Category: Heart Disease & Diabetes

Navigating the Sodium-Potassium Debate: A Layperson’s Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure summarized by Dr. Nicole Maxwell, NMD

This overview encapsulates the insights from Christopher Labos, MD CM, MSc’s January 29th, 2024 commentary entitled “Sodium vs Potassium for Lowering Blood Pressure.”

When it comes to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, there’s often a tug-of-war between sodium and its lesser-discussed counterpart, potassium. Should we be slashing our sodium intake or upping our potassium consumption? It’s a complex question that delves into the depths of renal physiology, but fear not, we’re here to break it down for you. 

The Case for Sodium Restriction

Dr. Stephen Juraschek, along with many others, advocates for the reduction of sodium in our diets. Countless studies have highlighted the correlation between high sodium intake and elevated blood pressure. From the famous DASH diet to extensive intervention trials, evidence overwhelmingly suggests that cutting back on sodium can lead to significant reductions in blood pressure.

However, not all studies align perfectly. The PURE study raised eyebrows when it hinted that extreme sodium restriction might increase cardiovascular mortality. But upon closer examination, methodological issues emerged, casting doubt on its findings. Regardless, the consensus remains: excess sodium isn’t doing our hearts any favors.

The Case for Potassium Supplementation

Dr. Swapnil Hiremath presents a compelling argument for potassium supplementation. While the evidence may not be as robust as that for sodium restriction, studies suggest that increasing potassium intake can play a vital role in blood pressure regulation. Potassium works hand in hand with sodium in the kidneys, influencing how our bodies manage fluid and electrolyte balance.

The DASH diet, celebrated for its blood pressure-lowering effects, emphasizes potassium-rich fruits and vegetables. Similarly, studies like the SSaSS trial have explored the benefits of salt substitutes containing potassium. The challenge lies in finding practical ways to integrate these dietary changes into our daily lives.

Realistic Diets and Taste Issues

Encouraging a diet rich in fruits and vegetables seems like a no-brainer, but economic barriers and taste preferences often stand in the way. Potassium supplements might sound like an easy fix, but some folks worry about issues like too much potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia) and the not-so-great taste. Similarly, salt substitutes that contain potassium seem like a good idea, but they might not catch on everywhere because people have different tastes and cooking habits.

You can naturally increase your potassium levels by adding certain foods to your diet. Foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and oranges are excellent sources of potassium. Incorporating these tasty options into your meals can help you get the potassium your body needs without any concerns about supplements or substitutes.

Remember, continuing to reduce sodium intake is essential for managing blood pressure effectively. By combining a potassium-rich diet with reduced sodium consumption, you can take proactive steps towards better cardiovascular health.

Looking Ahead

At Boise Natural Health, I and the other practitioners can assist you in achieving blood pressure balance. Both Dr. Juraschek and Dr. Hiremath converge on the need for practical interventions, and our team is dedicated to providing holistic support tailored to your individual needs. While policy changes like the recent proposal by the US Food and Drug Administration to label salt substitutes as salt are steps in the right direction, our personalized approach ensures that you receive comprehensive care to optimize your cardiovascular health.

Contact Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic for a complimentary 15-minute consultation, or schedule an appointment to receive the assistance you need promptly. We’re here to support you on your journey to better health and well-being.

Unveiling the Surprising Side Effects of Cardiovascular Disease

When we think of cardiovascular disease (CVD), we often picture heart attacks and strokes. But did you know there are hidden consequences that can quietly impact your life in unexpected ways? Let’s dive into these lesser-known effects that go beyond the heart and explore how a holistic approach, including a visit to a naturopathic physician, might be beneficial.

  1. Mind and Memory Matters
    It turns out that your heart health can affect your brain. Cardiovascular disease may increase the risk of memory problems and conditions like Alzheimer’s. If you find yourself forgetting things more often or feeling mentally foggy, it could be related to your heart.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster
    Heart issues can bring more than just physical challenges; they can take a toll on your mood. Stress, anxiety, and even depression can become unwelcome companions on your health journey. Don’t ignore your emotional well-being—addressing it is as crucial as taking care of your heart.
  3. Sleep Snags
    Ever noticed that heart problems can disrupt your sleep? Conditions like heart failure might cause shortness of breath at night, affecting your rest. Poor sleep can then worsen your heart health, creating a loop. If you’re struggling with sleep, your heart might be trying to tell you something.
  4. Intimacy Interruptions
    Surprisingly, heart conditions can impact your love life. Reduced blood flow can lead to sexual difficulties, and medications may add to the challenges. It’s an aspect often overlooked but important to address for a full picture of your well-being.
  5. Tired All the Time
    If you’re feeling persistently tired, it might not just be a lack of sleep. Heart problems can lead to chronic fatigue, leaving you drained both physically and mentally. Don’t ignore this symptom—your heart could be working harder than it should.
  6. Kidney Connections
    Your heart and kidneys are team players, and when one isn’t doing well, the other can suffer. Heart issues can harm your kidneys, and kidney problems can worsen heart conditions. It’s a tandem act that emphasizes the need for a comprehensive approach to your health.
  7. Painful Legs
    Cardiovascular disease isn’t just about the heart—it can affect your limbs too. Peripheral Artery Disease can cause pain and cramping in your legs, impacting your ability to move comfortably. It’s another way your body signals that something might be off with your heart.
  8. The Cost of Health
    Lastly, the impact of heart issues goes beyond you—it affects economies too. Treating heart problems, coupled with lost productivity due to illness, puts a financial strain on healthcare systems and societies.

