Achieve a Healthy Heart and Maintain It
Friday 02/24/2023

How to Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In order to lower those numbers and maintain a healthy heart, it is crucial for us to achieve these three things: sleep, proper diet, and exercise. It is also important to understand cholesterol, which plays a key role in keeping our heart healthy, and its importance to our bodies.


Eat For Your Heart

It is important to maintain a well balanced diet; however, there are foods that positively and negatively affect the heart. The best foods for a healthy heart are actually quite opposite of what we would expect. Some of these foods include animal fats, animal proteins, avocados, and more foods with omega 3. Incorporating more fruits, specifically berries, and vegetables will help lower the plaque buildup inside the body and provide a variety of other cardiovascular benefits. 

Foods to try and avoid for heart health are polyunsaturated fats, seed oils, vegetable oils, omega 6 (which makes membranes stiff and more prone to breaking), and grains (as they have phytic acid which increases inflammation). It is best to avoid foods that cause free radicals or inflammation. Eating these heart healthy foods will also assist in maintaining a healthy weight, which will also help decrease the risk of heart problems.


Understanding Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels and high blood pressure are the main causes of heart disease. For your cholesterol, you should know about bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL) and have a plan on how to lower bad cholesterol while improving good cholesterol levels. Our body is built on these important building blocks of good cholesterol, which make up 50% of every membrane of cells in our bodies. Your body would not make a structure that could kill you, cholesterol being one, so you should not focus too much on the number.  

Cholesterol helps keep cell membranes healthy. In fact, 90% of our brain is cholesterol. Low levels of cholesterol can negatively affect the brain when it comes to thinking and memory abilities. The biggest take away here should be that without cholesterol, our bodies would not be able to function properly and we would not be here.


Increase Exercise and Decrease Stress

The heart is a muscle which becomes more efficient with exercise. When you exercise, your muscles help to circulate blood throughout the body, which takes some of the strain and effort off our heart. When we say exercising, this does not have to mean spending hours in the gym profusely sweating. It can be as simple as a 10 minute walk, bike ride, yoga, or even meditation. Physical activity will help increase your heart rate temporarily, which will help lower your resting heart rate, improve circulating oxygen to your heart, reduce blood pressure, and can raise HDL. It can also aid in the stability of a healthy weight, which is best for a healthy heart. Plus in the long run, increasing your exercise levels will decrease your stress level.


Hormones vs. Heart Health 

Testosterone makes the heart have a stronger output and contractility. Research has shown that people with normal to high testosterone levels have fewer heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes. Optimal levels of testosterone can also reduce LDL and lower blood pressure.

Estrogen plays an important role in heart health. It helps vasodilate the arteries and veins allowing for lower blood pressure, helping tissues throughout the body stay supple and flexible (increasing blood flow), and keeping blood triglycerides low, which increases HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol levels.

Our fight or flight hormones, such as adrenaline or epinephrine, cause the heart to beat faster which spikes the heart rate. A low thyroid correlates directly to an increase in cholesterol levels. As for sex hormones, Estrogen and Androgen, those make the heart rate slow down.

Optimal levels of hormones make the cardiovascular system stronger by helping to strengthen the heart’s physical contracting and its muscle fibers. There are many different hormones that specifically affect heart health. You should have your hormone levels tested regularly in order to properly manage them effectively; Optimal Bio can perform these tests and set an appropriate plan in place.

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