In macrobiotics and oriental medicine, reversing heart disease is relatively the same process as preventing it. The main difference is that most people try to be more accurate in the reversal process compared to preventing it altogether. Smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are well-documented causes of heart disease, but discussing other factors may be more helpful. In reality, it has been our deteriorating diet, inactive lifestyle, and lack of contact with nature that has brought heart disease to epidemic proportions. Let’s look at how we can use macrobiotics to take control of our cardiovascular health.
What is Heart Disease?
The most common type of heart disease is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), which is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This causes the arteries to narrow over time and ultimately reduce blood flow to the heart. This, in turn, increases the blood pressure as it requires more effort to push the blood into the heart through narrower arteries. When blood pressure increases over time, a person is in danger of a heart attack, which occurs when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. If a heart attack occurs, the heart muscle can be damaged and cause improper heart function as it’s unable to beat properly. In the United States, heart disease that results in mortality has been the leading cause of death since the mid-20th century.
What Caused Heart Disease to Become so Prevalent?
In the 1900s, the average person had a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle. People were eating real foods that were natural and unrefined, as well as lived an active and outdoor lifestyle that included quite a bit of interaction with nature and sunshine. However, animal foods, dairy foods, and refined sugars increased steadily over the years – especially when food became more highly processed, and the use of refined and hydrogenated oils became more common (after WWII).
By the mid-1960s, heart disease had officially become the leading cause of death in the U.S. At the same time of these dietary changes, life had become more sedentary with less outdoor time. Sunlight is essential for a healthy heart because in addition to producing vitamin D, it also produces nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. This helps to lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Additionally, it helps the flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the entire body. Unfortunately, since the 1950s, there has become a large push to protect ourselves from the sun, which has moved us further away from receiving the heart-healthy benefits it provides.
A Change in Perspective About Our Health
A common misconception is that heart disease is simply a genetic issue that is passed down from generation to generation. In truth, epigenetics, factors beyond genetics, controls how our genes express themselves towards health or sickness. This means that diet and lifestyle are the most important factors to epigenetics.
The modern approach to heart disease is to take focus on medications rather than dietary and lifestyle practices that have shown to be highly more effective at reducing cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, and repairing arterial damage.
How Can Heart Disease Be Reversed Through Macrobiotic Principles?
The good news is that at any age, a person can begin to move towards health (including reversing heart disease). Minimizing the use of ultra-processed foods is the most important way to do so. This includes baked and fried foods, refined sugars, iced food and drinks, and refined oils. On the positive side, eating a diet rich with grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, naturally fermented foods, and mild beverages, can go a long way.
Additionally, there are non-dietary changes that can also have a major impact on the reversal of heart disease. The most important of these is simply getting a lot of sunshine by taking a 30-minute walk (preferably at a brisk pace) outside per day. Additionally, practicing a daily body rub can help. This effectively activates circulation throughout the body and helps to reverse the clogging of the arteries by dilating them through damp heat and gentle pressure on the skin.