Be Good to Your Heart All Year Round
Every Valentine’s Day, hearts become popular again. From heart-shaped candy boxes to heart-covered Valentine cards, to pink and red colored everything – this is the time of year to acknowledge that pumping muscle in the middle of our chests and feel the warm glow it gives us.
But, if you’re only paying attention to what your heart needs and wants during a few weeks in the month of February, you’re doing it a huge disservice.
In general, we all know how important heart health is – and what it takes to keep this incredibly important organ working hard. Exercising, eating right, not smoking, and watching your weight is the right recipe for a healthy heart. But, how do you translate all of that into daily practices? What are the most important to-dos on your heart-shaped list? Incorporating the following activities daily into your life will keep your heart from losing that loving feeling.
Eat Healthy Fats
Think all fat is bad for you and your heart? Then you haven’t read the research lately. Monounsaturated fats like those in avocados and olive oil have long earned a reputation for being heart healthy. Even saturated fats from coconut oil and grass-fed beef were unfairly demonized through flawed research and are now considered safe.
Conversely, trans fats – found in hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils – are dangerous for your heart, as they lower your “good” or HDL cholesterol and clog your arteries. Look carefully at food labels and avoid packaged goods, snack foods and margarines to stay away from trans fats.
Practice Good Dental Health
What does flossing have to do with heart health? A lot more than you might think! Healthy mouth habits are a good indication of your overall health, and many people with gum disease have similar risk factors for heart disease.
Several species of bacteria that originate in the mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene can be found in plaque in arteries in the heart. It’s that kind of plaque that can lead to a heart attack. So, make sure you’re seeing your dentist on a regular basis!
Get Enough Sleep
Think running around all day and night is healthy for your heart? Think again! Adequate sleep is critical for your entire body, and that goes for your heart, as well. One study found that adults over the age of 45 who slept fewer than six hours a night were twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as those who slept six to eight hours each night.
Get Up Out of that Chair!
Sleeping may be important for heart health, but sitting is terrible. Staying seated for long periods of time – no matter how much exercise you do separately – increases your risk for cardiovascular issues.
Many of us have sedentary jobs that keep us at a desk for hours at a time, so how do we make sure we’re not sitting too long? Take frequent breaks during the day and look into standing desks. Maybe you could take a walking meeting.
It also should go without saying that if you smoke – quit now!
Instead of waiting for February 14th to get romantic about your heart, make sure you’re doing right by it all year round. That way, your heart is sure to love you back.
With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at dcmiles.com.