Heart health basics

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The heart and cardiovascular system are strong and powerful and intricate and delicate at the same time. They need to be treated with the utmost respect.  The heart is the pump and needs to be kept in good, working order – it thrives on activity and exercise – not too much, not too little.  The blood vessels of the body are the most fantastic network and transport system known.  They need to be kept clean and flowing and constantly cleared of debris.

As an average our heart beats 80 beats per minute, about 4,800 times per hour – an impressive 115,200 times per day, pumping around 4.5/5.5 litres of blood – through a circulatory system something close to 100,000 miles; all our arteries, veins, and capillaries.

(Scientists estimate the volume of blood in a human body to be approximately 7 percent of body weight. For an adult body weight of 150 to 180 pounds that will be approximately 4.7 to 5.5 litres).  Heart and CV health could hardly be more important – a fundamental basic in our own healthcare.

Exercise – in periods of at least 20 minutes a time. Daily if possible; at least 3 times a week.  Try and total at least 1½ to 2 hours every week, more than that if you can and once you get used to exercising, this will probably become more and more.  It will produce wonderful endorphins which are not only very good for us – but moreish.  Raise your heart rate a couple of times a day.  Long walks at the top end of the comfort zone and including great breathing exercises are excellent.

If overweight, lose weight, gradually. 2 lbs a week is a good objective.  If weight loss is too rapid the body will gauge it as a threat/a crisis and try and hang onto fat slowing the progress and making dieting more difficult – or heighten appetite, amplifying the wish to eat to try and replace the lost food intake – or both.  Slow weight loss is successful and retrains and adjusts the body responses.

Eat oily fish twice a week.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit.

Eat lots of plant foods (for *flavonoids and isoflavones): apples, citrus fruit, berries (strawberries, cranberries, raspberries), prunes, red onions, shallots, walnuts, pecan nuts, tomatoes, turmeric, pulses and beans (chickpeas, red kidney beans, etc), green tea, soy.

Include foods with vitamins C, E, K and B vitamins, Q10, lutein, lycopene – citrus fruits, green vegetables, almonds, avocado, squashes (pumpkin, butternut, etc), sweet potato, spinach, kale, broccoli, fish, liver, (some other meats), eggs, tomatoes, water melon.

Avoid trans fats – often in many processed foods.

Drink adequate water, keep hydrated.

Check blood pressure, cholesterol and homocysteine.

Don’t smoke.

Reduce stress – there is lots of information on this – lots we can do.

Optimise sleep – ditto, there is lots of information on this – lots we can do.

*antioxidant substances found in plants which can protect the blood vessels and the body against a range of diseases. Many of the millions and millions of everyday chemical reactions that take place in the body create free radicals.  Antioxidants are the body’s clean up and safety team to deal with free radicals.  They have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

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