Could These Habits (Surprisingly) Be Hurting Your Heart Health?
We all want to live long, healthy lives. But heart disease is consistently the second leading cause of death for adults in Canada. We need to focus on taking care of our hearts before it’s too late. This includes changing our diet & lifestyle habits for a stronger cardiovascular system. For a list of heart-healthy suggestions, be sure to check out these tips and foods that can help!
But what if you feel like you’re already doing everything right? You may be surprised to learn that some of your daily habits may be putting us at risk without knowing it. Here are 3 things that might be straining the heart more than you realize:
Eating a low fat diet
Some individuals with serious genetic or medical concerns need to keep dietary fat intake low. But what about the rest of us? Low-fat diet fads of the ’80s and ’90s is no longer touted as healthy by today’s standards. This is because many low fat diets actually contain more additives and refined sugars/carbohydrates to make up for the missing fat. And while some low fat foods (think: vegetables, fruits and lean protein) are certainly recommended, avoiding certain higher fat foods altogether such as olive oil, nuts & seeds, and avocados may not help in the long run. That’s because these and other healthy sources of fat actually protect against heart disease since they help to lower inflammation in the arteries.
So while over-consuming fat is not be the best solution either, a diet that’s balanced when it comes to quality carbohydrates, protein and fats is easiest on your heart.
Holding onto anger & resentment
We’ve all experienced a broken heart, or have become angry to the point where we’ve felt our blood boiling. Turns out that there’s a real connection between our emotional state and the rhythm and tension of our heart. When it comes to hostile emotions like anger and resentment, it’s been shown that the ability to express oneself constructively (instead of bottling things up or “exploding”) can help to protect against heart disease. So seeking to resolve past issues or letting things go that are out of your control may foster a healthier heart.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to get angry. But pay attention to how you handle those feelings – focus on properly communicating and expressing emotions to help you feel heard and calmer. If needed, seek the advice of a psychologist or therapist to help strategize for better emotional control.
Ignoring your low mood
Research has shown a connection between depressive symptoms and heart disease. Having mild to moderate depression (which can often go untreated) can increase one’s risk for a heart attack. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but the theory is that some chemical changes in the body associated with depression make the blood ‘stickier’ and easier to clot. And even in individuals without low mood, having a heart attack can put you at greater risk of developing depression after the event.
This highlights the importance of acknowledging your current state of mental health. Talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor if this is something that may be affecting you. Remember to always include foundational nutrients for a healthy mood in your daily routine. Activated B vitamins, omega 3 fats, and adequate protein in the diet are all excellent places to start.
Here’s to making healthier heart habits!
Dr. Laura Belus is a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. She believes in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. She practices in Mississauga and Toronto.