Heart disease is a big topic in the US, and for good reason. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adult men and women in the US. According to the CDC, 12.1% of American adults have been diagnosed with heart disease, yet this number doesn’t include the many people who are suffering from heart disease but have yet to receive a diagnosis.
These are sobering statistics, but we have a great deal of power when it comes to the health of our hearts. In this article, we’d like to discuss some ways that you can take control of your heart health.
Regular exercise has a blood-pressure-lowering effect, it increases good cholesterol, improves blood circulation, and improves sleep patterns. The endorphins produced by exercise also reduce depression. If you have a diagnosed heart condition, you should discuss safe options with your physician before you begin an exercise regimen, but no matter what activity appeals to you, the benefits are multi-faceted. Whatever gets you active and keeps you from being sedentary is a positive move for your heart and your health by helping maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is associated with increased heart disease risk in both men and women. Physical activity doesn’t always involve going to a gym or putting on a pair of yoga pants; it may look like working in your garden, or stocking shelves at work. It’s important to find an activity that you enjoy so that you will stick with it.
One of the greatest dietary myths of the 20th century was that saturated fat and cholesterol will kill you by giving you a fast-track to a heart attack. In fact, dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on blood cholesterol for most people. In addition, even the author of the saturated fat hypothesis refuted his own research a few decades later. Unfortunately, much of the media and many physicians have not yet caught up to the research. So, what does a healthy diet look like?
The “Perfect Diet” may look a little different for everyone, but there are some universal truths that hold true:
- Limit sugar, especially refined sugars
- Limit refined carbohydrates (such as baked goods, cereals, pasta)
- Eggs are good for you
- Liver is good for you
- Animal fats are good for you (as long as they come from clean sources; animals that are fed properly and not raised on a feedlot).
- Fresh veggies and fruits are good for you
- Replace refined seed oils which are dense sources of Omega 6 fats, with healthy oils like avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, quality tallow or lard, or grass-fed butter or ghee.
- Omega 3 fats from wild-caught fish support heart health.
Nutrition may also take the form of responsible supplementation. We all try to eat responsibly but not everyone can cover all the bases all the time. If you deal with food allergies and sensitivities, you may find complete nutrition even more challenging. At Body in Harmony, our Nutrition Staff can help you develop a way of eating that promotes health, lowers inflammation, and takes care of your heart at the same time. We can help you navigate the areas that you may find confusing.
This may include supplementation if you find that you are missing a few key nutrients. For instance, did you know that Vitamin B4 can’t be found in multi-vitamins? The best source is liver. It is virtually impossible to get adequate Vitamin B4 from plant sources and it is one of the most important nutrients needed for heart health. Vitamin B4 is essential for muscle tone and nerve conduction and what is the most important muscle in your body? Your heart! I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t like liver.”
If you don’t like it or just don’t have the ability to eat it every day, this is where targeted supplementation can be so effective. For example, Standard Process’s Cataplex B, the first ingredient of which is beef liver, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Standard Process’s Cardiotrophin PMG can help stop an autoimmune assault on the heart. Standard Process’s Cardio-Plus contains naturally occurring CoQ10, which protects the heart by reducing blood pressure and preventing congestive heart failure. There are many other whole-food supplements that can support heart health, and we would be glad to help design a supplement protocol especially for your unique needs.
Controlling stress is absolutely essential for heart health. Chronic stress increases blood pressure, which is damaging to your heart. There are many ways to deal with stress in your life, such as breathing exercises, herbs, time outdoors, meditation and prayer, NUCCA Care, social support, decluttering your space and schedule, and of course, a proper diet. In an upcoming article, we will cover stress-reduction techniques more in-depth.
We all know that smoking is dangerous, in fact it is considered the leading cause of preventable illness and death. There are more than 7,000 chemicals found in cigarettes, and they damage your heart and blood vessels, change the chemistry of your blood, and cause plaque build-up in the arteries. We also know that quitting is difficult. A combination mind-body approach to smoking cessation is gaining traction. Essentially it addresses addiction on a physical, behavioral and cognitive level.
Heart Disease is an area in which prevention is not just necessary, it’s also effective! At Body In Harmony, we believe in giving you the tools you need to take the very best care of your heart and your whole person. Contact us today to get started!