Happy Valentines’ Day! Yes, this “holiday” is very commercial, but perhaps we can think about it as a day other than one to stuff ourselves with candy and chocolate, or whether we have a “date” to celebrate with (which in truth, is irrelevant). Valentines’ Day should be a day of love, love of all kinds, and attention to keeping our physical hearts and emotional hearts clean and clear.
5 Heart Healthy Nutrients for our Physical Heart
- Omega-3’s: My favourite source is fish oils, but algae-based oil (my vegan friends) is also from the sea and both types supply enough good essential fats that reduce cardiovascular incidents (heart attacks) whenever they are included in the diet in ample supply.
- Magnesium: When used after cardiovascular episodes (heart attacks), magnesium significantly prevents a secondary attack by allowing the heart to pump more efficiently and with improved rhythm.
- CoQ10: Also known as ubiquinol, CoQ10 provides energy to cells, and for muscle cells specifically (of which the heart is a large muscle), CoQ10 improves contractility and takes pressure off weakened heart tissues. It is an important part of cholesterol synthesis (yes, we still need cholesterol).
- Plant sterols: Good cholesterols from plants help our body to synthesize good cholesterol and add to the total good cholesterol (HDL or Happy Cholesterol as I nickname this for my patients) in our body. When we have better quality cholesterol, then we have reduced inflammation and more supple arteries, meaning less pressure on the heart to pump overall.
- Amino acid support: Taurine and L‑arginine are two amino acids that have the capacity to reduce blood pressure when used appropriately and administered by your naturopathic doctor.
- Exercise: 3 – 4 times weekly for at least 20 minutes at a pace that feels right to you. You should be breathless but not exhausted after every workout. Mix it up; walking, biking, jumping on a trampoline, spinning classes, you name it. Something that makes you feel invigorated and it is fun.
5 Healthy Heart Habits for your Emotional Heart
- Express your love. If you love your friends and family, tell them or show them as much as you can. Giving love will get it back to you, and think of how warm you physically when you express positivity?
- Express “negative” emotions appropriately. Repressing feelings considered “bad” like anger is not healthy because it creates stress in your body, but screaming at everyone you meet because you are having a bad day isn’t appropriate either. Learn to express your feelings in a way that honours your needs but respects others. Get them out so you can move on.
- Develop loving behaviours. Find organizations or charities that make you feel like loving and giving, the best parts of yourself, and get involved. Your efforts will create joy and love for others that money cannot buy.
- Forgive others, and forgive yourself. It doesn’t feel good when someone hurts your feelings, or when you hurt someone else unintentionally. Holding onto the emotions of anger or sadness are really only taking away from you. Forgiveness provides a lot of peace to a weary, burdened heart. Don’t know how? Ask for help from a trusted mentor, good friend, or health professional.
- Love thyself. You are imperfect, and that’s okay. What you have to offer the world will be appreciated by many different people, and that is pretty cool.
When we think about ourselves as a whole, our heart will be able to function as it should — with love. Loving hearts are healing for others’ to be around as well as a joyful life to live.
Dr. Aoife ND