A healthy heart begins with a healthy lifestyle. Literally everything you do for your health has an impact on how efficiently your heart functions—and how efficiently your heart functions determines your quality of life. Here are my top tips for leading a heart healthy lifestyle.
- Eat a Heart Healthy Diet: Eating well is the foundation of a health healthy lifestyle. I’m a big believer in what I call the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet—a combination of the Mediterranean diet and a diet common among people living on the Asian side of the Pacific Rim. The Mediterranean diet is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, various kinds of beans, monounsaturated olive oil, and sauces occasionally flavored with some lamb, turkey, or chicken. The diet favored around the Pacific Rim is bountiful with fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, locally harvested seaweeds, and soy products. What makes both of these diets so beneficial to heart health is that they are rich in omega-3 fats, which curb inflammation.
- Take Targeted Nutritional Supplements: For optimal heart health—as well as general overall health—I recommend fortifying your diet with a few core nutritional supplements, including coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine, magnesium, omega-3s, and D-ribose.
- Get Regular Exercise: No other heart healthy lifestyle change has such an immediate and long-lasting impact on your heart health and general well-being as regular exercise. Even simple exercises strengthen your heart and circulatory system, build stamina, and improve your state of mind. Best of all, you don’t have to lift heavy weights or spend hours at the gym to have a healthy heart and body. Instead, just follow my heart healthy exercise tips to reap maximum cardiovascular benefits.
- Detoxify: No matter how closely we manage our health, we can’t escape the fact that we live in a toxic world. Our immune systems are under constant siege, working 24/7 to destroy the impurities in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the chemicals we apply to our skin. These toxins have been associated with all kinds of health conditions—including heart disease. While this may sound frightening, there are a number of simple detoxification strategies I recommend to clear toxins from your body and support a healthy heart.
- Take Regular Vacations: Vacations aren’t a luxury, they're essential to your heart healthy lifestyle—a fact that’s supported by research. The large-scale Framingham Heart Study found that men who didn’t take regular vacations were 30% more likely to have a heart attack than those who took time off. Plus, women who vacationed just once every six years or less were eight times more likely to have heart disease or a heart attack than those who vacationed twice a year, or more. Even if you don’t travel, taking regular time off from work is very important for good health.
- Practice Silence: Animals can teach us a lot about being present in the moment and silent at the same time. They know how to just "be," and can hold a space as sacred, whether it's their favorite sunning spot, or the mat by the front door. I believe they are really meditating, in a way and you can achieve the same effect. Try and be aware of nothing but your breathing; allow your mind to empty the hustle-and-bustle issues of the day. Simple meditation, done at 5- to 10-minute intervals during the day, can offset the chronic release of cortisol, which not only raises your blood pressure, but contributes to things like heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
- Harness the Power of Optimism: Over the years, I have seen the tremendous strain that negative attitudes can put on the body. Negativity is toxic, and a positive outlook can accelerate healing. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that heart patients with the lowest levels of optimism were 30% percent more likely to die than those with a more optimistic outlook. The reason is that reframing your outlook can empower you to better direct and maintain your health. So, making an intentional effort to harness the power of optimism is an important part of a heart healthy lifestyle.
- Connect with Others: Research has shown that chronic loneliness and social isolation can lead to atherosclerosis and hypertension, and can be as big of a risk factor in mortality as smoking, alcohol, and a lack of exercise. Humans are social beings, and connecting with others is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart. If you don’t have family or friends who live near you, consider volunteering, taking a class, joining a social group, or exercising at a local health club where you’ll meet others.
- Beware of Cordless Phones and Microwave Ovens: Many of the appliances we have in our homes are bombarding us with electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) and radio frequencies (RFs). Research has shown that even a simple cordless phone is like having a cell phone tower in your home. All of these EMFs can provoke irregular heartbeats, faster heart rates, and even high blood pressure. To protect yourself, avoid having Wi-Fi in your home and use an Ethernet cable instead. When you talk on a cordless or cellular phone, use the speaker feature instead of holding it up to your ear. And turn off electrical appliances, including routers, when they’re not in use.