Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why India Has The Highest Rate of Heart Attacks In The World

"Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in India with heart attacks being accountable for one third of all deaths caused by heart diseases."  Source:

Following my previous post “What Causes Heart Attacks? It’s not what you think!” one or two people have asked me why India has the biggest incidence of heart disease. The evidence suggests there are three reasons for this:

1. India has the highest number of vegetarians per capita (per thousand of population). But unlike most vegetarians in other countries, the millions of poor vegetarian rural Indians do not have the resources or knowledge to eat nutritionally or take nutritional supplements. As a result they suffer to a greater extent from a lack of B6, B12 and folic acid (B9). These vitamins are vital in keeping levels of harmful homocysteine low in the body (remember that homocysteine is at the root of heart attacks). Note: I am not anti-vegetarian. Indeed, a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for you in the sense that the avoidance of meat, fish and dairy products helps prevent disease.

2. India has one of the highest rates of milk consumption in the world. A dramatic increase in milk consumption in India in recent years has gone hand-in-hand with a dramatic rise in osteoporosis. In 2002, some 18,000 million liters of milk where produced by Operation Flood's cooperative unions each day. As a result, milk consumption in India has risen from a low of 107 grams per day in 1970 to over 220 grams per day in 2002 – people in all parts of India are now able to buy and consume dairy milk without scarcity of supply. Since 2002, the increase in milk production and consumption in India has risen enormously, growing at a rate of over 4% per year according to FAO. This makes India the fastest growth market in the world in milk production and consumption - source: Sangita Shah, India leads global milk output in 2005, report compiled from Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics, and published online January 30, 2006.

3. It has been reported that Indians are at greater risk of heart disease because of a genetic mutation that affects one in 25 people in India. The mutation almost guarantees the development of the disease and Indians suffer heart attacks at an earlier age, often without prior symptoms or warning. Now researchers say India, a country with more than one billion people, will likely account for 60 per cent of heart disease patients worldwide, by 2010. A study among Asian Indian men showed that half of all heart attacks in this population occur under the age of 50 years and 25 percent under the age of 40, according to the Indian organization, Medwin Heart Foundation. But although this genetic mutation increases the risk of heart disease, you don’t get a heart attack unless the arteries are clogged. Therefore, for Indians it is particularly important to avoid arterial plaque and the best way to do this is to keep levels of homocysteine low.

As explained in The Foolproof Diet, milk consumption greatly disturbs the delicate hormonal balance in the body which is vital to good health. This leads to a state of imbalance between estrogen and progesterone (known as “estrogens dominance”) which in turn leads to elevated levels of homocysteine.

Indian milk consumption in 2010 continues to rise at astonishing rates. “India is the key milk consumer, amounting to 13 percent of the world’s total and 31 percent of milk consumption in all developing countries!” Sources: (i) Delgado, C.L., 2003, A food revolution: rising consumption of meat and milk in developing countries. J. Nutr. 133, no. 11 Suppl 2, 3907S-3910S. (ii) Barry Popkin, et al, The nutrition transition in high and low-income countries: what are the policy lessons, Presentation at Int. Assoc. of Agric, Ec. Conf., Australia, Aug. 06.

So Indians get a triple whammy: 1. A lack of vitamins B6, B12 & B9 (as a result of a poor vegetarian diet). 2. A bombardment of harmful bovine hormones (as a result of high milk consumption). 3. A genetic predisposition to heart disease. These three factors combine and conspire to give Indians high levels of homocysteine which in turn greatly increases the risk of heart attacks.

By just giving up dairy milk and using easy-to-make milk substitutes you will go a long way to keeping levels of homocysteine low, thus greatly reducing the risk of a heart attack. For easy-to-make non-dairy milk recipes see The Foolproof Diet (  This book truly makes vital reading for every indian worldwide.

Keep well,
Russell Eaton

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Causes Heart Attacks? It’s not what you think!

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked. If the flow of blood isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide (source: Robert Beaglehole, et al, 2004, The World Health Report 2004 - Changing History. World Health Organization. pp. 120–4. ISBN 92-4-156265-X).

But what causes heart attacks? Conventional wisdom (e.g. Wikipedia) generally says the following: Heart attacks are caused by intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion. Also, heart attacks can be caused by a severe infection, such as pneumonia, which in turn stresses the body leading to a heart attack. Such stress causes atherosclerotic plaques (the fat in clogged arteries) to become dislodged and this in turn can block blood flow to the heart.

So we have the following sequence of events: clogged arteries and stress combine to block blood flow to a section of heart muscle, causing a heart attack. The question screaming to be answered is: what causes clogged arteries?

Again, conventional wisdom says that clogged arteries are caused by a poor diet and lack of exercise. But this answer is much too vague. Just about any illness can be attributed to a poor diet and lack of exercise.

