In Sickness & In Health: Keeping your heart clean

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The medical community has been studying the effect of cholesterol on the heart for many years now, but the latest finding may surprise you.

For a long time, people with high cholesterol were told to avoid animal fat and include more fiber in their diet. Now, recent studies show there may be a new culprit.

“We are learning that actually sugar intake is harmful to the arteries and what it is, the arteries have this nice, shiny, silky endothelia and high sugar content can irritate or inflame those arteries,” says Mike Barber of Castle Medical Center.

And if you think one soda a day is going to be all right with your heart, think again.

“The sugar content of one Big Gulp is the equivalent of one cup of Log Cabin syrup. So a person wouldn’t think of taking a cup of Log Cabin syrup in one sitting, but this is what we’re doing,” Barber says.

This is how we picture the heart – and up to a point, that is an accurate picture. But this is what the heart ACTUALLY looks like and all those tiny, web-like things you see are vital to the flow of blood. Plaque builds in those over time – when they burst, heart attack. Exactly what happened to well known broadcaster Tim Russert at the relatively young age of 58.

“So by staying away from sugars, triglycerides, it stops laying down of the calcium plaque that then is susceptible to rupture which is a heart attack which unfortunately took his life,” Barber says.

Is it possible to reverse the potential damage to the heart?

“We’re actually finding out that we can reverse the process through proper diet. Diet is huge. Of course, exercise, we bring that in because exercise burns calories,” Barber says.

The right exercise is important – moderate – but consistent, at least five days a week. Barber and other Castle experts will hold a 6pm seminar May 9th at the Wellness Center.

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