Most people know February as the time we celebrate love through thoughtful expressions like flowers, cards, sweet treats and the like. February is also a time that special attention is paid to heart health. What better way to show self-love than to pick up a few healthy habits when it comes to taking care of your heart?
The main function of your heart is to keep blood that’s full of oxygen circulating throughout your body. Because your heart is crucial to your survival, it’s important to keep it healthy. Here are a few steps we all can practice with the goal of taking better care of our hearts:
Dental Hygiene. Yes, it’s true! Good dental hygiene can have a direct impact on your heart. According to an article from the Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that “bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.” So, let’s get to brushing and flossing daily!
Get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep is key to prevention of so many things. Those who do not get enough sleep are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study that observed 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as those who slept six to eight hours per night.
Cut down on salt. One of my favorite tips that I talk about all the time is cutting our salt intake. Avoid adding salt to your food while at the table and try adding less salt while cooking. You will find over time that you can get used to the taste and opt for other healthier seasonings. Be sure to read the labels of your food to help measure how much salt you are consuming. Low sodium is the way to go.
Get active. Exercise does the heart and the body good. Let’s get moving!
Add fish to your diet. Eating fish at least twice a week including oily fish like salmon, sardines and pilchard are a source of omega-3 fats, which may help protect against heart disease.
Stop smoking. This one is a no-brainer, but it had to be included on my healthy heart tips list. It’s no secret that smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease.
Some conditions of the heart are hereditary. In these cases, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your primary care physician and share any heart history that runs in your family with your doctor. He or she may schedule tests or refer you to a cardiologist to help determine your current heart health and any potential risks.
Now that you are armed with this information, go ahead and love on yourself and remember, your health matters!!!
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