I always pictured artery-clogging as big chunks of fat traveling in the bloodstream, accumulating inside the artery and, in the long term, preventing blood flow, causing heart attacks, strokes, etc.
There are many ways in which this idea doesn’t make sense, starting with the fact your blood being a hot liquid, I sincerely doubt that fat, which is highly soluble, could form a plaque clogging your artery. But if it’s not fat, what does it?
And in any case, can artery-clogging be reversed, and could fasting or keto diet unclog arteries? Yes, it definitely can. Arteries clogging is a result of very low vitamin C in the body and/or high insulin levels, leading to cholesterol and calcium build up in the arteries. Curing high insulin or insulin resistance can be done with fasting and keto diet, vitamin C can be repleted with enough vegetable consumption and plaques can disappear after only a few months of keto.
To really understand why fat nor cholesterol are the bad guys, what happens when an artery gets clogged and how to help your body get rid of the plaques in your arteries and unclog them, keep reading.
Is fat clogging arteries?
Before diving into how to prevent or reverse arteries clogging, it’s important to take a look at why and how arteries get clogged in the first place.
Spoiler alert: your arteries don’t get clogged because you’re eating too much fat and you have too much cholesterol.
This common knowledge comes from the infamous Keys diet-heart hypothesis and the lipid hypothesis. Ancel Keys was a physiologist in the 50s that analyzed data from seven countries. What they found out was that when you compared heart attack rates in these countries against average fat consumption, the countries which ate more fat, had more heart attacks.
You can see in the above graph that this was an easy answer! And it’s logical too, the more fat you eat, the fatter you’ll get, cholesterol levels rise, your arteries get clogged, leading to a heart attack.
The work of Ancel Keys paved the way for the low-fat diet trends for years and years to come. Leading to an obesity epidemic, diabetes, more heart attacks, and an international health disaster. Way to go Ancel!
First off, it’s important to know that Keys didn’t only analyze seven countries, he had actual available data for 22 of them. And when looking at the 22 countries graph, there’s no straight line to be drawn and eye-catching, easy to read data.
At the time, even though everybody from the American Heart Association to the American Diabetes Association accepted this hypothesis, some doctors such as George Mann when trying to prove this hypothesis, stated :
Dietary fat is not the determinant factor of either high cholesterol or coronary heart disease. […] The diet-heart hypothesis is the greatest scam ever perpetrated on the American Public.Dr. George Mann
Now you might think that fat and high cholesterol somehow still have something to do with clogging arteries, after all, this hypothesis (which IS still a hypothesis, since it has never been proven), wouldn’t have been around for so long without some truth to it.
The first thing you might think, and I used to think that too, is simply that when you eat fat, it stays in your bloodstream and, after a while, when there’s enough fat in the blood, arteries clog themselves.
After all, if you were to put liquid butter in a drain, after a few days, the fat would solidify and clog the drain, wouldn’t it? Well, what if you put hot water on it? Wouldn’t that unclog the drain? Your blood is a warm fluid, can you even picture fat solidifying under these conditions?
But that doesn’t really matter since fat doesn’t stay intact in the body. Stomach bile will break the fat up into small droplets, which will then be wrapped into smaller molecules called lipoproteins that are used to carry the fat around. So, fat is never really in the bloodstream, it’s always transported inside of a lipoprotein shell.
Fat cannot be the cause of artery-clogging, not in this form nor any other.
How do arteries get clogged?
The process of artery-clogging, also called artery hardening, also called atherosclerosis doesn’t come from fat accumulation, it always starts with a crack or a lesion in the artery. There are two main causes of these types of lesions appearing.
The first one is very low vitamin C. We’re not talking about synthesized vitamin C that you get in pills or that is put back in highly manufactured orange juice, we’re talking about vitamin C complex that you get from certain fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C in the complex has a factor called tyrosinase which acts as some sort of copper in enzyme form that helps form collagen. Low vitamin C means you won’t have this factor in your body, causing cracks and problems in the vascular system.
The second cause of these lesions comes from high insulin levels in the bloodstream. Lots of insulin in the bloodstream usually comes from consuming sugar or refined carbohydrates. This constant stream of insulin in the body can lead to micro hemorrhaging and cause inflammation.
Okay so, first, there’s a small crack in the artery. What then? Well, the body will try to repair itself. What it will do is use cholesterol as a band-aid to close the lesion. Cholesterol will work with calcium, which is usually used for bone structure, to form a plaque to heal the bleeding crack in the artery.
In a way, cholesterol is clogging your arteries. When a doctor opens a clogged artery, they know that it’s cholesterol doing the work (coupled with calcium). But it’s not really too much cholesterol, building up to clogged artery, it’s wounded arteries your body tries to repair, by putting cholesterol in the crack.
Calcium also plays an important role in artery-clogging as you can see. If taken in the wrong form, like calcium carbonate, it basically equates to cement in the body. When coupled with vitamin D, calcium absorption will go up to 20 times, filling your bloodstream and causing hypercalcemia.
What’s important to understand is that atherosclerosis, artery-clogging, is a total body disease. It is not just one piece of your body that is damaged. Let’s say you get surgery to bypass a clogging of the coronary artery down in the heart. This could prevent your from immediate death, yes. But what then?
If you clogged your coronary artery, this means you have plaques everywhere else: plaque up in the carotid arteries to your neck, in the renal arteries to your kidneys, you’ve got the iliac arteries down to your legs, etc. Pecking away and plumbing up in the heart is no way to cure this disease. This won’t save you from stroke, renal failure, blue leg, and other complications.
