Heart Health

Did you know that the leading cause of death in North America is heart disease? The heart is one of your most vital organs with the others being the brain, kidney, liver, and lungs. The heart pumps nearly 6 liters of blood around the body each min and beats over 100,000 per day! That is around 3 billion beats in a lifetime. With the heart being such an important organ in the body I wanted to talk a little bit about how to take care of your heart with nutrition and key nutrients, leaving you happy, healthy, and in charge of your health!

Physiology

  • The heart is located in the thoracic cavity just below the sternum slightly more on the L hand side
  • The heart is made of smooth muscle, which means it has an involuntary contraction 
    • Not like your skeletal muscles (the ones you work in the gym where you can control when they contract as they are voluntary)
    • This means your heart will keep beating whether you like it or not!!
  • The heart also has 4 important valves which help to make sure the blood is flowing in a forward direction 
  • The heart has a dual circuit system meaning that it is able to pump blood that is rich in oxygen to the rest of the body and blood that is poor in oxygen to the lungs so it can get replenished with oxygen before it gets sent out to the body
  • Coming off the heart at coronary arteries and veins 
    • The arteries are responsible for taking the blood towards the heart
    • The veins are responsible for taking blood away from the heart
  • Blood vessels have an endothelium, which is like their wall and when this gets damaged or things like platelets and immune cells adhere to it causes an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attack

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Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • Smoking
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Dyslipidemia (altered lipid levels in the body)

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Labs for the Heart

  • Lipid levels (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides)
  • Blood sugar
  • Fasting insulin
  • HgA1c
  • Vitamin D
  • Ferritin
  • ACR
  • PULS heart panel
    • Is a comprehensive test to look at several different cardiac markers

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Nutrition for the Heart 

Things to Limit + Avoid 

  • Animal proteins
  • Trans + saturated fats
  • Sugar (refined + processed)
  • Processed foods
  • High carbohydrate diet
  • Alcohol

Things to Include

  • Fats
    • Omega 3 oils (DHA/EPA)
    • MUFA (olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds)
    • Avocado
  • Fruits + vegetables
    • Leafy greens
    • Berries
    • Colour foods (red, purple, orange, yellow, dark green)💙❤️🧡💜💛💚
  • Green tea
  • Fatty fish
  • Ginger + turmeric + garlic
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, chia, flax)

Diets for a Healthy Heart

  • Heart + Stroke Foundation Diet
  • DASH diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • European Consensus Guidelines
  • Dean Ornish Diet
  • Nutritarian Diet

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Lifestyle for Heart

  • NO smoking
  • Exercise
    • Short duration several times a week is great for heart health (Ex. 30 mins 5 times a week)
  • Stress management
    • Get adequate sleep
    • Yoga + meditation + Chi Gong, Tai Chi
    • Spending time with friend, family, and pets
    • Be creative

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Nutrients for the Heart 

Mitochondrial Support 

  • Why?
    • Enhances ATP production (cellular energy)
    • Helps enhance blood flow
    • Has an antioxidant function to help protect the cell membranes and arterial tissue
    • Lowers inflammatory markers
  • Nutrients needed:
    • ALA
    • L-carnitine
    • D-ribose
    • CoQ10

Magnesium

  • Helps with contraction of the heart muscle
  • Helps to regulate blood pressure
  • Needed for the production of ATP
  • Deficiency can be related to several heart conditions

Selenium 

  • Needed to regenerate the antioxidant system in the body
  • Helps enhance blood flow
  • Helps to decrease inflammation

Vitamin C

  • Helps reduce the production of atherosclerosis
  • Helps strengthen arteries
  • Helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Inhibits platelet aggregation

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With heart disease being one of the big killers in North America I really hope you learned something to help nourish your heart and keep yourself healthy for years to come!!!❤️❤️❤️

XO

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