Arthritis comes is several forms,including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. In osteoarthritis, the degeneration of the joint is not simply wear and tear, as doctors already know, but a change in the cartilage cells themselves. They don’t know what causes the cells to change in the first place. But you would have to say that if capillary density was not sufficient (and cartilage already has a tendency for low capillary density), the change to the cells would be inevitable. Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disorder that often affects not only affects the joints, but the blood vessels and lungs as well. Again, the cart is before the horse. Arthritis doesn’t cause blood vessel damage, the modern diet and lack of exercise cause blood vessel damage, which in turn leads to arthritis.
We have always been told to exercise, stay trim, and eat healthy. But how exactly does this pertain to staying healthy? The answer lies in the thousands of miles of vascular system branching to every cell in your body. The human vascular system has been understudied and ignored when researching potential causes of disease. By simply learning about how the human body works, and what we know about each disease, you too will be convinced that vascular disease is the main culprit in todays diseases. Degenerative diseases, arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, eczema, etc. are all caused by vascular disease. Seems like a radical notion, perhaps? Not really if you think about it. Vascular disease is already implicated as a symptom of many diseases. But if you swap cause and effect around, you get a clearer picture of how most diseases are caused (and prevented, and cured). All I am asking is to consider that heart disease is not the result of other diseases, but the cause. It is my hope that this blog can change how we look at disease, and that prevention is the real cure . By dissecting what we know about each disease, and then discussing the effects of atherosclerosis and inadequate capillary density, it is easy to see the connections. This website is going to be under constant revision to the point where maybe it will be published. Of course it is my hope that people will become more concerned with their own health and their children’s. Another benefit is that we could reverse our nations financial problems since it is really up to us to keep ourselves healthy, not a billion dollar government subsidy.
Let’s start with the basics. Heart disease is really vascular disease of the heart. The slow loss of blood flow supplying the heart muscle of vital nutrients. But what happens when one of the hundreds of other arteries in the body become hardened or clogged? Or if poor eating habits keeps a lot of the arteries and capillaries from fully developing through childhood and early adolescent? There are 60,000 miles of vascular system in the average human body. Most of this is made up by a web like network of capillaries that are the real exchange points of oxygen and nutrients into, and waste and carbon dioxide out of every one of the cells in your body. These capillaries need to be within 7-40 nm of a cell for the cell to live. As capillary density is reduced, the distances between functioning capillaries is increased. The result is an exponential decrease in the health of the surrounding cells. Double the distance means 6 times the number of cells to service. As these vessels are lost, so are cells. Dead cells are not out of the ordinary, but large areas of insufficient capillary supply mean an increased risk of tumors (mutated cells have an easier time of growing if they don’t have to compete with healthy cells). All categorized diseases and their symptoms are a result of this loss of cellular health. The manner in which is manifests itself is different in every person, resulting in different diseases, symptoms, severity of disease, and ease of recovering. The human body is remarkably adaptive and can prevent disease, but only if the cells that constitute it are properly nourished with good vascular support. But we have a lot more in common with one another than is commonly given credit for. The same “cures” are used for everyone. Whether bedridden or striving to win set a record for your sport.
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It takes hard work and dedication to get the vascular system healthy again. The great thing is that by doing all the recommendations at the same time, you make gains faster and easier than doing only one at a time. After trying a few of the recommendations, I am sure that you will see a great improvement in overall health. A new feeling starts to take over, powered by a better understanding of your body. Changing habits is hard, but the changes you see in your self and outlook makes it easy. By taking the mystery out of disease, you can make better decisions to improve your health the real way. I think deep down we all knew there were shortcuts to getting and staying healthy, now it is time to start doing them!
1. Exercise. Get moving! Cardiovascular exercise is the best preventative for vascular disease that exists. The muscles are natural pumps. As they contract and relax while exercising, blood is circulated much more quickly. This produces nitric oxide naturally, which dilates and relaxes the artioles and arteries of the body. The heart muscles becomes stronger and more flexible to absorb the extra blood returning. As your body becomes used to regular workouts, it becomes easier and more fun to keep pushing your limits. 30 minutes a day of walking is minimum. As that becomes easy, consider higher intensity or longer workouts. Heart rate is an excellent gauge to exercise with. Mix in strength workouts. When lifting weights, make sure to relax between reps for a second or two. This lets blood back into the muscles vascular system. The idea is to build the vascular system in the muscle as well, so that the muscle have good blood flow throughout the week, not just when working out. Torn up and tight muscles do not lead to healthy vessels or muscle fibre. Health muscles lead to improved vascular health of the whole body.
