- Has someone in your family had heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, or other cardiovascular conditions and you’re concerned what that means for you?
- Are you concerned about heart health such as; high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
- Do you worry about about the side effects of medications prescribed for blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance or other risk factors for heart health?
- Has your doctor told you to lose weight and exercise more, yet you don’t know where to start?
Starting with Prevention
Preventing a problem is by far better than trying to undo the damage done by years of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Naturopathic medicine can really help to reduce risk factors for heart disease and give you some really beneficial skills to minimise your chances of developing cardiovascular problems.
There have been plenty of studies demonstrating how diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent and treat the heart and cardiovascular system. Being simply told to “eat better and exercise more” by their doctors, with no support or strategies about what exactly that means, isn’t really going to help.
You may not realise that the wrong diet (and specifically, the wrong diet for your particular blood type), stress and lifestyle have a huge impact on heart health.The right type of food can make such a difference to reducing blood pressure and inflammation which is one of the main causes of heart disease, hypertension and high (oxidised) cholesterol.
Effective Natural Solutions
In addition to diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, there are many specific nutritional supplements or herbal medicines that can be beneficial for heart health. These supplements can help reduce the side-effects of your current medication, and can help you reach your heart health goals.
At Equilibrium Natural Health all the products available, including “Practitioner Only Prescribing” products, have been researched to ensure they have the right amount of each of the ingredients, as well as the most absorbable variety of each ingredient, so that you can be assured that what you think you are taking, is actually what you are taking.
Heart health conditions that may be helped by naturopathic medicine:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Metabolic Syndrome / Insulin Resistance / Pre-Diabetes
- Heart arrhythmias, palpitations
- Peripheral arterial disease, venous insufficiency
Heart Healthy Foods to include regularly in your diet;
- Foods rich in potassium are good for reducing blood pressure. These include bananas (don’t over do these as they’re high in fructose), twice cooked potatoes, yoghurt, avocado, fish, mushrooms, mixed leafy greens and spinach are high in potassium.
- Beetroot is also fantastic for reducing blood pressure. If you have a juicer, juice these daily and drink plenty of the juice as well as eating the vegetable either grated raw (really nice with grated carrot in salads) or boiled and sliced. Throw some in the oven (skins on) next time your baking something. Once cooled they’re so easy to peel and can be used chopped up in a salad or reheated with other roasted veg for a really tasty lunch. Alternatively make your own boiled beetroot, rather than the tinned ones as they’re usually full of sugar.
- Colourful fruits especially kiwifruit, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches and nectarines.
- Oats (soaked overnight for porridge or Bircher muesli is best), pulses (especially white beans), quinoa, kale, celery, capsicum, sweet potato and broccoli are all good for helping reduce blood pressure.
- Garlic can reduce blood pressure by up to 4mg/Hg which is the same as blood medication. Beetroot can do the same. Onions and leeks are also good, just not as effective.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and regular bread and excessive grains (as they’re pro-inflammatory). Try zucchini pasta as an alternative. Much lower in calories than regular pasta, it reduces inflammation and adds more nutrients and all important soluble fibre.
- Chia seeds, psyllium husks and linseeds (aka flaxseeds) are good sources of fibre and other nutrients (omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds).
- Spices such as cinnamon and black cumin seeds.
- Nuts and seeds
- Fresh food, prepared from scratch, minimise packaged foods that contain a multitude of flavourings, preservatives and salt.
- Avoid foods that are labelled as “low fat” as they’ll be higher in sugar
- Foods labelled as “low or no sugar” usually have artificial sweeteners added instead.
- Green tea
- Olive Oil and a Mediterranean Style Diet. 20mg of raw (unheated) olive oil a day (about a dessert spoon) has been shown to help prevent heart disease.
- A glass of red wine (but any more will have the opposite effect and avoid if you have high histamine levels)
Supplements that may help;
- Magnesium supplementation can change the shape and condition of heart valves.
- B vitamins can help rebuild the heart.
- CoQ10 can re-energise every cell in the heart and can literally remould the size and shape of the heart after the onset of congestive heart failure. Studies have shown that 100 – 120 mg may reduce BP by up to 16 – 17 points systolic and diastolic by up to 8 – 10 points.
- The use of Omega-3 fatty acids can help in reversing heart damage caused by NEFAs (non-esterified fatty acids) caused by an imbalance of omega 6: omega 3 faty acids.
- N-Acetylcysteine (also known as NAC) prevents damage from oxidised LDL cholesterol, increases nitric oxide (which opens up the blood vessels for improved blood flow), lowers homocysteine levels (raised homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease as it damages arteries, causing hardening of the arteries and blood clots.
- Digestive enzymes can provide nutritional support for your body as it works to clean out the coronary arteries and repair damage to epicardial tissue surrounding the heart.
- The use of heavy metal chelators such as coriander and chlorella can reduce the risk of an acute coronary event.
- Using a herbal tonic containing herbs such as; Motherwort, Mistletoe, Ginkgo, Buchu, Celery seed and Hawthorn berry, regularly, may rebuild the strength of the heart and reduce blood pressure.
- Proper dental care and the use of avocado oil, coconut oil and enzymes can reduce the incidence of periodontal disease, which reduces the chances of an acute coronary event.
- Regular use of immune stimulators and anti-virals such as garlic decreases the risk of most inflammatory heart disease and the incidence of viral and bacterial infections that can adversely affect the heart.
- Regular exercise can strengthen the heart and improve its efficiency even in your eighth and ninth decade of life.
Other things to do to help your heart health;
- Dealing with any insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome and imbalanced blood sugar levels is critical for heart health
- Pilates is a great form of exercise for visceral fat around the middle. Other forms of exercise are also good to help reduce abdominal weight and at the same time all exercise will help improve and stabilise blood pressure.
- Vitamin D status is important for heart health. Vitamin D is important to reduce inflammation and minimises calcification (which stiffens) the arterial walls, and did you know that those deficient in vitamin D have a higher risk of cancer?
- Krill oil, fish oil and fatty fish consumption are really important for heart health due to the omega 3 fatty acids by lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
- Deal with stress with yoga, meditation or abdominal breathing techniques. Another effective stress reducer is; Meridian tapping or EFT. Psych K is a great technique that can address subconscious issues that may be causing ongoing stress, that just won’t go away.
Image courtesy of Surachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net