So the question is: what specifically causes clogged arteries? Is it cholesterol, is it a high fat diet, is it a high sugar diet, is it junk food, is it just lack of exercise?

Speak to nutritionists, doctors, and health gurus and most (but not all) will say it’s a “combination of life-style factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity” that can lead to clogged arteries (what a cop out!). This is no answer.

When you study the research into this area one word keeps popping up: homocysteine. There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing that heart disease is mainly caused by homocysteine.

The link between homocysteine and heart disease/stroke is well known to medical scientists and many studies support this. “A high level of blood serum homocysteine is a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease.” (Wikipedia).

The body creates excess homocysteine as a toxic byproduct, i.e. as a result of chemical reactions in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream are caused by a shortage of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid (also known as vitamin B9). These B vitamins act to break down homocysteine so that it can be safely eliminated. So when the body has enough B6, B12 and folic acid, the toxic production of homocysteine is minimized.

It has been postulated that Lp(a) is a risk factor in heart disease. But Lp(a), also known as Lipoprotein a, has been shown to become a risk factor only in the presence of homocysteine. The Mayo Clinic states: “Homocysteine is a substance your body uses to make protein [including Lp(a)] and to build and maintain tissue. But too much homocysteine may increase your risk of stroke, certain types of heart disease, and disease of the blood vessels of the arms, legs and feet (peripheral artery disease).”

So when some health professionals talk about Lp (a) being a risk factor in heart disease they would appear to be off the mark. It is more accurate to say that elevated levels of homocysteine are the root cause of heart disease.

India has the doubtful honor of having by far the largest number (per capita) of vegetarians and the largest number (per capita) of deaths from heart disease. This is no coincidence. High levels of homocysteine cause heart disease.

Several studies also show that vegetarians are at greater risk of stroke compared to non-vegetarians. For example, Dr. C.S. Yajnik points out that most Indians are vegetarian for religious and socio-economic reasons. Because of this, he says, “there is a deficiency of Vitamin B-12 among vegetarians that has led to a rise in the incidence of stroke and heart attacks. Deficiency of vitamin B 12 increases the concentration of a chemical called homocysteine in the blood which causes blocks in arteries and veins. These blocks in turn are responsible for heart attacks and strokes."

You would think that a vegetarian diet is going to provide the body with plenty of B6, B12 and folic acid. However, this is not the case. B6 and B12 are more plentiful in animal foodstuffs. Furthermore, folic acid although available from plant foods such as green leafy vegetables, is easily destroyed in cooking. As a consequence, vegetarians can often suffer from a shortage of B6, B12 and folic acid and consequent raised levels of homocysteine.

Furthermore, it is now known that estrogen dominance promotes homocysteine. What happens is that the B vitamins get used up trying to neutralize (break down) the excess estrogen in the liver. As a result, less B vitamins are available for breaking down homocysteine. Elevated levels of homocysteine then act to promote clogged arteries.

And what are the two main dietary causes of estrogen dominance? The answer is simple: dairy and soy products. By just eliminating dairy milk products and soy products from your diet you greatly reduce harmful estrogen dominance. This in turn greatly reduces elevated levels of homocysteine.

For the evidence that dairy and soy products are the two greatest dietary causes of estrogen dominance see The Foolproof Diet ( Do a search on google for “estrogen dominance” and you will find lots of information explaining why estrogen dominance is so harmful to good health.

A 21 year study of statistics by the OECD shows that homocysteine is responsible for clogged arteries.

“Homocysteine does this by injuring the lining of the coronary arteries and by thickening of the wall of the arteries, regardless of the level of cholesterol in the blood. Homocysteine interferes with the way cells use oxygen, resulting in a build-up of damaging free radicals. These reactive chemical forms can oxidize low-density lipoproteins (LDL), producing oxycholesterols and oxidized fats and proteins within developing plaques. Also, homocysteine stimulates growth of smooth muscle cells, causing deposition of extracellular matrix and collagen, which causes a thickening and hardening of artery walls.” (source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, O.E.C.D., Food Consumption Statistics 1955-1971. Paris, 1973).

So what causes heart attacks? To blame factors such as obesity or a poor lifestyle is a complete cop out and reflects the ignorance of the person saying this. Heart attacks are mainly caused by elevated levels of homocysteine in the body. And how can you best avoid harmful homocysteine? By simply avoiding dairy and soy products you will go a long way to reducing levels of homocysteine in the body and greatly reduce the risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks.

For foolproof evidence that levels of homocysteine can be greatly reduced by simply avoiding dairy milk and soy foods, see The Foolproof Diet (

Keep well,
Russell Eaton