2. Eat less fat. A diet high in fat prevents many of the tissues from absorbing nutrients and getting rid of waste. Some fat is necessary, but try to limit any foods high in fat(cheese, excess nuts or seeds, and high fat meats). Some nuts are OK, as well as low or non-fat dairy. Become friends with the nutrition label on foods, as well as stick to healthy meals when eating out. Big meals when dining out are just as bad as most fast foods. Cutting fat down to 40 grams of fat a day is a good starting point. This clears up the lymph system after awhile (the lymph system absorbs fat from the digestive tract and empties it into the bloodstream via the lymphatic duct. The lymph system needs to be able to flow easily to remove toxins and break down toxins.) It is OK to occasionally eat more fat, just not on a regular basis, and not when trying to recover from a particular affliction or disease. The human body wants to continually build new capillaries, but can’t when always inundated with a high fat diet.
3. Eat more greens and fish. Besides lots of other good benefits, they are high in magnesium, which in turn helps to break up calcium deposits in the vascular system. I highly recommend a chelated form of magnesium supplement( or magnesium malate) to increase intake to balance with modern calcium intakes. The RDA of 1000mg of calcium is a great goal. More calcium than that doesn’t necessarily make it into the bone where it needs to be. It ends up lining the blood vessels, creating a hard, rough surface that become increasing thicker with fat, calcium, mineral buildup, and inflammation of the underlying cells. Try to take in at least half as much magnesium in the diet as calcium (500mg for every 1000mg of calcium).
4. Get the muscles loose. Tight muscles don’t let blood flow easily. Get a massage and pay attention to areas that hurt or are tight. These are trouble spots and affect the blood flowing though them to other areas of the body. Trigger therapy or massage is a good daily routine to get into.
5. Eat less carbs, plus drink more water. Carbohydrates (notice the hydrate in the name?) absorb fluid out of the bloodstream. Dehydration means capillaries have to shut down for longer periods of time. Combined with fatty foods, you have the start of atherosclerosis. Carbohydrate likes to be in a 7% solution with water. Overall throughout the day, these balance out, but the constant pull from the bloodstream has a negative effect on vascular health. In addition to dehydration, excess carbohydrate also leads to high triglyceride levels. Carbohydrate is converted to fat (triglycerides). These are another substance which tends to block capillaries and coat vessels. Plus, high carbohydrate foods tend to increase growth of bad bacteria in the gut, as well as create excess inflammation of the gut (see # 7 as to why this is important).
6. Add niacin to your diet. Start with 10 mg and work up to 100 mg a day. This (in the b-3 niacin form, not time release or no-flush nicotinamide). This a potent vasodilator of the capillaries, increase flood flow to all the tissues, not just your skin. A harmless flush appears quickly and disappears within an hour. You may feel hot and itchy at first, but these are areas of the body that need to be healed. After a week or two, the pain will start to subside, but you will still get very flushed.
7. Keep the digestive tract healthy. Any inflammation or infections in the digestive tract lead to increased permeability of undigested food into the blood stream. The body can easily deal with digested protein and fats. But when whole proteins or undigested fat makes in through, this is not absorbed by the cells of the body. It easily clogs the vascular system and must eventually be broken down or removed by the liver. Increase intake of water, healthy intestinal flora (l. acidophilus, l. bifidus, etc.) , garlic (a potent anti-fungal agent). Some fiber is important, but you don’t need huge amounts. Digestive enzymes or dried papaya is a very good idea. Keep regular. Increased motility is important to keep toxins from building up. Avoid excess alcohol and coffee. These tend to irritate the digestive tract if overused. Avoid “cowboy coffee”, the kind that leaves coffee on the bottom of the cup. These extra bitter solids end up in the stomach and digestive tract. Don’t sweat it too much if things aren’t perfect right away. It took years to create unhealthy situation, so be patient for results.
