Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world, with millions dying every year from heart failure and related cardiovascular conditions. Health authorities the world over are cautioning against the sedentary lifestyle and poor diets that are inextricably linked to this epidemic, but what else can we do to keep our tickers ticking on?
1. Eat a nourishing, heart-friendly diet
Experts have debated for years the best foods to eat to maintain cardiovascular health, and since the 1980s the mantra has been to reduce fat and salt intake and increase grains and carbohydrates. However, increasingly research has now shown the opposite may be true, with an emphasis on increasing the levels of good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil and omega 3-rich fish oils whilst reducing the omega-6-heavy plant oils and trans-fats known to increase vascular inflammation. The jury is still out on the role of animal products in supporting cardiovascular health, with two distinct schools of thought on whether or not saturated fats such as butter and lard and red meat are to be included or avoided.
With this in mind, the best guideline is, as ever, to have a strong emphasis on whole food nutrition and include plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs and some meat, ensure you avoid any refined or processed foods such as margarine, sugary snacks, white bread and soda, and eat things as close to their natural form as you possibly can. Oily fish in particular is known to support healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels and overall heart health.
2. Look after your oral hygiene
It’s a little-known fact that oral health can directly influence heart health. Unresolved focal infections around damaged teeth and root canals can result in dangerous bacteria gaining access to the heart via the bloodstream, entering through broken capillaries in the gums and leading to poor heart health.
Supporting the immune system, eating a tooth-friendly diet, and ensuring you maintain proper hygiene, brush regularly, and use a good natural mouthwash may help prevent tooth decay, as well as lower the risk of oral health related heart disease.
3. Stay active
Keeping active is one of the best ways to support your heart to function properly. In a world where so many of us lead relatively sedentary lives, it is vital to make the effort to get out and about when we can. Whether it be a team sport, walking the dog, having a stroll along the beach or simply chasing your kids around, getting our heart pumping and blood flowing several times a week is critical to maintaining cardiovascular health – particularly for those of us who work in office or desk jobs during the week.
4. Eat enough protein
As the heart is a muscle, it is important to ensure we eat enough protein to maintain its health. Many people eat diets rich in carbohydrate but low in good quality protein.
Eating foods such as meat, eggs, and nuts and seeds will help support protein levels, but for those who still struggle to consume enough, products such as bone broth and protein powders can be an easy way to bump up your levels without too much extra effort.
5. Balance electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals that become ions when made into a solution in water, and can thus conduct electricity in solution, which they’ll do in your body. The key electrolytes in the human body are magnesium, sodium, potassium and bicarbonate, and these are required in adequate amounts and the correct ratio to maintain proper cellular function and ensure the heart functions normally.
Many processes in the body rely on electrical signalling to work properly, which is where our electrolytes come in. This includes all muscles in the body, including the heart, and when the ratio is impaired heart function can become irregular.
Ensuring we consume enough minerals is vital to a properly working heart. This should ideally be through our diet, by way of whole foods, but some people may prefer taking mineral supplements where a wholefood diet is difficult to maintain.
6. Mind your CoQ10
Co-enzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) is an antioxidant nutrient that our body manufactures, which supports the conversion of nutrients into energy within the mitochondria of our cells, assists the function of other enzymes in our bodies and digestive systems in the breakdown of food into nutrients, and supports the overall health of our cardiovascular system.
It may help healthy arteries and veins from the effects of free radical damage and oxidative stress, supports our body’s other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and is popular for its overall energy boosting properties. As we age, our body’s ability to produce CoQ10 and to convert it to an active form reduces, and as such, supplementation may be helpful, although small amounts are present in numerous foods including organ meats, oily fish, and peanuts.
People who regularly take statins may also benefit from supplementation, as statins can impact the body’s ability to produce its own CoQ10.
7. Seek more Vitamin C and E
Vitamins C and E are both important nutrients for our overall cardiovascular function. Both are antioxidants, protecting the body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules in our environment that have a single electron on their outer valent shell, and seek to bond to other molecules in order to steal a second electron from them, causing cellular damage in the process. Antioxidants are known as electron donors, and as such are able to donate a spare electron and bond to these harmful chemicals,
Antioxidants are known as electron donors, and as such are able to donate a spare electron and bond to these harmful chemicals, neutralising the free radicals and preventing damage to cells and organs. Our cardiovascular system and blood vessels are especially prone to the effects of oxidative stress, and as such, vitamins C and E are especially important for the overall wellbeing of our heart.
Vitamin C is also critical for connective tissue integrity, and may support healthy arterial wall structure. Both vitamins are also thought to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, making them useful for overall heart health.
HealthPost has a wide range of products that can support the health of your heart and cardiovascular system, from electrolytes and minerals to CoQ10, protein, natural oral hygiene products and delicious wholefood supplements to support overall energy and wellbeing. Buy them online from our secure shop.