If my family and friends only had time to read one article on health, I’d suggest this one. I present the most effective, research-proven strategies to optimize overall health and reverse disease. Even if one has reached an advanced stage in disease progression or age, significant improvements or total reversal can be achieved even for such ominous conditions as heart disease, arterial rigidity (high blood pressure), cancer, autoimmune diseases, joint/muscle pain, and diabetes. I back up these recommendations up with hard evidence from studies with the most impressive and consistent results.
Please note that the information presented will follow an important progression of solutions and problems that will drill down to the root problem. This will explain why so many people today die from heart disease and suffer from other “lifestyle diseases” that can be cured and prevented with proper lifestyle choices.
All but a couple of these suggestions are lifestyle changes as I am no longer a fan of supplements. I believe that we should learn how to eat in a way that allows us to obtain our nutrients from dietary sources when possible. Nevertheless, there are times when a supplement can save a life. Those are times when it is worth supplementing. This would be appropriate when people are deficient either because this nutrient is missing from their diets or some other circumstance which has caused them a deficiency, like stress, allergies, or other dietary restrictions.
Reverse or avoid the leading killers: Heart disease, diabetes, bone loss (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, pain in joints, autoimmune disease. Improve overall health.
Recommendation 1 – Vitamin K2
- Get enough Vitamin K2: Natural form comes from MK-7. Synthetic form is K4. (I prefer the natural form but many studies were done with the synthetic.)
Conditions helped: Heart disease, osteoporosis, pain in joints, inflammation
What it does?
Vitamin K2 is truly a miracle supplement. It is the missing element in the effective treatment and prevention of many diseased states that showed potential with natural alternatives but produced sketchy results.
How it Works
It takes the calcium that gets deposited into our soft tissues like our arteries and joints (thereby causing us pain, high blood pressure, and heart attacks), and effectively moves it back into the bones where it belongs for nutritional support (to make them stronger).
How Quickly it Produces Results
For arterial stiffness (high bp & heart disease) – Depending upon dosages, within three years. Below are the results of a study of post menopausal women given supplements to halt and reverse age-related stiffening in arterial walls. There were significant improvements.
For osteoporosis – Vitamin K2 helps move calcium into your bones within 3 years.
A 3-year study (using a specific brand of Vitamin K2 as MK-7) on 244 healthy postmenopausal women provided a breakthrough demonstration of Vitamin K2’s affect to heart health. The group was randomly assigned to take a nutritional dose (180 mcg) of Vitamin K2 as MK-7 daily for 3 years, or placebo capsules. After three years of treatment, the Stiffness Index ß in the MK-7 group had decreased significantly after compared to the slight increase in the placebo group. Results confirmed that vitamin K2 as MK-7 not only inhibited age-related stiffening of the artery walls, but also made a statistically significant improvement of vascular elasticity.
Why it Works
Thanks to new methods imaging arteries, calcium has been identified as the main culprit behind arterial hardening and plaque build up. The problem isn’t the calcium. It is that without vitamin K2, our calcium gets misdirected. Vitamin K2 directs the calcium into the place it belongs, the bones. (So, yes, we still need to get adequate amounts of calcium in our diet.)
According to the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University, vitamin K is effective because it helps :
Abnormal mineralization of blood vessels increases with age and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
. . . Calcification may be predictive of future cardiovascular events. A meta-analysis of 30 prospective cohort studies, including a total of 218,080 participants, found that the presence of vascular calcification was associated with an overall three- to four-fold increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality (81). An early population-based study of postmenopausal women (ages, 60-79 years) observed that the younger women (60-69 years) with aortic calcifications had lower vitamin K intakes than those without aortic calcifications. . .
The Rotterdam Study is a robust study where:
Scientists followed a cohort of 4807 subjects, men and women age of 55 and older, for a period of 10 years. The end points were aortic calcification, cardiovascular mortality and all cause mortality against the vitamin K2 daily consumption. Their findings are that the tertile consuming 45.8 mcg of K2-7 had a 50% reduction of arterial calcification, 50% reduction of cardiovascular death and 25% reduction in all cause mortality.
A Time Magazine article stated “Calcium can build up in the vessels and stiffen them, laying the foundation for heart disease. Getting one’s calcium score is simple, either by electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) or by multi detector CT. Studies show that in every age group people with higher vascular calcium levels have a greater risk of heart attack than do people of the same age with lower scores.”
Take with food containing fat. Take with and be sure to get enough vitamin D3, calcium, and magnesium daily. I suggest taking the natural form of vitamin K2 called MK-7 at doses between 45-120 mcg. At least for me, I could not tolerate the synthetic form of vitamin K2 (i.e., K4). If you care to know why this may have happened, read the paragraph below, otherwise skip it.
