Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in the UK, the effects of poor diet, lack of exercise and stress impacting terribly on the nation’s arteries, causing them to thicken and harden. The good news is that the disease is preventable, being largely dependent on your lifestyle choices.
In Chinese medicine, the heart is known to control the life and activities of the whole body. Imbalances caused by disturbed emotions, heart disease or heart weakness can lead to fearfulness, anxiety, insomnia and mental confusion. The heart can also affect the function of other vital organs.
Follow the seven easy steps you can take to minimise risk, to physically reverse the progress of the disease, and avoid a broken heart…
1. Eat right
Diet is the single most influential factor. Avoid fried foods, refined low-fibre foods, high fats, sugar, alcohol, too much salt and processed meats. Opt instead for plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit with whole grains, fish and lean meats as well as a range of other healthy foods. See a nutritionist or naturopath for more personalised advice.
2. Exercise regularly
Find some kind of enjoyable exercise. You don’t have to go to the gym, as all physical activity will help. Regularly taking a brisk walk to the shops instead of taking the car or bus is an easy way of getting the heart into better shape.
3. Stay within a healthy weight range
Get out the tape measure. Extra weight around your middle increases the risk of heart disease. Apple shapes have a threefold risk of suffering a stroke or heart disease, regardless of their weight. Healthy diet and more exercise are the best ways to lose inches from your waist.
4. Find joy
People who are joyful and happy suffer fewer heart attacks. What gives you that heart-warming feeling of joy? Whether it’s healthy relationships with friends and family, creative activities, being with nature or whatever else does it for you, make more time for joy.
Avoid stressful situations as much as possible, or find better ways of dealing with stress. Make a little quiet time each day to meditate or reflect. Breathing exercises also help. Make sleep a priority.
6. Balance your emotions
Talking about your feelings to others will give you a different perspective. Seek support from a therapist where needed. Energetic medicine can also help, as the heart is a receptor organ like a sophisticated radio receiver picking up frequencies from other parts of the body and from other people. Homeopathy, flower remedies and Asyra bioenergetic treatments can really have an impact here.
7. Herbal support
There are many herbs that can support better heart health. A simple one to take is fresh garlic. This can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure as it cleans out the arteries. Hawthorn is the most common herb to use for cardiovascular disease, but is needed in quite high doses. It’s best to see a herbalist for the best advice in this area and on other herbs which may be beneficial to you.
Garlic tomatoes – Shine’s recipe for a healthy heart!
This is a simple recipe that my 10-year-old daughter came up with, and which your heart will love.
- 3 beef or other large tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons basil pesto (optional)
- ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
- Olive oil
Slice the tomatoes and lay out on a plate. In a bowl, mix the crushed garlic, olive oil, honey and pesto. Spoon the mixture on to the sliced tomatoes and serve. Goes well with fresh bread and hummus!
By Lloyd Gee, Naturopath at Shine, Church Street.