May 29, 2021
[00:01:18] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:41] You are Listening to Part 2
[00:07:12] The Heart Gets The Cream Of The Crop When It Comes To Our Fat
[00:13:10] What is a Lean Mass Hyper-responder
[00:18:12] How Statins Work And Issues With CoQ10
[00:26:23] Podcast Sponsors
[00:28:35] Why Aspirin May Be A Bad Idea
[00:33:08] Ouabain And Strophanthus
[00:37:25] How Chiropractic Therapy Can Improve Heart Health
[00:44:27] Best Practices For Maintaining Heart Health
[00:46:37] Western Medicine As “Two-Faced Medicine”
[01:02:18] Closing the Podcast
[01:05:37] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast:
And, I thought at that point that that was the end of the book, and then you blew my mind.
Stephen: My whole point in writing this book was to open the conversation about heart disease because clearly, what we're doing is not working. And then, what happened afterwards reconfirmed for me, this information needs to be out there
Ben: Restores the normal parasympathetic signals. So, then, again, by taking it, you're shifting the heart back to burning, primarily, fatty acids and ketones.
Stephen: That's going to be a huge game-changer for the heart.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Welcome, Part 2. If you didn't hear the first episode with my guest today, Stephen Hussey, you can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart, to hear that one. This is the next in this epic two-part heart health series that I'm putting out for you. I think you're really going to dig it.
This podcast is brought to you by something that has heart in it. That's right, has heart in it, conveniently. Grass-fed and grass-finished liver, grass-fed and grass-finished kidney, grass-fed and grass-finished heart are all in the Paleovalley Organ Complex, which is basically nature's multivitamin, huge shotgun nutrients, Coenzyme Q10, which is wonderful for your heart, vitamin A, vitamin B12. This is basically like getting a whole bunch of organ meats that you have to prepare and figure out how to make taste good, but you instead just get it in a capsule. You can sprinkle it on food, on eggs, and shakes. My kids take two liver capsules each day. You can sprinkle it on dog food. People say it gives their pets great energy. Four capsules for seven days gives you the equivalent of two and a half ounces of organ meats a week. That adds up fast. That adds up really fast. And, even if you don't know how to make organ meats, this takes all of the confusion and clutter out of it for you.
You get a 10% discount on anything from Paleovalley, including this wonderful organ complex. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/PaleoValley, and the code that I would like for you to use, and that you'll probably want to use if you want to save, is BENGREENFIELD10, BENGREENFIELD10 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/PaleoValley.
Hey, so if you're a bargain shopper, if you like getting the most bang for your buck on high-quality functional foods and supplements, then your ears are going to perk up because the Kion Memorial Day Sale is happening right now. So, you get 25% off. 25, that's a lot, on everything, like the muscle-building essential amino acids, which are basically my own Swiss army knife for everything—health, recovery, gut, muscle, you name it. Organic clean coffee, the brand-spanking-new Kion Ground Coffee. Code: MEMORIALDAY. If you go to get Kion.com/BenGreenfield. That's Get-K-I-O-N.com/BenGreenfield. Right now, use code, MEMORIALDAY. It's going to save you 15% sitewide. It's going to save you 25% off any subscriptions, any of the convenient bundles that we put together for you so lovingly. It's going to start May 28th. It's a Friday, and Monday, May 31st. So, GetKion.com/BenGreenfield. Use code, MEMORIALDAY.
Well, folks, we are back. And, if you don't know what I mean when I say we are back, what I mean by that is that you are currently, if you're listening to this show right now, listening to Part 2 of a pretty epic podcast on cardiovascular health, with the author, Dr. Stephen Hussey, who wrote the book, “Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Disease Organ.” Now, I'm not going to make you do this, but I would highly suggest, if you have the capability to do so, you press pause, you save listening to this episode and you go back and listen to Part 1 before you listen to Part 2 because you're just going to get a lot more out of Part 2 if you listen to Part 1 first. Although, you could listen to this episode as a standalone, but I guarantee, you will be even more and you'll have a better understanding of what Stephen and I talk about if you listen to Part 1, which you can listen to at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart. That's where all the shownotes are for Part 1. That's where you can go, listen to the audio. That's where you can go and discover our conversation about everything from the naked mole-rat and what it can teach us about heart health, the fascinating history and ancestry of heart disease, all about vagal nerve balance, a ton about the role of ketones and people with heart failure. We dig into structured water. We dig into photonic light. We dig into why the heart is not a pump and really summarized heart failure in that episode, like why the heart fails, in the first place. So, again, that's at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart.
Now, today's episode, we're going to keep going, but you can access all the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart2, like “understandingtheheart,” the number, “2.” So, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart for Part 1. go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart2 for Part 2, where, in Part 1, you actually get Stephen's back story. So, I'm not going to blabber his bio too much here, but Stephen is a chiropractor and functional medicine practitioner. And, he just wrote this book, which I consider to be one of the most fantastic books that's been written of late on the heart and a really unique outside-the-box approach to heart health in general.
As a matter of fact, Stephen, in celebration of us recording today, I actually just emerged about a half hour ago from the infrared sauna. I actually did a slightly higher dose niacin infrared sauna protocol this morning, followed by a little cold soak. And, I was in there, thinking about how good what I was doing was for my heart, based on everything I learned from you in the past episode about infrared and photonic light, and heat and cold, and everything else that's great for the heart. So, I've already been preparing hard-core for this episode by caring for my own heart.
Stephen: Nice, and I'll say I emerged from the sauna about an hour and a half ago.
Ben: That's fun.
Stephen: So, we're in the same page.
Ben: What kind of sauna do you use?
Stephen: Mine is an older model because it was gifted to me. I can't remember. They don't even make it anymore.
Stephen: SaunaSpec, maybe.
Ben: Alright, I think I've heard of that. Is it an infrared?
Stephen: Yes, definitely.
Ben: Nice. Well, anyways though, we have so much to get into. So, I think we just jump right in, man.
Stephen: Let's do it.
Ben: Because what I want to start today's episode with is a topic we didn't dig into too heavily in the last episode. And, that's the whole diet cholesterol fat piece. And, I would love to unpack your unique approach to this because you have a lot of really good information in your book, particularly, about statins, some things I wasn't aware of regarding statins. And, also, it's cool how our heart actually gets first dibs on the fats that we eat. I thought that was really interesting, how you outlined why that is. How is it that we have this system that gives the hearts first dibs on our dietary fats? Can you explain that?
Stephen: Yeah, definitely. And, I think that it's important, too, to understand why that is. And so, things we talked about in Part 1 will definitely help people understand why I think the heart gets this preference for fatty acids because bad things that happen or that can happen that we talked about in Part 1.
Ben: And, I can quickly, very quickly, in probably 30 seconds or less, summarize for people that, when we are in a state of rampant glucose oxidation, particularly, in heart tissue, you create a scenario very similar to what a muscle would experience during exercise: glycolysis, lactic acid accumulation, calcium influx, and the propensity for things like calcification, acidity in heart tissue, inefficient metabolism in the heart, and when it comes to the water in the heart. And, this is one that you do want to listen to Part 1 to wrap your head around. Almost like a failure of the proper electrical conductivity of the water in the heart due to the oxidants that can build up when you're metabolizing glucose as the primary fuel or producing lactic acid buildup within cardiac tissue. Is that the general overview?
Stephen: Yeah, definitely. And so, since the heart is this really metabolically-active and also very important organ, it seems that the body has given it preference for those fatty acids and ketones, but fatty acids, specifically. Ways that it does this. One is that just the unique way that the body absorbs fatty acids because it packages them into chylomicrons in the system. And then, that goes into the lymphatic tissue, the lymphatic drainage ducts.
Ben: From the liver?
Stephen: No, directly from the gut. So, rather being absorbed into the blood directly, it goes into the lymphatic system, so to speak. And so, that system drains more or less directly into the heart, now it drains in there as into the vena cava veins that go back into the heart. And so, those are not being used, that blood is not being used to supply the heart. It has to go back through the lungs first, and then it comes back to the heart.
