Happy Heart Month - 3 Nutrients Your Heart Will Love
There is certainly no shortage of health advice out there. I admit it’s a lot to navigate, understand and trust – but I’m here to help! In honor of February as heart health month, I’ll review the most important nutrients your heart is “lusting” for and offer a few strategies to improve your heart health right away.
Heart Disease – Still the Leading Cause of Death!
For the last 80 years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in America. That’s right, this statistic has not changed in nearly a century!
As the #1 killer, heart disease is overwhelmingly rampant in the U.S. and accounts for…
- 1 in 4 deaths
- Roughly 700,000 total deaths per year
- Approximately 2 deaths every 90 seconds
Perhaps even more upsetting is the fact that the CDC reports that 80% of cardiovascular disease deaths are preventable with changes in diet, lifestyle and physical activity! How does a preventable condition become the leading cause of death? Well, clearly people are not taking care of themselves or are gravely misinformed about their health. My experience tells me it is a combination of both of these. Taking responsibility for your own health is more critical now than ever - it literally is a matter of life or death.
Heart Healthy Strategies to Begin Now
1. CUT the SUGAR
Heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition. This makes sugar enemy #1. Over consumption of sugar is the leading culprit of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease. As excess insulin creates inflammation inside arteries, they grow thicker and stiffer, which puts tremendous stress on the heart.
When you think of heart health, you probably think of cholesterol and fat. What you should really focus on here is sugar consumption! For a healthier heart, eat healthy fat and nix the sugar.
To understand the impact of sugar on your heart, let’s first review cholesterol:
- Your body needs cholesterol to survive and produces it. It’s critical to the health of cell membranes, nerve signaling, hormone synthesis, digestion and absorption of vitamins (especially fat-soluble A, D, E & K)
- Certain proteins known as lipoproteins carry cholesterol around your body. Here are some related terms you may be familiar with:
- Plaque – in terms of heart health, this waxy substance deposits in your artery walls, leading to narrowing and reduced blood flow. This condition is known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis.
- Triglycerides – the most common type of fat in your body derived from the food that you eat and extra calories. If your body does not immediately need the calories you take in, it converts them into triglycerides to be stored in fat cells. The triglycerides are released when your body needs energy. VLDL (see below) carries them to your tissues.
- Chylomicrons – fatty particles rich in triglycerides that transport cholesterol and triglycerides from the intestine to the liver and fatty tissues in the body.
- HDL – high density lipoproteins that return cholesterol to the liver, lowering the chance for it to build up in arteries (aka atherosclerotic plaque). Referred to as “good” cholesterol.
- LDL- low density lipoproteins contain the majority of cholesterol and easily bind to artery walls. This is known as “bad” cholesterol.
- VLDL – very low density lipoproteins that deliver triglycerides to muscles and fat tissue and considered “bad” since it encourages plaque buildup in your arteries.
Now, circling back to the sugar-heart disease link, high insulin signals your body to make more LDL to covert sugar into fat. Sugar goes on to lower your HDL and causes further abnormalities among your triglyceride levels. None of this is good!
*The takeaway…a high sugar diet will land you an “F” on your cholesterol report!
2. BREAK a SWEAT
Exercise and strength training builds muscles, including your heart! While you may not think of your heart in the same way as your bicep, both of these muscles get bigger and stronger the more they’re worked. Your heart contracts to pump blood throughout your body. A strong efficient heart will push out more blood with each heartbeat, which actually helps your heart beat slower and in turn reduces heart stress and blood pressure. Moving your body regularly also improves blood sugar regulation and improves insulin sensitivity (a marker for heart health).
3. PURGE the STRESS
We know chronic stress no matter the cause is linked to poor health. Stress is like gasoline for inflammation, an instigator for heart trouble. Another consideration is how stress may cause you to act in ways that deteriorate your overall health (overeating, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, sedentary behavior, negative emotions, etc.)
Top 3 Nutrients Essential to Heart Health
These 3 nutrients are well known for supporting and supercharging your heart health.
1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Most of CoQ10’s benefits revolve around its antioxidant properties and ability to improve energy production.
CoQ10 plays a direct role in the production of energy by the mitochondria – the cell’s energy producing unit. CoQ10 is particularly essential to heart cells. A stressed heart creates an increased demand on the body for CoQ10 and there is a direct relationship between poor cardiovascular health and low CoQ10 levels. When you handle a CoQ10 deficiency, you can significantly improve heart function and overall health.
Check out more on CoQ10 in my blog, No Energy? Lack of This Vital Nutrient Could be the Reason!
CoQ10 Benefits the Heart:
- Oxygen use by the heart is increased
- Improved cellular energy production
- Promotes blood pressure control
CoQ10 has been heavily researched and is often used as a support and adjunct to conventional drug use in the treatment of heart disease. The largest study on CoQ10 confirmed that along with standard therapy, CoQ10 significantly improved the status of patients with chronic heart failure and created a 43% reduced chance of death from heart attack or stroke.
Your body has the ability to produce CoQ10 naturally, but there are many situations that lead to insufficient levels.
You’re especially susceptible to low CoQ10 levels if you’re:
- Older than 40
- Have chronic inflammation
- Taking a cholesterol lowering statin drug View my video/blog to find out why taking CoQ10 with a statin is a must.
2. Omega-3 Fish Oil
It’s no coincidence that there’s almost no heart disease among Greenland’s native Inuit people, despite the fact that their diet is really high in fat. They eat lots of fish and thus they get lots of the heart nourishing long chained omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Sourced from seafood and algae, your body relies on EPA and DHA in every stage of life to develop and function at its best.
Omega 3 Fish oil can reduce the risk of heart disease by way of:
- Increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
- Reducing triglycerides
- Keeping blood platelets from clotting
- Strengthening the heart’s electrical system, preventing heart rhythm problems
- Inhibiting inflammation within the walls of your arteries, keeping plaque buildup under control
It’s best to get your omega 3s directly from food, but eating seafood several times a week can be a challenge for various reasons. This is when supplementation is crucial.
3. Vitamin D
With one of the most versatile health benefit profiles, vitamin D is truly a nutrient superhero with properties that support every system of your body…
- Muscle strength & balance
- Proper endocrine (hormone) function
- Cellular DNA repair and protection
- Mitochondrial (energy) production
- Brain and neurological health
- Gene expression
What makes vitamin D so heart healthy? Just as vitamin D receptors exist on immune cells, they’re also found on the major cardiovascular cells. Growing research points to the link between vitamin D deficiency and heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes and other associated conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Vitamin D deficiency is undoubtedly considered a cardiovascular risk marker.
Note: Always take vitamin K2 (in the form of MK-7) with a vitamin D3 supplement. Learn the why behind this golden rule and more about K2 here.
Supplementation Made Easy
The BodyManual line of products includes all three of these supporting nutrients in high quality formulas designed to increase and maintain healthy levels in your body. Supplementing vital nutrients is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make a difference in your health. You can have confidence in knowing that before any BodyManual products leave our manufacturing facility, they are tested by an independent third party to ensure freshness, potency and purity.
You can click on each link below here to view the formula profile and start giving your heart more love today. These 3 nutrients are all fat-soluble and I recommend they be taken together for optimal absorption.