One of the best question and answer sessions I have attended was following Amy Miller’s Montreal screening of No Land No Food No Life. I was gratified to hear her offer no targeted sources of blame and in her words ‘I wanted to avoid creating easy enemies’. Why? Pointing fingers gives us the false belief of responsibility not being on our shoulders. If we believe ourselves to be powerless and hopeless we can continue in our lives, free from actively taking a hard look at our own choices –however –there is always hope and in that, our own aware empowerment.
I bring this up because I want to use the same example within looking at heart health. I was skimming over the recent release of the American Heart Association’s ‘Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guideline’ which features a mere paragraph on the foundation but nicely sums up the whole of it in parenthesis: i.e., adhering to a heart healthy diet, regular exercise habits, avoidance of tobacco products, and maintenance of a healthy weight.
Having seen the reality of land grabs overseas and the effects of dispossession on the people, it saddened me and brought me into looking critically at the big picture. The two major exports are sugar and palm oil. Personally, a vow to avoid sugar laced products is simple enough and easy to encourage clients to avoid as well, but cholesterol-free palm oil? I keep and use my organic chicken fat but with the mediated fear of saturated fats how can I recommend such to my clients?
Following a phone conversation on the realities of heart disease and the associated risks with heart health, I felt inspired to write about my research and view of the situation at hand; hopefully without ‘easy enemies’. Cholesterol is a fascinating substance. We produce it because our bodies need it. It serves as the builder for all steroidal hormones, cellular health, bile and helps with ensuring that we absorb all our required fat-soluble vitamins. We have perhaps heard of HDL and LDL and seen blood results with our measurements and the approval or lack thereof in the interpretation of those results.
On average, we are able to endogenously produce the cholesterol that we need. The amount that we receive from eating whole eggs, red meats and dairy products and so forth does not have the feared detrimental effects that created the popular rise in the production of margarines, egg white products and mass marketing of labelled low cholesterol foods. Moderation is truly the key.
Looking at the fact that cholesterol ingestion does not overly raise blood cholesterol levels –wherein does the problem lie? Why then does the AHA offer a critical 85 page look at the benefits and risks of statin drug care? The risks involved in heart health are primarily associated with inflammation. A key marker of inflammation: sugar. Add in the shame behind sedentary lifestyles, weight gain, encouraged self-loathing and stress and the formula is complete.
What might be the spiritual lesson behind our heart health problems? Any of them might work, but I am going to choose Listening. We all grew up with love songs about listening to our heart, and certainly we have all read the headlines about healthy heart diets (use our adulterated olive oil!) and now we can connect our feelings to our information and make a knowledge based decision that we can feel good about.