February 28, 2015
Hearts are everywhere! The month of February brings a plethora of big red hearts expressing love and crunchy, heart-shaped candies in pastel colors. It’s time to think about loved ones and why they’re special to us. It’s also a perfect time to reflect on the health of your own heart, the organ that beats about 4,800 times per hour, sending life-sustaining blood and oxygen to every part of your body.
Now for a reality check. Heart related disorders are the number one cause of death in the United States. They are the leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. Economically, they cost the US economy over $300 billion every year. The most common heart problems are caused by clogged arteries and damage to blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. This is a silent killer. It may cause few or no symptoms until the day an artery becomes so jammed with plaque that a portion breaks off and forms a blood clot. Blood clots in the vessels that feed the heart block the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscle. This leads to damage to a portion of the heart, an event we know of as a heart attack. The heart can become so damaged that its function is affected. In some cases, heart function can be so impaired that it leads to death.
Lowering Your Risk for Heart Problems
Fortunately, research shows that many heart problems are preventable with good lifestyle habits. A group of researchers followed almost 70,000 women for twenty years to see if lifestyle habits influenced their risk for heart problems. This study showed a massive 75% of heart attacks in women are preventable with lifestyle changes.
In this study, factors that lowered their risk included eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising at least 2.5 hours a week, maintaining a healthy body weight, watching less than 7 hours of television weekly, not smoking, and consuming no more than one alcoholic drink daily. A heart-healthy diet is one that’s rich in fruits and vegetables and limits processed foods, refined grains and red meat. The good news is this type of diet is good for all the organs in your body, not just your heart.
The Role Gut Bacteria Play in Heart Health
Heart health has a lot to do with your gut too. Your gut is teaming with trillions of bacteria called probiotics that help maintain order in your intestinal tract. Research shows these bacteria support intestinal health and help defend your gut against pathogenic bacteria. Just as exciting is the fact that early research shows probiotic bacteria could support heart health as well. For example, the very same organisms that maintain order in your gut may help with cholesterol control. The “bad” form of cholesterol, called LDL-cholesterol, is the form linked with heart disease. One study showed some strains of probiotic bacteria lowered LDL-cholesterol by as much as 11%.
Two of the biggest risk factors for heart related disorders are high blood pressure and blood sugar control. Uncontrolled blood pressure and blood sugars damage the walls of blood vessels and increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Research shows that probiotics modestly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Other research shows a link between probiotics and better blood sugar control – giving us more proof that a healthy gut supported by beneficial probiotic bacteria can offer so many benefits to your overall health.
Love Your Heart
When you see hearts prominently displayed this month, think about what you can do to keep your own heart healthy. It starts with good lifestyle habits, and taking care of your digestive health is the first place to start!
And what better place to begin…one Natren’s Healthy Trinity containing 3 of the most potent, super strain probiotic bacteria designed to rejuvenate and support your digestive and overall immune health.
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