Lucille Ball, of the famed “I Love Lucy,” died after she had a dissecting aortic aneurysm. The descending aortic artery was stiff and brittle due to lack appropriate nutrition. Arterial stiffness is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disorders, dementia, and death. When the aorta stiffens, it elevates blood pressure, as the heart must pump harder to force blood through the body. We could have loved Lucy a little longer if she’d known then what we know now.
Factors that contribute to arterial stiffness include inflammation, glycation, hypertension, poor glucose control, and calcification. To reduce the risk of arterial stiffness, it’s essential to eat anti-inflammatory foods (healthy fats, vegetables, nuts, fish, chicken, grass-fed beef). In addition, it’s smart to supplement with two nutrients that have been found to drastically reduce arterial stiffness – Vitamin K2 and Curcumin.
Vitamin K2 activates your body’s ability to store calcium in your bones (where it belongs) and blocks it from infiltrating soft tissues such as the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium).
To better visualize how K2 effects our tissues imagine you have a door that can change its size, dependent the availably of Vitamin K2. When we have an abundance of K2, the size of the door into the arteries will shrink, allowing just a little calcium in the door. However, when there is insufficient K2, the size of the door grows large and allows calcium to come through freely. This influx of calcium will cause soft tissues to calcify, becoming hard and stiff. The inverse is true for the bones of the body. The more K2, the larger the door for calcium to go into the bones, and the less K2, the smaller the door that allows calcium in, resulting in weaker bones.
Curcumin, which has long been prized for its anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties, works by numerous mechanisms to improve arterial health. For example, it enhances nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow by promoting the relaxation of vascular smooth muscle and the dilation of vessels. Curcumin also enhances blood flow and lowers blood pressure by reducing the receptor for angiotensin, a molecule that triggers increased blood pressure by stimulating contraction of arterial muscles.
A study in The American Journal of Hypertension found that 150mg of BCM-95 curcumin combined with exercise could reduce central (aortic) blood pressure, heart rate, and a measure of arterial stiffness, whereas exercise alone only reduced only blood pressure.
Human studies show curcumin can reduce chronic inflammation induced by obesity and metabolic syndrome, mitigate the impact of elevated blood sugar, and even help non-symptomatic adults improve their vascular function. Curcumin reduces the impact of high glucose, normalizes blood lipids (it increases HDL), and boosts arterial structure and function.
Researchers across the land believe a major cause of the cardiovascular disease epidemic in our country has been advising people to consume more calcium for osteoporosis prevention. (Which is what the milk industry and others have been pushing for about 30 years now.) Ironically – but maybe not surprisingly – this advice creates the opposite of what’s promised or expected. Pouring more calcium into a diet that’s also lacking foods containing Vitamin K2 creates the internal conditions for calcium to be deposited in the arterial walls, not the bones. So arterial walls stiffen and harden, and the bones actually get weaker! What a colossal miscalculation by our “health experts.”
The research has convinced me to add 180 mg of K2 and 400 mg of BCM-95 curcumin to my supplement regimen each day. I believe prevention is the best medicine. Let’s start preventing! Remember, either we invest into our wellness now, or we will be forced to invest into our sickness later.
I prefer to stay well, how about you?