Contributing Writers for Wake Up World
The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. It is a specialized muscle that contracts regularly and continuously, pumping blood through the body and to the lungs. The pumping action is the result of a flow of electricity through the heart that repeats itself in a cycle. The heart pumps the blood, which carries all the vital materials which help our bodies function and removes the waste products that we do not need. For example, the brain requires oxygen and glucose, which, if not received continuously, will cause it to loose consciousness.
Muscles need oxygen, glucose and amino acids, as well as the proper ratio of sodium, calcium and potassium salts in order to contract normally. The glands need sufficient supplies of raw materials from which to manufacture the specific secretions. If the heart ever ceases to pump blood the body begins to shut down and after a very short period of time will die.
In order to avoid premature failure of the heart, we must take good care of it. You see, like any organ in our bodies, the heart has a function. Without it, we simply could not survive. In light of this, we have included below tips to help you maintain a healthy heart.
Feeding Our Hearts
Our bodies need proper nutrition in order for them to function optimally. Not only do we need macronutrients in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but our bodies also need the right amount of micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, enzymes) to operate and survive. Contrary to popular belief (where our bodies are viewed as merely physical parts) our bodies are energetic manifestations which require energy for survival.
With regard to the heart, energy also plays an integral part. The heart functions without any thought. It is governed by certain homeostatic control mechanisms which allow it to freely pump blood through the body. In order to properly fuel the heart, we need to ingest adequate amounts of magnesium as it is the master nutrient for the heart. It helps reduce vascular resistance and lowers blood pressure. In conjunction with the heart, magnesium also helps pump potassium and sodium in and out of the cell. A deficiency of magnesium is usually the culprit with potassium deficiency, and thus high blood pressure. Foods that contain magnesium include: artichokes, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, black beans, pumpkin seeds, spinach (other dark leafy greens), and raw (unpasteurized) chocolate!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to decrease triglycerides (dangerous blood fats) by as much as 50% and lower cholesterol by 12% on average. Further to this, Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation which is the main culprit behind the buildup of plaque. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flax seeds and walnuts.
Vitamins A, C, E
The beneficial antioxidants in these vitamins all have the ability to prevent fat deposits sticking to artery walls and prevent damage to the arterial lining caused by free radical damage. Vitamin A food sources include: cayenne pepper and dark leafy greens; Vitamin C food sources include: citrus fruits and red peppers; Vitamin E food sources include: avocados and almonds.
An important antioxidant and cardiac muscle strengthener, Co-enzyme Q 10 is very important to the health of the heart. This nutrient begins to delete form the body with age, elevated stress and illness and the use of satin drugs. This micronutrient can be found in spinach and broccoli.
Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with high blood levels of homocysteine. Folic acid can be found in both leafy greens and beans.
Many of us are deficient in this vital nutrient; This antioxidant mineral works with vitamin E to clean-up damaging free radicals in the blood. Selenium can be found mainly in lentils and Brazil nuts.
Studies have shown that allicin, which is found most abundantly in garlic and also to a lesser degree in onions and leeks, may help preventing blood clots from forming in coronary arteries.
Flavonoids inhibit the action of platelets, which are the blood cells that join to form blood clots. They are antioxidants that also help the absorption and action of vitamin C. Flavonoids can be found in fruit and vegetable, especially apples and onion
Always ensure that you are culturing a life of love. As described above we are energy beings, therefore, every action and reaction affects the health of the heart. Always strive to center yourself in love. By doing this, your heart shall shine.
Things to Avoid or Reduce
Of course, in an effort to improve anything we must not only increase elements that are beneficial, we must also decrease (as much as possible) some of the negative attributes. In the case of the heart we must to our best to avoid the following substances or actions.
Manage our Stress
Stress can be a deadly foe when it comes to our health. Too much cortisol secretion can wreak havoc on our bodies; therefore, it is wise that we take the necessary steps to help keep stress at bay. Ensure that you’re getting plenty of rest. Always ensure to take the time to relax; take up yoga or meditation to calm the nerves.
Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Many of us know that smoking can cause cancer to from, however smoking can also be linked to many other dysfunctions and/or ailments of the body. Smoking can also put a huge strain on the heart. Quit smoking and your chances of having a heart attack will be reduced at least 50%. Further to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption can also put a great strain on the heart as it has to operate harder to rid the body of toxins. Wherever possible keep alcohol consumption at a minimum.
Reducing Salt/Sodium Consumption
Much of the reason why the there are increased incidences of heart disease and the like in the “Western World” is because of the simple fact that we are what we eat. Over the last 100 years or so, our consumption of salt has increased substantially, and as a result, we are seeing increased incidences of heart disease and high blood pressure. If you want to reduce your consumption of sodium/salt by more than half immediately, refrain in eating any packaged foods. All forms of processed salt contain 96% sodium chloride; its best if you moderately use full spectrum salts such as Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt.
Limit Red Meat Consumption
Following the simple adage “you are what you eat” we can assure ourselves a whole lot of good – especially for the optimal functioning of the heart. By reducing the consumption of red meat, we reduce the amount of saturated fat we consume. With anything, we must focus on consuming foods in moderation. When shopping for meat, look for leaner sources such as chicken or fish.
One of the best ways to keep the heart in tip top form is to exercise. Your heart is like a giant muscle. Exercising it like you work your arm or leg muscles will improve its strength and stamina. However, you should aim to do exercises that specifically work your heart and lungs. Keep in mind that the effects of exercise aren’t only restricted to your heart – it will tone your whole body too. If running or jogging alone is boring for you, perhaps consider getting involved in a sport. This will work your body while also encouraging you to have fun!
At the end of the day our choices and actions dictate our environment. We all have the choice to exercise free will. In considering the health of your heart, always look to your body for the answers. After all, the body does not lie; be kind to it!
Your question: What do you do to take care of your heart? (post your comments below)
2. Prescription for Nutrional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch
3. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies; C. Norman Shealy
About the Authors
Jordan & Kyla are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist. For more information, please visit the following sites; guidinginstincts.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Wake Up World or its staff.