How Your Surroundings Could Be Harming Your Heart — the Hidden Threat of Environmental Toxins

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We’ve all heard the stories of someone in seemingly perfect health — a runner, a health nut, a teetotaler — who develops heart disease or dies unexpectedly of a heart attack. This isn’t surprising when you consider that cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death worldwide. In fact, it’s responsible for a third of all deaths globally.   

While lifestyle choices like poor diet and smoking are well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, there is a group of lesser-known culprits you need to know about — environmental pollutants. These include heavy metals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, and they are everywhere, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. And a growing body of research suggests that these toxins can have severe implications for cardiovascular health.   

The Link Between Environmental Toxins and Heart Disease  

Studies have shown a concerning link between environmental toxins and an increased risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to contaminant metals found in household products, air, water, soil, and food can contribute to the development of cardiovascular conditions. Metals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic — even at low levels — have been associated with a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.  

Even children are affected. A new study published in JAMA Open Network shows that kids ages 9 to 11 who are exposed to arsenic have early damage to their hearts and arteries. “These findings suggest a significant association between arsenic exposure and subclinical CVD in children,” say the researchers.  

The Potential Dangers of Heavy Metal Exposure  

Heavy metals are ubiquitous in our environment, and repeated exposure to these noxious substances has been shown to damage the heart and blood vessels. They accumulate in the body and disrupt essential biological functions. Some examples:  

  • Lead, commonly found in old paint, contaminated soil, and certain consumer products, has been linked to hypertension, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  
  • Cadmium, found in cigarette smoke, industrial emissions, and certain foods, is another heavy metal that poses a risk to the cardiovascular system. The accumulation of cadmium in the body can lead to high blood pressure, impaired blood flow, and an increased risk of heart disease and peripheral artery disease.  
  • Arsenic, commonly found in drinking water, rice, and certain seafood, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Arsenic exposure can inhibit nitric oxide synthase in blood vessels, leading to reduced blood vessel dilation, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.  
  • Mercury is a major industrial byproduct, mainly from coal-fired power plants. Mercury-laden soot from these dirty power plants travels far and quicky accumulates up the food chain. This process is called bioaccumulation, and it makes the mercury even more toxic and dangerous the higher up the food chain it accumulates. A study conducted in New Zealand found that people with high levels of mercury suffered fatigue, memory loss, depression, and hair loss. (Note: If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, see your doctor at once.)  
  • Air pollution has a significant impact on the likelihood of experiencing heart attacks and strokes. Research, including a new study in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, shows that nearly half of the deaths related to PM2.5 pollution can be attributed to cardiovascular disease. PM2.5 is a fine particle that is 100 times smaller than a human hair. 
    Furthermore, studies have revealed that long-term exposure to PM2.5 pollution can lead to the development of heart disease, even when pollution levels are below the recommended ambient threshold of 12 micrograms per cubic meter. This suggests that the harmful effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health can occur at lower concentrations than previously believed.  

Detoxification: A Path to a Healthier Heart  

Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the body and promoting optimal organ function. While the body has its natural detoxification systems, chronic exposure to environmental toxins, heavy metals, plastics, etc. overwhelm these mechanisms. Implementing detoxification methods can help support the body’s natural detox pathways and reduce the burden of toxins on the cardiovascular system.  

Detoxification Methods That Support the Heart  

There are many supplements that have been shown to support heart health. An essential one is modified citrus pectin. I think everyone should take this unique super nutrient daily. In this case, MCP is a standout because it both improves heart health and helps bind and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the blood.   

MCP is known for its unique ability to control galectin-3, an inflammatory protein that can wreak havoc in the body.   

Galectin-3 is a destructive “alarm” protein that triggers inflammation and fibrosis in organs and tissues. Research has shown that this protein is a key driver of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other conditions.   

More specifically, galectin-3 plays a role in cardiac remodeling and fibrosis, leading to heart failure. A fast-growing body of published research shows that MCP helps control the effects of excess galectin-3 to protect against the progression of cardiovascular disease and its deadly risks.    

One recent study showed that MCP prevented cardiac hypertrophy, or enlargement of the heart, due to chronic, increasing stress and inflammation.  MCP is the most-researched galectin-3 blocker, and independent researchers continue to express interest in studying this highly specialized ingredient.    

Glutathione, a potent antioxidant naturally produced by the body, plays a crucial role in detoxification and immune function. Intravenous glutathione treatment, administered using amino acids glycine, glutamic acids, and cysteine, can enhance cardiovascular health by reducing vascular stiffness, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving blood flow.  

