Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Addicts have hearts, too

Every month at TCI/Hamilton Family Practice we offer a free workshop, open to all our patients and their families. They are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 7 to 8. I call this series The Chosen Twelve because they are scheduled each month for a year and topics are picked based on what my patients tell me they are interested in learning more about.

In September we discussed Sugar Blues and how our bodies respond to a constant barrage of refined products. In October the topic was Figuring Out The Fats, with an emphasis on how different types of fats we eat can impact our health, particularly our risk for heart disease.

Even though this blog is geared toward discussing topics pertinent to addiction, the majority of my detox patients have hearts and want to keep them just as healthy as my family practice patients do. Especially if they are going to the trouble of getting clean.

So, in case you weren’t able to be there, here are the take-home points:

Risk factors for heart disease include getting older (that’s the good news/bad news, huh?), a family history of heart disease (although every recent study I see says that lifestyle totally trumps genes), smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and psychological stress.

We discussed the Lipid Panel that checks your cholesterol levels and what the HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels should be.

The main message when it comes to keeping your heart healthy in regards to fats is to choose the right ones and use them in moderation. All fats are very calorie dense, whether they are the finest purest organic cold pressed extra extra virgin olive oil or whether it’s a can of Crisco. So using lots of any fats (or too much of any foods and not burning enough calories in a day) will cause weight gain. The body needs certain essential oils that it can’t produce on its own. These fats are found in soy, canola, olive and flaxseed oil; in fish and fish oils, in walnuts and other nuts and in avocados, to mention a few really excellent sources.

Fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated (like butter and beef or chicken fat); some solid fats are also partially hydrogenated and contain trans-fats. Stay away from any food that has partially hydrogenated on the label. Partially hydrogenated oils increase the shelf life of twinkies, but not of humans. The correlation between heart disease and intake of trans-fats is huge.

On the other hand, studies of people with high blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids show a higher reduction in the risk for sudden cardiac death than any lipid lowering drug currently on the market.

Maybe you can join us in person for a workshop. If you have any topics you’d like to hear about, please let me know. Here are the dates and topics of the next workshops:

November 18, 2009 Moving Toward a Plant Based Diet
December 16, 2009 Healthy Holiday Recipes and Tips
January 20, 2009 Post-menopausal Health
February 17, 2010 Men’s Health Concerns
March 17, 2010 Cancer Prevention
April 21, 2010 Supplements? Which ones?
May 19, 2010 Buffing up Your Physical Activity
June 16, 2010 Eating for Energy
July 21, 2010 Have Less of the Stress
August 18, 2010 Getting A Delicious Nights’ Sleep

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