Many of us associate February with a feeling of gloom. The excitement of Christmas and new year are over and we are back into day to day routine, but on the horizon is Valentine’s Day.What else does February mean though?
It’s National Heart Month ! (www.bhf.org.uk)
I can hear some of you groan, thinking ‘not another National something or other’, but why should this month be embraced ?
Our lifestyles are getting more and more hectic, and our diets are suffering as a result of it. There are such easy steps we can take to improve our heart health:
- Good sources of protein – Lean meat, quorn, beans, and low fat dairy.
- Vegetables – Tinned, frozen and fresh are all fine and all count as part of your five a day.
- Regular exercise such as dog walking, walking to school, walking to the shops, the gym, there is loads
you can do.
- Take time for ‘you’, just half an hour even, to relax and be calm.
As a Nutritionist I wanted to write something different, not just reel off lists of good and bad foods, so I decided to focus on the Valentines theme, so let’s talk about loving your heart !
1.Stress is a big factor in effecting heart health.
There is a mechanism known as the fight and flee response, whereby the body prepares to run away or face a predator. The primeval reaction still exists in our bodies today, although the things we fight are different, road rage, alarm clocks, supermarket trolleys that have a life of their own, the school run; these are all things we ‘fight’, and strangely the flee reaction in our bodies is similar.
2.Our reactions to life’s stresses - hormones are released and our blood sugars can dip.
Our primeval body prepares for ‘a crisis’, and this in turn puts our heart under stress. We’ve all experienced a pounding heart beat when we are frightened, imagine this process happening in a subtle way, more frequently. It is like constantly revving your car engine with the handbrake on.
3.By adding a poor diet of bad fats, high salt, lack of hydration, the schene for poor heart health is set.
The good news is that by committing to simple changes this process (provided there is no structural damage) can be reversed.