And then, the first thing it does when it leaves the heart again is it supplies the heart itself. So, it's almost as if the heart is getting these pre-packaged fatty acids in these chylomicrons, and then other various lipoproteins and things like that getting delivered to the heart tissue. And so, it's, like I said, more or less the first place it goes. And so, the heart gets first dibs, ensuring that it gets to burn, predominantly, fatty acids or ketones, if those are changed into ketones later down the road by the liver. But, yeah, that's one thing. And then, the other thing is that I came across a study that shows that there's a direct signaling pathway from the heart to the fat cells.
Ben: That's what I wanted to ask you about because we know that the lymphatic system is able to take those chylomicrons, all those package fats that we eat, and the lymphatic system because the chylomicrons are too big to get absorbed in the intestines. Those get transported through the lymphatic system, and then into the heart. So, fatty acids get delivered to the heart. And, that made sense, but then you also said the heart has a signaling pathway you just alluded to. But, I'd love for you to unpack that because I have yet to wrap my head around what that signaling pathway is via which the heart speaks to our fat cells.
Stephen: And, it's just this. When you read the study, it seems like there's just this link. And, the researchers were, unsure of what that link meant. At that point, it was early research. So, the study was pretty early, but there's no doubt that there is this link. And, it's almost like fat cells in the heart keeping tabs on each other. So, it's almost as if, if the heart is getting forced to burn more glucose, and it was. It's always burning glucose and fatty acid at the same time, but predominantly fatty acids. And, if it's getting forced to burn more glucose, maybe, that direct link is the fat cells monitoring that, like, “Hey, burning more glucose. Now, we need to mobilize more fatty acids so that the heart can have those.”
I don't remember in study if they specified if there was any specific location of fat cells, like if it was a location that, if they got mobilized, the fatty acid got mobilized, it would go to the heart quicker or something. The researchers were seemed preoccupied in that study with how they could affect the heart to influence weight loss because there was connection to fat cells. And, I was face-palming, like, “Oh, no, guys. This has to do with metabolism, I believe, and the preference for fatty acids in the heart.” So, it's a newly-discovered thing. They haven't fully flushed it out.
Ben: Well, your citation in the book shows it's a 2019 study, “The Alteration Of Myocardial GRK2 Produces A Global Metabolic Phenotype” is the name of the study. And, if I can hunt that down, I'll link to it in the shownotes. But, essentially, what you're saying is that the heart can actually affect mobilization of fatty acids from fat tissue to shift the metabolism towards that of fatty acid utilization versus glucose utilization.
Stephen: Yeah, it's almost like these fat cells, they're hyper-aware of this shift. And, you said GRK2 is what it was, that shift in metabolism. So, if it happens, some alteration, and that happens, the fat cells are like, “We need to do something.”
Ben: That's super interesting. Now, when it comes to the idea of the heart getting first dibs on the fats. We know that these fatty acids are the preferred fuel for the heart, fatty acids and ketones. This is obviously related to cholesterol. And, you obviously have a vested interest in cholesterol because you get in the book into the fact that you are, what is called the Lean Mass Hyper-responder. And, can you explain exactly what a Lean Mass Hyper-responder is?
Stephen: It's a person. And, these are just basically observations. And, there's one guy who's really looked into cholesterol, who's dub people that this happens to Lean Mass Hyper-responders. I wouldn't say that it's a medical term that doctors use to describe people. But, it's basically what happens when someone goes on a very low carb, or even it's common people on carnivore diets and things. They go on that type of diet and all their biomarkers get really, really healthy and they see all these positive things, low inflammation, all this good stuff, low triglycerides, but their LDL and total cholesterol pretty much skyrockets.
To me, that happens for a few reasons. One is studies have shown that just the act of fasting, more prolonged fasting, like more than three or four days, but even smaller amounts of fasting, leads to increased LDL. And, the theory is that your body is trying to deliver more energy in the form of fatty acids because you're restricting other forms of energy that it may need. And so, it creates more LDL there. And so, people on these types of diets tend to eat less. They're more satiated because they're very satiating diets. And so, they end up fasting more than others.
But, also, the very process of making ketones. If you go on a low-carb diet, your body is going to start taking some fatty acids and making ketones. And, the very process of that is very similar to what the liver does when it makes cholesterol. And so, by default, the same pathways are happening. And, just at the end, it shifts from ketone to cholesterol. And, it makes those changes, but we're getting more cholesterol production in the process of that.
And then, the third one is that, since there's more cholesterol around the liver, it shuts off its cholesterol receptors, leaving more LDL lipoproteins in the blood rather than re-absorbing them. So, we get this affect of seeing higher LDL. So, it tends to happen in more fit, say, lean people. So, Lean Mass Hyper-responders. And, that's what happens.
Ben: Which is paradoxical, if you think about it. But, if you have more fat mass versus lean mass, there's less need to traffic fatty acids globally, since your target tissues have more available locally. And so, as you gain fat, your cholesterol, paradoxically, may decrease a little bit because there's more tissue available to store fatty acids. And, this is also interesting that the person who you're referring to who coined this term, “Lean Mass Hyper-Responder,” is a fellow named Dave Feldman, whose website, CholesterolCode.com. And, he actually has some tips on there for people who are going to get health insurance screening and are concerned that the cholesterol that they've actually kept somewhat high while keeping other risk factors low, such as glucose and inflammation, etc., is going to affect their ability to get a good deal on health insurance.
So, he says, “Well, if you want to lower your cholesterol in the few days leading up to something like a health insurance test, then you can decrease your fat intake, particularly, your saturated fat intake, increase your carbohydrates.” And, he has multiple case studies and a ton of data on his website showing a significant drop in LDL when you actually go, basically, higher carb short-term reduced saturated fats. It's probably not a long enough period of time before a health insurance panel to gain fat mass, but essentially you see this drop in LDL, and sometimes, triglycerides, when you do that, which is interesting, even though that shouldn't necessarily be something you should be trying to do. It's a pretty interesting idea, this fact that the body can, in response to dietary intake, especially, dietary intake of fat, if you're a Lean Mass Hyper-responder, actually respond, essentially, increasing triglycerides and LDL dramatically, but not in a situation that would actually put you at risk for heart disease.
Stephen: Yeah, and so you want to look at it as–And, that's the thing, is people freak out when they are these Lean Mass Hyper-responders, the LDL goes way up, but triglycerides go down, inflammation goes down, HDL goes up. And, that's the kind of situation that would lead to ideal health. And, they're feeling healthy. Most time, they're losing weight, if they needed to. And so, it's just this paradoxical thing the medical doctors would freak out. And, they're ignoring all of these healthy things that's happening to the person, and they're focusing on this one biomarker.
Ben: And, of course, statins are commonly what are prescribed to prevent the production of cholesterol. You actually have a pretty interesting section of the book where you tackle what's going on when someone takes a statin and some of the downstream implications of that. Now, I've talked before on the podcast about how statins can actually reduce the availability of an important enzyme called CoQ10 in the body. And, that can cause fatigue. It can cause cardiomyopathy, disease of heart muscle tissue, can cause muscle wasting. That severity of Coenzyme Q10 depletion causes some pretty system-wide muscle impairment, in both cardiac tissue and the skeletal muscle tissue. And, that's something that I think a lot of people who are tuned into health are aware of regarding statins. And, it's a reason that, if you are on a statin, which is something that most people, in my opinion, should not be on, supplementing with CoQ10 or even, for example, eating heart or taking a desiccated organ capsule that contains heart. I have the Ancestral Supplements Heart capsules, for example. That can be a good way to get your CoQ10 back up, but there are some other things that happen when you take statins beyond that. So, I'd love you to quickly explain how statins are working and what some of the other issues in addition to stripping away Coenzyme Q10 would be.
Stephen: This is something that I dug into quite a bit because I was recommended a statin before I was a Lean Mass Hyper-responder, just because I'm type-1 diabetic and the standard of care for anyone who's been type-1 diabetic, as long as I have been, was to put them on a statin, even though this was before my cholesterol went up and before I had any repercussions from diabetes. It was just interesting to me, so I dug into it.
So, statins work by, there's this big 20-step long process. And, in the book, I put half of those steps, the main steps, just this little diagram that goes through it. And so, it takes fatty acid, does this 20-step process to make cholesterol. And so, what a statin does is it inhibits that process by inhibiting one enzyme that stops the conversion to one molecule to HMG-CoA. So, it basically stops that right there. And, that's the second step or third step or something like that. So, it's very early on in the process.
