‘Cardio’ refers to the heart and ‘myopathy’ means a muscle that isn’t normal. Having cardiomyopathy can be the result of many different factors including: genetic inheritance, viruses, bacterial infection, drinking too much alcohol for a long time, certain medicines, drugs, and diseases. To treat cardiomyopathy, one might be prescribed medication for heart failure, to prevent blood clots or a patient might receive an internal cardiac defibrillator or pacemaker.

Some doctors might suggest that if you have an inherited myopathy there isn’t much that you can do nutritionally to prevent future cardiac arrest, or they might suggest that medication or surgical intervention are the only ways to treat cardiomyopathy.

Although, as a holistic nutritionist we can’t work against a doctors prescribed orders or medications, we can work collaboratively with
healthcare providers and suggest that a preventative diet that includes heart-healthy nutrients and food choices is much better than taking no action at all when it comes to what we eat.

Food can be used as a tool to help prevent cardiomyopathy.

People with cardiomyopathy tend to suffer from ‘arrhythmias.’ Arrhythmias are irregularities in heart rate or rhythm. They are caused when the electrical signalling in the heart is disrupted and often occur in people with underlying heart disease; however, even healthy hearts can experience an abnormal rate or rhythm. Some arrhythmias are life-threatening, while others are not.

There are many kinds of arrhythmias and they can each require different treatments. Natural interventions such as magnesium and coenzyme Q10 may support heart health and reduce the risk of arrhythmias.

Investing in a good selenium supplement could be another proactive measure one could take. Various experimental studies have aimed to limit myocardial injury through selenium supplementation. The Venardos group showed significantly more myocardial injury in rats fed with a low selenium diet. Furthermore, Tanguy and colleagues confirmed selenium’s protective characteristics by demonstrating
(a) an improved cardiac function recovery,
(b) a significantly reduced infarct size, and
(c) a decreased incidence of postischemic ventricular arrhythmias in rats that received the highest selenium intake.

One of the first lines of action for a preventative, heart-healthy diet is to avoid alcohol completely. Although many articles have touted red wine as a “heart healthy” addition to the Mediterranean diet, mounting research suggests that any amount of alcohol can be damaging to multiple organs in the body.

“You would need to drink a hundred to a thousand glasses of red wine to equal the doses that improve health in mice,” says Dr. Sinclair, who was named one of Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ for his anti-aging research.

In addition to ethanol’s classic consequences of endotoxemia associated with liver cirrhosis discovered several decades ago, important research in the last ten years has shown that proinflammatory cytokines may also induce damage in remote organs such as brain, bone, muscle, heart, lung, gonads, peripheral nerve, and pancreas. These effects are even seen in alcohol drinkers without significant liver disease. Excessive alcohol drinking can cause inflammatory conditions.

Although there is beneficial potential in some patients, the coexistence of increased risk of cancer, neurological brain damage, and the high risk of ethanol addiction makes it necessary to discourage low-dose consumption in the general population. Specific caution should be recommended regarding children or adolescents and women, who are more susceptible to the damaging effects of ethanol at the same doses of consumption as men.

Similarly, patients suffering from other ethanol-related diseases such as liver cirrhosis or brain atrophy should completely suppress their ethanol consumption. Therefore, the only safe ethanol dose for the cardiovascular system is zero.

Reservatrol still deserves recognition. The recognition of the cardioprotective benefits of reservatrol in 1992, exemplified by the “French paradox”, initiated a range of studies in an attempt to uncover the molecular basis of resveratrol action. Beneficial to our cardiovascular system, resveratrol exerts a number of favourable effects on longevity regulation, energy metabolism, stress resistance, exercise mimetics, circadian clock, and microbiota composition. Notably, the dual pattern of resveratrol action, particularly in terms of oxidative stress and oestrogen action, and inter-individual difference among patients, especially the diverse intestinal microbiota composition, should not be overlooked, as we unravel the clinical importance of resveratrol.

Since a number of taxonomically unrelated plant families have been reported to produce marked levels of resveratrol including grapes, peanuts, berries, pine trees, a detailed study on the screening of polyphenols and resveratrol in underutilized as well as poorly reported fruits of India would be of great interest. Bael (Aegle marmelos), Custard Apple (Annona squamosa), Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoided), Tamarind (Tamarindus indiaca), Mulberry (Morus rubra), Indian blackberry (Syzygium cumini L.), Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Wild pomegranate (Punica granatum), are traditional Indian fruits rich in polyphenols, closely linked to the cultural heritage of India which are being underutilized.

