Tips to aid your heart
Learn the nutrients that are vital to your heart.
Your Heart and Cardiovascular Health
I’ve received many requests about heart health and strengthening the cardiovascular system over the last year by high performance athletes, and particularly those around the world in war torn areas. Many are finding their lung capacity to be less than ideal, running short of breathe, and concerned for their welfare, and that of their team mates, families, and friends.
This is a viable concern, as carrying heavy gear, over long terrains, for unspecified amounts of time will wear even the best down, over weeks, and months of activity. I write todays article with the hopes of helping you get a better hold on things.
You can have mighty lung capacity, and strength, yet, if the heart is struggling it will take it’s toll all the same. The reverse is also true, strong and healthy heart with lungs that are compromised due to smoking, environmental allergens, chemicals, lack of sufficient training, and so forth, will bring poor to mediocre performance, yielding less than ideal results.
One needs to pay attention to diet, exercise, stress levels, and anything both ingested, breathed into the body, or absorbed through the skin. Do this starting immediately. Pay attention to what’s in your environment, what you’re putting in your cart and/or from the mess hall, or what you’re equipping yourself with while on duty. Be leary of products for skin that contain harmful chemicals which pollute the bloodstream. Your blood is your lifestream.
First off, realize your heart is performing 24/7.
“Both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems innervate the heart. The parasympathetic nervous system functions in regulating heart rate through the vagus nerve, with increased vagal activity producing a slowing of heart rate. The sympathetic nervous system has an excitatory influence on heart rate and contractability, and it serves as the final common pathway for controlling the smooth muscle tone of the blood vessels.”
Reference: Porth, C M (2007) Pathophysiology Concepts of Altered Health States, 2nd Ed. (p. 344) Lipponcott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia
A healthy heart heart also means having healthy circulation. Wearing clothing that’s constricting, belts that are heavily weighted, and gear can easily slow the flow of blood in various parts of the body yielding to less than ideal oxygenation.
Be mindful when loading packs, cinching gear, stacking belts, etc. The same for your everyday business man, except his is more likely to be seeded from tight clothing, belts, and more often than not, poor posture and high fat foodstuffs. Something as common as crossing one’s legs, leads to slowed circulation, and less effective oxygenation.
LET’S BEGIN WITH THE NUTRIENTS YOUR HEART NEEDS:
Makes pumping of the heart smooth, continuous and rhythmic.
Supports nerve transmissions.
Aids in regulating the heartbeat.
Natural Sources of Potassium
Dark leafy greens
Baked potatoes (with the skin)
Baked acorn squash
Can lower the risk of heart failure.
Aids in pumping the blood efficiently.
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
Shiitake and Button Mushroom
Cod Liver Oil
Keeps the tissues of the body flexible.
Selenium is a trace element found in soil, and is required in small amounts to maintain good health.
It is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage our DNA.
Selenium contributes to good health by promoting normal liver function.
Other benefits of selenium include the protection against heart disease, primarily by reducing the "stickiness" of the blood and decreasing the risk of clotting, in turn, lowering the risk of heart attack, and stroke.
When combined with vitamin E, selenium appears to have some anti-inflammatory benefits
Natural Sources of Selenium
Whole wheat bread
Cooked beef and Lamb
Cooked turkey and Chicken
Whole grain rye
Magnesium helps the heart with its muscle contractions by regulating the neuromuscular activity that assures a regular heartbeat.
It also helps the body to make the most out of potassium and calcium - both of which also affect heart health and function.
Magnesium improves heart health by regulating the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that helps control the dilation of blood vessels. If the endothelium doesn’t receive enough magnesium, blood vessels constrict, which can cause blood flow to slow or stop.
Natural Sources of Magnesium
Dark leafy greens
Nuts and seeds
Beans and lentils
Whole grains and Brown rice
Dried fruit (figs)
Other items that are heart healthy are:
Omega 3 fatty acids
BEST WAY TO OBTAIN YOUR NUTRIENTS
Ingesting whole, natural, and ideally pesticide, herbicide, hormone free, cage free, and non-gmo, is best. Whole foods come with the benefit of synergetic properties. In other words, you have everything you need to digest (for the most part, unless you already have poor digestion), the whole food, and nutrients become bioavailable upon proper chewing, fluid balance, and low stress levels.
If one chooses to supplement, do your homework, and/or consult with a knowledgable person. I would say your doctor, however, many doctors are not familiar with supplementation, rather they are trained in the field of diagnosing, prescribing drugs, and so forth.
A couple years ago, I had a doctor who told me it was crucial I triple my calcium intake. It was a mistake. My heart began to seize up here and there, especially during cardio. I did my homework and was fortunate I didn’t have a heart attack.
“If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm, and this has consequences for your heart in particular.”
"What happens is, the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don't have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm. Calcium causes muscle to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They'd relax, contract, and create their activity," she explains.
Magnesium is perhaps critical for heart health, as excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attack and sudden death. According to Dr. Dean, your heart has the highest amount of magnesium in your body, specifically in your left ventricle. With insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly.
Reference: Carolyn Dean M.D., N.D.
Current stance on the calcium /magnesium ratio is: 1:1. It used to be 2:1. You can easily identify why too much calcium is not a good thing. This could prove a catastrophe in the field, or in your sport. Watch your ratio’s.
With this in mind, and my previous article:
You have a good base to build on for high performance cardiovascular health. I have your requests for an update on the lung article, and hope to update it soon. In the meantime, get started with what you have.
Keep the blood clean, circulation clear, plenty of good water, the foods listed, and keep your bowels moving, regularly. Get out in the fresh air and sunshine, and move aggressively enough to open the lungs and get the heart rate up for 15-20 minutes, daily. Health!!!