Cardiovascular disease is caused by inflammation of the arteries. This can result from direct damage to the vessel wall, such as from high blood pressure, or free radical damage.
These free radicals are small aggressive particles, which can cause a lot of damage (to the vessel wall). People who smoke ingest many of these free radicals. Our immune system also produces free radicals. If the immune system is overactive (as in autoimmune diseases), this can cause damage to the vessel wall.
Free radicals are also created by unwanted oxidation of fatty acids, for example (Oxidation is the breakdown of substances by oxygen (as in rusting)). Normally, the cell has antioxidants, which counteract the effects of oxidation. However, with a lot of stress, these reserves can be depleted, causing more damage to the vessel wall.
When cholesterol oxidizes, this oxidized cholesterol is “eaten” by macrophages (a type of white blood cells). With trans fats, the same thing actually happens. As a result, these macrophages become pro-inflammatory (pro-inflammatory). These can then move to different places in the body, causing other diseases besides atherosclerosis. For example, rheumatism may develop in the joints and psoriasis in the skin.
Besides trans fats, fructose is the big culprit in today’s Western diet. Fructose is fruit sugar (not to be confused with grape sugar) and is added to almost everything (that has a label) by the food industry. Fructose cannot be converted directly into energy by the body. Instead, it is converted to triglycerides in the liver.
Triglycerides are transported to fat cells with the help of cholesterol. For this to take place properly, choline (including from eggs), omega- 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are essential. If this process is not done properly, these fatty acids can start to oxidize and which then leads to inflammation of the arteries.
The role of the gut should also not be underestimated. Poor gut status, think inflamed gut, can be a direct cause of developing cardiovascular disease. Hence, we also pay ample attention to fecal (stool) examination.