Two years ago, I gave a passionate presentation about healthy eating at a hospital for a women’s networking group. After my talk, the hospital had one of it’s employees speak to the women about heart health. What she had to say was all really good information about preventative care and warning signs of heart problems.
As I looked around the room at the blank stares from the audience, I realized the impact of her speech fell flat, perhaps because of the delivery (she wasn’t a very engaging speaker).
In addition, I think it’s something most of us don’t want to think about. That is, the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. No wonder it’s often referred to as the silent killer. One in three women die of heart disease, that’s more than breast and lung cancer combined. YIKES!
Our beating heart is something we don’t stop to think about very often, if at all. Yet, it works very hard for us every single day. Think about that for a moment. Then, I want you to place your right hand over your heart, and thank it for all it does for you. Now, that’s an excellent first step.
The fact is that there are many things we can do for prevention and heart health that are simple, easy and delicious! It’s all about priorities and creating those nourishing “I love you” routines. Once we develop these heart healthy habits by eating the right foods, exercising regularly, taking supplements, it’s easy peasy…..
Before we get into some tips, let me just back up a minute to share some really important information and misperceptions. Heart health doesn’t just start with the heart, and is not all about your genes. Often we default to family history and genes as if we have no control over our destiny. When in fact, reality is our health is significantly impacted by diet and how your body digests what you eat.
This is something I’ve just intuitively known for awhile because I’m so passionate about how digestive health impacts all our organs and systems. I see it all the time with my clients. Though I can feel it deep in my gut, this theory certainly didn’t originate with me or my experience! It is backed up and well respected by the medical field with books by doctors like Dr Neil Bernard and Dr Joel Fuhrman as well as numerous studies on the topic of how digestion impacts heart health.
About five years ago, after already eating a very clean diet, I developed severe heart arrhythmia. Mine was a racing irregular heart beat that made me exhausted. No doubt about it, it scared me to death (no pun intended). My dad had heart problems; so my first thought was that I was doomed. My thoughts raced to the fact that even if I ate well, I was going to get his heart condition and die.
Before going to the cardiologist, I did some digging. For me, I knew if I went to the heart doctor I’d find out what my heart was or wasn’t doing, but wouldn’t probably find out why or what I could do about it beyond taking a statin or other drug, which I didn’t want to do.
Furthermore, I wanted to get to the root cause of my symptoms – not my genes – but what was happening inside my body to trigger these symptoms. So, I did testing for food intolerances and consulted with a doctor friend in functional medicine. What I found out was that I have an IGG food sensitivity or delayed allergy to eggs. Within a week of eliminating eggs and starting the supplements she recommended based on testing, my symptoms subsided and eventually completely went away.
My story is not unique. The thing is that there are many layers to this process of healthy eating. It takes continuous care, prioritization and collaboration. So, now I’m curious about you, what’s your story? What do you do to take care of your heart?
No matter what, it is always a good idea to consult with a cardiologist about your heart health and have them partner with you on your mission for living a long, happy life. In addition to that, here are seven tips for loving up your heart now:
- Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are not naturally occuring fats – they are in essence manufactured fat. Another name for trans fat is partially hydrogenated oil. Bottom line, our body can’t deal with this kind of fat that is found in bakery goods, most packaged foods like cookies, crackers, and fried foods. Examples of partially hydrogenated oils are soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, or margarine.
- Enjoy healthy good fats from things like avocado, nuts, olive or coconut oil The naturally occurring fats in these things, even the saturated fat in coconut oil, all have amazing health benefits including boosting metabolism!
- Eat plenty of fiber, aiming for at least 25 grams per day. Get your fiber from vegetables, fruit, seeds, and legumes such as lentils, beans and tree nuts.
- Focus on lean protein and plant based proteins
- Find out if you have any food intolerances using Alcat or other IGG allergy testing
- Get advice on supplements that are specific to your needs
- Take a high quality probiotic to boost your digestive health