I hate to come across as negative with my first article here on SelfGrowth.com, but I’m beginning to think that heart conditions such as stroke and heart attack are becoming less and less preventable in the world we live in. With environmental toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the beverages we drink, it’s nearly impossible to avoid those things that can increase risk for heart disease. And as we take vitamins and supplements to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we might also be unknowingly adding more and more toxins into our bodies.

Plaque Build-Up and Environmental Toxins

Atherosclerosis is a major contributing factor to heart diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, occurs when fat and cholesterol are not properly removed from the body or ‘worked out.’ When this happens, those molecules ‘build up’ in the walls of the arteries causing chronic inflammation and an accumulation of white blood cells. The blood flow consequently becomes constricted, limiting blood from reaching parts of the body in need of oxygen.

Environmental toxins that end up in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the beverages we drink have been proven to contribute to atherosclerosis in a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. In this study, researchers found a “clear connection between increasing levels of organic environmental toxins and atherosclerosis.”

What does this mean? Simply speaking, it means we need to do more do maintain a healthy heart as environmental toxins continue to accumulate around us. The focus of this recent study was on dioxin, PCB’s and Pesticides.

Dioxin – very similar to DDT, a substance that was banned in the 1960’s, dioxin is an organic chemical that does not degrade naturally in our environment, but accumulate in fat. It is manufactured in certain herbicides, in bleached paper, and in the burning of PVC plastics.

PCB’s – polychlorinated biphenyls are simply man-made chemicals that are used for building electrical equipment, coating surfaces, creating ink and adhesives, as well as flame-retardants and paints. As with dioxins, PCB’s are incredibly stable and extremely slow to break-down naturally, but are very soluble in fats.

Pesticides – this is a broad term to include every chemical that is used to control pests. Pesticides are particularly common, found in the home, garden, on the food we eat and in the water we drink.

Mistaken Supplement Benefits

As we strive to live a heart healthy lifestyle and avoid the toxins that we can, we also, mistakenly, add toxins to our bodies through vitamins and supplements. In the same week that the above research was published, another report emerged regarding the damaging effects of dietary supplements in association with heart disease.

Adults who take megadoe and superpacked vitamins every morning to ward off disease and health conditions are actually putting themselves at greater risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. According to this particular study, over 40,000 women in Iowa were evaluated over the course of many years. The women did not have any vitamin deficiencies, and yet the routinely too vitamins to prevent chronic illness.

By ingesting additional nutrients that they were not deficient in, these women unknowingly increased their overall risk for heart disease.

On The Positive Side…

With all of that said, it’s time to look at the positive side of heart health. Answer the following questions:

• Do you exercise daily for at least 30 minutes?
• Do you maintain a healthy diet free of processed foods and fast foods?
• Do you smoke?
• Are you happy?

By truly diving into the above questions, you can determine your heart disease risk. Of course, you’ll need to speak to a medical professional to get a true understanding of your risk factors, but there are some simple factors that you can determine right now.

Exercise lowers your risk of heart disease by improving blood flow through the muscles of the body, thus increasing oxygen levels and facilitating the immune system and every other aspect that maintains a healthy body and heart.
• Eating right is crucial to avoiding plaque build-up in the arteries. If you are eating right you shouldn’t have to take any vitamins or dietary supplements. However, with the increased toxins in the environment, speak to your physician about heart healthy alternatives such as shakes that include arginine and citrulline.
• According to WebMD, smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers, and yet is one of the most preventable risk factors.
• Asking someone if they’re happy seems like a strange heart disease question, but stress is a huge contributing factor to certain heart conditions. When we are stressed, everything within our bodies constrict and our breathing becomes restricted, limiting blood flow, tightening muscles, and decreasing the amount of oxygen that travels to our brain.

Getting and maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle is possible, even with environmental toxins all around us. It just might take a little more work over time.

Author's Bio: 

Kandice Linwright has been writing about pain management, chronic conditions, and health care issues for the past four years.