Taking an aspirin a day to prevent cardiovascular disease has become a widespread practice, and doctors frequently recommend it. But aspirin therapy is not without risks – some of them significant – and in keeping with the Save Our Bones philosophy, why take such risks when there are natural, scientifically-based ways to accomplish the same thing?
That’s what we’re going to look at today: natural alternatives to aspirin-based therapy, and why the latter is harmful to your bones and whole body.
Aspirin Therapy: What It Is And Why It’s Harmful
Aspirin is classified as an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Its primary purpose is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and it does this by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, or COX, which produces prostaglandins in the body. Prostoglandins’ many roles include causing pain, fever, and inflammation at the site of tissue injury, and mediating pain signals to the brain. This is also how aspirin reduces fever.
Aspirin also reduces blood platelets’ ability to clot by inhibiting thomboxane, a vasoconstrictor that also stimulates blood platelet aggregation. Aspirin does this through inhibiting COX-1. Because platelets lack a nucleus, they cannot produce COX-1 on their own, so they can’t “undo” what aspirin does to reduce their clotting. Aspirin therapy to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) is based on this anti-clotting mechanism.
If aspirin works so well to prevent blood from clotting, why not take it? There are many reasons not to take this drug, starting with some remarkable insights from a recent meta-analysis.
Study Shows Aspirin Therapy Raises Risk Of Gastrointestinal Bleeding
This comprehensive study included more than 100,000 participants, none of whom had ever suffered a stroke or heart attack. All of them took either an aspirin a day or a placebo. In the final analysis, researchers noted that while participants were 10% less likely to experience a cardiovascular event, according to head researcher Dr. Sreenvasa Seshasai:
“…regular use of aspirin may be more harmful than it is beneficial.”1
That’s because the participants who took aspirin were 30 percent more likely to experience a serious episode of gastrointestinal bleeding as a direct result of ingesting aspirin.1 Another way of looking at this is for every 162 people who took aspirin daily, one fatal heart attack was prevented, but two people experienced severe internal bleeding.1
It’s just not a reasonable trade-off of risks and benefits.
Aspirin Has Additional Dangerous Side Effects
Aspirin is metabolized in the liver and excreted in the urine. It is transformed into salicylate in the stomach, and the liver metabolizes the salicylate via one of two metabolic pathways. Once the predominant pathway reaches maximum capacity, another less efficient pathway takes over. The concentration levels of salicylate increase as dosage increases, so the more aspirin you take, the less efficiently it’s processed in the liver.
Obviously, this taxes the liver; and in fact, aspirin is contraindicated for those with hepatic disorders.
Aspirin also overworks the kidneys, which is confirmed by a shocking study that measured the effects of mere “mini-doses” of aspirin on renal function in elderly people.
The 49 participants were aged 61 to 94, and those with renal failure, gout, and various other disorders were excluded. They were given 75mg of aspirin each day for one week, 150mg a day for the second week, 325mg daily the third week, and then no aspirin at all during the fourth week. Even at the lowest dosage, a 15% increase in uric acid (UA) excretion was observed, along with a corresponding increase in serum UA.2
The study concludes that:
“Mini-dose aspirin, even at a dosage of 75 mg/day, caused significant changes in renal function and UA handling within 1 week in a group of elderly inpatients, mainly in those with preexisting hypoalbuminemia. Given the widespread (and often unmonitored) use of mini-dose aspirin, especially among the elderly, these findings call for clinician alertness as well as for further studies to clarify the mechanisms underlying these phenomena.2
Weakening and stressing the liver and kidneys is no light matter. Not only does that have a profound impact on your overall health, but it sets the stage for bone deterioration due to toxic overload.
We’ll talk more about these crucial detoxification organs in a moment, but first I want to bring you …
Bone-Healthy, Nutritional Alternatives For Heart Health
There’s just no need to take the risks of daily aspirin ingestion. There are many foods (some of which are Foundation Foods) that provide powerful, bone-building and heart-protective nutrients that we’re going to explore in depth, beginning with arginine.
