000 people in the United States have a heart attack with someone having a heart attack every 40 seconds, according to the CDC.

Regardless of age, more consumers are embracing healthier lifestyles, including exercise, healthy diets and more sleep, while also searching for cardiovascular health supplements.

Heart Trends

Wendimere Reilly, RDN, LDN, scientific advisory board member for Nature’s Sunshine (Lehi, UT) said one of the major trends is the role of homocysteine in the body. A new test has emerged to test for homocysteine levels to confirm folate or vitamin B12 deficiencies.

“As this is a new test result appearing on labs, people are asking questions,” Reilly said. “They want to know more about the test results, how levels impact their health and what diet and lifestyle modifications they can partake in to reduce health risks.”

Reilly also noticed an increase in dietary interventions and supplements to reduce cholesterol levels. She said more patients are concerned about the side effects of traditional pharmaceutical treatments and wanting to weigh their options.

Brian Keenan, ND, DOM, LAc, education manager at Ayush Herbs (Redmond, WA) said there is a huge trend of using supplements to support cardiovascular health, further exacerbated by long COVID and falling out of shape during the pandemic.

“Additionally, stress continues to be a major factor with people reporting worse and worse stress levels and, in particular, tied to job stress or dissatisfaction,” Dr. Keenan said. “There is a big movement to reevaluate the realities of an actual work/life balance for many adults currently.”

ChromaDex (Los Angeles, CA) has a pioneering research program, ChromaDex External Research Program (CERP), that researches the important role of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) on cardiovascular health.

“NAD+ is required to power every organ, including for cardiovascular function, due to its essential role as a coenzyme in cellular processes including mitrochondrial function, cellular energy production and DNA repair,” said Mona Rosene, MS, RD, director of scientific affairs at ChromaDex.

Shawn Manske, ND, assistant director of clinical education for Biocidin Botanicals (Watsonville, CA) said some of the major cardiovascular health trends include the impact of COVID-19, hydration and electrolyte balance and the associations between oral health and the gut microbiome.

He also added that wearable heart monitors are becoming increasingly popular.

“More and more people are using wearable devices to monitor heart rate, sleep and even provide information on heart-rate variability,” Dr. Manske said. “These devices can help patients to better understand their cardiovascular function.”

According to Hank Cheatham, vice president of Daiwa Health Development (Gardena, CA) some of the main driving forces contributing to heart health products include the aging population, healthy lifestyle, healthy diet, exercise and use of nutraceuticals.

“These specific dietary supplements target healthy cardiovascular function, especially as complements or alternatives to prescription drugs which may have toxic side effects,” Cheatham said.

Serena Goldstein, a naturopathic doctor, said a lot of people want to become healthier and are especially concerned about how symptoms and therapies relate to overall health. She said patients may not say they have heart disease, but instead talk about stress, sleep or hormonal issues, which can all contribute to heart disease.

“On that note, it is the heart – energetically, it’s a place where people can learn to love themselves and life a little more, show compassion, and in a world where we can feel so forced to do, it’s not that ironic that part of self-care for addressing any sort of heart disease-related concerns is being kinder and more true intention to oneself,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Joe Brunner, president of Endurance Products Company (Sherwood, OR), said more people are prioritizing their heart health, particularly buying more supplements.

“Most people have a basic understanding that being in better shape generally makes you more resilient to illness, but the pandemic made this painfully clear,” Brunner said. “This clarity has likely motivated more people to improve their diet and lifestyle, including looking into supplements for heart health.”

Brunner also added the pandemic brought an “emotional trifecta” of fear, worry and uncertainty, making it difficult to process information regarding heart health.

“One way a practitioner can reduce this cognitive load, so patients are more receptive to the information, is to describe the potential benefits of any therapy using concrete numbers,” Brunner said. “In other words, do the math.”

Products and Ingredients

Dr. Goldstein said one of her favorite ingredients is hawthorn solid extract, which is an anxiolytic, natural beta blocker that helps “nourish the heart on an emotional level.” She encouraged the use of antioxidants to support blood vessel health and inflammation including resveratrol, turmeric, CoQ10 and d-ribose.

