People are taking a more serious look at their diets than ever before as evidence about nutritional solutions to preventive health measures continues to mount up. The term “diet” has traditionally suggested weight loss rather than a positive step toward improved health, but that way of thinking is rapidly falling by the wayside. Health-conscious individuals now think of diet more in a scientific way. [This article, “As Heart Medication Costs Skyrocket, Consumers Consider Natural Solutions” was originally published in HealthXWire]
For better or worse, many have changed their thinking about food less for health reasons and more for economic reasons. Medical advancements have produced a staggering number of pharmacological solutions to high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Americans spent $47 billion on heart drugs in 2018. That number is expected to approach $70 million by 20241. Pharmaceutical companies are providing a simple solution to problems associated with diet, genetics and environment.
Medical professionals and consumers alike are looking to find ways to reduce patient dependence on heart medication, especially for people in and approaching middle age. Insurance companies continue to offer incentives for people who quit smoking, go to the gym or make other healthy lifestyle choices. This evolving attitude about preventive action has a basis in science as well as economics.
It is easier as well as less costly to simply keep people healthy than to make sick people well. The savings in hospital stays and doctor visits alone is staggering. Add in the expense of life saving medications that long-term illness tends to include, and it is clear that prevention is the economical choice.
That simple observation has had something of a trickledown effect where consumers realize that it is also less expensive for them to live healthier than it is to rely on medications where possible. Diets can be among the most difficult lifestyle components to change, but faced with the choice between eating better and taking multiple expensive medications, an increasing percentage of the population is starting to come around.
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Finding a nutritional solution
The American diet is fraught with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that can drag down metabolisms, increase obesity and ruin gut health. Science makes more connections everyday between gut health and psychological well-being. Beyond that, though, is the likelihood that being overweight can have a depressive component.
It was the realization of how damaging a typical diet could be that started one of the nutrition industry’s visionaries, Max Mikhaylenko, president and co-founder of Oregon-based Snap Supplements, on his path toward finding better, more natural solutions to combat the ill effects of less-than-healthy food. Before they immigrated to America, his family was used to a more local, more natural diet.
“There weren’t a lot of packaged goods for you to buy,” Mikhaylenko said. Within a couple of years of arriving, his father had put on a lot of weight directly related to the change in diet compounded by his age. It’s a common problem. It’s no secret that weight and age increase a person’s risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other cardio-related complications. These all can be a drag on heart health.
Heart disease is the primary health crisis in America, responsible for one in four deaths, according to the CDC. It’s also no secret that the cost of getting and staying healthy pharmaceutically is imposing an ever-increasing burden on the country’s aging population.
Finding a natural way to improve heart health became a priority for Mikhaylenko. He saw his problem as twofold: First, to find the right combinations of heart-healthy vitamins and nutrients; and second, to utilize only ingredients that didn’t cause more problems than they solved.
When it came to developing a heart-healthy supplement, Mikhaylenko turned to beetroot, long known and scientifically proven to be a rich source of those nutrients that promote heart health.
Science validates naturopathy
Just as people understood that chicken soup had curative powers long before the science bore that observation out, beets have been a traditional health food internationally for centuries. They’re simple to grow and rich in vitamins and minerals that aren’t always easy to get all in one food.
Beets promote heart health in multiple ways. They’re high in betalains (nitrogen-rich antioxidants) which we’ve long known can be a significant factor in preventing heart disease. Betalains are also important elements in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Scientific research continues to uncover the benefits betalains provide – so much so that there are multiple extraction methods based on the amount and density of betalain desired.
Moreover, though, beets promote vascular health directly. They’re high in nitrates, which have been shown to promote blood vessel health and lower blood pressure. On the other side, beets are folate rich. The B9 vitamins the body extracts from folates work to repair damaged blood cells. It’s also a good source of fiber to promote gut health.
Beet juice has long been popular with athletes because it’s high in nitric oxide, which helps increase blood flow, improving heart and lung performance. It can improve energy and stamina, which tend to fade naturally as people get older.
