Each day, your heart beats around 100,000 times. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. On and on it beats, your ever-constant companion. You likely don’t even give it a second thought, taking those rhythmic, steady beats for granted. Until, of course, they’re no longer steady and rhythmic.
Until that day when your heart, underappreciated, overworked, and mistreated, has finally had enough and demands to be heard — expressing itself through high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and maybe even a heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the world — don’t let yourself become its next victim. Start looking after your heart now and give it what it needs to keep supporting your body for years to come. Here are the top 12 ways to improve heart health today.
Smoking is the single most damaging thing you can do to your heart and your entire body. It contributes to many health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Studies show that smoking causes approximately one of every four deaths from CVD.
If you smoke, stop! Reach out to a therapist or addiction specialist if you’ve tried to stop by yourself and been unsuccessful.
Get chiropractic care
Who knew that chiropractic care could impact your heart health? Studies suggest that chiropractic is a great way to lower blood pressure, increase heart rate variability, and reduce chest pain. Many cases of chest pain, where various tests show a well-functioning heart, are actually due to rib misalignment or thoracic vertebrae subluxation and can be solved with a chiropractic adjustment.
Make an appointment with a reputable chiropractor to protect your heart and spine.
Walk at lunch, get a standing desk, take long walks with your dog, carve out time to do some resistance exercises — do whatever you can to stay active outdoors. Everyday. This is imperative for heart health. Sunshine on your bare skin will also help reduce blood pressure and increase vitamin D!
Physical inactivity can lead to heart disease. A sedentary lifestyle could be a death sentence even if you eat great and avoid smoking and other common risk factors. It can increase your risk of obesity, abnormal cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
And unfortunately, about one in two adults don’t get enough aerobic physical activity. According to research, sedentary behavior and physical inactivity are among the leading modifiable risk factors worldwide for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
The opposite is also true; moving daily has protective capabilities for heart health. Exercise lowers blood pressure, strengthens the heart, reduces inflammation, and even improves blood flow — reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Even the smallest amount of physical activity is helpful. Get out there and get moving!
Supplement when necessary
Nutrient deficiencies are common among patients with heart disease. For instance, studies show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of CVD, including hypertension, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease. Other research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people with heart failure who lack seven or more micronutrients had nearly double the risk of dying or being hospitalized than those with no or only a few deficiencies.
Adding high-quality supplements to your diet, such as a well-rounded multivitamin, berberine, and CoQ10 can help improve your heart health outcomes and keep you feeling your best. Work with your doctor to get tested and determine which supplements are right for you.
When thinking about the benefits of sleep, we often stop at the brain. However, the results of a quality night of sleep go far beyond helping you feel rested and improving your attention capacity. Likewise, the risks of sleep deprivation can be severe.
Studies suggest that not sleeping long enough or getting poor sleep could contribute to hypertension, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recently added sleep to their cardiovascular health checklist, elevating the importance of quality rest in maintaining a healthy heart. It gives your body time to rest, repair, and recharge and could even reduce your risk of a heart attack.
The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep daily. If you aren’t sleeping long enough or struggle with insomnia, visit our Sleep page to learn more about helpful sleep strategies to make the most of your nighttime hours.
Cut out the chemical cleaning supplies, stop using toxic, fragrance-laden beauty products, and avoid mold exposure. Though you can’t see them, toxins are everywhere and do more damage than you think.
Toxin exposure has been directly linked to cardiovascular disease. Scour your home and cupboard for toxins, including moldy and non-organic food, laundry products, and tap water. Invest in a high-quality water filtration system to reduce exposure to toxins and heavy metals. You should also practice detox strategies like sauna and dry brushing to help your body detox from toxin exposure.
Eat lots of fiber-rich foods
Studies have shown that individuals who consume high amounts of dietary fiber can significantly reduce their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Fiber can help lower blood pressure and regulate abnormal cholesterol and is a great tool to improve your heart health.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25-30 grams. You can easily achieve this by eating a daily dose of several of the following foods:
Note: Always choose organic!
- Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and other brassica vegetables
- Chia seeds
- Leafy greens
Remember, many of the “fiber-rich” foods such as beans and various grains are not heart-healthy — despite what conventional wisdom may suggest. These foods can contribute to blood sugar spikes and digestive issues. Stick to the 100 Year Heart-approved foods listed above.
Enjoy healthy fats
No, low-fat is not healthy. Contrary to what many dietitians might suggest, your body needs healthy fat to function properly. According to research, there is no link between saturated fat and heart disease. In fact, saturated fat is good for you!
Studies have shown that saturated fat could help change the structure of harmful small, dense LDL particles into beneficial large, fluffy particles that protect your heart health. It could even raise HDL cholesterol, known for its cardiovascular benefits!
Remember, while not all fat is the same. Avoid trans fats and fat from unhealthy food such as fast and processed food. Stick to these sources to improve heart health today!
Seafood is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for improving heart health.
- Organic, pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-finished red meat
- Organic coconut oil
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic nuts and seeds
- Organic avocados
Avoid heavy alcohol consumption
Not all alcohol is bad for your heart. In fact, organic red wine may have Heartprotective properties such as antioxidants. However, drinking too much alcohol in excess could harm your heart health. It has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
As with everything, moderation is key.
Avoid highly processed food and sugar
Just as diet is one of the best ways to improve heart health, it can also be one of the worst things for your heart. Of course, it all depends on what you eat. Processed sugar, greasy junk food, non-organic food, and low-quality “pseudo-food” all contribute to heart disease.
A diet full of highly processed, sugar-laden food will lead to abnormal cholesterol, clogged arteries, and a complete breakdown of heart health. If you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize the ingredients, don’t eat it. If it has added sugar, don’t eat it.
Following these simple guidelines will help you start paying attention to what you’re actually eating and will inspire you to learn more about the detrimental effects of bad food on heart health.
Despite claims that caffeine is bad for heart health, there is evidence suggesting that coffee consumption could improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe that many of the cardioprotective effects of coffee arise from its anti-inflammatory properties and potent antioxidant compounds.
Remember, always choose a quality, toxin-free coffee such as Cardiology Coffee. Only drink coffee if you tolerate it well, and always check in with your body after consuming caffeine.
Chronic stress is one of the most dangerous things for heart health. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, obesity, and AFib.
Life happens. Stressors arise no matter how hard you try to prevent them. It is impossible to avoid every stressful situation all of the time.
To help protect yourself and improve heart health, you must prioritize creating a safe mental space to process and reframe stress. One of the best ways to do this is through mindfulness meditation. Take some time each day or whenever you feel stressed to go to a quiet space and spend a few minutes alone with your thoughts.
Choose a mantra to focus on, or simply let your thoughts flow freely. Don’t try to grasp any particular thought; just give yourself the freedom to feel, process, and experience any emotions you’ve bottled up. Meditation looks different for everyone. Just do what works best for you.
Don’t take your heart for granted! Make these lifestyle changes today to support your cardiovascular system and keep your heart healthy. Breaking old habits can be hard, though. Enlist the help of one of the expert health coaches at NHD to get started on your path to your 100 Year Heart. They can give you tips for success and give you the tools you need to look and feel your best. Book a free coaching session today!
Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza 1/9/23