Did you know that February is American Heart Month? Fitting, right?! The heart is a precious and vital organ that needs to be nourished every. single. day. When we are young and feel invincible, it’s easy to think that our heart will keep working for us forever. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you don’t start taking care of your heart now, you may be faced with heart disease or another chronic disease down the road. As a physician, I work hard to educate my patients about lifestyle changes that could end up saving their lives. Don’t take your heart for granted because the reality is that every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. We are not invincible. Small lifestyle changes can make all the difference in the world.
Show your heart some love this month and the months to come by doing these 5 things:
- Move throughout the day. Researchers are studying groups of people all over the globe who are living well into their 90s and 100s, and they are healthy. One thing that they all have in common is that they move throughout their day. They don’t necessarily go to the gym, they just stay active. They do things like sit on the floor and are able to get up without any help, walk to the grocery, take the stairs, walk around the block as a family, and stretch daily. They simply move to keep their blood pumping and joints limber.
- Eat more plants. Plants have amazing health benefits. They contain antioxidants which can help neutralize free radicals, anthocyanins that give plants their pigment, and polyphenols which can help with inflammation in the body. I encourage you and your family to try and eat the rainbow every day.
- Eliminate table salt. Iodized table salt can be bad for the blood vessels which can, in turn, increase your chances of getting high blood pressure. It is a big step to eliminate table salt, but you also need to think about how much processed food you are eating on a daily basis. Processed foods are loaded with salt. Instead, opt for real food and season it with a high quality sea salt that has not been chemically treated. I love Celtic Sea Salt!
- Power down. Make a commitment to powering down at a certain time each night or for a couple of hours during the day. Technology is wonderful, but it can also increase your stress level which takes a toll on your heart. Do your heart a favor, and take some time to step away from the electronics and work!
- Eat dark chocolate. Can you believe chocolate is good for your heart? Best news I’ve given you! Make sure it is dark chocolate (70% or higher) and not milk because milk chocolate contains tons of sugar, which masks the benefits of the cocoa. Cocoa contains flavonals which help to form nitric acid in the body. And nitric acid helps the blood vessel walls to relax and open, which is what we want. Have a square or two a day with a cup of your favorite herbal tea.