1. Arginine: Heart-Healthy Nutrient That’s Good For Your Bones
Arginine is an amino acid that may be unfamiliar to many of you. Arginine helps wounds heal, boosts immune system function, facilitates waste removal by the kidneys, and creates nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has a dilating and relaxing effect on blood vessels.
There is no established dosage for arginine, but taking arginine supplements can bring about gastric upset, which would defeat one of the purposes of foregoing aspirin in favor of natural treatments. So instead, foods high in arginine can be consumed as part of a cardiovascular-protective and bone-smart diet.
Foods That Contain Arginine
Most of these foods are acidifying, but they are not “forbidden” on the Program. Healthful protein intake, especially spread throughout the day, is excellent for bones and, as the above information shows, for the heart as well.
Food is powerful medicine, in other words. Discovering its vast number of components and how they help various body systems is a fascinating and never-ending study. New discoveries abound, because foods and nutrients are complex and varied topics.
In fact, sometimes a single nutrient itself has multiple components with various roles. A good example of this is Vitamin E, which is actually composed of eight nutrients, four in one group (tocopherols) and four in another (tocotrienols). We’re going to look at the latter group next.
2. Tocotrienols, Your Bones, And Your Heart
Vitamin E is seldom mentioned when it comes to osteoporosis. But Vitamin E is actually very important for bone density3, and some of its components – specifically, tocotrienols – are particularly effective at promoting cardiovascular health.
Tocotrienols are, like all Vitamin E components, fat-soluble. They protect against high blood cholesterol by blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase (something that statin drugs attempt to do artificially). They also reduce homocysteine, an important inflammatory marker. When rabbits were given tocotrienol in the form of a high-fat diet, researchers found that not only were their homocysteine levels much lower, but so were markers that signify damage to the heart muscle.4
In the event of blood vessel blockage, tocotrienols can protect against stroke-related brain damage. They do this by reducing inflammation in the brain, taking antioxidant action against brain-damaging oxidants, and by helping restore the flow of blood to injured areas of the brain following a stroke.
Like arginine, there is no recommended dosage of tocotrienols for optimal effectiveness, and as you’ll see below, there are very few foods that contain good levels, so you could also take a supplement. A good dosage is 50mg once or twice a day.
Here’s a list of foods rich in tocotrienols (and all the other bone-smart nutrients these foods have to offer).
Foods That Contain Tocotrienols
- Red palm oil (raw and unrefined)
- Coconut oil (unrefined)
- Annatto seeds
While tocotrienols may be a new nutrient for many of you, the same is likely not so for the next vitamin we’re going to look at: magnesium.
This Foundation Supplement is crucial for bone health, yet many people are deficient in this important mineral. It’s also essential for heart health, because magnesium regulates muscle contractions, including the rhythmic contractions of the heart muscle. In addition, magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium into the bones, so there is less free calcium available to form calcification in blood vessels.
Foods That Contain Magnesium
- Pumpkin seeds*
- Lima beans*
- Swiss chard*
- Brown rice*
- Black beans*
- Whole wheat bread*
The Recommended Daily Allowance for women is 320mg and 420mg for men, which is a good starting point from which you can adjust for your individual needs. For example, a cup of cooked black beans contains around 234mg of magnesium, and one cup of cooked spinach has about 24mg.
Next is a vitamin that’s gained attention over the years as a heart-healthy and bone-smart supplement.
4. Vitamin K2
This Foundation Supplement inhibits the formation of osteoclasts (cells that tear down bone), and it does not accumulate in the liver. It prevents calcium from hardening inside arteries, because like magnesium, it facilitates the absorption of calcium into bone, where it belongs.
Foods That Contain Vitamin K2
- Brussels sprouts*
- Green beans*
- Romaine lettuce*
- Green peas*
- Bell peppers*
- Cayenne pepper (cayenne is also exceptionally good for cardiovascular health in other ways)
The AI for Vitamin K is 120micrograms for men and 90micrograms for women. If you are taking Coumadin or any blood-thinning medication, please check with your doctor before increasing Vitamin K-rich foods or taking supplements.
Next we’re going to look at a familiar vitamin and antioxidant: Vitamin C, which works synergistically with another important nutrient called lysine. This dynamic duo is excellent at cardiovascular protection and building bone.
