Your Health and Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” Buddha

Let’s Look At How to Have a Healthy Heart!

February is the month for love, kindness, and of course there’s the romance of Valentine’s Day if you are lucky to have that significant other.

Let’s look at how you can make healthy choices to improve the health of your heart, body and your mind.

What better time to think about how to care for your heart to ensure you continue to have a healthy heart than in the month of February…the month filled with love.

What is Heart Disease?

Since I live in Canada I went to the Government of Canada site for some information and statistics:

Heart Disease is considered to be the 2nd leading cause of death in Canada. It is second behind cancer.

When we think of heart disease, we think of the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries. It’s that build up of plaque that can lead to a heart attack, heart failure, or even death. Heart disease is also often used interchangeably for the terms ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease.

Here are some Stats according to the Canadian government website Canada.ca

The following stats are taken from the Heart Disease info-graphic PDF available for download on Canada.ca (“2012/13 data of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS)”)

  • “About 1 in 12 (or 2.4 million) Canadian adults age 20 and over live with diagnosed heart disease;
  • Every hour, about 12 Canadian adults age 20 and over with diagnosed heart disease die;”
  • The death rate is 3 times higher among adults age 20 and over with diagnosed heart disease compared to those without;
  • Men are 2 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than women;
  • Men are newly diagnosed with heart disease about 10 years younger than women (55-64 vs 65-74 years of age).

The good news is that from 2000/01 to 2012/13:

  • The number of Canadian adults newly diagnosed with heart disease declined from 221,800 to 158,700.
  • The death rate, or the number of deaths per 1,000 individuals with a known heart disease, has decreased by 23%.”

How do you Reduce your risk of heart disease and have a healthy heart?

It’s simple, really – by taking care of your heart….

Why not give these 7 EASY PEASY WAYS to pamper your heart a try, and at the same time spread a little sunshine and share a little kindness to those around you:

  1. Get Physical, Move, Exercise
  2. Drink Water
  3. Eat Healthy
  4. Cut Down on Salt
  5. Stay Positive / Practice Mindfulness
  6. SMILE
  7. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION / ACTS OF KINDNESS
  8. ESSENTIAL OILS

GET PHYSICAL / MOVE / EXERCISE: to keep your heart healthy, the American Heart Association as well as the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommend 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on “most days of the week”. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation –

EXERCISE FOR 30 MINUTES EVERY DAY CAN:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Helps you achieve a healthy weight
  • Build stronger bones, strengthen muscles
  • Builds energy
  • Reduces stress and improve sleep
  • Improves your mood

Types of exercise: walking, biking, swimming, hiking, skating, skiing, sports, bowling, gardening and more….

Other ideas:

  • cycle or walk to work
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • get off the bus a stop earlier and walk to work or home
  • take walking meetings at work
  • walk your kids to school
  • park in the farthest parking spot from the mall

For more information or ideas check out the Heart and Stroke site here .

DRINK WATER: If you have been following my articles you know that needing to drink extra water to stay hydrated is a myth. A normal healthy individual gets enough water through the foods and beverages they take in on a daily basis. Check out my Drinking Water to Stay Hydrated  article here.

However, what is important is – WHAT you are drinking. It is important that you are drinking water and not sugary drinks.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Diabetes Association and Canadian Liver Foundation are all members of HealthPartners, a national organization active in workplaces across the country to represent 16 of Canada’s most trusted national health charities.

All three groups agree that drinking water is important to keeping your heart healthy. These organizations started a program called ‘Stop the Pop’. Their goal through this program was to get kids to drink water instead of pop or other sugary drinks. It was hoped that drinking water early in life will lead to new healthy habits and better health overall when kids become adults.

EAT HEALTHY: It is believed that making informed food choices and developing healthy habits will help you to live a healthy life with a healthy heart. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation “a healthy diet can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by:

  • improving your cholesterol levels
  • reducing your blood pressure
  • helping you manage your body weight
  • controlling your blood sugar”

What does it look like to eat healthy?

Check out my article on the new Canada Food Guide: It has a nice visual of a “PLATE” that shows the types of foods you should be trying to choose most of the time as well as ‘how’ to incorporate these foods into a healthy lifestyle. You can find their site here.

Basically you are choosing to fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Many of the studies they looked at showed that eating mostly plant-based foods leads to people having less heart disease and other illnesses.

Plant-based foods can include vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and plant-based protein foods. Eating plant-based foods regularly can mean eating more fibre and less saturated fat. This can have a positive effect on health, including a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

It is also suggested that you limit or do not eat highly processed foods.

How to follow a healthy eating pattern?

Canada Food guide suggest that you develop healthy eating habits by regularly including the following foods into your every day eating; Here are some healthy examples:

  • Fill 1/2 of your plate with vegetables and fruits such as:
    • Apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, berries….
    • Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, kale….
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with whole grain foods such as:
    • quinoa
    • oatmeal
    • wild rice
    • whole grain pasta
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with protein foods such as:
    • legumes
    • lean meats
    • lower fat yogurt

They also suggest your drink of choice be water.

Check out the Canada Food Guide here to learn more….