And, the problem with that is that, A, you're preventing the production of cholesterol which your body needs for things like sex hormones and cell structure integrity and muscle function and things like that. But, also, there's lots of things that body uses all those intermediate things that were being all the little steps to making cholesterol it uses. It, then, just use those things to make cholesterol. Sometimes, it uses them for other things.
I go, in the book, some of the things that it uses those intermediates for. One of those intermediates is used to make what's called dolichol, which is really important for the health of insulin receptors.
Ben: What do you say it's called?
Ben: Dolichol, okay.
Stephen: I forget which one of the [00:21:10] _____. I think it's isopentenyl PP. I think that one is used to make dolichol. And then, dolichol is really important for the health of insulin receptors.
Ben: It's actually Farnesyl PP.
Ben: That's used to make dolichol.
Stephen: So, if we don't get that happening, then our insulin receptors struggle. So, it's no wonder that there are studies that show that people who take statins are way more likely to become insulin-resistant and develop diabetes.
Ben: It's a 30% increase in some of the study groups.
Stephen: Yeah, something crazy, too. So, there's that. And then, I think the isopentenyl was, maybe, the selenoproteins one. Your body uses that to make selenoproteins, which are very important for your body to be able to make its endogenous antioxidants, like glutathione and superoxide dismutase and things like that. And so, that's incredibly important for maintaining balance in this oxidative stress that we call, which is a normal process that happens but needs to be mitigated.
And so, if we don't have that intermediate in that process of making cholesterol, then we don't get enough antioxidant production. And so, it's interesting because statins, one of the different effects that it has, it has this pleiotropic effect of lowering inflammation, but it also has its effect of preventing antioxidant production, which can increase inflammation. And so, it's great it has this little anti-inflammatory benefit, which is probably the reason we see a small benefit, really small benefit, in statins. But, at the same time, it's preventing your body from decreasing inflammation because you can't make those endogenous antioxidants.
Ben: Arguably, you could be on a statin supplement with, like I mentioned, Coenzyme Q10. And then, also, if you're blocking that isopentenyl PP pathway, and that's going to allow for the production of selenoproteins, which would allow you to make glutathione, you could also supplement with glutathione. But then, there's more because the isopentyl is also responsible for the conversion of vitamin K1 to K2. And, K2 is incredibly important for preventing arterial calcification.
Stephen: Exactly, yeah because vitamin K2 is responsible for taking minerals and placing them into bone and making sure they don't end up in places they shouldn't, like the lining of an artery or even into a muscle or anything that can calcified in the body.
Ben: Now, is the statin actually affecting the LDL receptors as well?
Stephen: No, that's more of a PCSK9 inhibitor, which is a newer type of drug. Those things are–Because there's PCSK9, which keeps them closed so that the LDL will stay in the blood. And so, if you inhibit the PCSK9, it opens those up, and then the LDL comes into the liver. But, there's already been some early trials with those drugs that show that they result in people being deficient in certain fat-soluble vitamins, which makes sense because those are transported in LDL receptors. And so, if those are all getting hogged up by the liver and out of the blood and the body doesn't get the delivery of those fat-soluble vitamins.
Ben: So, that's not the statin, that's the PCSK9 that's going to affect the LDL receptors and decrease your availability of fat-soluble vitamins.
Stephen: Exactly, yeah. In the earlier days, who knows what else they find? But, very early studies have not been positive, in my opinion, on those new drugs.
Ben: And then, there's a small population, I think, it's in, for example, men who have a previous history of heart attacks who may benefit from statins in terms of reducing the reoccurrence of a heart attack.
Stephen: Yeah, they seem to be secondary prevention, seems to be a little bit better, as far as that goes.
Ben: But, long story short is, with the benefit of cholesterol, and as you noted, all the different metabolic pathways that cholesterol is important for, if you're simply shutting down its production or blocking LDL receptors, you're going to create a metabolic firestorm downstream, when in fact, cholesterol is not necessarily the issue here. It's something that's often present in cardiovascular disease, but not sufficient as a cause of cardiovascular disease as opposed to many of the things that we talked about in the previous show, like elevated blood glucose, hyperinsulinemia, extremely high triglycerides, high inflammation, or high C-reactive protein, high blood pressure, poor vagal tone, etc. That's the issue. And, if your cholesterol is high, those are the type of problems that you should be tackling.
Stephen: Exactly, and cholesterol has been this giant distraction from western medicine focusing on the actual causes of heart disease, which makes sense, I think because it's pharmaceutical-based and that's the pharmaceutical they can sell and they're selling a lot of. But, we're definitely focused on the wrong thing. And so, there's even associational studies that show that higher LDL creates more heart disease or there's more incidents of it. But, those associational can't really prove causation with those. And, there's lots of problems with epidemiology or associational studies that they shouldn't be used that way for.
But, there's also associational studies that showed that people with higher cholesterol live longer, have lower rates of infection, lower rates of heart disease, cancer, better cognitive abilities. So, it's like, which associational studies do we believe? You would think that, if cholesterol was that bad for us, we would not see those associations of better health long-term.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show because bacon for life is back. And, as you're learning on this podcast, bacon, if it's well-source, if it's grass-fed, grass-finished, in nitrite and nitrate-free and not ultra-processed, it's actually not bad for your heart, neither is grass-fed and grass-finished beef or free-range organic chicken or heritage breed pork or wild-caught seafood. You get all this stuff and you get bacon for life at ButcherBox when you go to sign up at ButcherBox.com/Ben. They're going to be one package of free bacon in every box for the rest of your life, as long as you're getting those ButcherBox boxes sent to you.
So, you get bacon for life, but you also get to know the quality of the meat that you're consuming is just at a totally different level. The average cost comes out in less than six bucks a meal. For steaks, you'd pay 40 bucks for in a steak house. You get to choose your box, your delivery frequency. You get to choose what's in the box. ButcherBox makes it easy. And did I mention they're giving you free bacon?
Go to ButcherBox.com/Ben to get everything, including that free bacon, ButcherBox.com/Ben. If you happen to eat too much bacon at night, or any of the other fine, fine fare from ButcherBox, however, you may, if you're like me, get hot at night. We know, when you're hot at night, it disrupts your deep sleep. It keeps you from getting the restful night sleep that your body needs, that it craves. Your nervous system and your muscles don't repair if your body is too hot while you're sleeping at night. A lot of people get insomnia, and it's just because they're hot at night, and they don't even realize it.
We'll enter ChiliSleep. They make this thing called the chiliPAD and this thing called an OOLER. These fit over the top your mattress, these water to control the temp of your bed. They lower your body's core temperature. I'm in love with this thing for deep, relaxing sleep. When I travel, it's weird because I'll get hot in bed. And then, I remember, it's because I don't have my chiliPAD. They need to make a little tiny fold-up, one I could put in my pocket, apparently. But, either way, my master bedroom is outfitted with chiliPAD, outfitted with it. So, I'm cold, and chiliPAD is right underneath my mattress, right underneath that top sheet.
You go to ChiliSleep.com/BenGreenfield. That's C-H-I-L-I-Sleep.com/BenGreenfield. You get a special offer, just for my listeners, for a limited time, to lower your body's core temperature and sleep all chilified. You're going to love it. ChiliSleep.com/BenGreenfield.
I personally keep my cholesterol between 200 and 300. I get concerned if it drops below 200 because I know things like decreased testosterone, lower energy levels, sometimes higher amounts of my inflammatory markers, like CRP, or another couple are the cytokines, sometimes, elevated fibrinogen, and homocysteine. I simply feel better because I do a quarterly blood panel when my cholesterol is just slightly what many elements of modern medicine would say elevated. But, I also keep my blood glucose very well-controlled, keep inflammation low, avoid vegetable oils, avoid high amounts of glucose and starches and sugars. Thus, reducing a lot of those factors that would cause the higher cholesterol to be problematic.
And so, statins are one piece of the equation here. And, I always blank on the abbreviation, PCSK9, these LDL receptor blockers, are another problem. But, what about aspirin? Aspirin is talked about a lot. I'm curious what your take is on aspirin because that's something that's often recommended. And, I'm curious if you could explain why that's recommended and what's your take on aspirin.
