Although heart disease takes many forms, we are concerned here with ischemic heart disease (IHD) in its various guises.
Ischemia (lack of oxygen due to low blood flow), causes many problems, from angina to Myocardial Infarction (MI, Heart Attack) and strokes to gangrene. What is clear is that none of these consequences are pleasant and most are life-threatening.
All cells in our body require oxygen and glucose to survive. When the supply of these vital nutrients is cut off (or severely reduced, so that the cell can't function properly), two things happen. First of all, the cell goes into "survival mode", reducing its activities so that it conserves what little oxygen and glucose it has. Some cells may be able to last longer than others in this mode. However, few, if any cells will be able to carry out their normal functions under these conditions and most will start to malfunction.
Once the internal stores of oxygen and glucose are used up, the cell can no longer survive and dies (called necrosis). This may not be too bad if we are talking about a hair follicle, but can be catstrophic if we are talking about, for example myocardial (or heart muscle) cells, as is the case with ischemic heart disease.
What is worse is that, these problems rarely affect single cells, they usually affect whole groups of cells, or even whole organs. Clearly, the bigger the area afected, the worse the consequences are likely to be. If the heart disease is severe enough to affect the whole heart, total necrosis results and the consequence is a massive heart attack, which is invariably fatal.
So what causes heart disease and what can we do about it?
Perhaps one of the biggest scandals of the twentieth century is the way we have been led to believe that cholesterol causes heart disease. This fabrication, created by the propaganda machines of the food oil industry, was put together in the 1940's and 50's, when hydrogenation of vegetable oils was discovered and enabled the creation of butter replacements.
A market had to be found for these new-fangle margarines, and sothe public and the medical fraternity alike were fed a bunkum story that saturated fat led to clogged arteries and therefore heart disease. The fact that we had been eating saturated fat (from butter, cheese, eggs and meat) for centuries, even milennia WITHOUT heart disease (which only appeared when margerines were introduced!) was deemed irrelevant and after the AHA, everyone else jumped on the bandwagon that has careered out of control for decades.
The truth is that saturated fat PROTECTS against heart disease, and artificial, chemically changed fats such as margerines are a leading CAUSE of heart disease. Unfortunatel, the researchers who have proved this time and time again are not only starved of research funding (by "health" organizations largely supported by the food oil industry), they are also prevented from publishing their results in the "prestigious" journals controlled by the same bodies!
So what is the real cause of heart disease?
As we explain on our page about cholesterol and heart disease, cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease, it is merely the SIGN of a bigger problem, namely nutritional deficiency, specifically of vitamin C.
What's that? Heart disease can't be caused by food, you say? Then why believe it is caused by cholesterol?
Simply put, we do not take in enough vitamin C these days to maintain our artery walls (vitamin C is the main component of collagen, from which arteries are constructed). To stop us from bleeding to death, the continual damage being done to our artery cells means they have to be repaired. However, if we can't make collagen (because we don't have enough vitamin C), we can't repair the holes.
Enter cholesterol. Cholesterol acts as the body's "band-aid", repairing the holes in the artery wall by sticking to the hole and blocking it. It is when this happens repeatedly that cholesterol build up in the artery, blocking it and leading to heart disease.
But saying that cholesterol causes heart disease is like saying liver spots cause old age - it is merely a sign that something else is going on!
So what about margerines? How are they involved?
Well, the trans-fats that are created when vegetable oils are hydrogenated are not like normal fats. Normal, CIS-fats are a curved molecule, which means that one side is "open" for the binding of enzymes required for many cell functions. However, due to their structure, trans-fats are flat, straight molecules, that the enzyme can't bind to.
Normally, this might not be such a bad thing, but when these fats are taken up by cells, such as the artery cells, and used in the cell-wall structure, this means that these cells can't respond to the enzymes they normally would, as the enzymes can't bind to them - this is a VERY bad situation and causes all sorts of cell dysfunction.
In addition to this, the trans fats, instead of being supple and strong, are brittle and weak. this means that where cells have used these fats in their structure, the cells are weak and can easily be pushed aside, ruptured or stetched, like a balloon.
When this happens in an artery cell, and it is stretched by the high-pressure blood flowing in the artery, the cell stretches and eventually ruptures, leading to yet-more of the damage that cholesterol must repair, and eventually various forms of heart disease.
It is for this simple reason that margerines are known to be directly related to heart disease, and why everyone, but especially those with heart disease should AVOID MARGERINE AND ALL HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS.
For more information on this and other heart disease related issues, read Conquering heart disease using natural methods, by Dr F Group.
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