8. Add other supplements that affect healthy vascular system. L-arginine relaxes the muscles surrounding arteries and artioles(.5-5 mg a day). Drink the juice of watermelons(include the white part of the rind) if you don’t like l-arginine(or the price). Eat fatty fish or take fish oil supplements. These are the fats that the body can really use to rebuild cell walls with, which helps the digestive tract as well as the vascular system. Fruits, vegetables, and many herbs are chock full of anti-oxidants that help keep inflammation to a minimum. A cup of coffee in the morning in a good source of antioxidants, niacin, as well as help to keep you regular. (Although more than that has a tendency to cause stress on the digestive tract, as well as affect deep sleep).
8. Quit smoking. Smoking is the #1 cause of heart disease. By smoking, you may be negating anything healthy that you do for yourself. Smoking quickly irritates all of the pulmonary arteries and capillaries, causing arterial plaques. This causes enough problems as is, but the tar and chemicals being absorbed by the lung tissue (remember, lungs have the surface area of a tennis court) must be removed quickly before cells start to die and revert to scar tissue. A weakened cardio-pulmonary system can’t push blood through the body nor oxygenate it well. No wonder you get stressed out easy and need frequent cigarette breaks (talk about a vicious circle). Plus anything healthy is no fun nor enjoyable anymore. You can’t taste healthy food, nor enjoy a hike without coughing up a lung. Quitting smoking not only save you money and health problems, but those around you too.
9. Quit excessive drinking. A glass of red wine is often thought to be good for the heart, but more than that, and the body has too many toxins to deal with. The blood thinning properties of alcohol also tends to circulate any fatty acid in the digestive tract as well as in the circulatory system. The liver quickly backs up after a few drinks, leaving the toxins in the bloodstream, causing further damage. Alcohol is the bloodstream tends to destroy the lining of the capillaries, as well as the arteries. Excessive release and thinning of the fatty acids builds up on the damaged circulatory walls. Then to top it off, most people go for horrible choices of food when drinking (pizza and beer?). Keep it to a minimum, and keep your wits about you when eating afterward.
Of course, it is hard to do all of these recommendations consistently. But by keeping on top of most of them, you should eliminate most common causes of an unhealthy vascular system. In addition, you start feeling really good, looking better, and enjoying life more. Which in the long run is what we really want. When you are a kid, you want your cake, ice cream, chocolate, Cheetos, all the time. But as you grow up, you see that what really makes you happy isn’t some temporary fix, but long term peace of mind and happiness. Sometime it is so long since you felt deep health and happiness, all you have are the easy pleasures, but in the long run, that is all you life ends up being.
When talking about heart disease, the first thing that comes to mind is fatty deposits clogging up large arteries. But the body normally will take excess blood lipids(fat) and deposit them in appropriate fat storage cells in the body. But if the arteries are rough and hard from inappropriate calcium uptake, then the lipids accumulate on the inflamed lining of the arteries. It is the hardening of the arteries that one must fight as well. When the arteries have taken up calcium in the lining, then you have atherosclerosis. Why is calcium deposited in the lining? It is magnesium levels that affect the uptake of calcium the most. When magnesium levels are low, calcium tends to be taken up by all cells, especially the lining of arteries. Common recommendation is to keep a 1:2 ratio between magnesium and calcium intake. Most people in America easily meet the 1000mg recommended by the FDA (it is 700 mg in Canada). In fact we are still worried about getting more calcium, and often take supplemental calcium just to make sure(often putting most people above 2000mg a day). But what about magnesium? Magnesium is prevalent in leafy green vegetables(especially spinach) and fish(especially halibut). But the amount of these foods necessary to balance with common calcium intakes is staggering(meaning several cups of cooked spinach every day). So the daily supplements we take should help, right? Unfortunately, magnesium oxide is the common form used in supplements. This is a cheap version that tends to stay in the digestive tract, never making it into the bloodstream to be carried to cells. Worse, it tends to pull water into the digestive tract, causing stomach trouble.
So, look at how much calcium you are getting (dairy, supplements, and energy/protein supplements, etc.) If excessively high, cut back, since you need good capillary bed getting to you bones for the calcium to get where you want anyways. Then get a good form of magnesium to supplement with(magnesium malate, chelated forms of magnesium). Increased vegetable and fish intake is important too, but if you have eaten a normal diet most of your life, you need a little extra help to break up calcium deposits.
