Your heart is important. Very, VERY important. Just take a minute to think about how NECESSARY your heart is. Your heart pumps all the blood, delivering oxygen to your body, keeping your mind sharp for you to tackle the day.
We put so much emphasis on being healthy, we need to make sure that our muscles are healthy and strong. So how do we keep our Hearts Healthy?
How does our food affect our heart? Your diet plays a role in your risk of coronary heart disease. Food-related risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and a diet high in saturated fats. Therefore, if you are already at risk, it is important to implement a low-saturated fat, high-fiber, high plant food diet as research has shown that this type of diet change can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Keep Your Arteries Clean
Plaque forms in your Arteries when there is cholesterol build up in your arteries which can lead to blood clots which can lead to a heart attack. So back to eating healthy, it is important to monitor your cholesterol levels. If you want to do an “artery cleanse” try incorporating these foods into your diet:
- Fatty Fish
- Olive Oil
- Whole Grains
According to the American Heart Association, your stress levels can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. For many people, stress is somaticized in the body, meaning that stress shows up in physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, stomach pain, etc. The body’s natural reaction to stress is the release of the hormone cortisol, but having consistently high levels of cortisol from long-term or chronic stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure which increase your risk factors for heart disease. This stress can also cause changes that promote the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries.
The American Heart Association gives these tips for stressful situations:
- Count to 10 before you speak or react.
- Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
- Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.
- Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
- If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
- Walk away from the situation for a while and handle it later once things have calmed down.
- Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.
- Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
- Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.
- Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
Number 10 is a perfect Segway to our next tip to keep your heart healthy – Exercise
Fitness & Exercise
It is important to realize that we must have a holistic approach to taking care of our bodies. Even if we change our diets, we must also incorporate daily exercise and physical activity. Even if you aren’t a gym buff, incorporating light physical activity such as walking is a great way to get your heart rate elevated.
Additionally, your heart is a muscle that needs to be worked and strengthen and exercise does just that. Integrating physical activity such as walking for 30min a day can help strengthen your heart and lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Knowing the Signs
Finally, it is imperative that we learn the signs and symptoms of a Heart Attack and Strokes. Below you find key signs and symptoms from the American Heart Association, but even if you are unsure, be safe rather than sorry. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs call 911 or seek help immediately.