5 Tips for Heart Health

What is heart health?

I get confused sometimes. The concept seems so intangible and distant from the solutions: Lose weight, stop smoking, lower saturated fat, more vegetables & fruit. All this seems so general and unrelated to my heart.

How does this any of this contribute to my heart’s happiness? And is my heart really sick? And how can my heart be unhealthy, if I feel fine?

Well, what heart health means in medicine, is that your heart has the potential to shut down or come close to shutting down when ignored. And when it does, it can be scary. Your heart is like the epicenter of your body’s health; the unpleasant results of poor health happen here.

Heart health really means: generally take care of yourself, with certain lab values as motivators. Boring.

As part of the tech-generation, relating this to how we use computers really helped me to understand it:

You are a daily computer user.  You run several programs at once, you download music, movies, apps, photos, emails. Some of those items come with extra data, information, incompatible programs, corrupted files, old items that just sit there taking up space, caches, memory. All of these factors make your hard drive just a bit fuller and push it over its ideal running capacity.
But, since everything is running fine, you don’t bother to run diagnostics, or upgrade your components, or regularly clear out damaged files, or assess if there are programs that are overworking the processor.

One day, you notice that your computer starts loading more slowly. Programs start quitting unexpectedly. Then, the spinning wheel of death arrives. You manage to shut it down & hope that it doesn’t happen again. But it does. Eventually, you realize that if you don’t back this baby up, you might lose it all one day.

It didn’t start on the day you had to shut it down. It started with the accumulation of demands and wear; programs, data and multiple factors that clogged up your processor, and possibly damaged your hard drive. But now, it’s too late. The damage has been done. At least you backed it up. Your hard drive isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom. The problem was the way you maintained your computer.

This is what happens to your heart, over time. Except you can’t back it up. Your heart is a non-renewable resource. The only way you can protect it, is by making your body a more resilient, fluid system overall.

The solutions are simple. It’s the doing it, that is the hard part.

1. If you smoke, stop. 

Or get help from a group or physician in making that happen. Smoking is like pouring water on your keyboard regularly and denying that something will short circuit.

2. Stop binge drinking.

Seriously. It’s like saying, “but I only smash my computer against the floor once a week”. Good luck with that.

3. Exercise and Weight-bearing are like updating your software.

Three x a week: Get your legs and arms moving vigorously for 30 minutes. Dance. Swim. Run. Flail – though flailing for half and hour is harder than you think. Make it fun, and make it sustainable.
Three x a week: Lift some things you consider heavy, but not so heavy that you can’t move with ease. Move your books around, Lift your cast iron cookware from the floor to above your head, 10x. Pick up bricks and move them across your yard, and back. Get a kettle bell. Go to the gym and lift weights, if that’s your thing. Bend your knees, please.

4. Everyday: Eat your vegetables. Non-negotiable. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that? Why are we such rascals?

If you keep downloading every attachment that some spammer sent you, your computer will eventually start acting dysfunctional. What you eat, is like what you download. Don’t fill yourself with spam. If you like processed food, refined grains and saturated fats, learn how to roast things in the oven and mono-food sauté first, and then see if you really want said items. Eating at home doesn’t need to be difficult.

5. Find someone to be accountable to, who can monitor your commitments and blood levels. 

I recommend Naturopaths, because I am one. But also because we can monitor you medically, and you can book longer visits with us to actually talk about what motivates you, and what you are struggling with. Two-for-one.

It is possible have insurance on or buy a new hard drive/computer, but human hearts are a little harder to come by.

Take care of the only heart you have, by taking care of your body.