February is heart health month in Canada and that means you’ll be hearing a lot about how to improve your cardiovascular health!
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of disease in adults. We see a large number of patients at risk because they are hypertensive, diabetic, over-weight or dyslipidemic (have too much bad cholesterol).
The wonderful news is, research and our experience with patients consistently shows that diet and lifestyle factors are the most effective treatments for these conditions. It is never too late to implement health practices that will improve your cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation in your body and reduce your risk.
My recommendations are always to establish a healthy foundation for your body to heal. Establishing healthy rhythms reduces the total load of stress on your body, which means it can take care of the more important things like beating your heart and pumping your blood!
Fish oils: Omega’s aren’t only beneficial for your brain! Fish oils lower your inflammation levels, improve your healthy cholesterol levels and are protective for your blood vessels. Use 2-3 grams of omega-3 essential fatty acids from a professional brand that is guaranteed to be free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins. Our Au Mega is packaged in triglyceride form which is the most stable and easiest for your body to use. It also has the added benefit of lipase, an enzyme that ensures proper absorption of all its oily goodness.
Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant that is found at high concentrations in the heart muscle, liver and kidneys. It acts like a turbocharger for your engine, boosting oxygen levels and energy production for your muscle cells – and most importantly for your heart. People using statins or have high cholesterol, suffering from stress, fatigue or poor circulation are often deficient in CoQ10 and supplementation might be suitable.
Sleep: I always say, your body works the night shift. As you sleep, many biochemical functions take place that you normally cannot perform very well because you’re too busy running around, thinking or digesting during the daytime. These processes restore your cells and regulate your stress hormones. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, if your sleep is disrupted in the night, or if you’re waking tired, these are all signs that your stress hormones are likely unbalanced. Over time, these hormones raise your blood pressure, contribute to weight gain and blood sugar imbalances and thus increase your heart disease risk. Aim for 8 hours of restorative sleep nightly.
Exercise: 30 minutes of sweat inducing exercise 3-5x/week is an excellent way to maintain healthy weight and improve your blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. We love HIIT (high intensity interval training) because you can work up a sweat in as little as 15 minutes, and you can do the exercises almost anywhere. Moving your body in a way you enjoy is important – try HIIT, walking, skating, swimming, etc.
Make your heart smile: in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is very connected to the mind. In our busy lives, we often feel things like chest pain (angina), palpitations, anxiety, racing thoughts or even insomnia. These are all indications that our heart is feeling the brunt of the stress on our system. Set aside a moment (or 15 minutes) out of your day to sit down in a calm place, take a few deep belly breaths, and perhaps meditate or reflect on some affirmations or things you’re grateful for. This calms your nervous system down, balances your brain centres and hormones, and massages the vagus nerve – a large nerve that connects our brain and our abdomen, what we often call our “gut instinct”. I also love hugging trees, dogs and barefoot walking.
Send your heart some love this month, folks!