The fundamental conditioning factor in all heart diseases is the diet. A corrective diet designed to alter body chemistry and improve the quality of general nutritional intake can, in many cases, reverse the degenerative changes which have occurred in the heart and blood vessels.
The diet should be lacto-vegetarian, low in sodium and calories. It should consist of high quality, natural organic foods, with emphasis on whole grains, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods' which should be eliminated are all white flour products, sweets, chocolates, canned foods in syrup, soft drinks, squashes, all hard fats of animal origin such as butter, cream and fatty meats. Salt and sugar should be reduced substantially. The patient should also avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco.
The essential fatty acids which reduce serum cholesterol levels and minimise the risk of arteriosclerosis can be obtained from sunflower seed oil and com oil.
The use of olive oil is considered valuable in heart disease. It is dominant in mono-unsaturated fat. It lowers bad LDL cholesterol, but not good HDL cholesterol. It has antioxident activity which wards off artery damage from LDL cholesterol. In Italy, physicians use olive oil as a therapy after heart attack. Other important chol~sterol lowering foods are alfalfa and yoghurt. Lecithin helps prevent fatty deposits in arteries. Best food sources are unrefined, raw, crude vegetable oils, seeds andgmins.
Fruits and vegetables in general are highly beneficial in the treatment of heart disese. Seasonal fruits are quite effective heart tonics. Apple contains heart stimulating properties and the patients suffering from the weakness of heart should make liberal use of the fruit. Fresh grapes, pineapple, orange, custard apple, pomegranate and coconut water also tone up the heart.
Grapes are effective in heart pain and palpitation of the heart and the disease can be rapidly controlled if the patient adopts an exclusive grapes diet for a few days. Grape juice, especially will be valuable when one is actually suffering from a heart attack. Indian gooseberry is considered an effective home remedy for heart disease. It tones up the functions of all the organs of the body, builds up health by destroying the heterogenous elements and renewing lost energy.
Another excellent home remedy for heart disease is garlic. Its regular use can even reverse the damage to arteries and help heal them. This conclusion has been reached by an Indian doctor, Arun Bordia of Tagore Medical College. He tested garlic on a group of 432 heart disease patients, recovering from heart attacks. Half the group ate two or three fresh raw or cooked garlic cloves every day for three years. They squeezed the garlic into juice, put it in milk as a "morning tonic" or ate it boiled or minced. The other half ate no garlic. After the first year, there was no difference in the rate of heart attacks between the groups.
In the second year, however, deaths among the garlic eaters dropped by 50 per cent and in the third year, they sank to 66 per cent! Non-fatal heart attacks also declined by 30 per cent in the second year and 60 per cent in the third year. Further, blood pressure and blood cholesterol in the garlic eaters fell about 10 per cent. Garlic eaters also had fewer attacks of angina - chest pain. There were no significant cardiovascular changes in the non-garlic eaters.
Dr. Bordia suggested that over time, steady infusions of garlic both wash away some of the arterial plaque and prevent future damage. Garlic's usefulness arises from the fact it contains 15 different antioxidents which may neutralize artery destroying agents.
The use of onions is also an effective home remedy for heart disease. They are useful in normalising the percentage of blood cholesterol by oxidising excess cholesterol. One teaspoon of raw onion juice first thing in the morning will be highly beneficial in such cases.
Honey has marvelous properties to prevent all sorts of heart disease. It tones up the heart and improves the circulation. It is also effective in cardiac pain and palpitation of the heart. One tablespoonful daily after food is sufficient to prevent all sorts of heart troubles.
Patients with heart disease should increase their intake of food rich in Vitamin E, as this vitamin promotes heart function by improving oxygene ration of the cells. It also improves the circulation and muscle strength. Many whole meal products and green vegetables, particularly outer leaves of cabbage are good sources of Vitamin E. The Vitamin B group is important for heart and circulatory disorders. The best sources of Vitamin B are whole grains.
Vitamin C is also essential as it protects against spontaneous breaches in capillary walls which can lead to heart attacks. It also guards against high blood cholesterol. The stress of anger, fear, disappointment and similar emotions can raise blood fat and cholesterol levels immediately but this reaction to stress can do little harm if the diet is adequate in Vitamin C and pantothenic acid. The richest sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits.
The patient should also pay attention to other laws of nature for health building such as taking moderate exercise like walking, cycling, swimming and gardening, getting proper rest and sleep, adopting the right mental attitude and getting fresh air and drinking pure water.
Other useful methods in the treatment of heart disease are the use of an ice bag on the spinal area between the second and tenth thoracic vertebras for 30 minutes' three times a week, a hot compress applied to the left side of the neck for 30 minutes every alternate day and massage of the abdomen and upper back muscles. Hot foot and hand baths are excellent for relieving the pain of angina pectoris.