Healing Heart. Body and Soul: A Holistic Approach to Heart Disease

What holistic lifestyle changes are recommended for heart disease?
February is Heart Health Month so it’s a fabulous time to think about keeping our hearts beating happily, but what does it take to make a healthy – and happy – heart?

To have a heart means many things. It means to love, have passion, be generous and forgiving, show kindness and sympathy, be compassionate and have courage. Plus one major factor in all our lives -our state of health

We’ve all heard that heart health is associated with other health conditions high cholesterol high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, menopause, high levels of inflammation and more. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty ma­terial and plaque build up on the walls of the arteries and cause them to narrow. So there is a definite physiological aspect to consider when supporting heart hearth, but is there another angle?

As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said: “Tears come from the heart and not the brain”. Had t his wise man realized that there was more to the heart than merely blood and tissue? So, what exactly is this enigmatic organ? Is the heart just a biological pump that is merely to propel the blood around our body, or is it a highly- sophisticated organ that may even possess the ability to “think” for itself? When many people start out on their quest to van­quish heart disease, they set out in full force to overhaul their diet and exercise routines. However, t here are other factors that often are overlooked. There have been many studies done that show how stress levels and emotions strongly affect heart health.

The Heart Brain Link
We’ve all heard about the ‘Cut-Brain Axis” that plays a significant role in our overall well-being. In recent years cutting edge science also suggests a very strong heart-brain link, with the heart being in constant two-way dialogue with the brain. What is most exciting in that research is the heart may send more signals to the brain than the other way around. The Director of Research at the Heart Math Institute, Dr. Rollin McCraty, has focused his career on exploring the effects of our emotions on heart -brain interactions and subsequent effects on autonomic, cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune system function. His latest research into neuroradiology has firmly established that the heart has a highly sophisticated intrinsic nervous system. Scientists believe that our HRV -heart rate variability is a key indicator of good health, and that our HRV is directly affected by our emotions.

So how can we keep a happy heart?
I like to look at everyone- and every health issue-holis­tically and believe that we should look at supporting our health through an all-around approach that encompasses diet, lifestyle and mindful living along with natural supplements.

Here are my tips for a ‘Wholehearted” Approach to Heart Health
Diet: From a dietary perspective, research shows that again, it’s a combination of the right foods in a “whole di­et” approach, rather than just the inclusion of a couple of heart .friendly ‘super food. Recent studies suggest that the Mediterranean Diet is a good dietary framework to follow: more vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, from sources such as olives, nuts, avocados and oily fish, and a small amount of lean meat. Also think about HOW you eat enjoy those healthy meals in a leisurely fashion with family and friends, with maybe a glass of red wine in moderation.

Get Moving: Most people appreciate that we need to exercise our muscles to keep them toned; welt the heart is a muscle too, and research shows a positive link between regular exercise, fitness and improved cardiovascular health. Exercise can make us feel good too and improve our overall health and sense of well-being. Don’t think that you need to become an athlete-regular moderate activity can be just as beneficial. Keep active within your own limitations, and gradually build up your exercise regime.

Know Your Important Numbers: You cannot change what you do not measure Some of key numbers regarding the significance of health history that you should be aware of and how they impact your overall health include your BM I Index, Blood Pressure, Sleep• minimum 7 hours sleep per night, and a full blood workup that includes a Complete Blood Count, Cholesterol, Thyroid Panel, C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, DHENs adrenal glands, estrogen and progesterone for women and PSA (prostate specific antigen) for men, General Metabolic panel, and Ferritin to measure your iron levels.

Lifestyle Be good to your body, heart and mind – do what makes you happy. Make sure that you are kind to yourself, your body and your heart by keeping stress levels to a minimum, practicing mindful, conscious liv­ing and considering if your emotions could be affecting your heart health. Try deep breathing exercises, medi­tation, journaling selfcare equals self love so stay heart centered and focus on positive energy in you r daily life. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and be mindful of negative thoughts and behaviors. Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life. Every cell in your body is constantly listening to your thoughts and heart. Health comes from peace of mind, peace in your heart, peace in your soul

Love: Love, particularly love that develops into a committed relationship, can have a positive impact on overall health. A few benefits include decreased risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improved immune health, faster recovery from illness and longer life span Your heart is pounding, your knees are weak, your belly’s full of butterflies, and you have stars in your eyes. It’s hard to deny that being in love feels good. But did you know being in love is also good for you? It turns out that falling head over heels has tangible health benefits. Studies indicate that love impacts our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing in unexpect­ed ways, and might even help us live longer. Love is a stress buster It’s no surprise: that having the support of someone who loves you makes it easier to cope with stressful situations. But it turns out that love itself can reduce stress on a chemical level As you move past the honeymoon phase with your partner, oxytocin- the bonding hormone-starts to settle in. This hormone, which gives you the “warm and fuzzies” when you’re cuddling is also a powerful stress reliever. Being in the presence of your loved one, or even just thinking of them, boosts oxytocin, which can lower adrenaline and cartisol levels. That’s oxytocin at work, or as I like to call it, ‘the love hormone’.