Product Focus - Heart Health
Packing in the porridge, foregoing fries, and taking up running aren’t the only ways to supercharge your heart health. Some lesser-known habits and areas of daily life – your emotional wellbeing, sleep hygiene, hormones, and oral health – can also impact this vital organ and are well worth considering in the quest to nourish your heart. Take a look at how to support cardiovascular health and learn some interesting heart health facts.
Healthy gut, healthy heart
In recent years, experts have questioned whether exercising and eating healthily are the only pillars needed for heart health. Increasingly, the likes of gut health appear to be a missing piece of this puzzle. As Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago, ‘all diseases begin in the gut’ – and his theory may just stand up.
Feeding your gut
Your gut microbes are best thought of as a garden. Your garden may start with a decent supply of plants and soil, but if you neglect it – failing to feed and nurture it with enough fertiliser, water, and food – it will soon die off. As a result, you may not have anything left to revive. With that in mind, here are the best ways to nourish your gut:
• Try to eat 50g of dietary fibre (wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds) each day to feed your gut bugs
• Diversify your food! Aim to eat 30 different plant foods every week to boost microbiome diversity
• Eat fermented foods regularly (the 3 K’s: kefir, kombucha, and kimchi)
• Try to eat more polyphenols (berries, red cabbage, coffee, dark chocolate, etc.)
• Allow for more periods of fasting during the day •Limit the use of antibiotics
• Avoid highly processed foods
• Flourishe®: Derived from chicory root, Flourishe® contains a special carbohydrate called Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) that helps to maintain normal intestinal health
Good health starts in the mouth. And, in recent years, it’s become more apparent that oral health also affects your heart. researchers now propose the plaque on your teeth may be connected to plaque in your arteries.(2).
Humans have always known to trust our intuition, that overwhelming and powerful instinct we can’t explain. The term ‘gut feeling’ says it all. And as research into the human microbiome continues, the connection between gut health and mental health becomes more and more compelling. It seems a healthy gut can buffer us against stress and safeguard our psychological wellbeing.
The mouth as the gatekeeper
Oral health and heart health are interconnected by the spread of bacteria and germs from your mouth to other corners of the body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can lead to inflammation and may result in clogged arteries or infections of the inner lining of the heart.
Optimise your nutrition
Beyond keeping your pearly whites clean, they also need to chow down on good food. In any case, try to limit your intake of simple carbohydrates (refined sugar, white bread, fries, baked goods, fizzy drinks, and chocolate) since these foods feed tooth decay. To mitigate any dental damage, add plenty of teeth-friendly nutrients to your diet. Fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, D and K2, support the immune system in your teeth (yes, your teeth have an immune system) and provide the first line of defence against disease-causing factors.
Sleep - Advice to take to heart
Whether you regularly short-change shut-eye in favour of work and social commitments or experience the unrelenting wrath of insomnia, skimping on sleep can have serious repercussions for your cardiovascular health. Sleep deprivation can lead to a surge in stress hormones, like cortisol, and inflammation – both of which play a role in heart and circulatory diseases. Shockingly, just one night of broken sleep is enough to disrupt the fragile status quo of your cardiovascular system. Time to get some much needed zzz’s
The menopause - Naturally produced in a woman’s body, oestrogen is an integral part of the menstrual cycle. Besides supporting puberty and reproduction, this hormone also helps to control cholesterol levels and reduce fatty plaques clogging artery walls. For these reasons, oestrogen has earned a reputation for being cardioprotective. During menopause, a woman’s body steadily produces less and less oestrogen, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
High blood pressure, medically referred to as hypertension, cases of high blood pressure are exceedingly high in the UK, with 4 million people under the age of 65 living with untreated high blood pressure.(3) So, while it’s tempting for your eyes to glaze over when visiting the GP, your BP reading is one thing you really shouldn’t ignore.
The DASH diet
Doctors often recommend the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) for high blood pressure. This regimen advocates for the intake of the following foods, in descending order: wholegrains; fruits; vegetables; low-fat dairy; lean meats and fish; nuts, seeds, and legumes; and fats.
High cholesterol doesn’t discriminate. This condition is triggered by a combination of factors, some of which you can control, like lifestyle habits – eating too much saturated fat, inactivity, carrying excess weight, particularly around your middle, and smoking – while others – getting older, an underactive thyroid, or, for reasons unknown, being of South Asian origin (4) – you simply can’t. That’s precisely why you should take care of the aspects you can control to lower your risk. Diet is within your control so why not make some simple changes with our cholesterol-fighting cooking tips:
• Instead of roasting or frying, consider grilling, steaming, poaching, boiling, or microwaving
• Go for lower-fat varieties of dairy products and spreads
• Avoid cooking with butter, ghee, or lard
• Choose lean cuts of meat
(1) Medicalxpress.com. (2019). A gut check for heart failure patients. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-05-gut-heartfailure-patients.html
(2) Publishing, H. (2019). Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread - Harvard Health. [ONLINE] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread
(3) Bhf.org.uk. (2019). Four million people are living with untreated high blood pressure, new estimates show. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/may/four-million-people-are-living-with-untreated-highbloodpressure
(4) https://www.bhf.org.uk/. 2019. High Cholesterol - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/ informationsupport/risk-factors/high-cholesterol. [Accessed 28 November 2019].