Valentine’s Day is filled with images of healthy red hearts. They are a symbol of love. But sadly, on Valentine’s Day, our hearts are often neglected, as they are for the other 364 days of the year. It’s easy to neglect something that typically functions as reliably with as little maintenance as the heart requires. It’s easy to take for granted an organ that functions 24/7/365 without a conscious thought from you; it even keeps the beat while you sleep!
On average, the heart beats 80 times a minute, 4,800 times per hour, and 115,200 times per day. If you live to the age of 80, your heart will have beaten more than 3.3 billion times. Most people think about heart health only when something starts to go wrong, when it’s often too late to reverse the damage resulting from long-term neglect or abuse.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to optimize your cardiovascular system and ensure that you have a healthy red heart. Use this Valentine’s Day to pledge your undying love to your heart, and then make it feel the love by taking these steps to optimize your cardiovascular health:
- Eat more vegetables and less red meat. Vegetables are a nutrient-rich, whereas most red meat is high in saturated and trans fats.
- Drink beet juice to oxygenate your blood vessels. Proper oxygenation aids in reducing inflammation — which is a leading cause of heart disease.
- Exercise regularly. I recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, five days a week to reduce inflammation in your blood vessels. Interval training, total-body sports, weight training, Pilates, and yoga — as well as remaining active throughout the day — are all beneficial if your doctor clears you for such activity.
- Take a CoQ10 supplement to support heart muscle. Coenzyme Q10 (a.k.a. CoQ10) is naturally produced by our bodies but its production is susceptible to decreasing as we age. Many health conditions — including heart disease — have been linked to lower than normal levels of CoQ10.
- Optimize your Vitamin D levels. If you aren’t in the habit of having your levels of vitamin D tested — and then addressed if any deficiency is found — talk to your doctor about doing so. That’s because there’s growing evidence of vitamin D deficiency as a leading risk factor for heart attacks, as well as many of the conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Have your hs-CRP and homocysteine levels checked and address any elevated levels. hs-CRP, which stands for “high-sensitivity C-reactive Protein,” is used to help assess your risk of developing disorders that can negatively affect your cardio and vascular systems.
- Check levels of oxidized LDL and insulin and address any imbalances. Oxidized LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is associated with metabolic syndrome traits such as obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and insulin resistance — conditions that often play a role in heart-related episodes that can result in death.
- Lose weight if you’re a woman with a waist size over 35 or a man with a waist size over 40. The circumference of your waistline is one data point we look to when assessing for possible health risks — including those associated with your heart. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, if most of your body fat is stored around your waist, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- If you consume nicotine, stop consuming nicotine! Nicotine is a stimulant and a vasoconstrictor, so it makes the heart pump faster while narrowing the arteries so the heart has to pump harder.
Our hearts do an amazing job of keeping us alive. This Valentine’s Day, let’s give them the heartfelt gift of optimal cardiovascular health. Take care of your heart, so it can continue to take care of you for decades to come.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®, nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
About the Author: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®, specializes in diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of the symptoms related to chronic and unexplained illness through nutrition, lifestyle, chiropractic, and other natural approaches to whole-health healing in Tampa, Florida. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Shenandoah University, his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University, his Diplomate status in Clinical Nutrition from the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, his CFMP® from Functional Medicine University, and his certification as a Digestive Health Specialist (DHS) through the Food Enzyme Institute. Dr. Lewis’ passion for health and wellness stems from his own personal experience. With a family history of autoimmune conditions and diabetes, and his own lab tests showing his genetic susceptibility to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid), he has learned how to restore his own health and vigor to prevent the onset of these and other illnesses and live an incredibly active life. Through this process, he acquired a deeper understanding of health and wellness, which he now offers his patients in Tampa.