Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is next week. February is also American Heart Month so this is a great time to talk about heart disease and what you can do to help prevent it.
Know your Numbers! Five Keys to Unlocking Your Heart Health are Knowing These Numbers.
We all know that we need to watch our cholesterol numbers. We fret about “getting over 200” and what is our HDL (good) or LDL (bad) numbers. But did you know that we actually NEED cholesterol and that it plays an important role in our overall health?
- Acts with Saturated fats to give cell membrane
stiffness and stability
- Is a precursor to vital corticosteroids, stress
hormones, sex hormones like testosterone and progesterone
- Is a precursor to Vitamin D, needed for healthy
bones, nervous system, immune system
- Bile salts are made from cholesterol and aide
digestion and assimilation of dietary fats
- Acts as an anti-oxidant
- Needed for proper function of serotonin (the
feel good neurotransmitter)
- Mothers milk is rich in cholesterol and aides in
baby growth of brain and nervous system
- Maintains health of the intestinal wall
It is possible to have cholesterol that is too low and that can cause problems also. While the numbers are controversial and still being discussed, doctors are recommending at least 150-160 as the beginning of normal. HDL should be 50 in women and 40 in men. It is also important to know not just what your LDL is but also your VLDL (very low density). LDL is made up of large, bouncy particles that actually float around your bloodstream nicely. The VLDL are smaller, denser and more likely to get “caught” in your arteries and cause issues.
Knowing your triglyceride number is also important. Some doctors believe triglyceride numbers are a more important marker than cholesterol. Triglycerides are a type of fat. They are created from excess calories. In fact, if you eat too many refined sugars and carbohydrates, insulin assists your body in making triglycerides to store the excess fat in your cells! Triglycerides also rise considerably when you drink alcohol.
Oxidation is a normal function of our body. Think about an apple when it gets exposed to air and turns brown. That’s oxidation. Oxidation causes free radicals, molecules that are missing electrons and in their quest to find one, create damage in our body. That is why you hear so much about eating anti-oxidants.
“Anti-oxidants act like sponges to sop up free radicals and put out their fires of destruction.” Rogers, S. M. D. (2002). Detox or Die: Sand Key Company, Inc.
Inflammation is another protective response of our body that causes heart disease. Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or infection. Exposure to daily toxins like smoking, hypertension, LDL, chronic infections, illness or hyperglycemia all cause inflammation. C – reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that increases with inflammation and is a marker for heart disease that your doctor can test you for.
The Fifth Key: Lifestyle Changes That Help Your Heart
- A diet that is high in anti-oxidants like the Mediterranean Diet
- Getting enough sleep (7-8 hours every night)
- Connecting with others
- If you smoke-quit!
The best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is not just with chocolate and flowers but also to be sure that you are around to continue to love the people in your life. I can help you make the lifestyle changes that best suit you to insure that you will be around to enjoy many Valentines Days! Contact me to schedule an appointment today.