The Damaging Effects of Stress on Your Heart
As most of you know February is American Heart Month. We have all experienced stress, especially living in this very fast paced modern world. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, which is 1 in every 4 deaths. Even though considered a “man’s disease” the same number of men and women die each year of heart disease. When you are in a stressful situation, your heart may pound faster, your blood pressure may go up and you may start breathing faster as part of the flight or fight response. This is supposed to happen during short term cases but prolonged exposure can put a strain on the system increasing your risk of dying from a cardiovascular complication. You also don’t need to have a history of cardiovascular issues before the stress escalates into something deadly.
Risk Factors Include:
Inflammation, Homocysteine and Weight Gain
Estrogen regulates many of the reproductive functions as well as keeping the white blood cells from sticking to the insides of blood vessels. Estrogen in post-menopausal women starts to decrease rapidly, while pre-menopausal women have higher levels of Annexin-A1 on the surface of white blood cells. Annexin-A1 is linked to lower levels of inflammation. Because the levels decrease after menopause it makes it harder for the body to manage inflammatory conditions. According to the American Heart Association, inflammation is a natural immune response that can further narrow vessels around arterial plaque buildup, leading to stroke and heart attack. A blood test examining the C - reactive protein indicates if the levels of inflammation are high or low. The amino acid homocysteine found in animal protein correlates with increased risks of heart disease, low levels of B12 and renal disease. Fat particularly around the abdomen has been linked to insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation. Diets high in animal proteins are related to heart disease, accelerated aging due to free radial formation, weight gain, and cancer, decreasing digestive enzymes and probiotics as well as autoimmune disorders.
How Can You Manage it
Reduce animal protein such as dairy, meat, and poultry. This will help decrease plaque buildup, and elevated homocysteine levels.
Add dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, romaine, swiss chard as well as a green smoothie. These all contain folic acid, raw minerals, vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients all reducing the risk of heart disease. Plants also help lower cholesterol because they don’t contain cholesterol.
Add bright colored vegetables such as yellow and orange peppers, lemons, tomatoes, beets, and cabbages contain high levels of the antioxidant vitamin C. This has been shown to lower cholesterol and protect against inflammation.
Eat seeds and nuts containing omega-3 fatty acids such as chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts are all anti-inflammatory
Oats contain high levels of fiber such as oat groats or steel cut oatmeal. These may help in lowering cholesterol.
Eat beans and legumes such as Anasazi, adzuki, black beans, chickpeas and lentils because they are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber as well as are a low glycemic load food.
Eat a wide range of fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears – all are lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits. These fruits are also rich in resveratrol, flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. The dark red and purple fruits may prove to slow the progress of age-related diseases, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s in humans because of their antioxidant resveratrol.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet not only will help with lowering the risks of heart disease, weight gain, cancer and auto-immune disorders but they also fight free radicals that age you by increasing the alkalinity in the body while enhancing your beauty from the inside out.
To your health,