February is all about the heart – it’s Valentine’s and heart awareness month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst North American’s (affecting men and women equally). Taking care of your heart (physically and emotionally) is important to your health and overall wellbeing.
Blood pressure is a good measure of your overall health and how well your body is operating. Low (less than 100/60) or high (greater than 135/100) is indicative of something being out of balance. Low blood pressure or orthostatic blood pressure (feeling dizzy after rising from a lying down position) usually signifies adrenal dysfunction (they sit on the kidney, hence the importance of kidneys in regulating blood pressure and volume). High blood pressure can be a from combination of different things such as high cholesterol, diabetes, muscular disorders, lymphatic or venous congestion, thyroid and adrenal hypofunction, and more. Blood pressure is increased by anything that increases pressure – hence anything that makes the heart pump faster or anything that obstructs the blood flow/volume. This is why stress is such an important factor. Stress is in the eye of the beholder – it’s a perceived threat. When we feel threatened, our heart races and our blood pressure raises. Therefore, stress is a dominant factor affecting blood pressure.
So how do we balance our blood pressure (the operative word being pressure)? There are many supplements that popular for managing heart health – coQ1o, fish oil, magnesium, carnitine, taurine, arginine, etc. The most important treatments though are food, water, exercise and happiness (the basic fundamental pillars). Foods are incredibly intelligent – how they look and grow tells you what they are good for. Red foods and foods that look like hearts (ex. almonds and berries) are good for heart health and blood pressure. Moderate exercise trains your heart to perform optimally (the heart is a muscle, hence we have to exercise it to improve it’s stamina). Hydration ensures proper fluid perfusion (if we don’t have enough fluid then our kidneys work hard to conserve fluid which raises blood pressure).
Mental-emotional health also affects blood pressure and heart health. Examples include heart break, lack of love or connection, not expressing emotions, etc. There is biological reasoning behind the physiological effects of “lack of love” – the “feeling” of love releases oxytocin which in turn releases dopamine, helping improve mood and decreasing blood pressure. Socialization, community, connection, and self-love are important determinants of health.
So spread a little love via a smile or hug today – it’ll be healthy for your blood pressure!