Since February is heart month, I thought it would be very fitting to talk about optimizing heart health.
Here are my top 10 natural ways to improve your heart health:
Reduce your sugar intake.
Believe it or not, sugar is a more significant contributor to increased risk of heart disease than dietary fat. Sugar causes a rapid rise in your blood glucose which then increases insulin output to balance this out. This insulin release promotes fat accumulation in your body and makes it more difficult to get rid of that harmful belly fat that has been shown to significantly increase risk of major heart disease.
Ensure you are getting enough high quality omega-3 fats in your diet.
Research shows that Omega-3 fats (whether from fish or supplements) have a protective effect on cardiovascular health. They also contribute to the reduction of triglyceride levels and inflammation in your
Replace harmful trans fats with healthy fats such olive oil, butter, avocado, pastured eggs and coconut oil.
Ensure that you are using your fats correctly. For example, make sure that you are consuming your olive oil raw. Cooking with olive oil causes the cholesterol in the olive oil to oxidize which can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol balance in the body. Coconut or avocado oils are a much better choice for cooking.
Improve your gut microbiome with fermented foods.
Poor oral health is an indicator of increased heart disease risk. By improving your gut health, you increase the healthy bacteria that can flourish in your mouth. Great examples of fermented foods are: sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, etc.
Ensure you have adequate vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D can play a role in preventing formation of arterial plaque. Ideally you are doing this naturally through appropriate sun exposure. You really only need to be out long enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink which is not damaging to the skin. For some this can happen in minutes, beyond that point your body does not make any additional vitamin D and the continued exposure only causes potential harm and damage. The best time of day to get out is between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun is at its peak. Even on overcast days, get outside to take in natural light as much as possible.
Make regular exercise a priority.
Even if it is as simple as a 15-20 minute walk every day, it can make a huge difference in your health, energy levels and sleep quality.
Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
Ensure you are getting deeply restorative high quality sleep and plenty of it.
A naturopath can provide you with a variety of natural choices and habits to dramatically improve your sleep quality.
Incorporate a regular breath practice into your life to help manage your stress.
This simple method can have an immediate lowering effect on blood pressure when practiced for as little as 5 minutes.
Lastly, it is also very important that we are able to freely give and receive love.
Without love in our loves we are left feeling empty and lonely. We are at our best when we feel supported by those most important in our lives and when we feel well enough to be able to give back that same support so make it a priority to give and get regular hugs as this is one very effective way to share love.
If you are struggling to find the time, motivation, or information to make any of these suggestions a regular part of your life, reach out to your naturopathic doctor to help you determine what is stopping you from living your best life.