Magazine article New Zealand Management

A Pill-Popping Copout

Magazine article New Zealand Management

A Pill-Popping Copout

Article excerpt

Thanks to a pharmacological breakthrough, the "polypill" will soon be with us. Combining six different heart medications in one supercharged tablet, it's the latest in a line of pharmaceutical attempts to banish heart disease.

The polypill combines aspirin, three different blood pressure-lowering medications, a cholesterol-lowering drug and the vitamin folic acid. Its enthusiastic creators suggest that heart patients and everyone over the age of 55 should take the wonder drug, potentially preventing more than 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes.

What a sad indictment of our attitude to health that we could consider such mass medication as a solution for a health epidemic whose causes are clearly apparent and could be virtually eradicated through education and personal responsibility. The Western "cardiovascular crisis" could be consigned to history with a change in attitude and a willingness to implement what we already know.

Why wait for the polypill when you can make a real difference to your heart health, starting today. When it comes to preventing a heart attack or stroke, little changes will cumulatively pay big dividends.

If you are a smoker, quitting is your first task! Then start becoming more conscious of what you put in your mouth. A rainbow spectrum of fresh fruits and vegetables daffy will provide a generous intake of dietary antioxidants, folic acid and soluble fibre vital for heart health. A daily glass of red wine will provide more valuable dietary antioxidants--along with sensory delight.

Psyllium seeds (or linseed) provide an especially useful source of soluble fibre. Consuming as little as 10 grams of psyllium a day lowers cholesterol by four percent and LDL ("bad cholesterol") by seven percent without adversely affecting levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Studies show that as little as 60 grams of nuts (especially walnuts and pecans) each day also helps lower "bad" cholesterol levels.

Both the "fat story" and heart disease are more complicated than simply consuming a low fat diet. Reducing intake of saturated fat (found in animal products such as dairy, meat, lard, as well as palm oil) is vital. However reducing total dietary fat to a bare minimum is not necessarily the best policy.

Greeks and Italians eating a traditional Mediterranean diet consume up to 50 percent of their total calorie intake as fat, and enjoy some of the lowest cardiovascular mortality rates in the world. …

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