blog Feb 12, 2022

February is Heart Month. And according to the data I found on the Government of Canada website, heart disease is the 2nd leading cause of death among Canadians. Data from 2012/13 (the most recent listed) about one in 12 Canadians over the age of 20 live with diagnosed heart disease. And every hour about 12 die from heart disease. The website further goes on to say that, “Early detection and management of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, can help you reduce your risk of heart disease.”

Now if you're thinking this is all doom and gloom, y'all haven't been following me very long. The great news is that those conditions can all be managed, and many times even reversed, with simple food and lifestyle changes. And really, with all the things your heart does to keep you alive, I thought it only fitting to touch on a few things you can and should do to address a few of those issues and show it a little love.

The first is to really make a concerted effort to manage stress. Unchecked chronic stress leads directly to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, poor sleep, weight gain - all of which increase your risk of heart disease. If you have a high-stress job, the best way to break that continuum of chronic stress, where you're living in a heightened state is a blast of exercise. Scheduling a few times during the day to run up and down the stairs in your office building, or “drop and give me 20 (or 10 or five)” pushups, or quick power walk will do wonders for breaking that elevated state of stress. Some people don't even realize they're living in that state until they get a break.

Choose whole foods and increase your fruit and veggie intake. Harvard Health Publishing states that 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day lower your risk of cardio vascular disease by 28%. It's being said now that due to poor soil quality, produce being picked green and shipped, pesticides, GMO, etc., that we now need to consume upwards of 15 services of fruits and veggies per day to get the nutrients we need for optimal health. My vegetarian and vegan daughters don't even do that on a regular basis. And really it's not what we do once in a while, it's what we consistently do. So I strongly recommend supplementing with vitamins and antioxidants to bolster this area up.

Eat balanced PFC meals. For those loyal followers and readers, you could likely teach this by now, you've seen me mention it so many times. But it really is crucial to make sure your body is taking in, metabolizing and absorbing the food you're feeding it. People used to say, “You are what you eat.”, but it's really, “You are what you absorb.” Because really, if you're body's not absorbing and using it, you're not benefitting from it. PFC every 3 uses food to create hormonal balance and stabilize blood sugar so your body is releasing fat, not storing it. Which then keeps it out of your arteries and not stored in fatty deposits around your heart, liver and other organs.

Keeping the body balanced with the right nutrients also helps promote nitric oxide production, which is crucial to health and life itself. We can live five minutes without oxygen, but not more than five seconds without nitric oxide. Helping to promote the nitro effect in your body means better circulation, which also means more oxygen is delivered to the body along with better nutrient absorption and then of course supports immune function as well. And like many things, production of those important things starts to diminish as we age so doing what we can to help promote nitric oxide production is key.

And the last, but certainly not least, daily exercise. Get up, get out and get moving. Every. Single. Day. Daily exercise, even just a brisk walk for 20-30 mins helps keeps the heart strong and working efficiently. Exercise where you exert bursts of effort and/or strength like we mentioned above are not only great stress relievers, but they also help repair your telomeres, the ends of your DNA strands. But don't feel you have to have a squat rack in your living room just to get some benefit from exercise. If you’re not doing anything now, start by going out for a walk. Or even walk around your house continuously for 10 mins and work up! Then add in a little stretching and deep breathing after your movement breaks and workouts. It all counts. People ask me what the best type of exercise is and I tell them it's the one that you will do. So find something that you love, that works with your lifestyle and schedule it in. Seriously. There's just something about putting it on the calendar that makes it happen. “I'll do it later today when I get a minute..” never seems to happen.

And smile. Smiling, giggling, laughing – even if you fake it – triggers the release of endorphins, those happy hormones that cause us to just feel better. You know, after someone tells a really bad joke and you start laughing crazily for some reason and when you finally stop, tears running down your face and all, don't you just feel so good? Try it. Because after all a merry heart doth good like a medicine.

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