Stephen: So, aspirin, it's a pain medication that helps reduce pain. It does that by blocking or interfering with prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a metabolite that's released whenever your body needs to repair something. So, if you sprain your ankle or something, you probably get a lot of prostaglandins being released, that released, and what the prostaglandin is triggered to repair causes pain. So, it's painful. And so, people reach for the aspirin to block the pain by decreasing the prostaglandins. At the same time, they are interfering with the healing process, I'd say.
So, there's interesting studies that show that, when we get sick, our body is secreting prostaglandins and inflammatory things so that we heal, fight off this pathogen, or whatever it may be, more toxins. And so, there are studies that show that people who take aspirin recovered less quickly than people who don't take it because again, we're blocking that body's healing pathway when we're doing that.
Now, I'm not going to yell at anybody for taking aspirin if they're in pain. That's not fun. But, my beef with it is that it's been recommended small low-dose aspirin every day to prevent heart attacks. To me, the research does not suggest that that works. And, it's actually based on just one major study by the Physicians' Health Group, where they used it and they saw a lower incidence of heart attack.
However, what they didn't advertise when they're in the media for the study was that it was buffered aspirin, which also had a lot of magnesium with it. And so, was it the aspirin that was preventing things? Or, was it the magnesium because magnesium is definitely been shown to be a thinner of the blood, not necessarily a blood thinner, but it definitely decreases viscosity of the blood, as well as helps muscles relax and decreases blood pressure and things like that? So, there's murky water there in their conclusion in that study. But, the recommendation is largely based off of that.
And so, my issue is that aspirin, taken long-term, can have GI issues, GI bleeds, kidney issues, which, for me, as a type-1 diabetic, I have to be wary of that. So, yeah, I do not think that that's a a good approach, I would say, to preventing heart attacks. There are way more things you could be focusing on that are better than that without the harmful side effects.
Ben: Another guy who I recently interviewed on my podcast, I don't know if it will have been released when this episode comes out. He recently wrote a book called “The Mineral Fix,” Dr. James DiNicolantonio. And, he has a wonderful paper that he published a few years ago about magnesium. And, I think in this case, it was magnesium glycinate, if I'm not mistaken, for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and found that it actually is something that's effective, not only for congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy but also for hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. And, it seems to be because of the damage that aspirin may potentially have on the gut, as you've alluded to, something that could be a pretty reasonable alternative to aspirin.
Stephen: Exactly, yeah. But, the problem is that you can't really profit as much on it. Pharmaceutical company can't profit as much on it, so it's likely not going to be the recommendation that western medicine gives.
Ben: Interesting. Now, there was another one. I think it was in the discussion where you talked about aspirin. You mentioned something else called, I don't know if I'm going to pronounce this right, ouabain.
Stephen: I say ouabain.
Ben: Okay, ouabain. What's ouabain?
Stephen: So, our body actually makes ouabain, or people call it strophanthus as well.
Ben: Strophanthus, yeah. When I interviewed Dr. Thomas Cowan, he refers to that as the insulin of the heart. And, it's cool because it actually looks– you look at the, what's it called? The doctrine of signatures in nature, how when you cut open a pomegranate or a tomato, they look like the little atrium ventricles of the heart and they can be good for cardiovascular function, or a walnut looks like a little brain, or egg, when you crack it open in a pan, it looks like an eye. And, certain things in nature are good for specific organs. And, this ouabain or this strophanthus, when you look at it, it looks like a bunch of little blood vessels coming off this white flower.
Stephen: Yeah, It's pretty fascinating. And, our body actually makes a version of this. It's from the adrenal glands. And, there's a saying in Chinese medicine, that the kidneys nourish the heart. So, obviously, they knew something around the area of the kidneys was communicating to the heart. Its main things, what it does is that it increases parasympathetic signaling to the heart. Or, it does things that would help other mechanisms increase parasympathetic signaling to the heart. And so, it's been shown to be really effective. It's all secreted in this plant, like you were mentioning. And so, we can use an extract from the seeds of that and get the same effect for people who are struggling.
One of the things it does is, by increasing that parasympathetic, it helps people with angina. Because angina, to me, is like we were describing in Part 1, when the heart is forced to burn more glucose and it wants to, it starts building up lactic acid and that can create the burn, the same kind of burn you feel in skeletal muscles when you go for a run or whatever. But, it's just happening consistently in the heart, so we're getting this angina, this chest pain. And so, when we decrease the parasympathetic signaling by using ouabain or strophanthus, then the heart is not getting the signals or stress response signal telling it to burn more, quicker glucose or more quicker fuel source. And so, it stops doing that, starts burning more fatty acids again, and the angina goes away. And, it has huge impact on patients who are struggling with those types of issues.
Ben: And, I find this fascinating because it goes full-circle, in the previous podcast, we talked about how poor vagal tone in a shift of sympathetic so-called fight-and-flight signaling to the heart can cause that shift towards glucose utilization, and thus, the buildup of a lot of the issues we were talking about a few minutes ago, like excess oxidation and a shift away from the preferred fuel substrate, fatty acids and ketones, for the heart. But then, if you increase parasympathetic signaling via, not only some of the vagal nerve toning modalities that would include meditation and yoga and singing and humming and gargling and chanting and vagal nerve stimulators and all these things we can do to improve parasympathetic signaling, but this ouabain, it appears, restores the normal parasympathetic signals, so then again, by taking it, you're shifting the heart back to burning, primarily, fatty acids and ketones.
Stephen: And, that is going to be a huge game-changer for the heart.
Ben: Do you think that that particular compound would be useful for people who don't have cardiovascular disease or have not, say, had a heart attack but simply want to improve vagal tone or improve HRV? Have you seen people just using it more preventively, I suppose?
Stephen: Yeah, I have, and I do think that it's very relevant to be using because we live in a world where it's very hard to control our stress response. There's all these unnatural stressors around us. And so, I think it can be used proactively like that.
Ben: Is that an over-the-counter?
Stephen: The only place I know to get it is from Dr. Cowan's website.
Ben: Interesting. I wonder where he's getting it from. He has weird things he recommends. Another one was for a completely different issue. I think this was for, if I'm not mistaken, it might be lime. I'm forgetting, but mistletoe extract. He talks all about that in his book. But, you can only find it from one fringe organization in Canada, so he's got some interesting strategies up his sleeve that they sometimes have to dig to find, but they're just fascinating.
Now, there was another modality that I think is probably near and dear to your heart. And so, I wasn't surprised as you mentioned in the book, although this was the first time I'd seen this referred to in correlation to heart disease, and that's chiropractic therapy. How would that have something to do with the heart?
Stephen: I actually debated, and this was in the last chapter I added because I debated on whether or not I should put it in there. People are going to think, “What has chiropractic got to do with it?” And, it actually has a lot to do with it. People think that chiropractors are treating pain. And, it definitely has research that suggests that it's very good for treating back pain, neck pain, and headaches. But, we're actually treating the nervous system. You were correcting the structure and function of the spine. And, in the spine's house, the central nervous system, and so that has a huge impact on balance in our autonomic nervous system.
And, the studies on chiropractic and affecting heart rate variability and just the balance in our autonomic nervous system is just, there's so many. I didn't cite them all because we've gotten redundant. I brought it up because not only that, but there's studies that show that chiropractic adjustments can increase the body's ability to make endogenous antioxidants, like glutathione and superoxide dismutase. But also, by suppressing sympathetic signaling, it can also help the body be more metabolically flexible because when we're in that sympathetic state, we want to burn glucose all the time, the body is thinking is in this stress state. So, by calming that down, we can help it be more metabolically flexible.
So, it covers all three bases there, as far as heart health, but I brought it up because–And, that's something I do want to mention because there's this negative connotation to chiropractic and, I'd say, vascular health because of reports that a cervical adjustment causes strokes. When you look at the research that's been done, and this idea came from an actual committee that was put together by the American Medical Association way back in the day. His main purpose was to basically discredit and get rid of chiropractic. And, later on, a judge ruled that committee unconstitutional and told them to, basically, disband. But, one of the things that came from that committee was, “Hey, chiropractic cause stroke.”
