Posts Categorized as: Heart Health

Move Often- It May Extend Your Life.

There is mounting evidence of the ill-effects associated with sitting too much, movement has become essential for living well.  Movements helps maintain healthy joints, muscles, bones, and organs.  Dr. John W. Phelts DC practices in the heart of Manhattan, which means that he sees many patients, whose occupation requires prolonged sittling.

The way your body moves (functions) is in direct relation to its form (structure) and vice versa. To get a better understanding of this relationship, let's talk cars...

Imagine your are driving an brand new Porsche. You can dip and weave in and out of traffic with ease. This car handles turns better than a rollercoaster. It adrenaline rushing acceleration and can stop on a dime. But if you don't perform routine maintenance, all that beautiful form is for nothing and your Porsche no longer functions well. Form determines function and how well you care for function affects form. Now, back to your body…

Our body's God given innate intelligence creates movement patterns that are in dynamic play between form and function, influenced by the type of care we give our body. This complex interaction includes the skeleton, connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, muscles, joints, our breathing, heart function and posture.  Mounds of research indicate that chiropractic adjustments improve the strength and inergrity of ligaments, while preventing osteoarthritis of the spine. 

Sitting is Killing Us

Today's society is plagued by sitting activities.  On average americans sit about 14 hours a day: at meals, in traffic, at school or work, in front of electronic devices and TVs. Prolonged sitting can increase our risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It's a primary culprit in these health problems, which shorten life expectancy:

Chronic back, hip and neck pain: related to weakened core muscles and shortened ligaments connecting the hips, pelvis, and spine.

Shallow breathing (reduced respiratory capacity): related to compression of the respiratory muscles while sitting and tightness in the accessory muscles around the rib cage, shoulders and neck.

Gastrointestinal issues and indigestion: related to reduced circulation to the gut.

Low energy level, depressed mood: related to lack of engagement of systems that produce hormones and other substances that elevate mood.

But, I go to the gym...

Even if you exercise at a gym, or fitness walk for an hour each day, you're still sitting too much for that one hour to make a real difference. Leisurely, periodic movement is critical to lowering your risk for chronic health problems and even early death. Some ideas:

Every 30 minutes, stand/walk for about 10 minutes.
Stand while talking on the phone, using a device, or watching television.
Desk worker: Try a standing desk or improvise with a high table or counter; invest in a specialized treadmill desk.
Walk with colleagues for meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
Once an hour, stand and breathe deeply for five minutes.
Strengthen and stretch with standing yoga poses.
Try apps designed to remind you to move and stretch during work hours.
Get adjusted by your chiropractor two to three times a month.
Enjoy the benefits of getting up and moving, which include . . .

Burning additional calories, which can lead to weight loss and increased energy.
Better digestion, the result of light movement after meals.
Support for the respiratory system's role in helping the body remove waste and toxins; movement gives the muscles "room to breathe" placing less stress on joints, muscle and ligaments.

If you have chronic pain or other problems associated with too much sitting, make an appointment with Dr. Phelts at his mid-town office for a thorough postural and biomechanical assessment. 212-286-2012.  He is located in the 10016 zip code.

References: "What are the Risks of Sitting too Much?" posted by Laskowski, E.R. (May 2018)

IowaChiroClinic. Org "Does Posture Really Affect Breathing?" Accessed April 8 2019: "Breathe Deeper to Improve Health & Posture" posted by Marcin, J. (posted 27 Feb 2018)

CNN. "Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise." Posted by Scutti, S.(Posted on 12 Sept 2017)


Proteolytic Enzymes Are Effective For Improving Atherosclerosis

At our Manhattan, NY clinic in Murray Hill, Dr. John W Phelts, DC sees many people who have cardiovascular conditions.  He often recommends proteolytic enzymes, because research shows that they benefit the cardiovascular system by decreasing inflammation, blood viscosity, artery plaquing, scar tissue, cholesterol, and triglycerides.  They also decrease blood pressureangina, and stroke risk. 