CUT DOWN ON SALT: It appears there is a place for salt in our healthy eating plan, but where the problem lies is in that many people over do it. What you need to do is find the right balance.

People often eat two to three times the recommended amount. When you take in too much salt you can increase the amount of blood in the arteries which raises blood pressure and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Reducing your salt intake, even a little can help reduce your blood pressure.

Which foods are high in salt: fast foods; processed meats (like hot dogs and lunch meats;) canned soups; packaged sauces; condiments (like ketchup and pickles); salty snacks (like potato chips and crackers)

Make sure you read labels to see how much salt you are taking in.

How much salt should the average person be getting each day?

According to Wikipedia, The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals consume no more than 1500–2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day[2][7] depending on race, medical condition and age.[8] The World Health “Organization recommends that adults consume no more than 5 g of salt per day.[9]”

5 grams of salt is about a teaspoon.

Wikipedia does go on to state that not taking in enough salt ‘below 3 g per day, may also increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and early death.[10][11]

STAY POSITIVE / BE MINDFUL: Those of you, who have been following my articles here on my website, know how passionate I am about staying positive and being mindful. I have written several articles on these topics. Check out my mindfulness article here.

I have been wondering lately… is “What’s good for the mind also good for the heart.”?

In the past 20 years there have been many smaller studies that have shown that meditation may play a role in reducing heart disease. A group of experts did a review of the literature and studies and made a statement in the Sept. 28, 2017, Journal of the American Heart Association finding that meditation may improve symptoms linked with heart disease.

SMILE: Share a smile wherever you go. When you smile at someone, you make them feel good. Share smiles with your family, and friends, but don’t forget to share a smile with a person you don’t know too. You never know what kind of day they are having….

SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION / ACTS OF KINDNESS:

Kind words from the heart can really go a long way. Remember to say thank you to that person who has done something nice or special for you. By speaking-up and saying thank you – you are also supporting your healthy heart.

There is research that confirms Acts of Kindness towards others can be beneficial to your heart. These acts of kindness lead to reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure and genuinely leave you feeling happier.

Research done at the University of British Columbia, looked at people with high anxiety levels. They had these people do various acts of kindness at least six times a week. They did things like holding a door open or doing chores for other people; or buying lunch for a friend.

The researchers found that doing nice or thoughtful things for people led to a significant increase in people’s positive moods. It also led to a decrease in anxiety.

Another study by Dr. David R. Hamilton, found acts of kindness create an emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.

 

ESSENTIAL OILS

My favorite essential oils to diffuse on Valentine’s Day include any of the following: Rose (romance) Lavender (relaxation), Ylang Ylang (aphrodisiac), Geranium (peace and calm), Jasmine (Passion), Clary Sage (euphoria), Sandalwood (relaxation) Neroli (romance) and there are many more. 

These essential oils appeal to both men and women to enhance that romantic experience. Sometimes I use only one essential oil and sometimes I like to combine a few. Simply add a few drops to your diffuser of mix in your roller ball. Remember to always add essential oils to a carrier oil like Jojoba oil before applying to your skin. Essential oils make a great alternative to perfume.

For more information on these oils check back soon or sign up for my email newsletter. I will be posting an article about essential oils for your heart in more detail shortly.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Here’s a final thought – rather than tempting your sweetie with sweets, here are some ‘alternative’ treats for Valentine’s Day:

  1. Spend some quality time. If you live in a cold climate like I do “Bundle up” and plan an active winter activity such as sledding, ice-skating, or cross-country skiing or if it is still minus 30 as it is here, today where I live…light a fire and enjoy a candle light dinner and board game at home.
  2. Give the gift of volunteering. Ask your significant other to volunteer with you at a local organization. Giving back is a healthy habit that can boost your mood and help beat stress.
  3. Craving something sweet? Gift a beautiful fresh fruit basket or dark chocolate dipped strawberries.
  4. It’s okay to indulge in a sweet once in a while…just remember to eat a ‘little’. I like to live by the 80/20 rule so that I can have that treat once in a while.
  5. Take a long, romantic walk – and then try to make it a regular habit. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week to stay healthy. You can reach this goal by walking briskly for at least 30 minutes five days each week.

I hope you enjoyed reading my article on Your Health and Your Heart This Valentine’s Day.  As you get closer to  Valentine’s Day, I want to remind you to take care of yourself, make healthy eating and exercise choices to build a strong heart and mind. And remember to not only make these choices for Valentine’s Day or the month of February, but make them life time habits. Choosing healthy eating, exercising and being mindful (staying in the present moment) will go along way to keeping your heart healthy now and in the future!

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Quote: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Affirmation: I am grateful for my healthy body.

Cheers, Eliza

JUST A REMINDER

All content and media on this site is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

 

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2 thoughts on “Your Health and Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

  1. I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for all the information on ways to keep your heart healthy.
    I will be checking out the New Canada food guide. Thanks for the link.
    I like your alternative treats for Valentines Day. I plan on doing the chocolate dip strawberries this year!
    Becky

    1. Hi Becky, I’m glad you found some helpful information on my website. I am also going with chocolate dipped strawberries on Valentine’s Day too! I am still exploring all the information on the Canada Food Guide site. Hope you find it useful.
      Cheers,
      Eliza

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