February: Heart Health Month
Updated: Feb 8
February is a month that is dedicated to matters of the heart, and how we can support it both physically and emotionally. Naturopathic medicine for heart health involves ways to both treat and prevent concerns such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and blood sugar issues. Valentines day also offers a time for us to reflect on love given to others and also a theme that I promote often: self-love.
Support your heart physically:
Exercise. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends atleast 150 minutes of aerobic activity in 10 minute or more intervals, per week(1). Brisk walking is a perfect example of moderate intensity activity, whereas swimming or jogging is higher intensity.
Eat for your heart - To date, the mediterranean diet provides the most benefit in research for reducing coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke and cardiovascular related outcomes (2). This includes: higher intake of minimally processed plant foods, olive oil and lower in saturated fats from animal products. Certain foods may increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL. It is promoted to have an LDL less than 2.5 and an HDL greater than 1.5 for health. HDL helps to scoop up cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels and deliver it back to the liver to be processed.
Cholesterol - Foods containing plant compounds such as b-glucans, psyllium fiber and phytosterols have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. B-glucans are found in oats, and oatmeal, so incorporating this as a breakfast once a week would be helpful (3). Psyllium fiber reduces harmful cholesterol in as little as 3 weeks, as shown in studies (4).
Blood sugar - Controlling your sweet tooth, and incorporating lean proteins and fiber will help to balance out blood sugar spikes throughout the day. Cinnamon, among other nutraceuticals have shown promise to reduce postprandial blood sugar (after meals) in those with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance (4).
Blood pressure - Avoiding processed foods with excess sodium, reducing stress and incorporating foods from the DASH diet. Other supplements like magnesium and catechins (found in green and hibiscus tea), have been shown to reduce blood pressure (5).
Reduce stress and support mental health. Stress raises cortisol and affects blood sugar so it is in survival mode. This increases the circulation of blood sugar and fatty lipids for energy utilization and raises blood pressure. In the longterm this causes negative cardiovascular effects.
Support your heart emotionally:
The beneficial effects of love are not only emotional but also physical. Feeling love towards others and yourself releases the hormone oxytocin, which promotes a feeling of safety, security and relaxation.
Use positive talk towards self and practice heart-centred meditations (ex. Gratitude journalling, Loving Kindness meditation).
Practice self-care often. Examples are: relaxing with an herbal tea, journalling, having a bath, getting your nails or hair done, treating yourself, keeping up with wellness and health appointments.
Hug your loved ones and pets.
Tell others in your life wether it be a family member, partner or friend how much you care for them.
Try acupuncture for a mind-body approach. In chinese medicine, the heart meridian is related to anxiety and blood. Acupuncture is a great tool for lowering anxiety and getting more in touch with yourself.
Are you looking to support your heart physically and emotionally? Get in touch with Dr. Kaitlyn Zorn for a Complementary 15 minute Meet & Greet by emailing email@example.com.
Click "Book Consult" below for an Acupuncture or Naturopathic Initial Consult.