Strong Hearts

The heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Like any other of our muscles, we have to work on making our heart muscle strong because it’s not going to strengthen itself without us initiating action, inciting the growth.So this post is a list of a few main things that I came up with on things that we (human people, in general) can do to help our hearts stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible. Though genetics limit people differently, the below are some controllable factors you may want to consider.

–> Eat a raw garlic clove a day. Garlic is an herb and people have been using garlic as a preventative healing agent, in addition to contributing delicious flavors to foods, for a very long time. (I have no idea how long–let’s say way before societies were colonizing eachother.) Like many foods’ nutritional benefits to us, parts of it we understand and parts of it remain magical. For garlic, apparently it proceeds a chemical called allicin, and it’s that chemical that lower blood pressure, aid against plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), reduce risks of colon, rectal, and stomach cancers, as a topical salve treat fight fungal infections of the skin, and wards off different biting insects, to name some benefits (though I’m sure the list goes on for a long length). It has anti-oxidant properties that are unexplained by science.And when I say eat a garlic clove a day, I don’t mean take a garlic supplement or use garlic powder in your foods–I mean eat an actual garlic clove. The best nutritionists (as far as I’m aware) will advocate a “total diet approach” for how we take in our nutrition. This means that they advocate us getting all of our nutrients via foods we eat by chewing them with our mouths, and letting our bodies process them from there, (as opposed to getting our nutrients from fortified foods and pills/manufactured supplements). The reason is simple because our body systems were built to go through all these delicate processes of breaking down foods and extracting nutrients from them, and in doing that our body trains itself to function optimally. Furthermore, we don’t really know why eating foods in their original, natural forms are the best for our bodies–it just works that way where we get more benefits than the scientific “sum of the parts”.

So eat your garlic clove. I have friends who will peel a bunch of garlic cloves and put them in a jar on the counter and submerge/soak them in honey for anywhere from a couple days to a week, (then putting the jar in the refrigerator to keep from rotting). This way, you don’t denature the nutrients by heating/cooking the garlic, but the spiciness is sweeter like honey, and it’s easier to handle the taste.

(This website has some scientific info on garlic. Your babushka and resources where people are super into herbs are probably better sources of information on garlic, but at least this one isn’t trying to sell us something: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/300.html)

–>Do cardiovascularly demanding exercise regularly. The heart is an organ that is a muscle. Doing exercise to elevate your heart rate to a cardiovascularly challenging level (look up what that is for you, it varies based on your body’s muscle/fat proportion, the size of your body system, and age & health of your heart) for short but extended periods of time (the general estimate is about for 30 minutes/5 times per week as a minimum) is the best way to train that muscle. The trained heart muscle will be able to pump more blood/per beat, which  improves the entire circulatory system and gets oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in every reach of your body more efficiently. It also makes the extraction of wastes from the blood more efficient as well.

–>Maintain good periodontal health. As I’ve mentioned on other posts, there is harmful bacteria originating in the mouth that eats away at underlying bone that gives your teeth/jaw structure (alveolar bone) and causes infection in the gums. (If your gums bleed easily and are puffy/inflamed/sore, you have high levels of this bacteria aka periodontal disease). Researchers* have found that there is an increased risk of coronary heart disease for people below the age of 60 who have more than four millimeters of this alveolar bone loss (the bone that holds the teeth in the mouth) from periodontal disease. Periodontal bacteria can both directly attacks the artery wall inside the heart, and preliminary studies hypothesize that these bacteria also hinder the immune system’s response to preventing plaque buildup in the arterial walls (atherosclerosis).Once bone loss begins, it will accelerate unless a medical intervention is undertaken. This means removing the bacterial laden gum and bone tissue via soft tissue laser or traditional surgical dental methods. (See my article about my use of a Laser Alternative to Gum Surgery, which is in a past practice newsletter that can be found here: (on page 2) http://www.scribd.com/full/45096487?access_key=key-25ow0zttdkg6p0dit98k.)

Our aim, however, should be to prevent this from happening in the first place  with good dental hygiene practices and preventive dental cleanings. Check out the post here called “Self-Care Tips: Maintaining a Healthy Mouth On Your Own” for info on that.*Research study referenced can be found here: http://www.joponline.org/doi/abs/10.1902/jop.2006.050405 and a more easy-to-read writeup of that study can be found here: http://www.perio.org/consumer/coronary-risk.html

–>Healthy food consumption habits. This is an incredibly complex suggestion and means a lot of different things to different people, based on different cultures’ foods and eating practices, location and access to healthy food sources, and how the Distributors (corporations, organizations working with them, etc.) of food that we don’t grown ourself seek to determine for themselves our food consumption habits. The effects of our food consumption habits won’t often be apparent now, but years down the road, we will reap the consequences for better or worse. Here are a few tips that are relatively simple that I’d like to give for this one. Since food is such a vital part of sustaining life, it is something worth protecting and fighting for.

– Eat foods low in LDL cholesterol, and low in trans/saturated fats. (Animal fats are high in trans/saturated fats. Vegetable oils and fats are low in trans/saturated fats.) High levels of LDL cholesterol are the main perpetrators in clogging up arteries and decreasing blood-flow throughout the body.

– Eat real foods, not foods made in a lab. Our bodies love getting nutrients from actual foods (as opposed to supplements) and humans have evolved to who we are today from eating those real foods. We were meant to eat those real foods that come from living things, not synthetic cheese doodles, for example.

-Eat different foods. Eating the same exact foods over and over again can lead to deficits of particular nutrients. There is also an unexplained benefit from introducing new foods to our bodies–variety exercises our bodies’ digestive systems in different ways and getting the same nutrients in different forms makes our body system more effective. (I don’t really know why and neither do most nutritionists.)

-Know exactly what’s in the foods you eat and what all of those things do for your body. This will help you make better decisions on what to put in your mouth.- Don’t eat things that make you feel sick/that you’re allergic to. They may taste good and not comprehensively shut your body down, but in the long run your body will hate you for this.

–>Living passionately and compassionately. Yes. Very important. What’s the point if we don’t act on our feelings and are disconnected to the point that the pain of someone else doesn’t bother us at all?! It’s called a “gut feeling” for a reason–our bodies are telling us something…

“Shake the Dust” by Anis Mojgani   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qDtHdloK44&feature=related

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