Then, we can fast-forward to the modern day and all these studies have been done that show that because there are reports that someone's having a stroke and they report coming from the chiropractor or they've got adjusted a few days ago. That does happen. They end up in the emergency room with the stroke, but it's not because they got an adjustment. Because what the studies show is that, A, the studies show that it's impossible to get enough force in the artery of the neck, which is the [00:39:58] _____ artery, to cause a dissection, which would cause a clot in a stroke. It's impossible to get enough force to do that with a chiropractic adjustment. But, B, people have neck pain and headache, which is the most common signs of stroke and small strokes when they start its neck pain and headaches.
And so, they've done three or four different studies that I cite all in the book that basically say that whether someone goes to a chiropractor because they have neck pain and headache or because they go to their PCP, the likelihood that whatever treatment they got from either one that they later end up in the emergency room with a stroke is the exact same. So, it doesn't matter. It's if the person is having a stroke and they get some sort of therapy, whether it's from their PCP or from a chiropractor, but then later they end up diagnosed as actually having that stroke, whereas it wasn't recognized before. Does that make sense?
Ben: Yeah, it does make sense. And, I think that it is interesting how, in the book, you get into the fact that this dysfunction in spinal joints contributes to the heart issues because joint restrictions have an effect on that whole vagal nerve tone and autonomic nervous system that we were talking about. And so, these pain signals generated from the nerves that are basically coming off the spine, I think you called the fibers, in the case of the disc of the spinal cord, the fibers that breakdown these annular–Is that how you pronounce it, annular fibers?
Stephen: Annular fibers, yeah.
Ben: That's around the nucleus of the disc. Those nerves that go to those annular fibers have these pain receptors, these nociceptors, that detect pain and that sense motion. And so, when a joint is restricted, and that's what chiropractic does, in many cases, it frees up these joints, when the joints are restricted and those chemical changes in the joint tissue are related from the joint to the spinal cord, you then wind up having a stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and a drop in vagal tone, and again coming back full-circle, a shift in the heart towards that same metabolic scenario that we wouldn't want it to be in.
Stephen: It's just another stimulus in our modern-day lives that stimulates too much sympathetic. And, it's a constant stimulation because this joint stuck, it's not moving. And so, I tell people all the time, we chiropractors, we find joints don't move and we create motion. It's a big deal because the disc doesn't really have a direct blood supply, especially the middle of the disc. It relies on motion to push fluid in and out, like a sponge, soaking up fluid and then squishing it out. Every time we move our spine, it squishes fluid out, and new fluid comes in with new nutrients.
And so, if that motion is not happening, the disc cannot stay healthy, and it starts to deteriorate those annular fibers you were talking about. And then, that starts sending this constant pain signal through the nerves, through the spinal cord. The place where those signals are received is right next to parts of the brain stem that would also signal sympathetic or would be more likely to irritate that area and signal sympathetic. So, we get this constant signaling of sympathetic, which can contribute to this imbalance in our autonomic nervous system.
Ben: Has anybody ever done a study on heart rate variability in a chiropractic therapy, and seeing if you see an increase in heart rate variability or vagal tone in response to chiro?
Stephen: Yeah, definitely. And, like I said, there was too many to quote in the book, or to cite in the book. That's actually one thing that I've toyed with, as far as on my initial exam when patients come in, what I want to look at is heart rate variability because I can show them another benefit to chiropractic here.
Ben: Well, that's something that I do every week. As a matter fact, I'm going tomorrow. I go to Valente Chiropractic here in Spokane. I just do a quick head-to-toe adjustment and I always walk out of there feeling, not only two inches taller, but I have this surge of energy. I'll typically do it on a Friday, going into the weekend, and just this absolute amazing surge in energy. It's my one, two, treat to myself during the week. I'll often get a massage on Thursday night. And then, when everything is soft and loosey-goosey, going to the chiro on Friday morning. I don't do it for my heart, but I definitely feel like there's an impact on my nervous system as a whole. I just walk out just in a better mood, overall.
Stephen: People come to us for neck pain, back pain, and headaches, but oftentimes, they end up coming in and say, “I'm sleeping a lot better,” or, “I used to have indigestion or acid reflux, and I don't have that anymore.” And, I'm not saying chiropractic treats that, but that's what the effects we start to see with it.
Ben: Well, coming full-circle, you have a fantastic section in your book that outlines some of the main things you would do if you wanted to live with a healthy heart. A lot of it is pretty intuitive, like avoiding vegetable oils, like corn and soy, and canola and safflower and palm oil, avoiding processed sugars and being careful even with things like grains and legumes, and sticking closer to whole foods. But, some things people might not be aware of, like really being super picky about your water, like clean, pure, filtered, even we talked about this last time, considering something like structured water. You get into some of the different forms of exercise, particularly, highlighting the fact that chronic cardio and extremely high-intensity interval training that just gives you burst after burst of glycolytic activity, is not as favorable as very short 10 to 30-second bursts training efforts combined with some form of strength training. And, in my opinion, people with heart issues ideally benefit from something very similar to Dr. Doug McGuff's “Body by Science” protocol, which is super slow training, which is actually fantastic for blood pressure. You see this short-term increase in peripheral blood pressure, and then a really nice drop in central blood pressure. And, folks with hypertension respond really well to that. So, very, very short 10 to 30-second intervals with long recovery periods combined with super slow training and, maybe, some yoga in the sauna. You definitely get into things like the infrared sauna, getting a lot of sunlight, walking barefoot outside, then this autonomic nervous system balance, which we've talked extensively about all the different things on these two episodes that could increase the autonomic nervous system balance. You even get into something I've discussed in the past with several holistic dentists about the how the health of the mouth directly affects the health of the heart and how to care for your dental health properly as well. And, I'll link in the shownotes if folks go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart2, to previous podcasts that I've done on holistic dentistry, in which I actually described in more detail the link between dental health and cardiovascular health.
And so, that's a fantastic section of the book, and I thought at that point that that was the end of the book. And then, you blew my mind, dude. You get into, in your afterward, a section that you actually call, and folks are going to understand why you called it this, and I think this might be a little bit shocking to folks, but you call it “two-faced medicine.” That's the final chapter in the book. And, I realize this might be a little bit of a rabbit hole to go down, but I found it absolutely fascinating, what happened to you after writing this book on the heart and heart health. So, can you get into what happened? Tell me that story.
Stephen: Yeah, definitely. So, on January 5th of this year, 2021, about three or four weeks before I was planning on releasing this book, I actually had a pretty massive heart attack.
Stephen: A 100% blockage of my left anterior descending artery, which only 12% of people survived if they have it outside of the hospital setting. I'll clarify that, though, that it was not a stenosis. It wasn't a plaque buildup. It was a somewhat spontaneous clot that formed, just giant clot that formed. I am incredibly thankful for modern medicine, as much as we've bashed it in these two episodes, that it can do things like go in and intervene in that situation. Otherwise, I would not be here.
That's the good side of western medicine, is why this section in the book is called “Two-faced Medicine” because I was laying there in the cardiac ICU, going through everything. I know about the heart and all the research I've done and thinking how could this have happened to me. I was incredibly demoralized and defeated, pretty much decided, that I was not going to release this book because I didn't think I had more thinking to do or something. And, I was sitting there, and nothing that I went over in the book did I feel was the cause or was wrong because I had a heart attack. I came to realize that the information I put in there wasn't wrong because I had a heart attack, and I couldn't find any problems with what I wrote.
And so, then, I was still sitting there, thinking, “I don't know if I can release this.” It's probably a low point for me, especially because no family and friends were allowed because it was COVID stuff, and it was bad. But then, what happened over the next three days in the hospital while they were observing me completely changed my mind. I decided that the information in this book is critical for people to have because of what I experienced. So, without going into all the details —
Ben: What I'd love to hear you unpack is how a guy like you, after having written this book, navigates winding up in a medical center and navigating allopathic medicine with what you know and just how that all flushed out.
Stephen: I want to get into that. And then, I should probably give people, though, my opinion of what I think happened to me and why because I've consulted with, obviously, the doctors in the hospital, which weren't very helpful. And then, I consulted with more, say, natural or in-the-know cardiologist across the country. And so, after consulting with them and everything, I think there's two things that play with what happened to me. One is the fact that I've been type-1 diabetic for over 25 years now. And, probably, half those years, my high school and college years, were not well-controlled, whatsoever. I had A1Cs of 12 at some point, consistently.
