By Lisa Metzgar
Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love, the holiday of the heart is around the corner. February is also another important month of the heart,Heart Awareness month.
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in our country of both men and women. It is a disease that for over 90% of cases is caused by our lifestyle choices. Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and hidden inflammation can all lead to this potential killer.
So what can we do to protect ourselves?
The answer is very simple yet so many people have a hard time adopting these simple steps into their lives. It is all about making small choices for health every single day. I am not talking about adopting anything radical like becoming a raw foodist or exercising for hours every day to get healthy. I am talking about small changes that done consistently over time will result in big change and a healthy heart.
Here are a few things you can do to protect your heart.
- Eat whole foods. When making food choices, avoid anything that is processed. Eat as close to nature as possible,lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains (a great majority of people have a wheat allergy or sensitivity so stick to brown rice, quinoa, and millet.) Get back to nature!
- Eat a variety of colors. Colorful fruits and vegetables have excellent heart beneficial phytonutrients.
- Take essential supplements. Even if you are eating a whole food diet, you still need some basic supplementation. Multivitamin/multimineral, omega 3 fish oil, vitamin D, B vitamin, and calcium/magnesium pretty much cover the basics for overall health.
- Control blood sugars. Eat a carbohydrate, protein, and health fat with each meal and snack. Include high fiber foods that slow the release of sugar into the blood.
- Move your body! Every little thing you do during the day will add up so create small steps you can do throughout the day. Park further away, take the stairs, do core strengthening exercises for 10 minutes a day. As you can see,you don’t have to spend hours at the gym,just do something!
- Breathe! Breathing helps to activate the vagus nerve which relaxes the whole body. This will help reduce your stress response.
- Discover your hidden food allergies. Food allergies or sensitivities can create inflammation in the body. Try eliminating potential allergy foods like wheat, eggs, gluten, citrus, tomatoes, and dairy for one week. Add them back in one by one and see how you feel. If you get any symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, reduced energy, skin eruptions or rash then you will know you are sensitive. Eliminate those foods from your diet and you will notice how much better you feel.
- Reduce inflammation. Inflammation isn’t always visible and most times you don’t even know it is happening in your body. Good ways to reduce hidden inflammation is to move your body, take a good quality fish oil, and reduce stress.