Have you ever wondered whether your heart is a muscle or an organ? Well, it is actually a muscular organ.
An organ is a group of tissues that work together to perform a specific function. In the case of your heart, this function is pumping blood throughout your body.
Your heart is absolutely essential for your body’s overall health and function. Without the pumping action of your heart, blood would be unable to move through your circulation system and the other organs and tissues of your body wouldn’t be able to function properly.
Blood provides the cells and tissues of your body with vital oxygen and nutrients, plus, waste products like carbon dioxide are also carried away by the blood to be expelled from the body.
I had a new client approach me this week, who has suffered a heart attack at the age of 39. I asked her if I could write about it and she said yes, because she thought, as she was young, it would never happen to her. I think this is fair, for us all to think we are invincible, but whatever your age, shape or size, I cannot emphasise how important it is to take care of your heart.
There are many conditions that can affect the heart but knowing that diet and lifestyle changes can make all the difference to the majority of heart disease can really make you start to look at things, and make small changes that could potentially save your life. What are these conditions?
Coronary artery disease – This happens when the blood supply to the tissues of the heart is disrupted. It occurs when a waxy substance called plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries supplying blood to your heart, making them narrower or even blocked. People with coronary heart disease are at risk for other heart conditions like heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmia.
High blood pressure – Blood pressure is the pressure that blood exerts on the walls of the arteries. When blood pressure is high it can become dangerous and put you at risk for heart disease or stroke.
Arrhythmia – Is when your heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly.
Heart failure – happens when the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should be. Conditions that either overtax or cause damage to the heart can lead to heart failure.
Heart attack – A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Coronary artery disease often causes heart attacks.
How to keep a healthy heart? Eat fruits and veggies. These are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre and help to keep arteries clean.
Adjust your protein sources. Select fish and plant-based protein like soybeans, lentils, and nuts.
Add foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Examples include fish (salmon and mackerel), walnuts, and flaxseed oil
Avoid trans fats. They can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans fats are often found in things like biscuits, cakes, processed meats and chips
Carefully read food labels. They can give you valuable information about calories, sodium, and fat content.
Exercise. Try to move for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Running, walking, cycling, swimming, dancing. Whatever you love.
Stop smoking. And stay away from second-hand smoke.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you have to sit for long periods during a job or travel, be sure to get up every couple of hours to stretch and move around.
Sleep well. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. People who don’t get enough sleep may be at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Remember that it’s never too late to make lifestyle changes that promote heart health. Every day try to make small changes to your eating and lifestyle habits for big results.