And so, there was definitely damage done during that time. But, there's also research that, it's very clear, that type-1 diabetics, even well-controlled type-1 diabetics, are way more likely to be insulin-resistant and struggle with that, and are also way more likely to have imbalance in their autonomic nervous system. My whole point in this book was to draw attention away from this cholesterol conversation that's dominating heart disease and draw attention toward the autonomic nervous system, insulin resistance, and that kind of stuff. It's almost like unintentionally did that, and having this heart attack.
But, the other thing is that 2020 was very stressful for everybody. And, I'm not saying that it was more stressful for me, but there were situations for me that were happening that were making my life like it was out of control. And, the studies are very clear that stress that makes you feel out of control is way more damaging to your health, and that uncontrolled stress can contribute to increasing clotting factors, spontaneous clotting, and things like that. The two big ones were that my wife and I had been living apart because she got a job opportunity in England. And, that was fine. In 2019, we traveled to see each other a lot. It was actually cool. I got to go to Europe quite a few times. But then, in 2020, obviously, that all shutdown. It was like I don't know whether I'm going to see her again. And then, it was getting crazy over there. I didn't know if she'd be able to leave ever.
And so, that was stressful, but then, also, something very stressful, a close family member of mine went through something very stressful. And, I'm not going to reveal the details of that, but it definitely hit me. And, it was a day and a half later after hearing that news about her that I had a heart attack. So, I think that all those things combined explain that. And then, what happened afterwards basically told me and reconfirm for me, this information needs to be out there.
The first night in ICU, they checked my blood sugar and it was 300, which for me is just unspeakable. Usually, as a type-1, it's always below 150, which sounds high to people, but for a type-1, that's pretty good. And, the thing was is that I checked it earlier that day before having a heart attack and it was 87, and I ate nothing between then. And, when I checked it, 300. So, that just shows what information can do to blood sugars.
So then, they gave me some insulin, and it didn't work. I was likely insulin-resistant at the time because I was in a very inflamed state and very stressed. But, in my experience, if that doesn't work, you don't wait till the next meal or the next scheduled time to give insulin to do it. You get more aggressive with it. And, no matter what I asked them to do and told them, “Look, I have well-controlled diabetes. I've been doing this for 25 years. Let me take control,” they wouldn't let me. Here, I am supposed to be healing, and my blood sugar's crazy out of control. So, that was the start of everything. They were prescribing medication after medication after medication. I was open to taking some because I just had a heart attack and they put a stent in, so I knew that wasn't something my body would recognize. I was open to taking it, but no one was explaining to me why they wanted me to take them. I was familiar with a lot of these drugs and what they did, but no one was telling me, like coming in and explaining it to me. And, I was like, “Whatever happened to informed consent? I'm being expected to consent to these things without any information.” I took the blood thinner because that seemed important because the stent was in that. It didn't know how my body would react.
Ben: So, was it aspirin or some other blood thinner?
Stephen: Well, they came in and told me they wanted me to take a baby, aspirin, and a blood thinner for the rest of my life. And, I said, “Well, can we talk about that?” And, I said, “Well, I'm concerned with that because I'm type-1 diabetic. I already have to watch out for my kidneys, and that can definitely cause kidney damage.” He just said, “There's some early studies about that, and it's not true.” And, I was just like, “Well, that's not a good answer.”
And then, he was talking about the blood thinner, and I said, “Well, what about magnesium?” He said, “What about it? I know that if it's low when you test it, you should take it.” And, I said, “Well, I mean as a blood thinner and as being effective.” And, I wasn't sure that my magnesium would be enough to mitigate any clot forming from a stent in an artery. I was asking his opinion, and I wanted to know if he knew anything about it. And, he basically said magnesium is not a blood thinner, which I knew to be false. He basically got agitated with me because I kept questioning what his recommendations were. And, I wasn't aggressively questioning and I wasn't being rude. I don't think I'm not a rude person. But, when I started doing that, the conversations were always cut short, and they walked out of the room, and I said, “Why? I had a lot more questions about the other eleven medications you recommended.”
So, I never really got to have conversations like that. And so, when I looked it up later, there are actually studies, all of them done in animals, pigs, and in dogs, that show that after a stent placement, that magnesium sulfate is just as effective as blood thinners preventing clots.
Ben: Those magnesium sulfate?
Stephen: Yeah, which you have to take intravenously. And, these studies were done, they were doing intravenously. But, he wasn't aware of that, and it's not to say that we should not take them or not do it what our doctors say. And, none of this should be medical advice or anything, but I wanted to have the conversation about those studies that he was unaware of. And, I didn't know they were there, either, but I just wanted to open conversation. But, that was the first thing.
And then, the second thing was that they prescribed two blood pressure medications, which I eventually got them to tell me was because they wanted to take pressure off of my heart from getting signals to increase blood pressure so that, as they heal, they wouldn't be forced or wouldn't be likely to remodel and get bigger or remodel in a poor way the tissue that was damaged. But, initially, they prescribed two. And, I took one of them. As I described in the book, I got up in the middle of the night to turn the heat down, and I almost passed out because my blood pressure was, what was it? 98/50 or something, which is extremely low. And, I didn't take the two because I knew that my blood pressure, normally, is lower, on the low end, like 112 over 72, the last time I checked it before the heart attack.
So, if I had taken two blood pressure medications, I don't know what would have happened. I told them about those things and they just kept dismissing me and they said, “Your body will get used to it, blah, blah, blah.” There was never really any open conversation. That was my big issue, is that as soon as I started questioning things, the conversation was shut down.
And, my whole point in writing this book was to open the conversation about heart disease because clearly what we're doing is not working. The recommendations that we get to prevent it are not working. And so, the last thing is that the cardiac rehab nurse came in and I asked them if they used infrared sauna. Of course, not. She didn't even know what that was. Or, infrared light, in general. The heart failure nurse came in and talked to me about what diet would be best to prevent heart failure. And, she basically told me to eat a processed food diet.
Ben: That's literally what she said, eat a processed food diet?
Stephen: No, not literally. But, when you look at the list of the foods that she gave me to eat, 90% of them were processed foods. The only things on there that would be good for me that she mentioned were the whole foods, like vegetables. And, she said lean meats, but I would even argue that full-fat meats are best for us. And then, the rest, it was all about decreasing your salt intake and that kind of stuff, which I talked about in the book how that's a big myth, as far as —
Ben: Decrease your sodium chloride intake, arguably, but not your overall mineral intake.
Stephen: Yeah, it was just one disappointment after another. And so, it was almost as if, though, going through that as a patient just reaffirmed what the information in the book, that it needed to be out there because there's countless numbers of people who are going to go through that, unfortunately, like I did. And, they're not going to have the information I had.
Ben: I see your list now in the book, canned fruit, fruit juices, instant breakfast margarine, mayonnaise, tofu, all breads and cereals, corn starch, sugar jellies and jams, graham and animal crackers, cookies, and fig bars was your recommendation for your heart-healthy diet.
Stephen: That was what I can include in my diet. And so, basically, I was fasting for pretty much the entire time I was in the hospital because of what they were feeding me. No one could bring me food because of COVID, which ended up, probably, being good because I was likely in ketosis, which is going to be great for recovery of the heart, those ketones available. But, I ended up only taking one of the medications, which was the blood thinner because of the stent. And, that was on the advice of a cardiologist that is way more in the know of what creates health. And, it's more like you and I, we have these ideas about what create cells. And, I'm only going to do that, though, for a little while, not near as long as they said. But, my unconventional approach, without the medications, I'm happy to say that my heart is made 100% recovery, which, I guess, shocked some of the cardiologists when I got my three-month echocardiogram, my ejection fraction, which the part of the heart that was damaged in my heart attack was the septum, which is the middle between the two ventricles. And, it was severely akinetic at that time, meaning the signal for heart contraction was not being conveyed through that tissue. And, now, it is only mildly hypokinetic. And, that's just at three months. Usually, they say recovery can take up to six, so I'm hoping that it's good there. But then, my ejection fraction, which I don't know what my normal ejection fraction was before this happened and never had it tested. But, after the heart attack, it was down to 35 to 40%, which normal is between 50 and 70. And, at three months cardiogram, I'm up to 55%.
