As a child, I loved hearts. I used to draw them on birthday cards, secret diary entries and even on my homework! I grew up hearing phrases like “heart to heart”, “heartstrings”, “sweetheart”. The word “heart” had so many different connotations and this got me thinking... What is it with our obsession with hearts?
Well, for starters it is a life-giving organ that works non-stop. It contracts and expands around 100,000 times a day, supplies 96,000 kilometres of blood vessels and pumps the equivalent of in excess of 10,000 litres of blood around the body each day. So if you think you work hard enough at the office, spare a thought for your heart – at least you get to go to sleep!
Most of us know that the heart pumps the blood that carries oxygen around the body and carbon dioxide to the lungs. However, the heart also moves nutrients around the body as well. Arteries and capillaries are tiny tunnels that transport nutrients to the different areas of the body. So yes, this means that the donut you ate this afternoon, your favourite chicken salad and that glass of milk after dinner are being transported around the body in tiny particles – glucose, fat and calcium to name just a few. This explains the correlation between our eating habits and our cardiovascular health – a poor diet is reflected in poor heart health.
Tips for a beautiful heart
Watch your calcium
While calcium is great for bone health, be careful with the supplementation you use. Synthetic calcium that isn’t well-recognized by the body may result in calcification in the arteries; with studies showing increased cardiovascular risk as a result. We use natural forms of calcium in our supplements – Okinawan above-sea coral calcium in our Bone-Support, and Aquamin TG calcium from algae in our Zupafood products, Total Balance complete nutrient system and our other dietary supplements.
Manage your waistline
I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but understanding your personal risk of heart disease is the first step toward prevention. Your waistline is a much better predictor of future heart risk than your weight. Ideally, women should not have a waist-to-hip ratio higher than 0.85 and men not higher than 0.90. If your ratio is above this, I encourage you to revamp your diet by cutting out sweeteners and processed food. Increase your physical activity by up to 30 minutes a day; this may include taking the stairs or going for a lunch-time walk around the block with a colleague.
Eat Fatty, Cold-water Fish
Your risk of heart disease is closely associated with inflammation. Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by assisting with healthy inflammation management. Fish oil has also been shown to help with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and heart muscle health. Our Omega-3/QH Ultra contains genuine Kaneka QH Ubiquinol. This is the bio-available form of CoQ10 which is especially good for heart health.
Moments of stress come with living daily life, but chronic daily stress is something to be avoided. Optimal heart health requires being aware of stress, and taking steps to lower it before it compromises your cardiovascular system. Practice deep, slow breaths for short periods every day - I recommend yoga which is also great for the joints and core strength. I would also suggest working on getting a consistent full night’s sleep and taking regular walks in nature to help keep stress at bay.
I mentioned earlier about the heart being a life-giving organ physically, but it can also be a life-giving organ emotionally. We associate so many feelings with the heart and while there is nothing scientifically proven about this, I believe that good thoughts and good feelings also play a role in heart health.
And this leads me to my last tip for a beautiful heart…
Give a little
This may not be directly related to physical heart health, but it is great to give. Giving a physical gift, time, energy, or positive emotions and thoughts encourages us to tap into our inner-self. It is also a great way to practice putting others before ourselves (yes, I know it is hard to believe that it doesn’t all revolve around us).
I always encourage a healthy diet and lifestyle, but now I am also encouraging everyone to give to those close to them (both physically and emotionally). Perhaps it’s helping a dear friend, or it may be volunteering down at your local community centre. No matter what it is (we all have our own way of doing things), I encourage you to give to someone this week the gift of a beautiful heart.
In good health.