Nitric oxide production trails off significantly as people approach middle age. It practically falls off a cliff once a person turns 40 and continues a steep decline. Studies have shown that men over 40 suffer a sharper decline than women. Add to this the other heart-health risk factors facing people as they enter middle age, and it’s easy to understand why natural solutions continue to gain appeal.
Understanding how effective beetroot could be, Mikhaylenko undertook more than two years of research, conducting and searching for studies that provided insight into both cultivating beets and extracting their essential elements.
“I wanted to create a formula oriented around problems that people are facing,” Mikhaylenko said. “I was fascinated by the prospect of beets lowering blood pressure naturally.”
By marrying scientific and naturopathic approaches, Mikhaylenko was able to develop a template of sorts for finding the best places to get beets that would meet higher standards. It almost goes without saying that supplements are expected to be organic and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Beyond that, though, Mikhaylenko wanted to look at the environment where the beets were grown.
Searching for a high-altitude place with low pollution, eventually he found a reliable source in the Himalayan Mountains. The altitude makes it easy to grow healthy beets and the air and soil are practically pollution-free which works to keep carcinogens out of the final product.
Also, since fresh beets don’t travel well, figuring out which of the extraction methods produces the best results for making natural supplements is paramount. Mikhaylenko’s goal was to get superior extract from superior beets so sourcing them from that region of the world just made the most sense.
“I look for studies as proof of what is going to work,” he said. “Today’s world is so fast and convenient, but it’s not always healthy.”
Fast, convenient, healthy natural solutions
Mikhaylenko founded Snap Supplements in 2018 after years of working on different formulations to highlight different emphases on getting more nitric oxide easily into people’s diets. In addition to the scientific work, he also worked on ways to keep his costs in line. Nearly five years later, he has found the most beneficial midpoint.
“We try to walk this razor’s edge where you have to deliver a high-quality product but you have to make it affordable,” he said.
What started out as an attempt to help his father get and stay healthy has expanded beyond Mikhaylenko’s original intentions in the most gratifying way.
“We get people who send us videos of their heart monitors,” he said. “They tell me they used to take three different types of blood pressure medication but they don’t have to take them anymore.”
So many people want to do the right thing for their bodies and particularly their hearts, but lifestyle changes take a lot of time to enact and even longer to take effect. Helping them find a fast, convenient, healthy approach is often the catalyst people need to feel like they’re moving forward. From there, the journey seems a little easier.
If a plan for getting healthier starts with natural supplements and people feel as if they’re beginning to address the problem, they often gain the willpower to start to push themselves to do a little more. An upside of beetroot is that it also can give people the energy to act on that willpower, which is why beetroot natural supplements have become so popular among all stripes.
The fact that people reach out to tell Mikhaylenko about their successes has been particularly gratifying. When you spend so much time working, trying to find a solution you believe people need, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful. Making the transition easy for people and then finding out that they appreciate it is always the right kind of validation.
“We take pride in that,” Mikhaylenko said, “people improving their health.”
The future of better eating
Avoiding processed foods is one of the first steps to improving heart health, but the transition can be a difficult one. Beyond convenience, there are questions of taste and preference that must always be factored into the health equation. As people enter middle age they tend to be less open to lifestyle changes even as they become more interested in improving their health. This is understandable, as change can be overwhelming.
Still, there are more commercial options than ever before that make eating healthier more convenient. From meal box services to grocery pickup, the trend toward eating fresh food continues to grow in acceptance and popularity.
Natural supplements can serve as the bridge for people making the transition to better eating habits. Consuming fresh food will improve your diet. Natural supplements help make sure that that improved diet has all the nutritional components to help a person’s body repair itself and to run more efficiently.
All of that starts with keeping the heart and circulation system running as well as possible. There are plenty of drugs that can accomplish this. There will always be pharmaceutical solutions or at least palliatives that can help reduce threats to heart health, but there can be an intimidating and impractical number of pills for people who take that route. That’s not to mention the rising costs associated with combating heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Scientific research and naturopathic practice have both shown that there are effective diet and lifestyle changes that can minimize or even negate the need for relying on a medicine cabinet filled with prescription medicines.
Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.