10 Healthy Heart Hacks to Live Long and Prosper
By Angela Tisci
How many of you are stressed, anxious and overwhelmed on a regular basis?
When we're stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, we have to listen to our heart. I know that may sound hoaky to some of you, but science has proven it. The heart has actually been found to have its own unique intelligence, meaning it has neurons much like the brain that sends signals from the heart to the brain to help us determine how we feel. The fastest way to reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm is to control your heart rhythm. When your heart, mind, and emotions are all in alignment this is essential for stress management and behavior change. So there you have it! Your heart is more than just an organ, it is actually a direct link to your inner guidance.
So here are 10 Healthy Heart Hacks backed by research to help you live long and prosper:
- Get Your Sleep: Current data supports the concept that inadequate sleep duration may put you at an increase for cardiovascular risk. Preventive strategies such as good sleep hygiene will help decrease that risk. So create a schedule to turn off the screens, take a bath, and go to bed! 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended for most adults.
- Daily Cardio Is Good for You: Your body likes to move and 50–60 min of vigorous exercise each day will help keep your heart healthy and strong. So get out there and move that body. You can dance if you want to!
- Stop Your Stressing: Current understanding of psycho-emotional stressors tells us that stress increases cortisol levels, your stress hormone, and increases inflammation. This is the classic mind-body connection that has a direct impact on your heart. Meditate, deep breathing, and journaling are all ways to lower your stress level. So do your heart a favor and stop your stressing.
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and the Mediterranean Diet: Current scientific evidence shows that the Standard Western diet is actually pro-inflammatory as compared to a ‘Mediterranean diet’ which appears to be anti-inflammatory. So what this means for you is that the doctor is prescribing a trip to Greece. I mean it is for your heart health. Start by having a Mediterranean night each week and try a new recipe.
- Avoid Simple Sugars like Pastries, White bread, Cookies: I hate to say it but sugar is the enemy. If you do nothing else but eliminate sugar you will see a wealth of health benefits including decreasing your risk for heart disease. A diet containing 25% or more calories from added sugars nearly triples the risk for cardiovascular disease. How do you avoid sugar? Try some berries, or other fresh fruits in place of pastries or even opt for a more savory desert, like baked apples with cinnamon.
- Chew Your Food: Let's face it, everyone is in a hurry these days and our waistlines are showing it. Being overweight can put you at increased risk for heart disease, amongst other things. But this simple act of chewing your food will help slow down your intake, reduce calories and digest your food better. So sit down, relax, and eat your veggies! Try to eat for at least 20 minutes. Place your fork down after each bite, take a sip of water and take the time to enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of your food.
- Eating Frequency: Our research suggests eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain. Eating breakfast and lunch 5–6 hours apart and making the overnight fast last 18–19 hours may be a useful practical strategy to keep weight down.
- Eat the Fat: Oh the controversy continues over fats. There is widespread conflicting evidence on good vs bad fats. Most of us have grown up thinking saturated fats like butter and cheese and meat products are bad but the reality is that it’s not just about the fat that makes it risky to your cardiovascular health. The research does agree that trans-fats are to be avoided. There appears to be no consistent benefit from the reduction of dietary saturated fat. Further, saturated fat has been shown in some cases to have an inverse relationship with obesity-related type 2 diabetes. So when in doubt dip that whole-grain bread in some olive oil, avoid processed foods and eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. Focus on the quality of your food and not on one specific nutrient.
- Take your Magnesium and Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods: Taken together, current evidence shows that higher Mg intake, either dietary or via supplementation, is associated with protection against major heart health risk factors. Foods rich in magnesium include: pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, black beans, edamame, and yes, dark chocolate.
- Oh the Alcohol: Research says to minimize alcohol or avoid alcohol altogether. New research raises concerns that drinking more than 3 drinks per day on a regular basis or more than 5 drinks in any one episode should be discouraged. Some alternatives you might try include cucumber water, lemon water, or tea.
About the Contributor
Angela Tisci is the CEO and Founder of the Women’s Leadership Revolution - Where wellness, business, and life meet... womensleadershiprevolution.com