Keep Your Heart Healthy!

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You have heard many of the rules for preventing heart disease – know your cholesterol levels, cut down on saturated fats and eliminate fried foods, exercise, quit smoking if you haven’t already and do anything you can do reduce your stress levels- meditate, do Yoga or take a walk. We need to add one more to the list since the surprising death of Michael Jackson and that is know the medications you may be taking could be harmful to your health.

The endless commercials on TV touting the latest prescription drug for whatever ails you have more side effects that sound worse than what you are dealing with. When the announcer says “Ask your Doctor”, my first thoughts are ask your Doctor what you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place not how can I get on this drug.

Have you given up FAT in favor of more carbohydrates? If so, you may be doing your heart a disservice. For years, heart disease was a “fat” problem. It is not – it is actually a sugar problem. People have been on low-fat diets for the past 30 years and heart disease has increased. Surprised? The explanation lies in what is called Syndrome X – a cluster of 4 factors that include HDL (good) cholesterol, Triglycerides, high blood pressure and obesity. Knowing these 4 factors can reduce or increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

It is a condition called “insulin resistance.” Insulin raises blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol which can lead to diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease. Even just a small amount of elevated blood sugar can increase your risk for heart disease.

SOLUTION? Eat reasonable amounts of protein and fat and choose GOOD CARBOHYDRATES like fresh fruit and vegetables which will give you more fiber and antioxidants. Simply going for a walk everyday for 30 minutes lowers blood sugar levels.

Are you eating some good fats? Like olive oil, nuts, seeds, Omega 3’s (essential fatty acids) found in cold-water fish, walnuts and ground flaxseeds. Eating less of these good fats can actually increase your risk for heart disease.

SOLUTION? Get “FAT-FREE” out of your head! Toss walnuts or toasted almonds into your salad at dinner or in your morning oatmeal. Eat salmon or fish whenever possible, grind flaxseeds and add them to your smoothie any time of day. Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, your favorite vinegar and a little sea salt and pepper – herbs are great to add for a new flavor.

Do you have a social support system? Are you married or have a significant other? This plays a huge role in your heart’s health no matter what your age is, if you smoke or drink, or exercise. Having a life partner offers emotional security for both men and women.

SOLUTION? Get out there and join a dinner group, find a church, fitness facility, book club, cycling club, whatever interests you so you are forced to get out of your house.

Do you have a TYPE A personality? There is a strong correlation between stress and heart disease and people with TYPE A personality’s tend to live in a high-stress world. Stress increases Cortisol (stress) hormone and adrenaline levels and this in turn increases the C-Reactive proteins in the body – an inflammatory response throughout the body, in particular the heart.

SOLUTION? Take a break – lose the cell phone, take a yoga class, listen to relaxing music. Take time for yourself – meditate. This will lower your heart rate, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Did you eat something GREEN today? I am always asking that of people because they are rich in B-complex vitamins which help to de-stress the body and support the adrenal glands. B vitamins help keep homocysteine levels in check – they are an amino acid formed during normal metabolic processes in the body. If blood levels of this hormone are too high, the result is atherosclerosis and heart disease. B vitamins metabolize homocysteine hormones and by increasing your levels of B-vitamins, you can reduce your risk of heart disease.

SOLUTION? Eat your greens or take a B-complex vitamin supplement daily

Are you a spiritual person? Do you pray everyday? Do you have a strong relationship with God? A strong spiritual connection can help you stay healthy in your heart as well as your mind and body.

SOLUTION? Connect with something greater than yourself. Read the Bible, take a moment everyday to pray and be with God. This will have a calming effect on your body and heart and might be the best part of your day.

If you are a post-menopausal woman, heart disease is a concern for women more than breast cancer because estrogen levels drop dramatically after menopause. Estrogen has a protective effect on the heart so adding SOY protein to your day or ask your OB/GYN about bio-idential or compounded hormones.

SOLUTION? Consider adding CoEnzyme Q10 to your supplement regimen daily – it has a protective effect on the heart and Omega 3’s (fish oil) reduce inflammation.

How is your HDL (good) cholesterol levels? If HDL levels are too low, this puts you at risk for heart disease. Good cholesterol removes damaging cholesterol from the cells and transports it to the liver so it can be removed from the body.

SOLUTION? Increase your activity levels, anything that gets your heart rate up can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Keep your heart healthy with these simple steps:

1. Eat from the earth, whole foods as much as possible
2. Drink plenty of water everyday
3. Include walnuts, 1 glass of red wine, ginger, apples, barley, oats, green tea, garlic, beans and olive oil in your diet.
4. Take Omega 3’s (fish oil) and Resveratrol (from red wine) and Co-Enzyme Q10 every day to protect your heart.

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