Healthy Heart


Contributing Writer
Jeffrey Barkstrom

I just did an internet search for healthy heart diet and at the top of the search results were ads for two types of cereal and a weight loss system that includes eating ice cream, pizza and pasta. If we go beyond the advertising, what does the research actually say is good for our heart?

Recent research points to inflammation as the key in heart attacks and strokes. Last year the FDA announced that inflammation, not cholesterol was the major cause of heart disease.

Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors. Stress and food are the main inflammation culprits.

Stress releases hormones such as cortisol that raises inflammation in the body by causing the body to release chemicals like cytokines that up regulate inflammation in the body. Body practices such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and mindfulness reduce these stress hormones and bring back balance to the body.

Many foods are inflammatory. Trans fats and high carbohydrate (simple and complex) foods are the biggest inflammatory food culprits. Many processed foods contain all three of these bad things.

Trans fats have been found to increase inflammation in the body systemically. Trans fats are very common in processed foods such as baked goods like cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, crackers, doughnuts and pizza, but it is also found in things such as candy and fried foods. An interesting fact: processed foods can contain trans fats and still not put them on the label if they are below a certain level.

Simple carbohydrate foods are foods with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey and agave. Sugars were found to added to over 80% of the foods available at grocery stores. To avoid foods with added sugar look for less processed foods such as meats, fish, veggies and nuts.

Foods high in complex carbohydrates are mainly foods made out of grains. Common high complex carbohydrate foods that most people eat on a daily basis are cereals, breads, pizza and pasta.

Anti-inflammatory foods are most herbs and spices, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The top anti-inflammatory foods are ginger, turmeric, green leafy vegetables, celery, beets, walnuts, chia seeds, coconut oil, blue berries and salmon.

The average American can easily have 80% or more of their daily food intake be the inflammatory foods mentioned above. Change in lifestyle is difficult to implement all at once but is best achieved by making small changes every week. At our office, we help patients to make these small lasting changes with the correct whole food supplement protocol that is designed by what the body needs to promote healing. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to join us at one of our free workshops or call 716-665-5015 to book an evaluation.

Jeffrey Barkstrom has been helping people with health and weight loss issues for more than 12 years. He has spoken at colleges, businesses, non-profits, national conferences and on television about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He currently practices at Barkstrom Acupuncture PC, Natural Health Improvement Center in Jamestown, NY. Learn more at or at