Glutathione also supports cellular repair, detoxifies the liver, and aids in the treatment of diabetes. Its ability to reduce inflammation and protect against toxins makes it a valuable addition to detoxification protocols for individuals with heart conditions.  

Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, and maitake. Mushrooms have an interesting relationship with toxins, since they work to absorb them. Because of this feature, it’s important to choose mushrooms that are organically grown in a controlled environment.  

Natural binders such as kelp, alginates, fulvic acid, and MCP can absorb and trap pesticides as well as environmental toxins like mycotoxins from mold, all thanks to their unique molecular structure. This helps safely transport toxins out through the urine, stool, skin, etc., so they don’t damage the body. 

By addressing heavy metal exposure and implementing effective detoxification methods, you and your family can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. I highly encourage patients suffering from heart conditions to consider incorporating detoxification into their treatment plan — our toxic world demands that every one of us make detox a priority in our lives. 

In this blog we focused on removal of chemical/structural toxins. The heart as our unique organ that accepts the dirty blood from all the body, transforms it through the lungs and outside air, and provides clean blood to the whole body. As such, the heart   is the key organ system for detoxifying emotional, psychological, and mental toxins. When this component is introduced, all detox methods take another meaning and are brought to a new level of therapeutic potential. This is one of the key components of  the unique meditation and healing method that I developed, Open-Heart Medicine. This is how we open the door to our infinite healing potential.

Awaken Your Heart’s Recovery Through Open-Heart Medicine  

Did you know the heart is considered the “Emperor” of the body in Chinese medicine, the most important organ in the body? Its ability to pump blood tirelessly, deliver nutrients to every cell in the body, and support overall health is awe-inspiring.  

But there is a whole other side to the heart beyond its physical functions. I call it Open-Heart Medicine, or the practice of living with an open heart. When you allow your heart to open and connect to its deeper role in our body and our life, you create a harmonious flow of energy throughout your body, allowing for deep healing to take place.   

Following my one day Open Heart Medicine Zoom retreat, please join me for a new webinar where I’ll be exploring the science and significance behind Open-Heart Medicine, including how it can help you:   

  • Reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve immune and cardiovascular health   
  • Be more receptive to emotions, experiences, and the world around you   
  • Develop more compassion toward yourself and towards others, and enhance your relationships    
  • Connect with your infinite healing potential  
  • Tap into the heart’s innate intelligence, creating a positive ripple effect on your health and the well-being of others   

During the webinar, I will offer a guided meditation session.  I’ll share my tips on incorporating heart-centered practices into your daily routine for true transformation and infinite healing. Prepare to embark on a journey of self-discovery as we unlock and appreciate the immense potential of our hearts!  

>> Click here to sign up  

References:  

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1  

O’Toole TE, Conklin DJ, Bhatnagar A. Environmental risk factors for heart disease. Rev Environ Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;23(3):167-202. doi: 10.1515/reveh.2008.23.3.167. PMID: 19119685.  

Abhishek Shrivastav,  Swetanshu, Pratichi Singh. The Impact of Environmental Toxins on Cardiovascular Diseases. Current Problems in Cardiology.  2024; 49(1) Part C:102120,  

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpcardiol.2023.102120.

Gump BB, Heffernan K, Brann LS, Hill DT, Labrie-Cleary C, Jandev V, MacKenzie JA, Atallah-Yunes NH, Parsons PJ, Palmer CD, Roberts AA, Bendinskas K. Exposure to Arsenic and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in 9- to 11-Year-Old Children, Syracuse, New York. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Jun 1;6(6):e2321379. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.21379. PMID: 37389868; PMCID: PMC10314305.  

Damian P. W1, Michael E. G2, Derek C3, & Boyd E. H4. Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory impairment and depression: Diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand general practice setting. Neuroendocrinol Lett 2006; 27(4):415–423  

Mudway IS, Kelly FJ, Holgate ST. Oxidative stress in air pollution research. Free Radic Biol Med. 2020 May 1;151:2-6. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.04.031. Epub 2020 May 1. PMID: 32360613; PMCID: PMC7252129.  

Li Y, Zhou WW, Sun JH, Yang HX, Xu GR, Zhang Y, Song QH, Zhang C, Liu WZ, Liu XC, Li AY. Modified citrus pectin prevents isoproterenol-induced cardiac hypertrophy associated with p38 signalling and TLR4/JAK/STAT3 pathway. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Nov;143:112178. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112178.   

Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):8-12. PMID: 26770075; PMCID: PMC4684116  

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