I have not taken this long enough to know what sort of results it gives. But I am impressed with the results of the studies and hope it can help my bones take in more calcium and my arteries get rid of the calcium.
Methylation Issues with Vitamin K4: At first, I chose to use the synthetic vitamin K2 referred to as MK-4 or K4 over the natural form (MK-7) as I wanted to replicate the good results obtained in another study not cited above, where women with osteoporosis had a significant increase in bone thickness afterwards. The recommendations in that study were to take 15 mg three times per day. I only took one 15 mg pill for a few days before my joints started aching terribly. This kind of stuff happens to me. At first I thought it had something to do with my poor methylation (a genetic propensity in nearly half of all humans). Consequently, I am ultra sensitive to fat soluble chemicals as methylation is required for your body to detoxify certain substances (i.e., turn fat-soluble chemicals into water soluble molecules so you can pee them out). But that may not be the case. I discovered if you are low on calcium, and I am, that sort of thing can happen. So, the suggestion is to build up your calcium for a week or so before taking any vitamin K2 supplement.
Consequently, after I build up my calcium stores, I will go to a minimal dose of 45 mcg of natural MK-7 before trying the synthetic form again. I have taken this type without incidence before. There is also a water soluble version of K2 about to come out on the market.
Why Does Calcium get Misdirected?
Likely because of inflammation. Inflammation is what gets the ball rolling in many disease processes. That is because inflammation is like a fire in the body. To put out this fire, our body releases calcium from our own bones to neutralize it, much like Tums or other antacids use calcium to neutralize stomach acid.
In the last section, I will talk about a proven lifestyle change that will help reduce inflammation by addressing the cause of inflammation, poor diet, pollution, and pesticides.
Why Don’t we Have Enough Vitamin K2?
Having so many conveniences, innovations, and scientific advances are the benefits of a modern society. But the drawbacks are not only harming our planet but they are ruining our health. For example, antibiotic use, stress, and poor diet have created an epidemic by depleting the beneficial bacteria in our guts. This puts us at a disadvantage with regard to producing vitamin K2, which is something beneficial bacteria can do. Without it, we have to eat the types of foods that most weight-conscious people avoid eating today due to their fat content.
Recommendation 2 – Probiotics
To increase good gut bacteria: a) take probiotics, b) incorporate fermented foods into the diet, c) eat foods that feed healthy gut bacteria to keep them alive.
What it Does
Creates Vitamin K2 – Probiotics, or good gut bacteria, create important substances like vitamin K2 that our bodies need to utilize calcium.
Fights off Disease/Immune Support – Next to our skin, our most important defense against germs is our gut. Good bacteria living in our guts will kill off the invaders that slip into our bodies when we eat or breath bad bacteria in.
Our bodies are probably more bacteria than they are human. That is because we have over 40 trillion bacterial cells living in and on our bodies. Whereas we only have 30 trillion human cells that make up the material part of who we are.
There are lots of studies on the benefits of probiotics. You can look them up on Google, but you can come back to see them added in here when I get time to finish this article that I wish I could revert to draft until I do. Unfortunately, I can’t at this point in time as this is a new theme for me.
Poor diet, stress, the use of antibiotics and other medications, as well as eating foods with pesticides kill off good gut bacteria causing something called dysbiosis or the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. This causes inflammation in the gut and the creation of larger holes in the lining of the intestines. This, in turn, causes the entire body to become inflamed because: a) food particles are able to get into the blood stream and cause what seems like an allergic reaction. That is because rather than their chemical constituents which come in the form of microscopic molecules, food particles are like foreign bodies that do not belong in the blood stream thereby invoking an inflammatory response. Inflammation is caused by an increase in the production of white blood cells which see these substances as foreign invaders that need to be destroyed.
Recommendation 3 – Plant-based Organic Diet
Eat an organic, plant-based diet (or as close to it as possible).
What it Does
Reverses diabetes: There are several reasons a plant-based diet helps: a) Studies prove saturated fat gums up the cell receptors for insulin, making people more insulin resistant. This condition leads to type-2 diabetes. Removing animal fat from the diet helps increase insulin sensitivity. b) A raw food diet has more live enzymes that keep you from using those enzymes in your body for digesting dead/cooked food. This is important for the processing of sugar through glycolysis. Many fruits contain enzymes in them that also help with glycolysis. c) A plant-based diet has more fiber which means slower absorption of sugars. d) A plant-based diet has more nutrition that can support the body’s metabolic processes.
Reverses heart disease: When one ceases to eat saturated fat, there is less cholesterol to deposit on the artery walls. Vitamin K2 can be produced by a gut that has plenty of good bacteria that are not killed of by the antibiotics contained within most meats. The presence of good bacteria keeps inflammation down, thereby keeping the need for arterial repair to be done by cholesterol and fires to be put out by calcium robbed from the bones.
