What Does the Heart Want?

February 8, 2018 at 9:00 am  •  0 Comments

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The heart is our most important muscle, it doesn’t take a break, so we really need to do our best to take care of it for our lifetime In this article, I will describe what will make it content, satisfied and to function optimally from a naturopathic medical perspective.

Food for Heart Happiness

The heart loves a supply of healthy foods. Top heart-friendly foods are vegetables, fruits and other fiber-containing foods such as legumes and whole grains and also healthy fats. This essentially describes a Mediterranean-type diet. The heart particularly enjoys whole-foods, not processed foods. Processed foods are higher in preservatives, additives, sugars and processed fats. What this means practically is that it’s best to eat fruits instead of fruit juices; whole grains instead of processed flours. Not only is the fiber present in the whole fruit/grain, it also has less concentrated sugars/starches which your heart prefers.

Excess sugars are known to damage heart tissues so keep those to a minimum. Particular fibrous foods to include for heart health: whole oats, whole barley, legumes, peas, beans, mushrooms, flax seeds, apples, berries and citrus foods. Water and tea are excellent beverages to keep the heart hydrated.

The Heart of Fats

Fat is an important part of your diet, though certain fats are better than others; though, it’s about a healthy balance, not necessarily excluding one fat-type over the other. It is known that dietary fat is an important factor in the development of high blood pressure. Recent studies have confirmed that plant and fish-based fats are most protective against high blood pressure compared to the fats more common to meats.

Even for those requiring cardiovascular surgery, consuming omega-3 fats were found to be protective against common post-surgical complications such as for developing atrial fibrillation.

Sleep Helps the Heart

The heart functions better with sufficient sleep. When there is insomnia, especially from insufficient sleep, then there is an increased chance of high blood pressure and other heart problems. It has been found that reduced sleep leads to more stress and increased inflammation in the body, which can damage the heart.

Emotions, Stress and your Heart

If your thoughts and emotions are generally positive, so is your heart. Studies have found that depression, reduced interest in general, living alone and financial stress all contribute to cardiovascular strain. So, be sure to manage your stressors in addition to your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Exercise

Being physically active is helpful at toning the heart muscle and those who maintain a physically active lifestyle have less plaque build-up in the arteries.

Studies have also found that those who spend time outdoors have less chronic illness overall; this makes sense as being outdoors provides not only fresh air and vitamin D-producing light exposure, but also opportunities to be active in natural beautiful surroundings.

Supplements for Heart Happiness

Several supplements come to mind: garlic, magnesium, hawthorne, grape seed extracts…Magnesium is interesting in particular. Note that about 50% of Americans get insufficient magnesium through their diet and being low in magnesium is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease overall. Note that intracellular magnesium blood tests are much more accurate than serum blood tests.

Good dietary sources of magnesium include swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin seeds, turnip greens, green beans, sea vegetables, collard greens, kale, cantaloupe, sunflower/sesame seeds, black beans and almonds.

 

 

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.