5. Vitamin C And Lysine: A Powerful Combination For Heart And Bone Health
Vitamin C is vital for bone health because of its role in the formation of collagen. This connection with collagen is also what makes Vitamin C so healthy for your heart.
The integrity of your artery walls depends in large part upon collagen, and by extension Vitamin C. This antioxidant/vitamin works in close relationship with an amino acid called lysine to provide remarkable protection against cardiovascular disease. Here’s how it works.
Your body produces a lipoprotein as a variant of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) known as Lp(a). This is a sticky substance that forms plaques in the arteries in an attempt to “patch” damaged arterial walls. Lysine binds with Lp(a) receptors, preventing it from sticking together to form plaques.
Vitamin C, then, moves in to repair the arterial weak spots that your body would normally patch with Lp(a). This is why it is crucial to consume both of these nutrients. So it’s a good idea to consider combining foods from the Vitamin C and lysine lists below for optimal heart and bone protection.
Foods That Contain Vitamin C
- Red bell peppers*
- Brussels sprouts*
The RDA for Vitamin C is 60mg per day, but the Osteoporosis Reversal Program recommends at least 500mg per day. And as you can see from the extensive list of Foundation Foods for Vitamin C, if you’re following the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’re getting plenty of it!
Foods That Contain Lysine
- Lean beef* and lamb (preferably grass-fed)
- Parmesan cheese
You do not have to eat large quantities of these acidifying foods to get plenty of lysine. The RDI for lysine is around 2,100mg per day for a 150lb person, and just one three-ounce portion of beef (about the size of a bar of soap) contains 3,045mg of lysine. One egg has 456mg, three ounces of shrimp has 1846mg.
So if you include these heart-healthy foods in the 20% of acidifying foods you’re consuming on the Program, you’ll be giving your heart and bones the nutrients they need. Why not prepare a meal of turkey breast with homemade cranberry sauce, a mixed fruit salad with cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries, and oranges (for example), and a salad of shredded cabbage and chopped broccoli? Or a lunch of an egg omelet stuffed with Vitamin C-rich vegetables, topped with a bit of shredded Parmesan, and a side of sliced melon? My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Isn’t it reassuring to know that the Foundation Foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program are so good for you in so many ways? It is truly a comprehensive, whole-body program!
In addition to their many roles in heart and bone health, quite a few Foundation Foods have cleansing effects on the liver and kidneys, which, as we explored above, are vitally important in maintaining cardiovascular health and rejuvenating bone.
Foundation Foods Cleanse The Whole Body
Foods such as lemons, grapefruits, watermelon, broccoli, parsley, and bell pepper are listed above as being high in heart-healthy, bone-building nutrients; but they are also included among the cleansing foods in OsteoCleanse™, The 7 Day Bone Building Accelerator.
Rich in supplements that build bone, the foods in OsteoCleanse™ specifically cleanse and rejuvenate the kidneys and liver. The cleanse takes just one week, and it’s highly effective at alkalizing your body and removing osteoporosis drugs (and all other toxins) from your system, so your bones (and heart) can flourish.
Accelerated Bone Remodeling In Just 7 Days!
Discover how OsteoCleanse™ can flush osteoporosis drugs and other bone-damaging toxins from your system – in just seven days.
Till next time,
1 Seshasai Sreenivasa Rao Kondapally, MD., MPhil, et al. “Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” 2012. Arch Intern Med. 172(3):209-216. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.628. Web. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108721
2 Caspi, D., et al. “The effect of mini-dose aspirin on rena function and uric acid handling in elderly patients.” January 2000. Arthritis Rheum. 43(1): 103-8. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10643705
3 Muhammad, N., et al. “Tocotrienol supplementation in postmenopausal osteoporosis: evidence from a laboratory study.” Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2013 Oct;68(10):1338-43.
4 Das S, Mukherjee S, Lekli I, et al. “Tocotrienols confer resistance to ischemia in hypercholesterolemic hearts: insight with genomics.” Mol Cell Biochem. 2012 Jan;360(1-2):35-45.