In just a few days, people from all over the globe will take a moment to recognize World Heart Day. Some may get together to share meals, reflect on life, or participate in local activities. Others will come together to educate their communities, and fundraisers will raise money towards a brighter future.
What is the focus of World Heart Day, and how does it involve you?
In 2012, some of the top world leaders decided to commit to actions that would reduce the global mortality rate in this area by 25% by 2025 (1).
In order to achieve this, education is foundational. Learning what foods to eat, how to exercise, and how to manage stress, have become center stage in this movement.
Ancient text observes, “…people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. You don’t know what you don’t know, but today’s resources offer many ways to find information out.There is so much in today’s world that can help you live longer, catch diseases earlier, and take action sooner. Know better, do better.
Some of your biggest risk factors (2) for developing heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. If you can find ways to control and manage these areas, then you’re on your way towards making good habits that your heart will appreciate, both now and later.
What are some of the ways you can reduce your risks? In honor of World Heart Day, we’re sharing a holistic view on how to care for your center: eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising, supplementing where needed and staying hydrated.
Let’s look at each of the areas a bit closer…
You’ve probably seen the box of Cheerios with the heart on it, often with the label of it being “Heart Healthy”. That’s because one of its top ingredients is a whole grain.
Certain foods can help your heart in different ways. Foods like:
- Whole grains: different studies have found that eating three or more servings of whole grains can lower your blood pressure by 22% (6).
- Avocado: these fruits are packed with potassium and heart healthy fats. While it’s important to stay away from saturated fats, these guys have monounsaturated fats. These can help lower blood pressure (7), reducing your risk for stroke.
- Fish/Fish Oil: Fish like mackerel, tuna, sardines and salmon are excellent for heart health. These varieties offer an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which help your heart function properly. If you’re not a fish fan, consider an omega-3 supplement.
- Beans: If high cholesterol leads to heart problems, beans could be the antidote. These small but powerful foods are packed with protein and offer what’s called “resistant starch”. This means it acts like fiber, fermenting in your gut and adding beneficial bacteria to your digestive system. They can also help lower bad cholesterol (8) levels.
- Leafy Greens: If salads aren’t your favorite dish ever, you’re not alone. But eating lots of vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens can help your heart flourish. These veggies contain vitamin K, which helps break up blood clots (9) – a very good thing when trying to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Food will always be your best medicine. But what else can you add that could really make a difference?
Herbs are a wonderful way to get back to your roots. Most medications come from plants anyway, so why not skip the middleman and go right to the source?
Some of the best herbs and spices (3) you can add to your diet include:
- Hibiscus tea
- Olive leaf
Drink up! Keeping your water intake high is part of a healthy heart protocol.
Not drinking enough water causes strain for every part of your body. It makes your organs work harder, and your heart is no exception (4).
Maybe you’ve heard you need to drink your bodyweight in ounces… 8 glasses a day… or is it 2 liters? How much water do you need to stay healthy? A good rule of thumb is that if you are more active or live in warmer climates, you will likely need to drink more water than someone living in cool climates or is not as active.
If you have certain medical conditions such as kidney issues or fluid-retaining conditions like diabetes or heart disease, talk with your doctor to get an amount that’s right for you.
Got a few minutes? Use them to do some jumping jacks. Run in place for 5 minutes, or take a quick lap around the block on your lunch break.
Keeping your heart healthy means staying active. The American Heart Association recommends carving out either 150 minutes (5) of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of more intense exercise every week, or a combination of both.
This could look a couple different ways. For a more rigorous activity, you could go for a trail ride on your mountain bike. Maybe you could take up kick-boxing. If that doesn’t sound like fun, more moderate options are walking, dancing, weight lifting, or Pilates.
Understanding the different types of heart diseases is as important as preventing it. While some of these are not common in the United States, it’s good to be aware of them:
Cardiomegaly is another way to say “enlarged heart”. One of the ways this can happen is if you have chronic high blood pressure (10), or hypertension.
If your blood vessels have a hard time getting blood through, your heart has to work harder to give your body the nutrients it needs. And your heart is a muscle...so just like any other workout, the more you use your muscles, the bigger they tend to get.
Left unchecked, this can exhaust your heart. Valve problems, artery problems, and heart failure can eventually result.
Angina is chest pain that comes from decreased blood flow (11) to the heart. It can happen with coronary heart disease (CHD) and can create very frightening sensations. Feelings of tightness, pressure, nausea, and dizziness can occur.
Aortic stenosis is a condition where the left ventricle valve is damaged. It can happen as a birth defect, but more often it happens with age. Calcium buildup or scarring results in a damaged heart valve, which reduces the amount of blood that comes through. Over time, the walls on the left ventricle get thicker as your heart tries to compensate for the weak valve. In time, the strain can lead to heart failure (12).
World Heart Day is a vision that includes you. It includes your neighbor. It includes your friends. Being a part of something greater can not only help people become aware of heart disease, it can bring about a sense of purpose.
Check out your local community billboard to see if there are any events coming up. Consider starting a fundraiser that goes towards the American Heart Association. Attend virtual events that raise awareness. Exploring different resources is a great way to get involved.
Your heart is the essence of your being. With heart disease continuing to dominate the globe for being one of the leading causes of death, it’s important to take action now.
If you’re in your later years and wonder if it’s too late, just remember: know better, do better. You can start today to make sure your heart is in the best health ever.
Everyday choices of eating heart healthy foods, getting exercise, drinking water, and adding herbs can make all the difference.
Do you have a loved one that could use some heart healthy tips? Share this information with friends and family today.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author