A common call I get is what are some of the most important things that I can do to be as healthy as possible.
You know my norms: Gut health, hormone balance, detox and eat real food!
BUT we are seeing endothelial damage at an all-time high!
OK…then what the heck is an endothelium, how can it be damaged and why is it higher now?
The endothelium is the one-cell thick “lining” of the heart, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels that comes in direct contact with blood, lymph fluid and circulating cells and is coated in a gel layer called the glycocalyx.
It functions by releasing substances that relax or tighten the vessels as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, manage immune function, platelet adhesion and prevents cells, fats and molecules from sticking to and/or penetrating it.
Endothelial cells control vascular tone, and thereby blood flow, by making and releasing compounds that relax the muscles of the blood vessel such as the compound, nitric oxide (NO). NO is crucial for endothelial integrity as it vasodilates (relaxes/opens) blood vessels, inhibits platelet clumping and helps break down vessel “scarring” (fibrinolysis).
The hallmark of a healthy endothelium is characterized by relaxed blood vessels and low oxidative stress – maintained by bioactive mediators including NO. Uncontrolled inflammation disrupts nitric oxide balance. When disrupted it starts a cascade toward blood vessel damage leading to narrowing and scarring. Less NO equals greater risk of Endothelial dysfunction. Nitric oxide decreases with age and oxidative stress leaving us vulnerable to endothelial dysfunction as we get older.
That’s A LOT!
Damage to this single-celled layer makes ALL the difference in health and disease and can quickly result in blood vessel blockage.
The consequences of endothelial dysfunction are decreased circulation, high blood pressure, clotting (thrombosis) and atherosclerosis—the major causes of stroke and heart attack.
Two examples – did you know that trans fats (they have a weird configuration unlike normal fats) stick into the endothelium causing damage and subsequent scarring/fibrosis – narrowing your blood vessel? Another biggie is insulin. Elevated insulin levels (insulin resistance) due to diet, elevated blood sugar/Diabetes, wonky hormones, etc. is very inflammatory to the endothelium and will also damage it causing it to scar and narrow the blood vessel. And these are just two examples from diet and lifestyle – there are TONS more!
When a blood vessel narrows due to fibrosis it changes the slippery lining to a more fibrous one (think of any scar on your body – the skin texture is different than normal skin, right?) So now we have a fibrous (rougher) spot on the inside of a blood vessel which makes cholesterol molecules, platelets and others more likely to stick to this rough spot. But we blame cholesterol for this “clogging”, right? Uh, cholesterol is NOT the problem or at least not the main problem. The fact that endothelial damage causes the cholesterol to stick is the MAIN problem. We always must be looking for the deepest WHY, right?!
WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE CAUSE!
So now turn to 2020 and beyond. We already had an endothelium problem prior to Covid. But now we are learning that the Covid spike protein (whether viral illness or vaccine) causes DIRECT endothelial damage. Now for those that get the virus naturally these spike proteins leave the body over time. However, since the mRNA vaccine has told your body to continue to make spike proteins, the damage will continue throughout life.
We are also finding that Long Covid may partially be a result of persistent endothelial dysfunction!
Spike protein increases fibrinogen production and that is key here. Fibrinogen is involved in clot formation but is also what is called an “acute phase reactant” – meaning it indicates inflammation is present. It’s also elevated in tissue damage, infection, strokes, acute heart issues.
Hmmmm…the plot thickens!
One study showed that the Spike protein alone was able to create a disruption of the endothelial barrier integrity in healthy control cells but that the Spike created an even bigger disruption in Diabetic endothelium since they are more prone to endothelial barrier leakage already – showing that being Diabetic puts you at much greater risk in Covid and Covid repercussions!
Belief now in some scientific circles is that Covid and Covid vaccination MAY age the vasculature by many years. And I keep hearing from people that “since I’ve had Covid I feel like I aged 20 years”!
WHAT ELSE PLAYS A ROLE IN DAMAGING THE ENDOTHELIUM?