Atherosclerosis is a severe total body disease that cannot be cured through surgery, but by figuring out the right diet.
Is cholesterol really the bad guy?
Since cholesterol, used as a bandage, when building up clogs arteries, maybe high levels of cholesterol could also account for more plaques in your arteries.
For many years now, cholesterol as been having a bad rap. As I said before, since it’s what clogs the arteries, the hypothesis is that too much cholesterol leads to cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.
What is cholesterol? It’s a fat-like substance that can be found in every cell in your body. You need some cholesterol in order to make hormones, to maintain the integrity of the cells, to make vitamin D and other substances. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs.
Cholesterol makes and metabolizes hormones. That’s why when a woman is pregnant, cholesterol levels are high. The body is producing all sorts of hormones in order to manufacture a new human being.
Cholesterol levels also rise proportionally to the degree of examination stress. This study from 1997 shows that when the body is under stress, it produces cholesterol in order to make hormones to deal with the stress. High stress equals higher cholesterol levels.
If you have an appointment for a checkup with your doctor and, on the way, you get mugged. Chances are that tests will show high cholesterol levels.
If we do need cholesterol in the body, what would be the right amount? Everybody seems to think too much cholesterol is bad, so what about low cholesterol?
Another study conducted in 2001, documented the changes in 3’572 elderly people’s serum cholesterol concentrations over 20 years. Compared to the rate of death. The lowest the cholesterol, the higher the rate of death. The study concluded :
We have been unable to explain our results. These data cast doubt on the scientific justification for lowering cholesterol to very low concentrations (<4·65 mmol/L) in elderly people.
Recently, it has been argued that total cholesterol is not a useful measure, what really needs to be analyzed is LDL cholesterol. Also called bad cholesterol.
LDL Cholesterol, for Low-Density Lipoprotein, is the one that’s found in clogged arteries, meaning high LDL causes more cardiovascular complications.
On this subject matter, a study looked at 136’000 patients admitted to the hospital for coronary artery events. They looked at LDL levels: only 50% of the patients had low LDL cholesterol. Meaning it didn’t corroborate: cardiovascular disease didn’t necessarily match with high LDL.
What to take from all of that you might ask? Most of the studies are having a hard time making cholesterol corroborate with cardiovascular disease. LDL cholesterol is found in clogged arteries, so is calcium. Is calcium the bad guy then?
We need to stop looking at cholesterol as this dangerous substance in our body, the source of the problem comes from our diet and the way we eat, cholesterol and calcium plaques are simply consequences of this, not causes.
How can fasting and keto unclog arteries?
Fasting and keto both will start by helping with insulin levels. As you might now, ketosis is a state in which your body doesn’t produce insulin. Your insulin levels on a fast or keto are really low.
When practicing one of those diets, you will help improve your metabolism as well as reduce insulin levels in the body. If you’re insulin resistant, this means you have so much insulin in your bloodstream that your cells have grown accustomed to it and, like a drug, resistant to it.
If you do keto or fasting, you’ll start by lowering insulin levels in the bloodstream and, in the long term, you’ll reduce your cells’ resistance to insulin. Less insulin in the body will then means fewer risks of lesion or cracks in your arteries.
This other part is not specific to fasting or keto, it’s more to do with a healthy diet: if you eat lots of vegetables and whole fruits, you’ll replete your stores of vitamin C. As I said earlier, vitamin C depletion is one of the causes of the lesions and in your arteries.
The next impact keto, meaning low-carb high fat diet, will have on the plaques in your arteries might surprise you. You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t eat fat to prevent the clogging of arteries, as I mentioned before, fat has nothing to do with cardiovascular disease. But there’s more, fat could actually help reduce arteries clogging.
Vitamin K2 benefits have been discovered in the last few years. You can find vitamin K2 in cheese, egg yolk, grass-fed fatty meats, soy products like natto. Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so basically it is found only in good fat.
What are its benefits? K2 has been found to help with calcium and vitamin D. It’ll remove calcium from soft tissue in the body and cleans up calcification in the arteries. This prevents arteries from turning into bone and stone, making them more elastic.
How does vitamin K2 remove calcium from arteries and join? Simply by helping to transport it to where it should be: the bones.
Vitamin K2 has been found to reduce mortality rates from heart disease and all causes. K1 on the other hand, which can be found in soybean or canola oil did not.
To examine the results of the right diet on the state of your arteries, you could ask your doctor to do a CAC check, for Coronary Artery Calcium. This will allow you to see the amount of calcium in the arteries and provide a baseline before starting a program.
Then you can apply those principles:
- Implement intermittent fasting if you can, in order to help reduce insulin resistance
- Start a ketogenic diet to promote good fat and vitamins K2 absorption
- Eat good organic vegetables to get enough vitamin C
- Complement this with enough vitamin D3, another fat-soluble vitamin that’ll help calcium transportation with vitamin K2
- Add in enough magnesium, which also helps lowering calcium in the body
I will start feeling like a broken record always advocating fasting and keto diet to cure this and that. These diets are not specific to artery unclogging, as you can see you can implement other good habits when it comes to food to help reduce plaque formation in the arteries.
But most of the time, it comes down to reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates, eating vitamin-packed food, getting the right minerals, not shying away from fat, getting organic food and exercising.
It’s not only the best way to unclog arteries, but its simply the best way to prevent many diseases and problems like obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, etc. and, also the straight-up best way to stay healthy.