With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought this would be an appropriate time to examine some simple ways we can ‘guard our heart’, not emotionally but physically. Our hearts are filled with love and joy for our families and swell with the precious moments they provide us. Seeing our kids hurt tugs at our heart strings, but having a heart that is not functioning at an optimal level will cause long-term concern and stress not only for us, but can affect our time with our loved ones. Consider these helpful tips for keeping your heart healthy for a lifetime of emotional workouts.
Eat your fish…Supplementation of omega-3s significantly decreases the chance of heart disease, mainly by lowering inflammation levels. The best sources of these are deep sea, cold-water fish (wild salmon, halibut, etc.) or pharmaceutical fish oil that has been tested to ensure that there is no mercury, arsenic or other toxins.
Go nuts…Research has shown that snacking on raw nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews can help lower the chances of a cardiac event in those with high cholesterol and promote ideal blood flow and circulation.
Fat can be your friend…Not all fat is bad for you! The consumption of good fats can actually aid in lowering high cholesterol and promoting heart health, as well as help with optimal brain function. This means reaching for olive oil or grape seed oil when cooking, add some avocado to your meal or eat it alone, and dip your favorite fruits into a nut butter for added benefits.
Be ‘level’ minded…Vitamin D and iron levels are also critical to keep in check when it comes to the health of your heart. Talk with your doctor about having your levels tested. We recommend that our patients take Vitamin D throughout the winter months, considering we live in Iowa with very limited natural sun exposure.
Give your heart a workout…I know you all know this, and are rolling your eyes saying, “I know I need to, but WHEN do you expect me to find time to do this?” My best advice-include your kids if they are old enough, and even if they aren’t use them as your resistance weights. Go for a walk each day, or ride your bikes, find a pool and swim with your kids or hold onto them as you walk/jog from side to side, or find a local stroller-strides or mommy-and-me yoga class. And, the hope is that they will continue to include physical activity in their daily routine as they grow up. Or, for some of us, the best option is to JUST MAKE TIME, and commit to it. It is that important, and believe me, you’ll feel better and your family will reap the benefits!
De-Stress…It’s true what they say, “No one is happy if mama ain’t happy”. Find healthy ways to relieve stress, which is one of the most common contributing factors to heart disease. Plan a girls-night, workout, take a bath, call up an old friend and reconnect, or talk to your employer/coworker/spouse and be honest about stressors and create a game plan.
As you read this, the chances are good that most of this is not new information to you. However, the chances are also good that you aren’t making these a priority in your daily life. Being a mom is busy and stressful…..planning meals, working out, and taking time for ourselves often gets put on the back burner. Today, choose to live a vibrant life of example and give your heart the best chance to fully enjoy the decades ahead.