In a recent study compared nattokinase to Statin drugs for the treatment of atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia.  82 patients were split into two groups and were given daily either 6000 FU of atherosclerosis or 20 mg of simvastatin The study occurred over a period of 26 weeks.  Both groups yielded a significant decreased in carotid artery thickness.  The nattokinase group had a 36.6% reduction in plaque size compared to only an 11.5% change in simvastatin.  Both groups experienced a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDLs (low density lipoproteins), and triglycerides.  The authors concluded that “Our findings from this pioneer clinical study suggests that daily NK supplementation is an effective way to manage the progression of atherosclerosis and potentially may be a better alternative to statins which are commonly used to reduce atherosclerosis and further to prevent cardiovascular attack and stroke in patients. “ 

Dr. Phelts performs a simple test to see if proteolytic enzymes may help someone who has a cardiovascular condition.  For patients who have atherosclerosis, he may test additional substances, such as antioxidants, collagen, manganese, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to see if they may help as well.  Dr. Phelts uses applied kinesiology in the treatment of various conditions to help his patients get better and stay better.   Call our office at 212-286-2012.  We are located in midtown Manhattan near the 10016, 10017, and 10018 zip codes. 



Proteolytic Enzymes May Decrease The Risk Of Stroke

In our New York, NY office, Dr. John W. Phelts, D.C. sees many people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

High levels of platelets, fibrinogen and blood clotting factors can increase the chance of forming blood clots (thrombosis) and thereby increase the risk of stroke.  As recent study shows that a proteolytic enzyme called nattokinase, reduced blood clotting factors and fibrinogen significantly.  Another study showed that another proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, can reduce blood platelet count and aggregation.

We proudly serve the Manhattan area and are located in the center of the 10016, 10017, and 10018 zip codes.  Call us at 212-286-2012 to schedule an appointment.



Is Cholesterol Really Bad For You?

There is very little evidence that high cholesterol causes heart disease.  There is also little evidence that cholesterol lowering drugs, known as statins, decrease the absolute risk of heart disease.  However, the pharmaceutical industry has colored its studies to show the opposite.  In fact,  statin drugs are neurotoxic (brain and nerve damaging), myotoxic (muscle damaging),  and hepatotoxic (liver damaging).  The heart is mostly muscle and depends on a nerve network to function properly. So statin drugs are toxic to both the heart muscle and the nerves that regulate it.  

Statin drugs do lower cholesterol,  but cholesterol is not harmful, so why do we need to lower it? Statin drugs are harmful to the heart, so why are these drugs being prescribed?  It doesn’t make any sense.

The pharmaceutical companies want you to believe that high cholesterol causes atherosclerosis.  When an atherosclerotic artery is dissected, examiners find that the plaques contain cholesterol,  good fats (omega 3s), and bad fats (saturated)  So why is it recommended to avoid cholesterol,  but not good fats.  The truth is neither one causes atherosclerosis. What happens is that inflammation and free radicals damage artery walls forming small tears. Cholesterol fats are allowed to get into the wall to form a plaque, which “plugs” the leak..  The plaque is like a scar,  which reduces elasticity,  which decreases the ability of the artery to accommodate blood pressure,  which stresses the heart.  

The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to to avoid fried foods and substances that inflame the blood vessels.  A better marker for cardiovascular risk is homocysteine. Homocysteine is a protein produced by the liver.  It inflames and damages blood vessels.  It is easy to reduce homocysteine in the blood. . Simply eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables,  which are high in folic acid,  which neutralizes homocysteine.  Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners, as these can increase homocysteine levels.

