It’s HEART HEALTH MONTH!!

February 4, 2019

How Often Do You Check Your Phone Battery? Do You Ever Think What Powers Your Body?

You might think that is an odd question for a health blog, but you probably think about your phone battery far more than you think about your own ‘battery’, your heart.

During February we are surrounded by hearts and thoughts of love, so maybe it is time to give your own heart a bit of love and affection and consider how you are treating it and what you could do better. You wouldn’t attempt to drive a car without fuel and wouldn’t go on a long journey without charging up your phone, so let’s take a look at what you could be doing to look after the most important battery of all.

Our heart works non-stop, 24 hours a day. Without it functioning properly, we don’t deliver oxygen, nutrients and vital substances to the rest of the body. It is also involved in taking away the ‘rubbish’ such as carbon dioxide from the cells. If you want to see just what your heart gets up to, take a look at this video from the BBC.

On average, your heart beats between 100,800 and 115,200 times a day.

As we live longer, we need to ensure we are living well and not just waiting until something goes wrong and then fix it, we should aim to keep in a state of wellness to help the body cope with changes that it is presented with.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a massive difference to how your heart health. As part of their Live Well advice, the NHS recommend stopping smoking as one of the most significant ways to improve your heart health and cut the risk of health problems. Even one year after giving up smoking, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker. Apart from the health benefits, with the increasing cost of smoking, your pocket will be better too!

The heart can move 5-7 litres of blood in one minute and over 7600 litres per day.

If you are looking for positive support to help you give up smoking, visit the Smokefree website or ask your GP for help with quitting. You don’t have to do it alone and it could be one of the most positive steps you can take for your health.

Eat a rainbow, or at least aim to eat a wide range of coloured fruits and vegetables every day. Brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of antioxidant nutrients that play a role in helping protect the cells from oxidative stress or damage. This is very important for the health of the heart. Aim for at least five servings a day, the closer you can get to ten, the better. You could also think about taking an antioxidant supplement that provides vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc.

Increasing the amount of plant-based foods will not only add extra nutrients, it will also increase your fibre intake, another positive step in the right direction. A daily intake of 10 grams of Guar gum can be added to the diet as a way of increasing fibre and can contribute to the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels.

Regular exercise, even three sessions of brisk walking for 30 minutes, three times a week can have a significant impact on your health including your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is another factor in helping keep your heart healthy. You don’t have to join a gym, walking, swimming or even a simple exercise plan at home can all become part of a regular regime in a healthy lifestyle.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are around 7 million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK, equally split between men and women.

Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is one of the key areas that comes to mind when you think about a healthy heart. It is important to remember that cholesterol is vital for health and that we also manufacture our own in the body, so it is not just a case of watching what you eat. If you have a cholesterol test always try to obtain the split between the HDL and LDL levels so that you can whether you have more of the LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol than the ‘good’ HDL.

When cholesterol oxidises in the body, it can lead to clogged arteries, a regular intake of antioxidant nutrients in the diet is a good way of helping to avoid this.

In the UK, there are 188,000 hospital visits per year due to heart attacks one every three minutes.

Along with a healthy diet and exercise regime, you might also like to supplement your diet with various nutrients from food supplements.

We may think of bergamot as being the distinctive flavour of Earl Grey tea, but did you know this citrus fruit is also a great source of bioflavonoids? Bergamot fruit has a concentrated and diverse flavonoid profile making it an ideal way of adding these phyto-antioxidants to your supplement plan.

In China, Red Yeast Rice has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine and is now readily available as a food supplement. It is an extract from red rice that has been fermented with the yeast Monascus purpureus. This fermentation proves creates compounds that have been shown by research to inhibit the production of liver cholesterol.

When choosing it as supplement it is important to look at the production and extraction methods as some may contain citrinin, a toxic by-product of the fermentation process. Many will also contain monacolin-K, a compound that is associated with side effects of popular medication. Look for a supplement of Red Yeast Rice with Anakascin 568-R, this is subjected to a patented extraction process that removes citricin.

Other supplements that can be helpful are ones containing the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, needed for normal function of the heart. Available sourced from fish oils, or if you would prefer a more sustainable form, these fatty acids are now available from lichen in supplement form and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Since the introduction of statins as a regularly prescribed medicine, there has been a lot of discussion around the use of Co Q10, an antioxidant enzyme, as an additional supplement. Many healthy specialists are now recommending that you use C Q10 alongside statins. Speak to your health care practitioner to discuss how best to integrate supplements with your medication.

So next time you are thinking you need to charge your phone battery, give a thought to your own power source and think what you might have done to look after your heart today.

If you are concerned about heart health issues visit your GP or contact the British Heart Foundation.

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