In February we celebrate heart health month, and this is a cause that is near and dear to my own heart. My father passed from a heart attack when he was quite young, and I hope that by helping others with their health, I can prevent them from experiencing the sorrow of losing someone too soon. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America- contributing to over 600,000 deaths per year. But don't worry, small and simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact on your heart health.
Show your heart some love with these 10 tips!
Not all fats are created equal-- some plants, seeds, nuts, and fish contain essential fatty acids known as Omegas. These healthy oils nourish the heart and the brain, decrease inflammation, reduce bad cholesterol, and slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries. I recommend adding at least one Omega-3 rich food, such as nuts, seeds, or avocados to your diet each day!
Having healthy teeth and gums makes a big difference for the health of your heart. Studies show that gum disease keeps the body in a continual state of inflammation, which can be a very powerful contributor to cardiovascular disease. Gum disease also appears to worsen blood pressure and interferes with medications that treat high blood pressure. So brush and floss those pearly whites!
The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. When you go into the deepest part of your sleep patterns your body metabolizes the stress hormone cortisol and gives your heart a break from working so hard. People who don't sleep enough or don't get a good quality sleep are at higher risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, regardless of age, weight, smoking or exercise habits.
Your heart is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised! In addition to making your heart muscle stronger, exercise also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I have found that when it comes to exercise, if you don't like it you won't keep it up. Find something that you love to do and someone you love to do it with. Walk with your family daily, swim with a friend, join a cardio class at your local gym, or find some online friends and start an accountability group!
Kicking your tobacco habit can have a positive effect on your heart within minutes. Twenty minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure lowers. One year after quitting smoking, your risk for heart disease decreases by half. Within fifteen years of quitting, your risk of heart disease is equivalent to that of someone who never smoked a day in their life! Give your heart some love and kick the habit!
Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, and it causes blood (which is primarily water) to thicken. As your blood volume drops, so does your blood pressure, which causes the body to react by constricting blood vessels and increasing the heart rate to maintain blood pressure. In a nutshell, being dehydrated causes your heart to pump thicker blood through narrower arteries and vessels, causing blood pressure to rise. Commit to drinking at least eight- 8oz glasses of water a day to keep your heart hydrated!
There are many herbs that can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and strengthen your heart. One of the most popular heart herbs is Hawthorn Berry. Hawthorn Berries are loaded with antioxidants that support heart health. Studies show that Hawthorn Berry has properties that help regulate blood pressure, reduce hardening of the arteries, widen blood vessels, increase the transmission of nerve signals to the heart, and lower cholesterol! Hawthorn is the main ingredient in our Healthy Heart Formula.
It's well known that a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is better for your heart. But most Americans don't really know where to start when it comes to changing their diet for the better. I tell my clients to start by adding in one more vegetable or fruit serving with each meal. From there, try having one meatless meal per week. Most of the cholesterol-raising saturated fats that Americans eat comes from animal fats such as meat, dairy products, and eggs. By increasing your intake of fresh produce and decreasing your intake of saturated fats, you'll be well on your way to our next health tip:
Control your weight
Losing weight reduces the amount of work your heart has to do! Your heart works hard to pump blood, but when you have extra fat in the bloodstream and around the organs, your heart has to work even harder to pump through narrowed arteries. As you shed pounds, the fats in your bloodstream change, making your good cholesterol levels go up and your bad cholesterol decrease.
Excessive stress plays a significant role in heart disease, increasing your risk of heart attack. Your body reacts to stress by stimulating the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, these changes can cause bigger health problems, contributing to stroke and heart disease. A daily meditation practice can be one of your most powerful tools against stress-related heart conditions. Other tools include counseling or therapy, using an adrenal support formula to reduce your body's cortisol levels, and finding a hobby or outlet that helps calm you, such as knitting or painting.
I truly hope that you find these heart health tips useful and easy to implement into your life. Give me a call if you feel you may be at risk for heart disease and you'd like to schedule an appointment for an individualized heart health plan!