Eliminates inflammation: Inflammation causes many disease processes including the two mentioned above as well as the destruction of joints, muscles, bone, and tissues causing the pain so frequently seen in osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis.
I am a raw-food vegan/fruitarian during the day and a vegetarian at night. I have done this for ten months now (Nov. 2016). My results so far:
- Pain in most joints and muscles is completely gone
- No longer have fibromyalgia flaring in muscles or joints
- My blood pressure has gone down from 130/85 to 105/60
- My LDL and HDL cholesterol are normal
- My triglycerides went from the 300’s down to 191 (average was 259)
- I lost 15 pounds and 35 inches in 10 weeks (got stalled for a while due to eating cooked foods during day during a stressful, busy period)
- Blood sugars are better
- My skin has improved:
- Skin on the face is clear, bright, and youthful
- Skin on feet is not nearly as dry or calloused
In a study
Method: We followed 198 consecutive patients counseled in plant-based nutrition. These patients with established cardiovascular disease (CVD) were interested in transitioning to plant-based nutrition as an adjunct to usual cardiovascular care. We considered participants adherent if they eliminated dairy, fish, and meat, and added oil.
Results: Of the 198 patients with CVD, 177 (89%) were adherent. Major cardiac events judged to be recurrent disease totaled one stroke in the adherent cardiovascular participants—a recurrent event rate of .6%, significantly less than reported by other studies of plant-based nutrition therapy. Thirteen of 21 (62%) nonadherent participants experienced adverse events.
Conclusions: Most of the volunteer patients with CVD responded to intensive counseling, and those who sustained plant-based nutrition for a mean of 3.7 years experienced a low rate of subsequent cardiac events. Plant-based nutrition has the potential for a large effect on the CVD epidemic.
Why it Works
Meat products are almost always injected with hormones and antibiotics. There are other problems associated with eating meat which I will address momentarily, but antibiotics, alone, cause our bodies to become inflamed through the creation of a condition called gut dysbiosis (leaky gut) as discussed, above.
The fire caused by the inflammation must be put out. So the body robs our bones of their calcium to do the job. Antacids use calcium in the same way; to neutralize acid. Because calcium is a hard mineral, once it gets deposited into our arteries, joints, organs (kidney stones) and soft tissues it can cause great pain and the obstruction of blood flow and urine. Calcium combines with cholesterol to form the plaque on our artery walls (to heal damage caused by inflammation).
It also leads to osteoporosis. Not only are the bones robbed of calcium, but the gut dysbiosis stops the production of the vitamin k2 needed to direct what calcium is out in about in the bloodstream or being taken in by the diet back into the bones.
Inflammation & Diabetes Caused by Animal Fats
The saturated fat in animal protein is also a problem. It causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes inflammation because it leads to an excess of insulin and sugar floating around in the blood stream. Of course, this is what causes type 2 diabetes as well. But the inflammation is the destructive part of the disease… and as we know, people can have inflammation from gut dysbiosis and other sources as well.
Inflammation Caused by Pesticides
By eating foods with pesticides, we not only create more gut dysbiosis, but our bodies can be overcome with toxins that, in turn, cause a systemic case of inflammation in the body as well.
Plant-based diets have been proven to removes plaque build up from artery walls within 32 months.
I transitioned from being a meat eating omnivore to a vegan by becoming a vegetarian first. That meant my diet consisted of dairy (more rarely, also eggs). I allow myself to have turkey on holidays, if I want it. If someone offers me a meal with meat in it when I visit, I may eat it. And on my birthday I might go out for steak. Now I am trying to reserve eating dairy and eggs to weekends only (at the evening meal).
I don’t miss eating meat at all and don’t care if I never have it again. Now I actually feel bad about killing another creature for my food and sometimes don’t have it even if I allow it. The last steak I had for my birthday was hard to eat and I felt heavy and subpar for days.
If were ever to return to eating meat for some of its health benefits, I would wait at least the three years to see the partial reversal of heart disease before going back. Due to insulin resistance, though, I would make any meat I chose mostly low fat (animals that fly or run). Plus it would have to be grass-fed and organic. (No pork). I would limit my intake to only a small amount (3 oz) for one meal, preferably only three times per week. I wonder if people used to eat meat less often than modern Americans do. With the exception of soups and stews, or flavoring for gravy, I imagine they saved the main portion for an end of the week feast. Maybe I am wrong. Seems I read that somewhere.
Copyright by The Plant-Based Grandma on November 18, 2016.
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Micronutrient Information Cneter. (n.d.). “Vitamin K.” Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University. [Website]. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-K
“Vitamin K-2 the Essential Cardiovascular Ingredient.” (n.d.) nuscience.org. [Website]. Retreived from http://nusciencetrading.com/menaquingold/cardiovascular-benefits/