February is traditionally the month of the heart – St Valentine has a lot to answer for! We’ve just got the Christmas bulge under control and then we are encouraged to dive into the chocolates! I like February because in February there is hope for better things to come. The days are getting noticeably lighter in the evenings, the birds are tweeting, the flowers are starting to bud and all is well in the World.
St Valentine does one useful thing though he reminds us that we can use his month to focus on our heart health
- Well he’s the top obvious No.1, and you don’t need me to tell you this – but if you are smoking quit! I know its difficult but just do it. It’s totally crazy to even think that you enjoy it (really) – helping you manage the root cause of the addiction is key – from a nutritional point of view, having a stable blood sugar really helps. That means eating real food! Eating dense natural foods that keep you fuller for longer. Don’t be one of those grey, wheezing fag-smoke smelly, unhealthy folk – come over to the other side and live your life to the full and in health. I am not going to lecture us all about the drinking – in moderation drinking appears to have a protective effect (that one glass of red?) but after that clearly the health benefits head down the hill.
- Eat Real Food! Try to also concentrate on the quality of the food (local and organic if possible) Real, fresh and seasonal food is potentially full of those lovely micronutrients.
- Eat your Greens! Specially kale, spinach, broccoli, and brussels which is a rich source of Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is the nutrient no one talks about in heart health and it seems that it is important to take along side Vitamin D (K2 seems to help deliver calcium directly to your skeleton– In studies vitamin K seems to offer heart-protective benefits through something called the Matrix GLA Protein (or MGP), the protein responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. When your body’s soft tissues are damaged, they respond with an inflammatory process that can result in the deposition of calcium into the damaged tissue. When this occurs in your blood vessels, you have the underlying mechanism of coronary artery disease — the buildup of plaque — that can lead you down the path to a heart attack.
- Fish! This is a tricky one because many sources of oily fish are now polluted with heavy metals like mercury (yet another thing to worry about). Try eating sardines – yes brilliant Cornish sardines are SO unbelievably good value – when I go and get mine, I give the poor bloke on the fish counter a five minute eulogy on how FABULOUS sardines are. He ducks when he sees me coming now. Little fish do not accumulate so much pollution. Also I take about five capsules of high quality fish oil from a professional brand. Purified and good quality and not oxidized.
- Chocolate anyone! Let’s leave the last word with St Valentine – proper dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants – antioxidants mop up damage caused by oxidation in the body. Oxidation can cause damage to arteries – not a good thing! So a little of what you fancy apparently does do you good.
BONUS: It seems that how we relate to our Community has a huge part to play in heart health – studies that looked at Japan and Italy found that those living in strong communities, who had a continuing love for life and living had fewer incidents of Coronary Heart Disease.