The amount in fresh mulberries is more than red wine, grape juice, peanuts, cocoa, blueberries and lingonberries. At 5 mg of resveratrol per 100 g (about 2/3 of a cup), mulberries are the richest natural food source. You would have to drink an entire bottle of Pinot Noir to get that same amount.

Many studies also demonstrate the antioxidant, chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of spices, specifically garlic, cinnamon, ginger, coriander and turmeric in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Many epidemiological studies have examined the role of phytochemicals and increased dietary intake of fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Consumption of flavonoids in humans was significantly inversely correlated with mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) and with the incidence of myocardial infarction. A 2008 study conducted by Heidemann et al. of 72,113 women without any history of CVD or cancer, it was showed that a more prudent diet with a high intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 17% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality when comparing individuals the highest to the lowest quintile of diet prudency.

Furthermore, a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands, in addition to finding that the relative risk of CHD incidence was 0.66 for subjects with a high intake of fruits and vegetables when compared to those with low consumption, also found that this inverse relationship was present regardless of whether the fruits and vegetables were raw or processed.

In conclusion, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, along with a mainly plant-based diet, is a sure way to protect oneself from many diseases including cardiomyopathy. 10 commonly consumed nutritious fruits including apple, avocado, grapes, mango, orange, kiwi, pomegranate, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon were analyzed and addressed and their cardioprotective mechanisms compiled and highlighted. Overall, the review found that the nutritious fruits and their constituents have significant benefits for the management and treatment of cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction, hypertension, peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, dyslipidemias, ischemic stroke, aortic aneurysm, atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure, diabetic cardiovascular complications, drug-induced cardiotoxicity and cardiomyopathy.

Magnesium “The level of magnesium in the blood correlates with the ability of the heart muscle to manufacture enough energy to beat properly. There are now many clinical studies that show magnesium supplementation to be of benefit in treating many types of arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, ventricular premature contractions, ventricular tachycardia, and severe ventricular arrhythmias. The current understanding is that magnesium depletion within the heart muscle leads to potassium depletion as well. Given the importance of these two electrolytes for proper nerve and muscle firing, it is little wonder that low levels of these
substances can produce arrhythmias.”

Coenzyme Q 10 “plays a critical role in the cellular production of energy. As the heart is among the most metabolically active tissues in the body, a CoQ 10 deficiency can lead to serious problems there. A good analogy is that the role of CoQ 10 is similar to the role of a spark plug in a car engine. Just as the car cannot function without that initial spark, the human body cannot function without CoQ 10 . Because of its safety and possible benefit, CoQ 10 supplementation is indicated in any condition affecting the heart.”

A Mediterranean and Low Glycemic diet have also shown promising results in reducing cardiovascular disease. After two years, patients following the Mediterranean diet regularly ate more foods rich in monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and fiber and had a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Compared with patients on the control diet, patients on the intervention diet had significantly reduced levels of hsCRP and other inflammatory mediators; improved blood vessel function; and greater weight loss.

A study of more than 48,000 participants following a low-glycemic diet for an average of eight years found that the consumption of foods with a high glycemic load increased the risk of CVD in women by 68%; women in the highest glycemic-load quartile had a relative risk of 2.2 compared with those in the lowest quartile.

Higher consumption of nuts and seeds has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of CVD in large population-based studies including the Nurses Health Study, the Iowa Health Study, and the Physicians Health Study.

Dietary antioxidant nutrients such as lycopene, lutein, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin C have been shown in population-based studies to offer significant protection against the development of CVD. Eat less saturated fat and cholesterol by reducing the amount of animal products you consume, increase consumption of fiber-rich plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds), of monounsaturated fats (e.g., nuts, seeds, and olive oil) and omega-3 fatty acids.

Take a high-potency multivitamin and mineral formula, Vitamin C, E, B-Complex, Magnesium, fish oil, and flavonoid rich extracts like grape seed, pine bark or green tea.

In conclusion, there are many ways one can protect their heart through nutritional choices and it should be suggested as a complimentary measure by health practitioners. Many doctors are quick to prescribe medication for cardiomyopathies and sometimes the safest measure is a surgical implant of either a defibrillator or pacemaker when someone has a genetic disease.

There are still many ways that a person can empower themselves through proper diet to prevent unnecessary heart deterioration. Getting the right minerals and vitamins through supplementation and natural sources is something we can all do. We can avoid alcohol completely and get reservatrol and other beneficial polyphenols from a variety of fruits and vegetables. And lastly, we can utilize the many herbs and spices we have available to us that not only prevent cardiovascular disease but also have antioxidant, chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.


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