For many, the holidays are full of temptations to indulge in the wrong foods. We know it can be bad for us, but we rationalize these thoughts away, replacing them with the reasoning, “A little won’t hurt.” But is that true? Research says that for many, the risk of ‘just a little’ may be too much.
We know that over time, the effects of eating primarily low-nutrient food accumulates, leading to heart disease, and that susceptible individuals are then placed at risk of a heart attack or stroke. But did you know that the risk escalates after just one heavy, low-nutrient holiday meal? It’s true. There are more cardiac deaths on December 25, 26 and January 1 than any other days of the year. 1 Emergency rooms see these cases of ‘holiday heart’ in individuals who indulge excessively in celebration, tipping their already damaged cardiovascular systems into crisis. Certainly, the more unhealthy a person is the more risk they have when they indulge.
Low-nutrient foods have immediate effects on your cardiovascular system: causing oxidative stress and inflammation, raising blood glucose, and interfering with proper blood pressure regulation and other important functions.2-5 Indulging in a meal made with high-fat oils, sugars, white flour and animal foods immediately impairs vascular function, increasing your risk of having a stroke or heart attack, especially during the holidays when stress, dehydration and excessive alcohol use also come into play.
What can we do about this sad SAD phenomenon?
Make each meal count. At each and every meal you have a choice to build antioxidant defenses and protect arteries, or to do damage to them. You need to protect yourself first; but sharing this knowledge is goodwill for others and can save lives. Every public eating occasion, every party, every birthday, every social occasion with friends, family or community is an opportunity to favorably influence others and perhaps have a positive influence. Every Nutritarian dish or desert dessert tells a story, sets an example and encourages dialogue. Need help in making the right choice? Use your membership access to the DrFuhrman.com recipe database to select special holiday recipes that allow your family to retain the festive aspects of the season without the risks of more traditional indulgences. Our database contains more than 1,600 Nutritarian recipes for every occasion. There you can build a great holiday menu with favorites like Greens and Berries Salad with Raspberry Dressing and Eggplant Cannelloni with Pine Nut Romesco Sauce. Grace your dessert table with a healthy version of Chocolate Almond Truffles.
At your holiday celebration, impress others with how delicious healthy eating can be and compliment whatever healthy choices are there with dishes you supply to make sure you are satisfied. When you bring a Nutritarian dish or dessert to share, and fill your plate with antioxidant-rich foods you set an example that can potentially save the lives of people you love, even if it takes years for them to “get it”.
Don’t forget the importance of exercise in helping to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, or let the bustle of the holidays interfere with your workout routine. A morning walk or run, even 4 - 5 minutes of calisthenics, jogging or jumping in place is valuable.
How Do You Cope with the Challenges of the Holidays? Share Your Thoughts or Tips in the Comments Section Below
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2. Tsai WC, Li YH, Lin CC, et al. Effects of oxidative stress on endothelial function after a high-fat meal. Clin Sci (Lond) 2004, 106:315-319.
3. Vogel RA, Corretti MC, Plotnick GD. Effect of a single high-fat meal on endothelial function in healthy subjects. Am J Cardiol 1997, 79:350-354.
4. Lacroix S, Des Rosiers C, Gayda M, et al: Abstract 752: Baseline Triglyceridemia Influences Postprandial Endothelial Response to a Single Mixed Mediterranean-type Meal Compared to a High-saturated fat meal. In Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Toronto, Canada2012.
5. Lacroix S, Rosiers CD, Tardif JC, Nigam A. The role of oxidative stress in postprandial endothelial dysfunction. Nutr Res Rev 2012, 25:288-301.
6. Burton-Freeman B, Linares A, Hyson D, Kappagoda T. Strawberry modulates LDL oxidation and postprandial lipemia in response to high-fat meal in overweight hyperlipidemic men and women. J Am Coll Nutr 2010, 29:46-54.
7. Burton-Freeman B, Talbot J, Park E, et al. Protective activity of processed tomato products on postprandial oxidation and inflammation: a clinical trial in healthy weight men and women. Molecular nutrition & food research 2012, 56:622-631.
8. Johnson BD, Padilla J, Harris RA, Wallace JP. Vascular consequences of a high-fat meal in physically active and inactive adults. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2011, 36:368-375.
9. Lopes Kruger R, Costa Teixeira B, Boufleur Farinha J, et al. Effect of exercise intensity on postprandial lipemia, markers of oxidative stress, and endothelial function after a high-fat meal. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2016, 41:1278-1284.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
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