Considering these hidden consequences, it’s essential to approach heart health holistically. A naturopathic physician can be a valuable partner in your journey, offering natural and comprehensive approaches to complement traditional treatments. From dietary adjustments to stress management, they focus on your overall well-being.

In essence, don’t just listen to your heart; pay attention to how it’s affecting the rest of you. Taking a holistic approach, with the guidance of a naturopathic physician like Dr. Nicole Maxwell, can make a significant difference in managing the lesser-known consequences of cardiovascular disease and promoting your overall health and happiness.

We can add links to other articles like the cardio labs one

Heart Health – Inflammation Increases Risk

Ask for an hs-CRP when you test for cholesterol.

Inflammation is part of the normal healing process. It causes the redness, warmth, swelling, and pain you feel when you get a splinter, for example.

But when inflammation sticks around for a while, it can become chronic. Chronic inflammation is linked to many health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer and more.

Inflammation in blood vessels happens when plaque builds up inside the walls of arteries. Sometimes the plaque breaks open, causing the body to send out white blood cells to attack this harmful material and seal it off with a clot of blood. If the blood clot is large, it can block blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke.[1]

Ask your doctor to order a hs-CRP when you get your cholesterol checked

Elevated hs-CRP means there is inflammation in your body related to the cardiovascular system. People who are otherwise healthy but with elevated hs-CRP values are up to 4x as likely to have coronary heart disease (CHD). Reduction in hs-CRP and LDL are associated with a reduction in atherosclerotic progression.

How to lower inflammation

  1. Find out the cause – food sensitivities, a chronic low level infection, an inflamed gut, toxins, a problem tooth, and more. 
  2. Aside from eating a vegetable rich, low carb, whole foods diet and moderate exercise,
  3. Take an absorbable turmeric (curcumin) supplement[2].  We carry Turiva at BNHC and you can find Theracurmin on our on-line ordering system Fullscript. The dose is 2 caps a day. I take my 2 caps at bedtime to support my heart and to help overall inflammation and better sleep. Turmeric has also been shown to help with fatigue and depression. 

Other lab tests to consider asking for

Read Dr. Maxwell’s about article about the other labs available for a comprehensive cardiovascular screening.  Particularly important for people with a strong family history. 

For an in-depth cardiovascular consult, schedule an appointment by calling us at 208-388-0405.


[2] Gorabi AM, Abbasifard M, Imani D, Aslani S, Razi B, Alizadeh S, Bagheri-Hosseinabadi Z, Sathyapalan T, Sahebkar A. Effect of curcumin on C-reactive protein as a biomarker of systemic inflammation: An updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2022 Jan;36(1):85-97. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7284. Epub 2021 Sep 29. PMID: 34586711.

The Low Down on Lipids

by Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Approximately 50% of patients experiencing a heart attack or stroke have “normal” cholesterol levels.  What does it mean to have “normal” lipid levels?  What parameters might be better to check to accurately identify your risk?  

The risk of developing heart disease has traditionally been assessed by measurement of LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; the carrier of “bad” cholesterol) and HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; the carrier of “good” cholesterol). The “C” portion in LDL-C stands for calculation.  Unfortunately, this is not a true value but a calculation based on total cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL-C.  Moreover, the LDL-C is known to be inaccurate, particularly as triglyceride levels have risen with obesity, glucose intolerance and diabetes.  

At BNHC we do comprehensive screenings, including:

  • LDL-P: The “P” stands for particle and we can now measure the LDL directly instead of using a calculation.  The higher the LDL-P the more particles there are in your bloodstream which can build up in the arteries and cause heart disease.
  • VLDL-P: These particles are smaller than LDL-P and can get into the artery walls where dangerous plaque forms.
  • HDL-P: Direct measurement of the HDL particles, which tend to be protective.  HDL-P was found to be a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than HDL-C in many studies.
  • Ox-LDL or oxidized LDL: Plaque-specific and directly involved in atherogenesis and late stage atherosclerotic plaque instability and rupture.
  • Apolipoprotein B (Apo B): This is the sole protein constituent of LDL and a stronger cardiovascular risk factor than LDL-C
  • Lipoprotein a (LpA): This is a particle that carries cholesterol and is inherited from one or both of your parents.  High levels increase one’s risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease and is a leading risk factor for strokes.
  • And more:there are even more parameters we can test to create a better picture of your personal cardiac risk, such as CRPhs a marker for inflammation. 

For a more accurate understanding of your true heart health, consider a comprehensive risk assessment with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic.