The fact remains; heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States. The American diet that concentrates on sweet and salty food, animal fats and fried foods is largely at fault. A sedentary lifestyle lacking sufficient exercise only further increases the rate of heart disease in America. In any case, after 50 years of age, the heart requires proactive care to increase its lifespan. Keep in mind that heart attacks, stroke, angina and high blood pressure are generally preceded by palpitations, insomnia and numbness or severe pain in the chest or middle back that radiates down the arms.
Shortness of breath, blue lips and tongue are other signs of a weak heart. In my opinion, all cardiovascular health conditions including heart disease are completely preventable. There is little dispute that dietary changes and regular exercise will drastically improve most heart conditions. However, in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, herbal formulas are the most important factors in “reversing” conditions of the heart and improving circulation. This article will describe, in general terms, a holistic protocol using dietary changes, nutritional supplements and proven herbal formulas to naturally care for your heart and improve circulation.
A Healthy Heart Diet
It is important to remember that the root causes of heart disease, generally speaking, are poor nutrition, “bad” dietary fat, stress, sugar and toxins. First of all, never eat fat derived from margarine, avoid products with palm oil and use coconut oil moderately. Sesame seed, sunflower and flax oil are all preferable. Of course, do not overheat oils when cooking; never fry olive oil and other “low heat” oils.
Mother Nature provides us with a variety of foods that are good for your heart including flax, sesame and sunflower seeds, garlic and onion, hummus, mung bean and alfalfa sprouts, apricots, dates, olive oil, chestnuts, almonds, green beans, blueberry and watermelon. However, the right foods for you to consume in large amounts must be based on your body-type or you may find yourself imbalanced in other ways. Many of us stay away from beans ignoring the fact that beans can be one of the best things you can eat to protect your heart. The soluble fiber in beans helps block cholesterol and fats from being absorbed into your bloodstream. There is no doubt that eating a legume rich diet can lower your cholesterol.
If you feel the need for some meat then replace red meat with healthier meats like white turkey meat. (I don’t recommend fish due to the increased toxicity of most fish particularly with heavy metals). I do recommend 2½ cups of beans per day! Additionally, you want to consume high antioxidant-rich foods for protection against heart diseases; like red and blue berries, most red fruits, black olives, black beans, red onion, kiwi fruit and apples.
Do not weaken your digestion by having a late or heavy dinner or snacking between meals on foods other than fruit. As a prerequisite for health, proper sleep and rest are also essential.
The berry family is the best family of fruit for the heart as they can prevent plaque build-up in the wall of the coronary arteries, by reducing cholesterol in the blood stream. My dietary recommendations are a controlled fat (not low-fat)/ low-sugar) diet consisting of complete meals with legumes for protein, whole grains (as recommend for your body-type), and large amounts of mostly leafy green vegetables with each meal including breakfast.
I always recommend the liberal use of spices, and berries as snacks. It is difficult to eat well when you are eating out so you really need to prepare your own meals at home to control the ingredients and add spices that you need. Plan ahead about what you are going to eat so you have a chance to choose your foods carefully. It’s essential to eat freshly prepared meals and not leftovers or processed foods. Check every product you purchase for the sugar content and keep overall sugar intake to a minimum.
For nutritional supplements you need to be taking daily doses of therapeutic oils high in Omega-3, fatty acids such as flax oil or even better pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Additionally, a whole-food Vitamin B-complex, a natural vitamin C (not ascorbic acid) and a natural source of Vitamin E from wheat germ oil are also important to cover your nutritional bases.
Spices for your heart
To reverse an existing condition, liberally use anti-inflammatory herbs in your diet such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, parsley, cloves and oregano. Cooking with garlic is also beneficial for most heart conditions if it is suitable for your body-type and does not aggravate your intestines. Eating raw garlic is much healthier for you than dried varieties, so juicing with garlic can be very effective.
Spice up your life with herbs, roots, and plants that benefit your health as much as they do your taste buds. From keeping your heart healthy and your arteries clear to reducing pain and warding off diseases, these everyday flavours will add a healthy punch to all your meals.
Drink herbal teas with hawthorn berries and hawthorn leaves to further prevent cardiovascular plaque from building and keep circulation strong. My heart formula tea contains: Hawthorn leaf and flower, Lemon Balm, Rosehips, Dandelion leaf, organic Ginkgo, Oatstraw, Bilberry fruit, Hawthorn berries, Ginger, Lemon peel, Motherwort, and Meadowsweet flower, all of which are organic ingredients.
In Ayurveda, the base for most heart formulas is the Arjuna bark which has a proven history of strengthening the circulatory system, lowering blood pressure and balancing cholesterol levels. Herbs like the Arjuna bark are not designed to be consumed alone and need to be combined with other herbs to support digestion and make a more effective herbal medicine. It is best to have herbal formulas prepared by a herbalist.
Relaxation and Meditation
The first treatment for heart disease involves an extended period of rest or reduced activity, both physical and mental. Strain and worry should be set aside and a vacation is often recommended. The best method to calm the mind and relax the nerves is daily meditation. This involves, sitting still in a quiet place, breathing deeply for 2- 5 minutes and then stilling the mind by focusing on an object, a phrase or even music for 10-15 minutes per day. After daily practice, the mind will settle, your nerves will relax and gradually reduce blood pressure.
Overview of protocol
Based on your Ayurvedic body-type, diet and taking the season into consideration, you need to maintain healthy eating habits as described with the recommended foods along with plenty of spices, including garlic. Take whole food supplements of C, E (1 tbpn. of wheat germ oil) and a food based B complex with a tbsn. of fish oil per day. Then have herbal tea two times a day and take a Chinese or Ayurvedic herbal formula daily.
Maintain this holistic protocol for at least 3 months and you will see a substantial improvement in your hearts condition including healthy blood pressure levels and lower cholesterol levels. Please don’t take your heart for granted and give it some attention every year.