The Fullscript Integrative Medical Advisory team has developed or collected these protocols from practitioners and supplier partners to help health care practitioners make decisions when building treatment plans. By adding this protocol to your Fullscript template library, you understand and accept that the recommendations in the protocol are for initial guidance and may not be appropriate for every patient.
Heart Health (General)
Much confusion and seemingly conflicting recommendations surround heart health nutrition today. This makes it essential for you, the qualified practitioner, to help your patients with truly personalized heart health total nutrition recommendations. This protocol reviews the many aspects of heart health and provides several better nutrition upgrades for consideration. See the end of this protocol for information on how to get the better nutrition tools mentioned throughout.
But first the most important reminder for your patients.
“You can’t have better _________ (any health goal) without better digestion” – Ashley Koff RD
Thus, the better first step for any heart health protocol is a digestive assessment (you can use The Better Digestive Evaluation as an intake form to easily assess). As indicated, follow up with specific digestive nutrition upgrades (see our other protocols from Ashley Koff RD) or take your patient through a The Better Nutrition Digestive Tune Up (review program here).
As heart disease tops the list of leading causes of death for men and women, many are stressed about their heart health. What’s not better? Telling someone to “reduce their stress”. Instead, include in every consult or program specific stress management techniques for the body and at the cellular level.
- The 4-7-8 breath (in through the nose for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8) repeated 10 rounds helps the body shift from fight or flight to relaxed.
- Address INFObesity (taking in too much information), a common source of stress. Are they taking in too much and/or poor-quality health information? Here’s how to help them assess their INFOload and ways to improve the quantity, quality, and frequency of health information they take in weekly.
- Walk, walk in nature, walk after meals, just get walking.
Nutrition Considerations & Recommendations:
Heart health nutrition is not about eating fat or skipping cholesterol. It’s a balance of giving a body (and heart) what it needs to run better while avoiding what can overwhelm, irritate and disrupt those efforts. Here are key heart health considerations and recommendations.
- To eat fat or not to eat fat isn’t the better heart health nutrition debate. Their total fat intake – amount, quality and frequency – needs assessment to ensure it makes it easier for their heart to get and absorb the nutrients it needs.
- Your patients will benefit from a plant-based nutrition plan because a healthy heart needs a variety of nutrients from plants. This does not mean plant-monogamous is better. Based on their preferences, health, access, and lifestyle, help identify how they will consistently get in a foundation of nutrients from plants.
- Added sugar and hyper-processed or highly refined foods intake matters, make sure to assess them and identify more nutrient dense, better nutrition upgrades.
- Imbalances of minerals (calcium + magnesium, sodium + potassium) will greatly impact heart health. Your patient can be insufficient but not clinically deficient so it’s critical to assess their total nutrition intake along with any labs.
- The amount and type of fiber intake will affect heart health and cholesterol. Depending on current dietary choices, your patient may need a combination of food and supplemental fiber sources to improve their total heart health nutrition intake.
- Promoting a healthy inflammatory response is crucial to reduce the risk of heart disease. Build their total heart health nutrition plan to include nutrients that promote a healthy inflammatory response.
- A better balance of B vitamins is important for heart health. Make sure to assess their total nutrition to avoid imbalances of one or more B vitamins versus others, as well as the form.
- Genetics do play an important role in heart health nutrition. Pending results of Lp(a), MTHFR, and other genetic markers you will want to adjust their total heart health nutrition recommendation.
- To do all of the above, and after their digestive assessment, assess their current total heart health nutrition – foods, supplements, beverages – to efficiently identify the biggest areas of opportunity for improvement. You can use this package of Better Heart Health Nutrition assessment tools.
- Assess their added sugar intake – including supplements, sauces, beverages – in the context of their daily carbohydrate consumption. If they consume more than the 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily (WHO recommended max) as a healthy adult, you can work with them to get to a heart healthier level. For those with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, auto-immune and other health concerns, you will likely want to set their added sugar intake lower.
NOTE: swapping added sugar for “natural” sweeteners is not the better heart health nutrition win. While they can be used, the goal is to create a nutrition plan that delivers sweetness primarily from minimally processed (here’s why kitchen processed foods are better) foods, beverages and better quality supplements.
- Assess their magnesium and calcium intakes to ensure a better balance (1:1 for most) as both nutrients help the heart muscle work better. Additionally, magnesium in the cells helps the body turn off the stress response. No labs can tell you about total body (cellular) magnesium, nor will a food assessment suffice as many people take in these minerals from supplements including baths and creams.
- Fibers (and sufficient water) will work together to eliminate cholesterol and waste products, but also to feed good bacteria, escort key nutrients to the cells and make it easier to feel satisfied with better amounts of foods. Insoluble, soluble and prebiotic fibers should all be a part of your patients’ total heart health nutrition. Simple upgrades include eating the skin of produce, using beans, nuts and seeds for dips, spreads, and toppings versus dairy more often.
- The Mediterranean diet provides heart health nutrition that research shows may be as effective as some medications for heart health. Regardless of medication use, consider modifying your patient’s current nutrition to this proven heart healthy menu. Check out our Mediterranean and Heart Healthy menus for examples to share with them.
The Better Nutrition Program Shop of Tools includes the Digestive, Added Sugar, Magnesium, Calcium evaluations, and menus plus those in the Heart Health package to make it easy to assess and develop their better heart health nutrition plan (use Fullscript30 at checkout to save 30% on all tools and The Shop of Tools).
Protocol – Heart Health:
Metagenics – MetaglycemX
2 tablets, twice daily with food
Help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and insulin response while getting in other heart healthy nutrients.
New Chapter – Zyflamend
2 capsules, once per day with or without food
Get in critical nutrients to promote a healthy inflammatory response which is foundational for heart health.
New Chapter – Whole Mega Whole Fish Oil
2 capsules, once per day with or without food
Support their food intake of essential fatty acids with a combination of omegas and other nutrients from wild salmon.
Jarrow – Coq10-QH Absorb
Delivers 200mg daily in one softgel for quality Coq10 as part of better total heart health nutrition. For persons taking a statin, advise taking this at the opposite time of day as the statin medication or red yeast rice.
Orthomolecular – Fiber Plus (capsules or powder)
Help them get in a better blend of fibers to support heart health. Follow product directions, noting that you should advise increased intake of water with the fiber, and evaluate their digestion (motility) prior to adding the fiber. You may want to start with ½ dose and advance as tolerated after two weeks. You can and should also recommend that they enjoy a variety of food sources of fiber to meet their fiber goals. As part of developing their better heart health nutrition plan, use The Better Nutrition Fiber Evaluation and then use The Better Fiber Menu (for adults) to help them identify delicious fiber choices. These tools (included in the Heart Health package and your Shop of Tools).
Pure Encapsulations – Magnesium
1 capsule, once per day typically in the evening
As indicated based on the results of their Better Magnesium Evaluation BUT you can also recommend magnesium food choices too with this menu. The magnesium supplement may be better in the evening to contribute to muscle relaxation that helps shift the body to prepare for sleep.
Are you ready to recommend Better Heart Health Nutrition?
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