If you are not convinced and are still concerned about your cholesterol levels and want to keep them low just to be safe there are natural alternatives to lower your levels.  You can eat 3/4 cup (dry measure) oats 5 days a week.  You can take 15 grams of fiber from psyllium husk or flax seed per day. . You can take red yeast rice.  These are great ways to reduce cholesterol,  with additional health benefits,  such as lowering colon cancer risk, modulating blood sugar levels, and relieving constipation.  I prefer these natural alternatives to the drugs that damage the liver,  nervous system and heart.


Garlic Heart Benefits

It may not smell like a lily, but Garlic (Allium sativum) is an edible bulb from the lily family. Fondly known to herbalists as "the stinking rose", for centuries, there has been many traditional medicine uses for Garlic, including treatment of skin conditions, immune support, antimicrobial and, to reduce risk for cancer and heart disease. In fact, Garlic is one of the most widely studied herbal supplements for its beneficial effects on the heart.

Garlic contains several vitamins and minerals that support heart health, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. But it's the chemicals that give garlic its pungent odor that scientists believe are the source of the herb's heart health-promoting effects. Garlic is rich in the allicin, alliin, and ajoene — antioxidant compounds that help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Studies on garlic and the cardiovascular system typically use garlic powder, oil, or aged extracts. To date, the effects of garlic on the heart that are supported by science include:

  • Slows the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces triglycerides and therefore lowers total cholesterol

The amount of active compounds supplied by garlic supplements can vary because allicin is very sensitive to things such as air and heat. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product.

Generally safe for most adults, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Garlic should not be taken by persons who are preparing for surgery or who have bleeding disorders because it can impair the body's ability to form blood clots.

Image:  kbuntu/


Hawthorn: The Heart Berry

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)

Hawthorn, also known as Maybush, is a thorny shrub found on hillsides and in sunlit woodsey areas throughout the world. Over centuries, all parts of the plant have been used to prepare foods, beverages, and medicines. In folk medicine, Hawthorn was used for the treatment of diarrhea, insomnia, and asthma. In China, it has been used to treat digestive problems, high cholesterol, poor circulation, and shortness of breath. During the early 1800s, doctors in North America used Hawthorn to treat heart conditions, circulatory, and respiratory disorders.

Hawthorn has a rich supply of flavonoids (antioxidants that protect cells from damage) and anti-inflammatory properties, which are important to heart health. It plays a role in helping dilate blood vessels, improves blood flow to the heart, and lowers blood pressure. In Europe, Hawthorn is regarded as a safe and effective treatment for early-stage heart disease. It is used to promote the health of the circulatory system and to treat angina, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure. In studies, patients with heart failure who took Hawthorn showed improvement in clinical symptoms and sense of wellbeing.

Hawthorn is available as tea, capsule, tincture, and standardized extract found in prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, standardized herbal medicine, or dietary supplements. Before taking Hawthorn, especially if you suspect or have a heart or lung condition, consult with a holistic medical professional.

Image:  morisfoto/


This Food Is Great For Heart Health

Food for Thought. . .

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." - Helen Keller

Mighty Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Inside a lumpy, thick-skinned pomegranate you'll find a treasure of jewel-like arils-ruby seeds surrounded by sacs of flavorful juice. Pomegranate is both richly sweet and tart and exceptionally refreshing. Savor the flavor by eating the arils by the spoonful, adding them to salads or to a bowl of Greek yogurt. Any way you choose, you’ll reap the health benefits of this exotic fruit.

Pomegranate is native to the mountainous regions along the Caspian Sea, near northern Iraq and northwest Iran. For centuries, cultures around the world have used all parts of the tree-roots, bark, flowers, peel, seed and seed oil-medicinally to treat a range of health concerns, from digestive disorders and dysentery, to fever and heart ailments. In the West, the fruit and seed are typically used in medicinal preparations. Modern research indicates that pomegranate may be beneficial for reducing risk and supporting treatment for arthritis, certain types of cancers, erectile dysfunction, and heart disease.

