Heart health

February 4, 2016

You don’t need to go far to find a person suffering from some kind of cardiac-related complaint these days. Things like heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity etc are all too common in our modern day world. There is a lot that all of us can do to help this growing problem, for ourselves, our families, and also as a society with regard to our collective health care and awareness.

Inflammation, oxidative stress and immune dysfunction are three basic causes of vascular disease (i.e. diseases relating to our vascular system, such as cardiovascular disease). Lifestyle enhancements such as exercise, stress reduction, a balanced diet and nutritional supplements can go a long way to keep these problems in check.

As a Naturopath, this is my aim when dealing with cardiovascular issues. Whether these be from a person’s lifestyle choices, or for those looking to guard against hereditary concerns, I believe a lot can be done to help prevent cardiovascular problems. With hereditary issues, it’s not a case of simply “getting it because of your genes”. This new and exciting area of epigenetics has shown that our environment plays a huge role in whether certain genes actually turn themselves on or not. “It’s your genes that hold the bullets, but it’s your environment that actually pulls the trigger” sums up epigenetics. Your environment involves everything from your diet, air quality, stress levels, fitness levels and so on. These factors all contribute to whether or not your ‘inherited’ genes turn themselves on or not. As you can see, living well helps!

Nutrition plays an absolutely critical role. We all need to eat, so learning how to eat well is key. Our food should provide us with all the basic nutrients, in plentiful forms, and from here, we can add supplements where needed. Eat fibre, eat broccoli, delight in the green leafy vegies and salads that give you beneficial nutrients. Eat your good fats (no – they are not the enemy at all!), your dark-coloured berries etc. If you need some guidance on how to eat well, get some. A Naturopath or Nutritionist can guide you. They can teach you what to cook, how to eat etc, and help identify gaps in your nutritional needs.

Vascular disease is a post-prandial phenomena. What this means, is that a lot of damage happens post-eating if we are eating the wrong things. Inflammatory foods, junk foods, processed foods  etc induce oxidative stress and inflammation. Eating good foods like fruit and veg, rich in photo nutrients and all the colours of the rainbow, help to block these post-prandial problems, helping us to maintain health.

Exercise, stress reduction, weight control and lifestyle issues such as smoking are all important considerations too. If you find exercise boring or unmotivating – get yourself a good-looking personal trainer! There are ways and means to make these things more fun! 🙂

….and again, if you need help – get it.

Our blood vessels are ultimately responsible for the communication from the external to the internal parts of our body. Just like our gut, they are, in effect, hollow tubes that communicate information around the whole body. When these vessel walls are healthy, they work well and send the correct messages. When they are unhealthy (obesity, bad diet, smoking, stress etc), the results are inflammation, oxidative stress, immune dysfunction, abnormal growth, thrombosis…and finally, cardiovascular disease. Look after your blood vessels and they will go a long way towards looking after you!

We are the first generation now, when it comes to obesity, where we are predicted to outlive our kids! That is an alarming thought. Issues associated with obesity include sleep apnoea, cardiovascular disease, PCOS and other hormonal / fertility issues, erectile problems and more.

If you have any cardiovascular health concerns, seek help. Don’t wait for an incident to happen– take charge now and don’t let your environment pull that trigger. Do not simply treat your numbers – preventative health pays huge dividends.

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