60,000 Miles

60,000 miles !!

The total length of blood vessels on our bodies.

    It's an amazing fact. We have big vessels such as the major arteries down to the tiniest veins and capillaries like those in our eyes and brain. 80% of the total are the smaller blood vessels.

    Actually, 60,000 miles, that’s a child, adults may have considerably more, up to 100,000!

  We're all a bit different, but whatever the exact total, it is a huge figure isn’t it? Our circulatory system is our lifeblood and we need it in good condition


    In addition to being a disease of the respiratory system Covid 19 is also a disease of the blood vessels, specifically the endothelium. 


    Our endothelium lines our blood vessels and if that is in poor condition, that’s 60,000 miles of potential trouble.  

    Endothelium. Here have a look.


    It is really important to look after our circulatory system, even more so at present.

    If we put weight on we can see and feel it, then do something about it – if we choose to. Actually, it's estimated that every extra pound of fat needs another mile of blood vessels, meaning extra pressure on the heart to pump it round.

    But if our blood vessels deteriorate we only realize when something goes wrong. By that stage it’s got to a tipping point.

    However, it is repairable. By way of example, blurred vision can occur with, or prior to, the onset of T2 diabetes, but a change of habits can halt, or even reverse, the problem.

    If the big vessels around the heart and lungs are damaged, they can cause catastrophic damage, sometimes deadly. But unseen, tiny blood vessels in our eyes, brain, extremities and our organs are also damaged.

    This damn virus has highlighted our cumulative metabolic weaknesses. Metabolism is the chemical reactions in our body's cells that change food into energy. That's the process that can easily be messed up. 

    Collectively, we were ill-prepared to handle a nasty disease like Covid 19.

   Covid notwithstanding, many of us do a lot of damage to our blood vessels by mistreating ourselves. In effect, we are knackering ourselves in slow motion. The end result is similar to the damage covid can cause.


    The key question is, how do we keep our blood supply system in good nick?


    Some of you may know of my views / thoughts on diet, exercise and cholesterol.

    Most of you don't give a damn. Many think I'm mad. You may consider my views a bit radical / scatty / wrong / daft / dangerous.

    But I don’t just make them up, they are not conjoured out of thin air. I don't follow health-related paths on a whim, nor do I make choices for the sake of it. Believe me, I would rather have chips and sponge cakes than a lump of cheese!


    Perhaps some of you know about my self-inflicted medical issues, but for those that don't, here's why I changed and now take my lifestyle choices so seriously. In order of diagnosis they are, Type 2 diabetes, P.A.D. (Peripheral Arterial Disease) and lastly, a bloody great blocked artery, namely the aorta where it meets my leg iliacs.


    All three of these are basically my fault and all are potential sources of serious complications, largely related to circulation. Blood supply problems relate to all sorts of difficulties, in my case the possibility blindness, having things chopped off or CVD, (Cardio Vascular Disease). 


    Our bodies are a complicated and remarkable piece of kit. They can deal with most things, up to a point. I went over that point with the ciggies and too much crappy food accompainied by a bit too much wine. I've always exercised lots and eaten plenty of wonderful food, but the bad stuff overtook the good stuff, so the edifice wobbled.


    When I was diagnosed I became, er, slightly terrified! Every day I would look at my blue-tinged thighs and wonder what the future held. I wondered why my little toes were dark in colour and fretted about whether the problem would spread and how long I would remain attached to my extremities. I was peeing a lot and sometimes my eyes went a bit blurry. I was a couple of stone overweight. That was the outward manifestation, it was the inside, hidden from view, where the root of the problems lay.


    It was through fear that I started looking at things about five years ago. I THINK I have turned it round a bit. Never thought I'd be able to, never dreamed I'd have to. I never get cocky, if a chunk of my blockage breaks off, it could well be wooden box time.


    Then along came Covid. When I realized it was a disease of the vascular system as much as a respiratory illness, I paid plenty of attention. 'They' said (and continue to say) that those most severely affected and most likely to die, are those who have comorbidities and / or are elderly, who generally have reduced immune efficiency. Comorbidities include heart disease, diabetes and/or obesity for example. The overwheling majority of those who have died of, or with, covid, are 60+ years of age with one or more condition(s).


    Thankfully Covid has all but gone (October 2021 - hopefully!), but it will leave behind toxic memories, primarily of those sadly gone. But also of our collective, terrified response to the pandemic, some of which has proved to be plain wrong. One thing that is unequivocable is that as far as our health was concerned, we were, largely speaking, ill-prepared to take on the virus. Our collective metabolic health was, and is, very bad. In fact, the pandemic has exacerbated our long-term problems because people have missed out on diagnoses and treatment due to lack of initial, and follow-up, appointments. Many cancer patients have missed scheduled checks and treatments, many cardiac patients have missed out altogether, some of whom have died at home. These problems will go on manifesting themselves for years to come.


