February is Heart Health Month. With heart disease still the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The good and bad new is that it is in many cases preventable . . .
At Health Studio KC we believe your body has a design — a proper balance and tension in which it operates optimally. As the engine of your health, your Heart beats an average of 115,000 times a day, pumping 200 gallons of blood through your arteries and veins for an amazing 12,000 miles a day. This begs the question, what can we do to keep the engine running smoothly?
The make up of our engine is a Balance of our genetics and our lifestyle — how we Eat/Sleep/Hydrate/Move/Create. Family health history plays a large role in our heart health and is an important part of the conversation with your Physician — but equally important are the choices you are making today, because those choices are informing how your engine runs today, tomorrow, 1yr, 5/20/50 years from now. This month I will elaborating on the Balance, but here are a few thoughts to start the conversation:
The Mayo Clinic’s first step in Eating a Heart Healthy diet has less to do with the what and more to do with the how . . . as in how much you are eating. We have a fairly skewed satiety gauge in our culture. Learning to listen to our bodies when we eat and how much is enough takes effort in our fast paced, eat on the go lives. We can recalibrate that scale with new habits. How well are you doing at listening to your body for fullness?
Inflammation is huge factor in plaque building and Cardiovascular (CV) risk. Deep REM Sleep is when our bodies not only rest, but restore by clearing out the inflammation and resetting. Our Western culture sleeps an average of 6h a night — 1.5 hrs less than 100yrs ago. Numerous recent studies have shown 7-8h of sleep as optimal for decreased CV risk — with those getting 6h or less having almost double the risk. Lack of sleep leads to increased blood pressure and increased inflammation. How much sleep are you giving yourself? Do you wake rested?
All of that fluid being pumped moves more smoothly and effectively when we are well Hydrated. Even small amounts of dehydration have been shown to increase plaque production, and chronically increase stress on the heart and the vessels leading to increased CV risk. What is proper hydration? What is the balance of my beverages? Does how I hydrate matter?
The other way we empty our inflammation bucket is by how we MOVE. Just moving is not enough — the how matters. 30 min of “moderate intensity” activity most days of the week has been studied extensively and shown to be of benefit — so, what is “moderate intensity” and how do I get there? Exercise helps by increasing your good HDL Cholesterol (wait, there is a good cholesterol?), by modifying cholesterol particle sizes to lower risk types and by emptying that inflammation bucket. Just know, that simply getting 10,000 steps in is not the answer . . .
Finally, the relationships we foster and Create, the work we do, and the passions we pursue have a profound effect on our heART — physically and metaphorically — and are informed by the habits we build. In the noise of the culture, we too often are shaped, rather than actively shaping our lives. The why behind the balance of our heart matters. What type of goals do you have for your health heart balance, and who can partner with you to achieve those goals? At Health Studio KC, we believe in Care designed around Conversation — with a goal of optimizing your health together.