Health & Happiness: Be My Valentine

By Jennifer Means, ND, LACbrg_logo_stacked

Valentine’s Day is when we show others we love them and that makes me think of hearts.

Our hearts beat blood to our cells and exchange waste for oxygen and nutrients. A healthy heart makes a healthy life. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people over 35 in the United States – more than 630,000 deaths each year. So much can be done to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Here are five simple ways to take care of your heart.

First, maintain a healthy diet. Eat lots of fresh leafy greens and the rainbow of vegetables with small servings of lean meat or protein. Vegetable servings should be the size of your face with meat servings no larger than your palm. Add small servings of fiber rich whole grains. Make sure your fats are healthy – raw nuts and seeds, olive or coconut oil, avocados. Cheap oils are rancid and will damage your arteries.

Avoid hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrups and processed foods which tend to be high in ingredients that can cause damage.

Second, make sure to exercise 15-30 minutes per day to improve circulation and reduce stress. Take time to breathe and relax. Most TV and computer games stimulate the flight or fight responses and stress the heart. Turn them off for a while and allow for rest.

Do at least one good deed per week. Science shows that doing good things for others improves our mental health and reduces our isolation and stress.

Finally, drink less alcohol. Quit smoking. Lose weight. Everyone agrees that these are keys for healthy hearts. But if you start doing the things above, you probably won’t need to drink as much and it may be easier to stop smoking. Almost certainly, you’ll get lucky and lose a few pounds.

This Valentine’s Day, be your own Valentine and take care of your heart.

Dr. Jennifer Means & Dr. Elizabeth Elliott welcome you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. For more information, contact us at 503-641-6400.