One thing I’ve been saying for many years is to beware of the medical guidance of “take calcium for your bones”. Some people have been put on 2000mg of calcium/day! It’s finally becoming a bit more mainstream, but we now know that elevated consumption of calcium products and supplementation increases calcium deposits in places outside of the bone (blood vessels, kidneys, tendons, breasts, etc.). It’s now shown to be a big contributor to endothelial damage, heart disease and atherosclerosis. One of the main heart disease tests they run now is a heart CT to give you a “Calcium Score” – looking at how much calcium has built up in your heart and blood vessels around your heart! The more calcium, the higher the score, the higher your risk of heart disease!
Immune response plays important roles in endothelial dysfunction. For example, Leukocytes (white blood cells) are responsible in part for creating clotting in response to injury to an area. When the blood vessels are damaged the injured area starts recruiting not only fibrin but WBCs to the area of injury. This is a normal healing response when managed properly by chemical messengers, but chronic fibrosis occurs when this cascade doesn’t respond properly to stop. New research is showing that the Covid spike protein can generate this faulty cascade and create pathological fibrosis because it stops fibrinolysis (breakdown of scars) and creates blood coagulation (clotting).
Oxidative Stress is one of the biggest factors in endothelial dysfunction and therefore contributes to just about all disease known to humans. Oxidative stress is the disruption of the balance between free radicals (unstable compounds that can damage cells) and antioxidants (molecules that neutralize free radicals). It causes damage at the deepest levels of the body – the structural DNA. Anything that decreases natural antioxidants and increases free radicals impairs Nitric oxide production and function thereby increasing endothelial damage. But what exactly increases oxidative stress? Pretty much all the things that cause bad health in general – poor standard American diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, pesticides, and the list goes on and on and on…
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Once again, this is never meant to cause fear but to offer potential solutions to improve your chances of leading a super healthy life long-term – heal the endothelium, reduce oxidative stress and restore balance to the body!
I don’t like to talk about what could go wrong without offering information on what to do about it. You know I believe the body is wise and always striving for absolute health – if we get out of its way! Meaning eat well, detox, breathe fresh air, de-stress, balance your hormones, reduce oxidative stress, heal your gut. Just a few things!! 😊
So what do we do about it then?
First you must recognize factors that influence this endothelial damage FOR YOU and correct those then you need to heal the damage before it progresses too far:
1. Eat right
3. Heal your gut healing and
4. Balance your hormones of course plus
5. Decrease exposure to toxins,
6. Learn nutrient insufficiencies,
7. Reduce oxidative stress
8. Test inflammatory markers, then BUT here are a few other things that help too 😊
As always this is not medical advice but information based on the research I do😊.
Always check in with your personal medical provider about what is right for you!
Nitric Oxide: This is an obvious one! We need it because it’s crucial for endothelial health
Arteriosil: Repairs the glycocalyx (gel layer) of the endothelium – prevents fats and white blood cells from sticking to or passing through the endothelium; senses the blood pressure flow to help regulate Nitric oxide (to relax the blood vessel walls)
Pomegranate/Polyphenols: Pomegranate has shown to be quite effective at decreasing inflammatory markers such as CRP and Interleukin-6; protects the enzyme that produces Nitric oxide; prevents breakdown of NO; decreases WBC adhesion; reduces plaquing in arteries; balances cholesterol
Hesperidin: Shown to inhibit the destruction of the zyme XX that is crucial for NO production therefore allowing more Nitric oxide; reduces CRP inflammatory marker
L-Arginine: Precursor to Nitric oxide
Vitamin C: Great antioxidant that improves NO bioavailability; scavenges some free radicals; as little as 1000mg/day
NAC: Essential to make glutathione the most powerful antioxidant; prevents WBC adhesion; improves endothelial response
Olive Leaf Extract: The compound in Olive leaf, oleuropein and oleacein may fix the function of the endothelial progenitor cells – which are responsible to fixing bad artery walls endothelium
Melatonin: Shown to significantly increase levels of NO at 10mg/day
Nattokinase: Beneficial for prevention of blood clots; beneficial in dissolving fibrin/fibrosis
Serrapeptase: Can help dissolve fibrin/fibrosis
MK-7: Vitamin K2: Inhibits arterial calcification and stiffening
Hope this helps!