“Overall, I encourage each practitioner to also look at the risk factors that may be contributing to the different aspects of heart disease as well, such as the stress/emotional component, where flower essences and mindfulness practices can be of great benefit,” Dr. Goldstein said.

For more than 40 years, Endurance Products has focused on cardiovascular health and offers a wide range of supplements to target blood cholesterol, lipid profiles, lipid metabolism, homocysteine balance, omega-3 index, endothelial health and blood pressure balance.

Daiwa entered the heart support product category with its Plamanex1, an innovative nutraceutical shown to be efficacious on cardiovascular issues. According to Cheatham, Plasmanex1 is derived from soy and promotes healthy blood circulation.

Reilly said while consumers are prioritizing healthy hearts, they also value convenience.

“They are busy professionals, raising families or empty nesters on the go. They want simple, healthy, tasty options,” Reilly noted. “They want their heart healthy supplement booster in powdered form so that it can easily be added to their favorite smoothie or meal replacement powder.”

Reilly also recommended a diet that includes foods high in B vitamins, natural nitrates, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3s. Reilly especially emphasized Power Beets and Power Greens, two superfood booster supplements from Nature’s Sunshine.

“Natural occurring nitrates found in beets, beet powders and dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, arugula and kale serve as a source for nitric oxide, an important messenger molecule that acts on the smooth muscle and relaxes blood vessels to boost blood flow,” Reilly explained.

Kaneka Nutrients (Pasadena, TX) is well-known for its CoQ10-based ubiquinol, which has been shown to exert potent anti-inflammatory effects involving human immune cells.

“As the heart is in incessant need for energy, ubiquinol has shown to be an indispensable supporter of cardiovascular health,” said Sid Shastri, director of research at Kaneka Nutrients. “Furthermore, ubiquinol has shown benefit to the other parts of the cardiovascular system, such as the vascular endothelium.”

Biocidin Botanicals provides numerous products that can improve the body’s microbiome while also influencing the cardiovascular system. These products include ProFlora R4 for their gut and Dentalflora for the mouth.

Ayush Herbs has several supplements that support cardiovascular health, but the two most notable are Carditone and Arjuna Heart. Carditone uses herbal synergy to assist all aspects of cardiovascular support, according to Dr. Keenan.

“It supports the kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels and qually as important, calms the mind with its use of the calming herb Convolvuslus pluricaulis,” Dr. Keenan said. “We also offer Arjuna Heart which features arjuna and Indian elecamopane, which support the heart tissue and lung tissue respectively.”

ChromaDex is the manufacturer of the patented nicotinamide riboside ingredient Niagen, which is the main active ingredient in ChromaDex’s new Tru Niagen Pro 1000 mg. Tru Niagen has been clinically proven to elevate NAD+ up to 150 percent. Further research also shows optimal NAD+ levels are essential for mitochondrial health and optimal function of organs such as the heart, according to Rosene.

A Changing Lifestyle

“Movement matters, simply put,” Dr. Keenan said. “The news coming out correlating a sedentary lifestyle as similar to smoking cigarettes is certainly apropos. We know it does not take too much walking just to gain the benefits of movement too, so every little bit counts.”

Dr. Keenan also stressed the importance of sleep. Many people go chronically underslept and adapt to fatigue. He also emphasized avoiding fried foods and managing stress are equally as important for cardiovascular support.

Cheatham said different therapies for heart health include dietary supplements, acupuncture, homeopathy, ayurveda, chiropractic and mind-body treatments. Other modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity and alcoholism.

“Less modifiable risk factors for a more permanent pathology occurring are: M.I. or myocardial infarction that may be variable in severity and extent where some can lead to extensive heart damage and heart failure, which could result in possible death,” Cheatham said.

Rosene said it is important to eat a healthy diet including a balance of whole foods, lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and omega-3s. She also said incorporating an NAD+ booster into a daily routine can be helpful for cardiovascular health right from the source.

