How to Nourish your Heart
Nourishing your heart from a holistic view point means taking into account the nutritional, physical and also the emotional aspects of the heart.
A healthy diet rich in wholefoods and healthy fats is key in heart health. Think of the Mediterranean diet: mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Eat fish high in omega-3s at least twice a week. Eat a handful of healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts for healthy fats and also protein to keep you satiated. Top up on Beta-carotene rich foods to lower risk for heart disease. It is thought that the antioxidant properties of Beta-carotene can help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with hardening of the arteries. Look for orange foods such as carrots, cantaloupe and sweet potato as a source of beta carotene. Dietary fibre helps promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and treat yourself occasionally to a glass of red wine or piece of dark chocolate!
Daily physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only will it improve your heart health but it also helps you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and is great for relieving stress. The Heart Foundation recommends physical activity like regular walking for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week, to reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as half. Look for opportunities to be more active throughout the day such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalators, walking to the shops instead of driving, avoid sitting for long periods, walk or cycle to local places, join a lunch-time walking or exercise group.
In the Ayurvedic system of health, keeping your heart healthy requires you to nourish both the emotional and the physical heart. The heart is considered to be the centre of emotions and where the physical and spiritual meet. The heart/anahata chakra is associated with compassion, love and caring for others. When your heart chakra is open, these qualities are present and mean you are more forgiving and accepting of yourself and others. A closed heart chakra can lead to feelings of anger, grief, jealousy and fear. Certain yoga poses are taught specifically to open or balance the heart chakra. It is also thought that being open with your emotions, whether you write them down or voice them aloud helps to clear a blocked heart chakra, as does letting go of feelings from the past and fear of the future. Researchers at Arizona State University found that communicating positive feelings towards others, through either words or actions can result in a wide range of health benefits, including lower stress hormones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system!
Yours in natural health,
Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new dietary or exercise regime, before using any supplements and before making any changes to prescribed medications.