BY SUZANNE MONROE
Heart health is impacted by a variety of factors, including physical, emotional and spiritual. It’s one reason the heart is the most intriguing organ. It’s the human lifeline, pumping blood throughout the body, yet every person experiences emotions that are somehow related to the heart.
While science is still exploring the many facets of the heart, taking a holistic approach to healing the heart can be beneficial. Whether one has a serious heart health concern or less life-threatening yet emotional concerns, the heart is central to overall well-being. That being said, the following healthy habits for heart health are offered.
1. Add Vitamin J. Vitamin J=Vitamin Joy with a dose of laughter and pleasure. Add joy, laughter and pleasure to daily grind. A study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine recommends 15 minutes of daily laughter for optimum heart health.
2. Incorporate physical activity. Start with simple yet enjoyable activities, like walking, yoga or dancing —start with 10 minutes a day, increasing it gradually. Exercise is essential.
3. Eliminate trans fats. An FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advisory panel found that trans fats are even more harmful to health than saturated fats. The Institute of Medicine went a step further, concluding that the safest amount of trans fat is zero.
4. Try Omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in keeping the heart beating steadily and not lapsing into dangerous, sometimes fatal erratic rhythms. As many fish contain high levels of mercury and PCBs, use supplements such as fish oil, cod liver oil if extra Vitamin D is needed, or krill oil.
5. Reduce or eliminate refined sugar. Avoid sugar and chemicalized, artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, raw honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia. Also, eat sweet vegetables such as yams, carrots, and beets.
6. Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients great for improving circulation, lifting the spirit, purifying the blood and strengthening the immune system. Choose whole foods and have them several times daily.
7. Get more sleep. Women who sleep less than five hours each night have a 30-percent higher risk of heart disease than those who get eight hours. Too little sleep may play havoc with hormones, blood sugar and blood pressure.
8. Avoid tobacco and cigarettes. Exposure to tobacco, even second-hand smoke, can worsen heart disease.
9. Evaluate salt intake. As sodium intake increase, so can blood pressure. Moderating intake can help prevent and control hypertension. When using salt, choose high-quality sea salt which has important minerals that the body needs.
10. Breathe deeper. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help teach the body to tone down physical response to stress.
About the author: Suzanne Monroe is the founder of The International Association of Wellness Professionals and director of the IAWP’s Wellness Coach Certification & Training Program. The IAWP has given away over $100,000 in scholarships to support people who are passionate about health and wellness.