   Why should you trust me? I try not to tell porkies to start with. I have no medical background, but I do have some first-hand experience of what it's like to be in a metabolic mess. But again, you’ve only my word for that. I wrote extensively about things a few years ago and a number of people got in touch and thanked me for making them aware. We’ve moved on. I’ve read and seen increasing evidence that many of us could do with making some changes. Simple, easy changes too.

    I could go on and on, but I'm going to let somebody else give you something to think about.


    There's a very informative and well researched article reproduced here. It's by Dr Rachel Nicol who has published lots of research on a number of topics. Here she talks about the 'epidemic' of chronic diseases such as obesity, T2 diabetes, autoimmune disease and others. There's a link before the article to some of the things she has published, just to reassure you that she's not just someone I've plucked from the ether. She is one of many brighter and better informed people than me! 

    Pre diagnosis I believed that:

  • Exercise was good.
  • Saturated fat was bad.
  • Eating plenty of fibre-rich cereals and porridge was good.
  • Smoking was bad.
  • Drinking alcohol was basically bad.
  • High cholesterol was bad.


    Was I right? Are you?


    Here's a quick look....


    Smoking is why I have a major blockage. Smoking is bad. Full stop.

    Cigarettes will probably be the ultimate cause of my demise. Fucking things.


    But other things on the list above may surprise you.....


    Cereals? Bad. Yes, huge amounts of sugar in them. Some of them are complex, 'slow-release' carbs, but still sugar, the slow, the silent (but profitable) killer. Yes, plenty of fibre, but loads of rubbish too in your Weetabix.

     Saturated fat? Good! Yes, good. It does far more good that harm.

   Drinking? Moderate is fine, if we avoid too many of the carby ones, like beer. Wine is OK and spirits. Nice surprise!

    Exercise is good! Me and my bike love a good romp! But it won't really lose you weight. Just generally good.

   Cholesterol? Low is bad. Yes, you hear me right. Low cholesterol is more prevalent in cardiac problems! All this rubbish about cholesterol blocking our arteries is, well, just that, rubbish. We were set on a course of self-destruction back in the late 50s. Since then, food producers and pharmaceutical companies have made trillions and caused untold misery.

    What about the Statins so many of us take for high cholesterol? You might well ask. There are literally thousands of articles and masses of research that debunk some previous theories. It's not published by Karen from Scunthorpe, but by scientists, cardiologists and doctors who have no vested interest in keeping us eating crap and taking medication when it's not required.

    Because I have insulin resistance and can't deal with glucose properly, I can have too much extra sugar swilling round my body. For your information, Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don't respond well to insulin and can't use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up. Excess sugar is bad. Far worse in fact than I ever realized.

    I'm far better off eating a steak than a delicious sponge cake. Excess sugar will kill me. Slowly, but it will. A steak will fuel me and not kill me. So, diet and lifestyle control my diabetes. 

     The local vegetarian cafe is terrible for me. It's just wall to wall carbs. The butcher next door is where I go.

    I have Type 2 diabetes, which so far I can contol with lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which needs medical intervention to manage it. (There are other types of diabetes too.)

    The establishment 'mantra' about diet, nutrition and our metabolic health is based on decades-old theories that would never had stood the test had they been put forward today. People believed they have been doing the right thing over the past decades but you only have to look at that article by Rachel Nicoll to know that cumulatively we have spiralled into a right old mess. The vast majority of our problems is because of what we ingest. When I say 'our problems', I mean we in the 'civilized' west. 

    Just one quick (surprising) snippet: to survive we need nutrients. We get them in the form of carbohydrates, protein and fat. The only one of these our bodies can do without is carbohydrates. We can get all the essential nutients we need from protein and fat without swamping ourselves with sugar. Sugar is a quick energy hit and what we don't need immediately gets stored in our liver, around other organs and body fat. Too much glucose we're bigger, much too much we're even bigger than big.


    The problem has been exacerbated (in fact exploded) because BIG money got involved. Once the supertanker of poor diet and bad advice got moving, there was too much at stake to allow it to be turned. Too much profit. It's still going on, we still basically eat dreadfully. Tastily for sure, but badly. We consume so much processed food and excess sugar that we're literally eating ourselves into our eternal boxes prematurely. Despite the efforts of clinicians and health experts who deal with the effects of our poor choices every minute of every day, we refuse to listen and still choose to take the 'establishment' option, and it's largely wrong.


    I've just scratched the surface here, but I'll highlight other articles and research in this section. Something else for you to ignore.


    I don't mean to preach, I'm just trying to make you aware.

    Why? Because I like some of you!

    Here are links to three doctors who are unconditionally on our side. There are many, many more.

    Dr Aseem Malhotra

    Dr Malcom Kendrick

    Dr Zoe Harcombe