There are many great cardio exercises to start a program with. For example; running, cross-country skiing, rowing, hiking, swimming, any number of machines at the gym. After running throughout high school and college, I developed a love for it. I also developed injuries that wouldn’t go away. So I became a cyclist. But beyond being good for you, it is one of the easier exercises on your body(read less wear and tear) so that you can keep up a daily program of it without injuring yourself. It is easy to fit into your daily routine. Most cities in America have some bike trails and paths to start on without cars, and as you progress you start to feel more comfortable around cars. This is when you want to start commuting by bike. Distances up to 10 miles are easily covered on a bike in reasonable time. By spending most of your free time fighting traffic, you can spend a little more time on your bike, racking up some great strength and cardio exercise(and usually able to zip by increasingly slow commuters stuck in their cars). I have experienced commuting in sub freezing temperatures as well as up to 115 degrees. It is a matter of acclimatizing and dressing appropriately (and knowing when to workout inside, too). The healthy vascular system copes easier with exercise and temperature extremes with less stress.
The benefits for the environment are well documented. We already know that we are addicted to oil. What we don’t see is the infrastructure of our government highly subsidizes automobile use. Whereas most advanced countries levy many of the taxes used to pay for road construction in the fuel prices, we have a comparatively low fuel surcharge, instead rely on general tax money to pay for roads. Our country was built on the backs of interstates and automobiles. But at a certain point, we got caught in the dream of automobile freedom, and got stuck in a nightmare instead. Besides that, keeping a relatively new car in the garage consumes 18%(on average) of our funds to keep running and gassed up. Another issue with cars we could do without is the fatalities and injuries. Besides helping to fatten our country, automobile accidents account for well over half of the injuries seen in hospitals (70% in my county), and a very large percentage of accidental deaths.
So get a good bike, one that fits well, is durable, and efficient (you’ll be more likely to ride more often if it is comfortable and not constantly breaking down). I recommend a good bike shop to get you started in the right direction. Some general guidelines are :Adjust the seat so that the knee angle ends up at 30 degrees(+/- 5 degrees) of flexion at the bottom of the pedal stroke with the foot angled slightly toe down. Another way to check seat height is to straighten the leg completely while the ball of you foot is over the pedal, your foot should be parallel to the ground. This method is cruder, but gets you in the right 25 to 35 degree range very nicely. The forward kneecap should be straight above the end of the crank when the crank is parallel with the ground. With the seat at the right height, the grips should be about the same level as the seat for a good do it all position. Arms should be perpendicular to the back when reaching out to the bars. These are a good guide to get started, but don’t take into consideration positions for cruisers, Townies, track bikes, or racing bikes. Seat height it still very important to get dialed, so as not to cause wear on the knees.
Start with general riding, to get familiar with your bike, traffic, and the routes in your area that are safe. Then start with some workout rides. The idea is to warm up, spinning and getting the muscles and lungs working together. Sometimes if your commute is short, the entire ride is a warmup. Just make sure that you take the long way in to work a couple of times a week to get a decent workout. After a 15 minute warmup, put it in a bigger gear (or spin faster on a track bike) so that you can raise the heart rate. The ventilatory threshold is what you want to pass. This means that your breathing jumps beyond the casual shallow breathing that you normally have, to a steady, deeper breath. You can still talk to someone without cutting sentences short, but work is occurring. A heart rate monitor gives you great feedback, but takes some time to learn what your numbers mean. As you roll into work(or school, or the store) do some easy stretches of the hamstrings, back, and quadriceps before locking the bike up.
I find normal roads and sidewalks are great for riding, as long as they have a shoulder so cars aren’t forced to wait or veer out of their lane to get around you. Of course some roads are barely able to handle the amount of cars on them, let alone a cyclist too. Maybe if we get enough people to “Go With the Flow”, more room will be made for us cyclists.
Other types of exercise are just as good for you, but harder to fit into a daily routine than bike commuting. Whatever you do for exercise, what may seem like work at first becomes easier and more fun as you progress. You may notice that you have to go faster and further than you did previously to reach respiratory threshold and get a decent amount of time of exercise in. It is important to keep in this aerobic heart rate zone (55-75% max heart rate) for at least 4 hours a week to see steady progress at first. By all means exercise more if you feel like it, but don’t get into the weekend warrior type schedule, keep exercising throughout the week. Some resistance work is important to keep and improve muscles, tendons, and bones. Usually twice a week is good.