Mark and I are on a Healthy Heart Weekend: paddle-boarding, sight seeing, and a Marriage Conference with Dr. Gary Chapman of the 5 Love Languages. We’ve slept in 2 different hotels in 2 days, but we packed all our food, so we’ve managed to eat well, move a lot, and do some Positive Thinking. In other words, we’re traveling healthy. I get a lot of emails and questions about traveling, and I want to answer them with a leaning towards Heart Health.
Heart Disease is the #1 killer in America, and it’s something we should all be working to prevent. It’s showing up in children now – moms, here’s where we step in.
Heart disease is a LIFESTYLE DISEASE. High blood pressure, plaque, heavy-dense cholesterol, high blood sugar, hard arteries….. these are caused by the what we put in our mouth, the exercise we don’t get, and the stress we don’t manage.
No one has heart disease because they’re low in statins.
Whether we’re traveling or home, it’s important to take the steps to make our body healthy.
Let’s start with food. Our heart primarily runs on fatty acids for fuel. Surprising? It’s the truth, so feed your heart healthy fats! Have you read that the new Dietary Guidelines will “un-vilify” cholesterol as a cause of heart disease? It’s true!
“Previously the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day. The 2015 DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, consistent with the conclusions of the AHA/ACC (American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology report. Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
What about the fact that Saturated Fat has NEVER been scientifically proven to cause heart disease?
“Saturated fat has remained the main dietary villain for heart disease for over 50 years. Last year a meta-analysis of 72 studies with more than 600,000 participants determined that there was no association between how much saturated fat people ate and their risk of having a fatal or nonfatal heart attack (Annals of Internal Medicine, March 18, 2014).”
This isn’t carte blanche to eat any thing we want. Fats are very unique and different; some are great, some are good, and some are horrible.
Stay away from vegetable oils, margarines, and trans fats, they’re always bad, always.
Eat up grass fed butter and ghee, extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, avocados, and nuts. Bonus: these fats have anti-fungal/bacterial/viral properties, immune boosting properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and are even healthy for our brain.
The heart also loves amino acids/protein (it is a muscle after all, and needs to rebuild it’s cells), and vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
You know how I always say “eat a TON of vegetables”? Herbs and spices too; Moms, stay strong when it comes to vegetables and picky kids. You’ve GOT to win this battle. Here’s why.
The heart (and the arteries in the penis, the neurotransmitters in the brain, the lining of the gut, bone remodeling, and white blood cell function) heavily depends on Nitric Oxide (NO). NO is a vasodilator that relaxes the lining of the arteries and increases blood flow. If there’s any damage to the arteries at all, which is where a lot of that NO is made, then there’s NO deficiency.
Here’s a list of foods high in natural nitrates ( which convert to NO):
Cool fact: chew your food well, because it’s the bacteria in our mouth that convert the nitrates to NO – who knew!!!
We want to leverage all the colors of the vegetable (and fruit) kingdom, because they have nutrients, besides their vitamins and minerals which are vital, called phytonutrients, that scientists are really just beginning to discover. Nutrients called lycopene, lutein, alpha carotene, and beta carotene.
Studies show that bodies with higher levels of these nutrients have less stroke and heart attack.
What’d we pack to eat this weekend? Chicken (already cooked), eggs, salad greens, zucchinis, cukes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, sea salt, EVOO and balsamic, roasted potatoes (left over from Wednesday- so I just warmed them) dates, peaches, nuts, Jay Robb protein powder, raw milk, raw cream, and kerry gold butter. Oh, plus organic chocolate and coffee! We stay in Residence Inns whenever we can because they have kitchens.
Exercise: almost as critical for the heart as food. Have I told you I LOVE MY FITBIT?? Even on days like yesterday, where we were in a seminar from 9 to 3:30, we managed to get over 10,000 steps in. We walked on each break, plus lunch, and again after dinner. Had I not had the Fitbit, we’d never had taken that many steps. Most phones have counters on them if you don’t have a smart watch yet. Friday we paddle boarded a few miles, and then walked a battlefield and Civil War Park. Links are attached if you’re looking for fun in Richmond, Va. Today: lifting with Macy at the VCU gym!
5 Love Languages – for heart health? YES! Have you ever read the book, The Blue Zones? It’s about the 4 places on earth with the largest populations of centenarians, or people who live past 100. I’ve been obsessed with it for years, the same with any story I see of a Centenarian, or studies on Centenarians.
What do these people have in common, is it Kale Smoothies or Cross Fit or Veganism? NOPE! The biggest common link is community, usefulness, and purpose. In other words, they’re fulfilled and happy. They have love in their life.
That’s where the 5 Love Languages comes in. Mark and I are regular pursuers of both Happy Marriage and Happy Minds. I say “pursuer” because happiness doesn’t just drop on our heads, it’s something we have to focus on and work for. That’s really what “stress management” is about, right? It’s how we handle life that matters, and the 5 Love Languages has great advice for communicating and getting along.
On that note, our heart apparently THRIVES on happy hormones and chemicals, and can be destroyed by destructive hormones (cortisol and insulin) and chemicals. This is a big deal, and an area of growing research.
Meditation is part of progressive heart disease reversal programs because it’s been proven again and again to work. There’s too much evidence to ignore: if leading with our negative emotions is our normal go-to, then all the good food and exercise in the world could be negated when it comes to heart health.
I’m leaving you with a few really great heart health resources, please check them out. What we hear in our doctors offices often doesn’t correlate with the latest in the scientific research.
Most research on reversing heart disease, (not merely managing symptoms) is based on Life Style answers, like food, exercise, stress management, and sleep.
NO ONE’S MAKING MONEY OFF THOSE REMEDIES; the likely hood of a stress management rep, or a Real Whole Food rep, walking into our doctors office to sell him/her on the latest and greatest reasons to use these tools isn’t going to happen.
We’re going to have to do this on our own.