“Exercise is critical for heart health to build cardiovascular endurance and strength. If you don’t currently exercise, speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program and seek advice from a certified trainer,” Rosene said. “Annual physical exams with your primary care provider will ensure your blood pressure, cholesterol and other labs are healthy.”

According to Brunner, there are numerous lifestyle changes consumers can make, but diet remains the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Whatever dietary plan a practitioner recommends for a patient, one daily habit to encourage is to take a multivitamin,” Brunner said. “As any dietitian will tell you, making dietary changes is simple, but it’s far from easy. Recommending a daily multi, on the other hand, is an easy way to help a patient ease into healthier eating habits.”

Dr. Goldstein recommended taking personal time whenever possible.

“Taking alone time whether we go exercise, go for a walk, sit in silence, or even just take a day to really pamper ourselves, is a great way to reconnect with ourselves, and learn something new that gets us excited again (especially with so much fear),” she said.

Dr. Goldstein also recommended a diet containing dark leafy greens and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado which contain numerous vitamins and minerals. She also said high-quality dark chocolate contains polyphenols and antioxidants.

Shastri said increased physical activity and modified daily intake are two of the most important lifestyle modifications.

“It is important to recognize to cardiovascular disorders can come from a variety of vectors including dyslipidemia, stress/hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol,” Shastri noted. “These vectors which are not based on family history can be modified by our choices and therefore represent an opportunity of control over our health.”

Dr. Manske recommends committing to daily movement and exercise especially aerobic, resistance and strength training. He also encourages stress reduction practices such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, journaling, massages, acupuncture, walking, spending time with family or loved ones and laughing.

“Eat a plant-forward diet rich in a wide variety of organic (if possible) vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, and fiber,” Dr. Manske said. “Reduce or avoid processed foods (industrial-produced, manufactured foods), highly refined vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, colors, additives and preservatives. When choosing meats, opt for grass-fed, pasture-raised animals or wild-caught and sustainably sourced seafood.”

Dr. Manske also said sweating through exercise or sauna use can help encourage the detoxification of the body, which poses a risk to the cardiovascular system.

“Helping people engage in physical activity that is fun will help with stress reduction, better sleep quality and improved body composition,” Reilly said. “Throw in some healthy snacking suggestions and woot-woot, there’s a heart healthy lifestyle plan.”

Science and Studies

Daiwa sponsored extensive research on the active ingredient in Plasmanex1, called Bacillopeptidase F Proprietary Blend (BFPB). The research focused on the ingredient’s benefits for hypertension, anticoagulation, fibrinolytic effects and thrombolytic activity. There was no toxicity or negative interaction with Warfarin, according to Cheatham.

“For patients with lifestyle diseases, Plasmanex1 alone significantly decreased both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, thereby improving cardiovascular health,” Cheatham said.

Brunner said that consumers should talk with their doctors and practitioners regarding the science and efficacy of products as it can be difficult to wade through the numbers and data.

“Without a background in the field, it can be challenging for a person to critically evaluate the quality of individual studies,” Brunner said. “Instead, practitioners can encourage their patients to discuss the latest news with them. In a way, a practitioner can help cut through the clutter to provide context and perspective.”

Healthy Take Aways

• According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
• In 2021 alone, approximately 695,000 people died from heart disease, one in every five deaths.
• Every year more than 800,000 people in the United States have a heart attack with someone having a heart attack every 40 seconds, according to the CDC.
• Various foods can help support heart health including, but not limited to, whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables and omega-3s.

For More Information:

Ayush Herbs, www.ayush.com
Biocidin Botanicals, www.biocidin.com
ChromaDex, www.chromadex.com
Daiwa Health Development, www.dhdmed.com
Endurance Products Company, www.endur.com; www.enduranceresearch.com
Kaneka Nutrients, www.kanekanutrients.com
Nature’s Sunshine, www.naturessunshine.com