So, I'm pretty excited about that. And, I will tell people that I used the sauna. I used to strophanthus or ouabain. I used lots of nutrients that have been shown in research to help the heart prevent remodeling, but also recover and heal. These are nutrients found largely in animal foods, things like carnitine and taurine and carnosine, things like that. I've been using magnesium, lots of different, more than I usually would. And then, also, the sauna. I had gotten away from that, and I'd gotten away from a lot of my stress-relieving practices, too. So, that likely contributed, but now it's the sauna five or six times a week, recovering, and all those situations that were going on are getting better and better every day. So, yeah, I'm optimistic.
Ben: And, you didn't take the Xanax for your stress that the nurse practitioner recommended to you?
Stephen: Yeah, I talked about that in the book how that first night in ICU, I was pretty stressed, especially with the high blood sugars that I had no control to correct. I was pretty stressed and I described to this one doctor, this resident that came in, the stress that I've been under and the events that had happened, and everything that was contributing that I thought. And, she prescribed a Xanax for me and said, “Try this and go to sleep.” And then, later, I looked, I requested all my chart notes and everything, and nowhere in my chart notes was that whole story. I probably spent 15 minutes describing what I've been going through to that resident in the hospital, and there was no mention of stress anywhere in my chart notes.
Ben: Unbelievable. Well, first of all, kudos for including that in the book because obviously, as you noted, based on the title of that chapter, it could appear as though you're somewhat two-faced writing an article about how to manage the heart in a healthy fashion. And then, you're the guy who has a heart attack. Yet, as you note, the fact that you were able to recognize the reason for the heart attack based on everything that you learned and adopted in writing this book, and then furthermore, were able to affect some pretty impressive recovery from the heart attack, as well as experience some of the potential failures of modern medicine in terms of the way some heart attacks were managed or measured, I think simply lends the book, if not more credence, at least, a much better in-the-trenches approach to how to manage what you, of course, called in the subtitle, “the world's most commonly diseased organ.”
So, I appreciated that you wrote that, so I understand it was probably a courageous move. It would be like me writing, I guess, my book, “Boundless,” that has a bunch of interesting information on longevity, and then, I don't know, kicking the can when I'm 60 or something like that. Maybe, not quite that bad, but ultimately, it's just a fascinating take, and I think that that chapter alone was just a real page-turner. The whole book is excellent, but it's just fascinating that you went through that experience, even.
So, I want to say is because I know we've definitely gone through a lot here, but, A, we haven't really tapped into everything that's in this book, and I really do recommend that anybody who has a heart own this book and read it. So, again it's called “Understanding the Heart,” and I'm going to link to it at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart2, which is where I'll also put all the shownotes and the studies for this podcast. And then, at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart, you can listen to Part 1. And, Steve, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show, for sharing all this with us, for writing the book. And, anything else you want to add in, in the time that we have left?
Stephen: Yeah, just people are starting to see me as this influencer. I'm candy-getting a little bit, but I want people to realize that I'm in the trenches just like everybody else. I'm not this perfect person. And, this heart attack reflects that. And, I'm struggling, just along with everybody else. And, I wrote this book not to say cardiologists are wrong in everything. This has been the culmination of my lifelong approach to figuring out what the heart is, why it's there, how to keep it healthy. And, clearly, there are things beyond my control, sometimes, that I wasn't able to. But, I think that the information is useful. And, that's all I wanted to do, was just put it out there so people could have it because it's information that is likely not going to come from a typical heart health source. That's all it really is. It's not me trying to fly in the face of any profession or anyone. It's just me laying out information.
Ben: I'm on the same page. I went and worked with traditionally-trained allopathic medical doctors well-versed in cardiovascular disease when I went down to LA and did all the different panels for my heart that I report on. It would actually be a good podcast for you guys to listen to. I go into ultrasound echocardiograms and blood flow meters and calcification scores and EKGs and stress tests and whole manner of different batteries I went through for the heart down in LA in terms of wanting to know what can a man in middle age do if he wants to know everything there is to know about his ticker from quantification standpoint. It was incredibly helpful, and I very much value that type of measuring that modern medicine can do. But, I think that that type of measuring, when combined with a lot of the, I guess, less pharmaceutically driven and more holistic approaches that you present in the book, can result in some really impactful, impactful information for people who really want to care for their heart health.
So, I know so much about the heart now and I'm just super grateful for guys like you out there writing books like this and doing the research that you do. So, thanks for coming on the show, man. I really appreciate it.
Stephen: Thanks for having me.
Ben: And, again, folks, Part 1 is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understanding the heart. Part 2 is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/understandingtheheart2. The podcast from LA is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/HeartHealth. The name of the book is “Understanding The Heart,” by Dr. Stephen Hussey. And, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Dr. Stephen Hussey, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat-loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode help to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Welcome to PART 2 of this amazing show about heart health, all based on the book Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ by Stephen Hussey.
As I've mentioned several times before on podcasts this year, I recently read what I consider to be the best book I've ever read on cardiovascular health. Before this point, my top book recommendation would probably have been. Dr. Thomas Cowan's Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, ideally paired with a listen to my own big show on all the different ways to test, analyze, and medically quantify your heart health, which you can listen to in the episode titled “The Best Way To Test How Healthy Your Heart Is: Ben Greenfield Undergoes A Complete Advanced Cardiac Evaluation & Reports The Surprising Results!“.
Anyways, this newest book is called Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ.
The author, Dr. Stephen Hussey, MS, DC, is a chiropractor and functional medicine practitioner. He attained both his Doctorate of Chiropractic and Masters in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Hussey is a health coach, speaker, and the author of two books on health; The Health Evolution: Why Understanding Evolution is the Key to Vibrant Health, and of course now, Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ. He guides clients from around the world back to health by using ancestral wisdom and the latest research. In his downtime, Dr. Hussey likes to be outdoors, playing sports, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife and their pets.
During our show, you'll learn the fascinating history of heart disease, why the naked mole-rat is important in understanding heart health, where water, infrared light, aspirin, ketones, and other little-known heart health “hacks” fit in, and a BIG surprise towards the end of this two-part podcast series.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Why the heart gets the cream of the crop when it comes to our fat…07:40
- Since the heart is metabolically active, the body gives it preference for fatty acidsand ketones
- Direct signaling pathway from heart to fat cells
- Newly studied and still learning
- The heart can ask the fatty acids to shift into metabolic utilization
- 2019 Study: Alteration Of Myocardial GRK2 Produces A Global Metabolic Phenotype
-What is a Lean Mass Hyper-responder…13:25
- A Lean Mass Hyper-responder(LMHR) is someone who goes on a very low-carb or carnivore diet and biomarkers get really healthy, but their low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol skyrockets
- Prolonged fasting leads to increased LDL
- The process of making ketones when going on a low-carb diet is similar to what the liver does when making cholesterol; by default, the same pathways are used, it just shifts from making ketones to making cholesterol; more cholesterol production
- Since there's more cholesterol, the liver shuts off its cholesterol receptors, leaving more LDL lipoproteins in the blood
- Dave Feldman of Cholesterol Code
- Tip for lowering cholesterol before health insurance screening
- Decrease saturated fat intake, increase carbohydrates
- LMHRs get healthier by increasing triglycerides and LDL, but not so high you're at risk for heart disease
-How statins work and issues with CoQ10…19:30
- BGF podcast with Dr. Barrie Tan, discussing CoQ10 and statins:
- Ancestral Supplements Beef Heartcapsule
- Type 1 diabetic treatment is usually a statin
- Takes fatty acid, does this 20-step process to make cholesterol
- Statins inhibit the cholesterol making process by inhibiting 1 enzyme that stops the conversion to 1 molecule, to HMG-CoA
- Dolichol:important for the health of insulin receptors
- Farnesyl pyrophosphatemakes Dolichol
- 30% increase in insulin resistance for people who take statins
- Glutathione: important for oxidative stress and creating antioxidants (use code BENGREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Statins suppress antioxidants, cause an increase in inflammation
- Supplement to counteract effects of statins with CoQ10or with Glutathione
- Vitamin K2is important for placing minerals into bone
- PCSK9 keeps LDL receptors closed so LDL stays in the blood
- Early trials show PCSK9 drugs lead to deficiencies in fat cell vitamins
- Some studies showpeople with high cholesterol live longer, have lower rates of infection, HD, cancer, better cognitive ability
- Ben keeps his cholesterol between 200-300
- Ben keeps blood glucose low and inflammation low
-Why aspirin may be a bad idea…29:35
- Aspirin blocks pain by decreasing prostaglandins
- Counterintuitively, it interferes with the healing process
- People who take aspirin don't recover as quickly as people who don't take it
- Aspirin taken long term can cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeds and kidney issues
- Physician recommended daily low-dose aspirin only accounts for buffered aspirin, which has a lot of magnesium in it
- Magnesium thins (decreases the viscosity of) the blood, helps muscles relax, and decreases blood pressure
- Magnesiumis arguably better to take for heart attack prevention (use code GREENFIELD10 to save $10)
- Tune in next week for the BGF podcast with Dr. James DiNicolantonio
- The Mineral Fixby Dr. James DiNicolantonio
- James DiNicolantonio's article: Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease
-Ouabain and strophanthus…33:10
- The Best Way To Test How Healthy Your Heart Is: Ben Greenfield Undergoes A Complete Advanced Cardiac Evaluation & Reports The Surprising Results! With Dr. Thomas Cowan
- Strophanthus: The Insulin Of The Heart: A Little-Known Seed Extract That May Be The Future Panacea For Heart Disease.
