Your heart is the most vital organ in the body. From the moment you’re born, it is the beating soul that keeps all bodily functions running smoothly and allows you to live a full life. Keeping your heart healthy deserves to be at the top of your priority list. Even if you haven’t experienced any complications or aren’t worried about the state of your body, investing in the care of this important muscle is one of the best things you can do. In this guide, we’ll give you 10 things you can start doing today to give your heart the best chance of good health.
Your heart is central to your entire body’s health. During its lifetime, it will beat approximately 2.5 billion times and push millions of gallons of blood throughout the body. Your blood plays a number of vital roles throughout the body. It:
The movement of blood throughout your body is solely dependent on the strength and health of your heart. It sits at the heart of your circulation system, pushing the blood all around. When our heart becomes unhealthy, it can lead to heart disease which is the number 1 cause of death globally. It is responsible for 16% of total deaths.
The outcomes of neglecting the health of your heart are significant. They do vary from mild to extreme but any detrimental impact we have on this vital organ can have a knock-on effect throughout the body.
If our heart struggles to pump blood throughout the body, it will also struggle to get the right amounts of oxygen to organs and tissue. Research has shown that there is a strong link between heart-related illnesses and poor mental health, including clinical depression. If we cannot fuel our muscles, cells and organs with the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals, we cannot produce serotonin or function at an optimal level.
When our heart becomes unable to function appropriately, we run the risk of developing heart diseases. The end symptoms of this can be death, but there are telltale signs beforehand that indicate we need to focus more on this important organ. Sleep apnea, dizziness, shortness of breath, irregular heart beats and heartburn can all be signs that something is seriously wrong.
The good thing about heart health is that it’s easy to make a significant difference with simple lifestyle changes. Let’s take a look at 10 that you can focus on right now.
Try to include as many fruits, vegetables and grains in your diet as possible. Foods that are rich in antioxidants will help to fight free radicals and prevent your cells from experiencing oxidative stress. If untreated, this can eventually lead to heart disease. Include protein-rich foods like eggs and poultry alongside healthy fats in avocados, olives and raw nuts.
Moving your body once a day works as a beta-blocker, slowing down the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. We also tend to be more focused on our breath during exercise which increases oxygen levels and improves the quality of our blood. When we work out, it increases the risk of losing weight (a topic we’ll discuss in a moment) and exercising has been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels too.
Obese bodies are under more strain when it comes to moving blood around the body. There is also an increased risk of fat build-up in arteries which can lead to heart attack or strokes. Weight loss effectively lowers blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to operate at optimal levels.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs. It also increases the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. In turn, this increases the risk of blockages and strokes. Smoking also increases the thickness of blood, making it thicker and less able to travel smoothly through the body. Over time, reducing or quitting smoking entirely will help to lower your chance of dangerous blood clots or atherosclerosis.
LDL cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoproteins, is also known as bad cholesterol. This is because it deposits along the walls of your blood vessels, increasing the risk of blockages and blood clots. For men, the ideal LDL level should be less than 70 mg/dl while for women it should be closer to 50 mg/dl. Therefore, it is important that you maintain good levels to reduce stress on the heart. You can do this by reducing saturated fats and eating lots of soluble fibre from foods like oatmeal and barley.
Too much alcohol increases the levels of fat in the blood. As we’ve mentioned above, fatty blood can cause blood clots and will, eventually, lead to a heart attack or stroke. It also increases blood pressure and body weight, putting more stress on the heart. Reducing alcohol intake to one drink per day or even eliminating it completely will help to improve overall health.
High levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) can increase blood pressure. There is also evidence to suggest that prolonged stress can increase the risk of cardiovascular events linked to other poor lifestyle choices, like overeating or smoking. Try to manage stress levels by taking up yoga or mindfulness in your everyday lives.
Oily fish, like salmon, sardines and mackerel, are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. These help to reduce triglycerides, a fat that can be found in the blood. As we have mentioned above, fat in the blood increases the risk of issues such as plaque buildup and irregular heartbeat as well as strokes. The NHS recommends that we eat 1 portion of oily fish per week.
When we eat sugar, our bodies produce insulin to help control blood glucose levels. When we eat too much sugar, the additional insulin produced can cause inflammation or the thickening of artery walls which stresses out the heart. It is recommended that adults eat no more than 30g of free sugars a day while children under 6 should have no more than 19g.
A diet that is high in salt will increase the amount of fluid found around the heart. This puts stress on the organ, causing it to work harder and stress it out. High sodium levels are also linked to high blood pressure. It is recommended that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day and children stick to under 3g.
Natural Health 4 Life is here to help you improve your overall health in the easiest and most natural way. We have a range of supplements and products to help support your body and heart. If you have any questions or would like to speak to a member of our specialist team, please do get in contact with us here today.
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