With Valentine’s Day today, hearts are everywhere, but how often do you actually think about the function of your heart? It’s a pretty incredible organ, beating up to 140,000 times a day in a very specific and syncopated rhythm to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Because of its important role, the health of your heart can literally mean life or death.
February is also National Heart Month, so let’s take this opportunity to give your heart a little love! Here are some important ways you can nourish the many facets of your body’s central organ.
Your Physical Heart
As with most things pertaining to your health and wellness, prevention is key. According to the CDC, about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year (that’s 1 in every 4 deaths!).1 To put yourself in the best position to ward off debilitating heart diseases, you’ll want to pay attention to the following areas.
- Know Your Numbers. Only by knowing your blood pressure rate, and levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can you adequately understand your risk factors. Visit your primary care doctor yearly to get your baseline numbers.
- Focus on Heart-Healthy Foods. Cut out processed foods and consume more leafy greens, whole grains, berries, fish, nuts, and healthy cold-pressed oils such as olive or MCT oil. Turmeric is an amazingly heart supportive spice, so use that liberally in your cooking. Hawthorne berry and leaf tea also provides some unbelievable benefits to the cardiovascular system. If you basically eat the rainbow, you’ll be in good shape!
- Move Your Body. If you aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly, try walking to get your heart rate moving and you can increase your activity level from there.
And of course, if you are a smoker, as difficult as it can be to kick cigarettes, you’ll want to seek strong support to quit, as smoking is a major contributor to all heart-related diseases.
Your Emotional Heart
You’d be remiss to ignore the emotional aspects of your heart, as Dr. Windsor Ting, heart surgeon and co-author of The Heart Mind Connectionwarns within its pages. He points to a strong correlation between heart problems and depression. Here are a few ways to nourish your emotional heart:
- Laugh More. This can be healing to the heart. In a 1997 study2 of 48 heart attack patients, half watched comedies for 30 minutes daily; the other half were in the control group. After a year, patients in the control group had a greater number of recurrent heart attacks.
- Keep Stress in Check. Stress elevates blood pressure, causes arterial inflammation, can elevate cholesterol, promotes blood clotting, contributes to obesity, and can even trigger sudden cardiac death! One technique to turn to repeatedly when stress levels soar is deep breathing. When you regulate your breathing, making it slow and regular, you’re actually modulating your feelings.
Your Spiritual Heart
Fostering a connection with your spiritual heart can bring about a sense of calm and inner peace. When you allow yourself to listen to your heart and to trust your heart center, you tap into the wisdom of spiritual intelligence, which some say far exceeds your intellect or your emotions.
The fourth chakra—one of a system of seven energy centers that radiate throughout your body—is also known as the heart chakra. It is located in the center of your chest, associated with the color green and the element of air. It governs the heart, circulatory system, respiratory system, arms, shoulders, hands, diaphragm, ribs, breast, and thymus gland. The heart chakra is associated with unconditional love, self-acceptance, and forgiveness, and it brings with it tremendous healing power. Learning to love yourself is the ultimate step in achieving a healthy heart chakra and becoming a healthy, balanced person.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
To your good health, Karen