- Why Your Heart Is Not A Pump (& What Most Doctors Don’t Know About The True Cause Of Heart Disease), with Dr. Thomas Cowan.
- Looks like blood vessels coming off a white flower
- Our bodies make a version of this from the adrenal glands
- The kidneys nourish the heart
- Ouabain/strophanthusrestores normal parasympathetic signaling to the heart, helps people with angina
- Angina is when the heart is forced to burn more glucose than it wants to, starts building up lactic acid
- Decreased parasympathetic signaling by using Ouabain, the heart isn't getting the stress response signals to burn glucose and burns fatty acids instead
- Game changer for the heart
- Can be used proactively, not only for people concerned with cardiovascular disease
- Human Heart, Cosmic Heartby Dr. Cowan
-How chiropractic therapy can improve heart health…37:25
- Chiropractic therapy corrects the balance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)
- Increases the body's ability to produce more antioxidants
- Suppresses sympathetic signaling and helps the body to be more metabolically flexible
- False reports on chiropractic adjustment causing stroke
- Impossible to get enough force in the artery of the neck to induce a stroke
- The most common signs of stroke are neck pain and headaches
- Joint restriction has an effect on vagal nerve tone and ANS
- Pain signals from the nerve go to the annular fibers around the discs
- Restricted joints and chemical changes are relayed from joints to spinal tissue causing stimulated sympathetic nervous system
- Discs don't have blood supply; relies on motion to push fluid in and out
- If there's no motion, the disc deteriorates, sending constant pain signals to the sympathetic signaling section of the brain
- Irritation/ inflammation of sympathetic receptors can induce stroke
- Increase in heart rate variability (HRV)or vagal tone in response to chiropractic therapy
- Ben's weekly chiropractic session at Valente Chiropractic in Spokane
-Best practices for maintaining heart health…44:30
- Eliminating vegetable oils
- Avoiding processed sugars and grains
- Whole food diet
- Be picky about your water; structured water
- 10-30 second burst training + strength training
- Infrared sauna
- Barefoot walking
- Balancing the ANS
- Doug McGuff's Body by Scienceprogram
- BGF podcasts on holistic dentistry:
- It’s All In Your Mouth: How Your Teeth Are Impacting Your Immune System, Sleep, Performance, Inflammation & Much More (& What You Can Do About It With Holistic Dentistry) With Dr Dominik Nischwitz.
- Is Charcoal Toothpaste OK, 8 Crucial Mouth Beauty & Oral Health Tips, Peptides For Oral Care, The Invisible Dental Flow In Your Mouth & Much More With Nadine Artemis.
-Why Stephen refers to Western medicine as “two-faced medicine”…46:35
- January 2021, Stephen had a massive heart attack—100% blockage of the left anterior descending artery
- Only 12% of people survive if it happens outside the hospital setting
- Not a stenosis or plaque buildup but a spontaneous clot that formed
- The information in his book Understanding the Heartis critical for people to have because of his experience
- Stephen's opinion of what happened to him
- Type 1 diabetic for over 25 years; half of those years the condition was not well controlled; more likely to have insulin resistance and imbalanced ANS
- 2020: high stress; uncontrolled stress can cause clotting factors
- The whole point of the book is to draw attention away from cholesterol in heart health and focus more on insulin resistance and the ANS
- Studies showIV magnesium sulfate is just as effective as blood thinners in preventing clots
- Conflict between doctors' recommendations and Stephen's scientific knowledge on heart health
- The recommendations that we get for heart disease are not working
- Hospital recommended what equated to a processed food diet and decreased salt intake
- Ketosis was great for his recovery
- Heart function back up to 55% already despite refusal to take most medications
- What Stephen used to recover:
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Dr. Stephen Hussey:
- Resource Your Health
- Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ.
- The Health Evolution: Why Understanding Evolution is the Key to Vibrant Health
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Why Your Vitamin E Supplement Could Be Harming You (& The “One Plant Wonder” Alternative That Could Be The Single Most Powerful Molecule If You’re Stranded On A Desert Island), With Dr. Barrie Tan
- The Best Way To Test How Healthy Your Heart Is: Ben Greenfield Undergoes A Complete Advanced Cardiac Evaluation & Reports The Surprising Results! With Dr. Thomas Cowan
- Why Your Heart Is Not A Pump (& What Most Doctors Don’t Know About The True Cause Of Heart Disease), with Dr. Thomas Cowan.
- Getting Ripped With Yoga, Using Isometrics To Build Massive Athleticism, Five Things You Must Do Every Morning & More! With Dean Pohlman.
- It’s All In Your Mouth: How Your Teeth Are Impacting Your Immune System, Sleep, Performance, Inflammation & Much More (& What You Can Do About It With Holistic Dentistry) With Dr Dominik Nischwitz.
- Is Charcoal Toothpaste OK, 8 Crucial Mouth Beauty & Oral Health Tips, Peptides For Oral Care, The Invisible Dental Flow In Your Mouth & Much More With Nadine Artemis.
- The Insulin Of The Heart: A Little-Known Seed Extract That May Be The Future Panacea For Heart Disease.
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- The 7 Best Stress-Fighting Weapons That Will Make Your Mind-Body Connection 100% Bulletproof.
- Human Heart, Cosmic HeartBy Dr. Thomas Cowan
- The Mineral Fixby Dr. James DiNicolantonio
- Body by ScienceBy Dr. Doug McGuff
– Gear And Supplements:
- Infrared Sauna
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid
- Beef Heart By Ancestral Supplements
- Glutathione(use code BENGREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Vitamin K2
- Magnesium(use code GREENFIELD10 to save $10)
- L- Carnitine
- Strophanthus/ Ouabain
– Other Resources:
- Dave Feldman of Cholesterol Code
- Valente Chiropractic in Spokane
- Lean Mass Hyper-Responder
- Farnesyl Pyrophosphate
- Alteration Of Myocardial GRK2 Produces A Global Metabolic Phenotype
- Molecular Biology Of PCSK9: Its Role In LDL Metabolism
- The Sympathetic Nervous Response In Inflammation
- Cholesterol Lowering Drugs
- Cholesterol-Lowering Agents: PCSK9 Inhibitors Today And Tomorrow
- LDL-C Does Not Cause Cardiovascular Disease: A Comprehensive Review Of The Current Literature
- The Mechanism Of Action Of Aspirin
- Long Term Use Of Aspirin And The Risk Of Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Magnesium And Vascular Changes In Hypertension
- Rethinking Heart Failure
- Magnesium For The Prevention And Treatment Of Cardiovascular Disease
- Magnesium In Disease
–Paleo Valley Organ Complex: Contains not one but three organs from healthy, grass-fed, pasture-raised cows so you are getting a more diverse array of nutrients. Receive a 10% discount off your order when you use discount code BENGREENFIELD10.
–Kion Memorial Day Sale: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Use code MEMORIALDAY to save 15% sitewide and 25% off subscriptions and bundles.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones.
–ChiliSleep: ChiliSleep makes both the chiliPAD and OOLER, innovative options that fit over the top of your mattress and use water to control the temperature of your bed and help lower your core body temperature to trigger deep, relaxing sleep.