"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." - Rumi
Taking care of one of the most vital organs in our bodies should be a top priority for us, but many of us don't consider this miraculous machine very often. We notice it when we get excited by the rush of adrenaline from love or fear, but sometimes that's it.
Our hearts are amazing, and we should nurture them. Let's keep the ticker pumping at the optimal range so that we can fully love ourselves and our lives. When is the last time you put your hand on your own heart? Really felt the beating pulse that is our lifeforce? We do it automatically if we recite the pledge of allegiance, but why not become more aware of it every day?
Eat Your Way to Heart Health
Foods are the new medicine and, frankly, the oldest medicine. So today's prescription is to follow a way of eating that follows whole foods that influence everything from cholesterol levels to blood pressure and inflammation. Eat the rainbow!
- Leafy green veggies such as spinach, kale, or collards have a wealth of Vitamin K, protecting your arteries and promoting proper clotting. Yes, the good kind! They are high in natural nitrates that decrease stiffness and improve cell function lining, blood vessels to the aorta, the vena cava, and the pulmonary artery to the lungs.
- Look for whole grains over refined carbs. Bran, oats, and quinoa can lower cholesterol and help with the systolic and diastolic numbers that measure the pressure in your arteries between beats.
- Berries rich in antioxidants such as strawberries, blackberries, and pomegranates protect against oxidative stress because they contain anthocyanins.
- Avocados, the creamy green deliciousness, pack 960 milligrams of potassium and are the perfect way of lowering lipids and risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel have tons of Omega 3's. You get double brain and heart boosts that help your risk of CVD issues like arrhythmias.
- There are many therapeutic effects from walnuts, beans, olive oil, and garlic, which have allicin compounds.
- Of course, don't forget my favorite, dark chocolate, which is packed with flavonoids.
Shape the Cardiac Muscle through Cardio
Keep it hearty by at least 20 minutes of activity a day. If you don't have full mobility, do it on the floor or in a chair. You can even split it into 10-minute chunks. Regularly ask yourself, how is my mood? Have I been active enough? What good foods did I consume?
The heart is a muscle, after all, and we need to keep the muscular walls in shape so they can squeeze and relax properly. You want to avoid stiffening and thickened muscles. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here are a couple of important ideas to beat stress:
- Get rid of toxic energy number one.
- Value your personal time.
- Don't take on others' woes, be sympathetic and kind but tackle yours primarily.
- Silence the self-critic in you.
- Export feelings into words and work out issues.
- Don't overestimate your zone of responsibility. It's called Expansionism. It's the cousin to Exceptionalism, the evil twin of perfectionism.
- Avoid the pang of regret by thinking things over first before you act. I really need to work on this one!
- Take the blame for actions, it takes emotional labor, but it lingers resentment out of your heart.
Beware of These Signs
Swelling: Look for symptoms like swelling in your ankles and legs because fluid backs up and collects in the tissue. If the heart isn't pumping effectively, it can't manage its workload.
Shortness of Breath: Any shortness of breath during normal activities could signify fluid in the lungs. Also, dry coughing, hacking, or trouble sleeping when lying down flat could be something to pay attention to.
Weight Gain: Rapid weight gain like 3 or more lbs in a day and unusual tiredness in arms and muscles can signal a limited supply that is rerouted and sent to the heart and brain.
It's important to get regular checkups and see a cardiologist if any of these warnings crop up for you.
Heart Helpers Activities
Here are a few tangible examples:
- Sip tea
- Give yourself a hug
- Watch a bird fly
- Celebrate the green lights
- Reorient your gaze
- Hold a baby
- Give yourself and others compliments
- Perform a random act of kindness
The Rhythm of the Beat
Forgiving ourselves is the first step to having an open heart. Sometimes the truth is we forget to recall all the good things we have done. This alone can soften our hearts. Giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt that we too are worthy of a warm heart is a wonderful start. If the heart wants what the heart wants, then follow it.
Checking in with your body is crucial for our overall health and well-being, and the heart is no exception. So take some time today to check on your heart health. At least in the name of love.
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