The human heart can seem like a magical force within us. Love songs have been written for centuries and we sing endless songs about our hearts. It seems we also try to win over other people’s hearts. And, sometimes, this magical force can easily be broken.
Our hearts are essential to our survival. They are part of our circulatory system and most of us know it is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout our body, but how much do we really know about our heart?
A human heart beats an average of 115,000 times per day, 4,000 beats per hour. Whether we are hiking, in the shower, sleeping, sitting, or dancing, our heart continues to beat. In an average lifespan, the human heart will beat over 2.5 billion times before its last rhythmic beat. It is an autonomic function we can easily take for granted and forget its life source.
Our hearts need our attention. We think heart health is all about the functionality of it but, broken heart syndrome aka stress-induced cardiomyopathy is real and can strike at any age whether you are 22 or 82. Our hearts risk damage from a variety of stress-related triggers other than just processed foods. Intense emotional stress, isolation from Covid -19, and grief can surge stress hormones and are hard on our hearts. If we are under constant stress – whether physical or emotional – this adds to the entirety of our allostatic load and the tremendous burden on our hearts.
Electrolyte Heart in Balance
Our hearts love minerals. Think about how minerals support electrical conductivity. The heart’s pumping action is regulated by an electrical conduction system that coordinates the contraction of the various chambers of the heart. It is the only muscle in the body that generates its own electrical impulses. We need to be aware of the fragile balance of the associated minerals that support this system. Electrolytes sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are involved in heart contraction and relaxation. Calcium out of balance with Vitamin K can create calcification in soft tissues such as heart valves and arteries turning them brittle and stiff, or imbalances in potassium and sodium can interrupt electrical signaling and disrupt blood flow.
We can no longer think of Cholesterol as just one number. In functional medicine, advanced lipid testing, size does matter as does cholesterol type and cholesterol particle numbers. What does it mean to have elevated cholesterol? These important predictive biomarkers can be valuable information on our wellness path.
It is possible to reduce cholesterol and support heart health with targeted nutrition and mindful management. Hello Palate understands this approach to functional health and we support clients to practice this every day.
Nitric Oxides and Heart Health
A group of scientists won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the role that nitric oxide plays in signaling our blood vessels to relax and expand. Open blood vessels keep the arteries supple and enhance oxygen efficiency and delivery. That improves blood circulation throughout our body, including to the heart, brain, and muscles. It’s the reason that doctors prescribe nitroglycerine (which converts to nitric oxide and opens the arteries) for angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.
Nitric Oxide Improves:
- Blood flow to the heart, brain, and muscles
- Endothelial function
- Blood pressure
- Vascular health
- Glucose metabolism
- Athletic performance
Nitric Oxide Decreases:
- Oxidative stress
- Nitric oxide is made naturally within our bodies by the endothelium or the lining of blood vessels and the heart. Using the saliva in our mouth and microbes in our gut our bodies convert nitrates into nitric oxide. But nitric oxide levels can get depleted quickly and need to be replenished. Endothelial cells don’t function as well without adequate levels of nitric oxide, which leaves us feeling tired and depleted. Low levels of nitric oxide can also lead to atherosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Nitrate Rich Foods
Beets are rich in dietary nitrates, which your body can convert to nitric oxide but lucky enough you can also enjoy cocoa, and leafy greens such as arugula, spinach, chervil, and cress lettuce, into your diet to promote continuous nitric oxide production. For more recipes click here!
The heart is a muscular organ made up of cardiac muscle that contracts to pump blood throughout our body. A muscle needs flexibility, so our heart needs exercise to remain flexible and viable. If not, the heart muscle can atrophy and begin to lose function.
February is Heart Health Month
How can we sing a love song to our hearts and live more heart-healthy, centered lives? Get to know your beating heart up close and personal.
Become knowledgeable about your heart function. What are your current stats? Is your heart broken and you don’t even know it? Understand your predictive biomarkers and your mineral balance. When we identify and support these imbalances sooner rather than later, we can get in front of the curve instead of ending up with untimely surprises.
Treat your heart well. Send a love letter to it while listening to its rhythmic beats responding to your care. Let the beet go in vitality and good health.