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Do you care for your heart or does your heart care for you?

By Martin Thorsen ND at the Perth Sports Injury Clinic

Heart Care and Naturopathy

In the last couple of weeks of February, the National Health spotlight has been on organ donation and on heart research. Both are important areas of health. Do you take your heart for granted? It plays a vital role to keep you alive, so it is important to look after your heart.

What does your heart do?

The heart contains very strong muscles that moves your blood through over 100,000 km of blood vessels.(Tortora & Derrickson p760). Electrical signals, changes in blood volume and pressure within the heart, muscle contractions and relaxation are all involved to produce 1 heartbeat. The movement of blood through our bodies provides nutrients including oxygen to the body and removes waste from the tissue, sending it via blood to the elimination organs such as kidneys, liver, bowels, skin and lungs.

What damages your heart?

Damage to the heart and it’s ability to function can be due to the following:

  1. free radicals and or the inflammation process damaging heart muscle or blood vessels,
  2. Individual cells within our bodies not being able to take in nutrients or get rid of waste
  3. Known toxins not being removed from the body
  4. Insufficient nutrients, i.e.minerals and vitamins for the heart to function properly
  5. Not drinking enough water making blood thicker and requiring the heart to pump harder
  6. Lifestyle influences such as lack of exercise and stress

(Hechtman p939)

3 Ways to care for your heart

1. Get the body moving.

Movement of muscles helps pump the blood through the veins to return deoxygenated blood to the heart. As we exercise we can ensure that blood and nutrients reach the extremities such as our feet and hands. Exercise will increase our metabolism and help our bodies to handle and manage the stress.

2. Manage your stress.

It is important that we have some down time to allow our bodies to do those important things such as; digestion, liver detox, repair and healing. Stress management techniques may include: exercise, meditation, journalling, time for daily reflection, spend time discussing your day with your spouse/partner/friends/parents, having regular relaxing holidays.

3. Eating a diet rich in nutrients rather than energy.

Whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, with adequate protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fibre is a way to achieve this. A practical rule to follow would be having a plate 2/3-3/4 vegetables and fruit, the other 1/3-1/4 split between nuts, seeds, whole grains and your plant and animal protein sources. This will provide your body with all the nutrients it requires to function at its best, with enough antioxidants to help mop up any free radicals which can cause oxidative stress to the heart and blood vessels

Our hearts play such an important part in our ability to live, it is important that we look after our heart, protect it from damage, provide enough nutrients for it to function well and look at our stress and exercise so that we not force the heart to work harder then it needs. This will ensure that we can continue to live out our lives to our fullest potential.

Sources:

Tortora G, Derrickson B, “Principles of Anatomy and Physiology” 2009 Wiley & Sons

Hechtman L, “Clinical Naturopathic Medicine” 2012 Elsevier Australia

Osiecki H “The Nutrient Bible” 8th Ed AG Publishing Australia

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Please visit Martin’s website at www.longlastinghealth.com.au to discover more about Naturopathy.

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