A compound found only in pomegranates called punicalagin is beneficial to the heart and blood vessels. Punicalagin is responsible for pomegranate's antioxidant effects. In fact, pomegranate has more antioxidant power than red wine and green tea! Preliminary research shows that drinking unsweetened pomegranate juice helps lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart, and may help protect against the formation of blockages in the arteries. Further research is needed to determine how much pomegranate juice (or as a nutritional supplement) is beneficial for different people and for different health concerns.

When buying pomegranate, don't shy away from a fruit that isn't perfectly round or feels heavy. Unusual shape, and weight indicate a fruit that is plump with arils and juice. Pomegranates do not sweeten once picked, so you'll want to avoid fruits that look dried out.

Image: Geo-grafika/



This Secret Nutrient Helps Manage Blood Pressure

A key element of a healthy body is a healthy heart. The heart is the center of our cardiovascular system and beats an average of 100,000 times per day supplying oxygen rich blood to the whole body. Every day we make choices that have a profound affect on the health of this vital organ. Most heart disease (HD) is linked to risk factors such as lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, stress, and poor eating habits.

One major condition that can develop with these risk factors is Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Often called the 'silent killer', Hypertension can cause significant damage throughout the cardiovascular and other body systems and ultimately results in over 80 million deaths each year.

The Silent Killer

Blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted on the inside of blood vessels as the heart pumps the blood through the body. When there is resistance in the vessels, the pressure rises and hypertension results. The longer hypertension goes undetected and/or uncontrolled, the greater the damage to blood vessels and other organs. Hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, ruptured blood vessels, kidney disease or failure, and heart failure.

Warning signs for high blood pressure are rare but can include headaches, blurred vision, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and nosebleeds. However, there are typically no warning signs or symptoms for hypertension, which is why it is called the silent killer.

Hypertension is diagnosed by looking at 2 numbers in your BP reading: Systolic pressure (the top number) is the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats (contracts). Diastolic pressure (bottom number) represents the pressure in your arteries between beats.

  • Normal blood pressure is below 120/80
  • Prehypertension is 120 - 139 systolic or 80 - 89 diastolic.
  • Hypertension is 140/90 or higher

The Potassium Secret for a Healthy Heart

You've no doubt heard the best thing to do when you have hypertension is to reduce the amount of salt/sodium in your diet. Did you know the average adult needs 4,700 mg of potassium daily compared to only 200 mg of sodium. Unfortunately for most of us, our eating habits give us way too much sodium - 3,300 mg a day - and not nearly enough potassium. This imbalance can increase your risk of developing hypertension.

What's truly important for your heart, and a more accurate strategy to prevent high blood pressure, is to balance the relationship between potassium and sodium (salt) in your daily diet. Proper sodium-potassium balance is necessary for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, fluid balance, and the optimal health of all the cells in your body. In regard to the heart, potassium is particularly important for regulating heart rhythm and maintaining blood pressure.

By reducing your sodium intake, you are often correcting the sodium-potassium imbalance without realizing it. To further support your heart health, eat more potassium-rich foods such as sweet potato, spinach, banana, peas, legumes, apricots, avocados, halibut and molasses.

More Healthy Heart Tips

Heart-Healthy Diet Do's: Eat a variety of fresh fruits and dark green veggies daily. Use plant-based oils for cooking. Eat mindfully, not on-the-run. Reduce or eliminate packaged foods, sugar, and red meat.

Walk, No Need to Run: 30 minutes of daily, brisk walking lowers your risk for hypertension.

Be Calm: Learn to manage stress with healthy coping techniques, such as, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, gratitude journaling, and getting quality sleep.

Supplemental Support: Nutritional supplements shown to support heart health include Hawthorn CoQ10, Essential Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Garlic and B-vitamins. Supplements you might have heard about—Natto-K (nattokinase), Guggul, or Niacin—should not be taken without the supervision of your health practitioner.

Because some blood pressure medications affect the potassium level in the body, be sure and discuss the best strategy for making this adjustment with your Holistic Doctor.