Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With February the official Heart Health Month in the U.S., Peoples is committed to sharing our knowledge and resources with our community to educate and inspire. In addition to an exclusive Blood Sugar Challenge this month only, we’re also offering discounts on products for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol regulation! We spoke with resident Naturopathic Doctor* Julia Strickler about ways you can support cardiovascular health, naturally and safely!

What can the average person do to help their heart beyond the basics like quitting smoking and losing weight?

  1. Mindfulness practices show promise in preliminary research trials for reducing overall risk factors for heart disease.
  2. Eat adequate soluble fiber, like that found in oats or apples, to help the body properly maintain cholesterol levels. A goal for fiber intake is 25-35 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber every day.
  3. Eat good fats! A 2013 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 30% reduction of heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease when people switched to a Mediterranean diet. To follow a Mediterranean diet, encourage olive oil, nuts, beans, fruits and veggies, fish and moderate wine consumption.
  4. Eating dark chocolate and drinking wine can be of benefit for some people. Flavinoids and catechins, which are highly concentrated in these foods, have been shown to slow oxidation of LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function.
  5. Laugh more! Belly laughing can send 20% more blood flowing through your body. The increased circulation from laughing helps to provide the essential nutrient exchange to your tissues for healing. This is one good reason that laughter really is the best medicine!

How can you track your cardiovascular wellness?

  1. Basic Cholesterol Screenings include Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL and Triglycerides. This is a fasting blood test to look at your overall cholesterol. Peoples has a promotion for the month of February to track your current numbers including 25% off product and FREE screenings! Speak to a wellness member about taking advantage before this offer expires!
  2. Lipoprotein Particle Size can also help establish additional risk factors based on the size and density of your cholesterol.  This test is especially helpful if you have additional risk factors or family history. Peoples practitioners can help you order this test.
  3. HbA1C, which reflects the 3 month average of blood sugar based on glycated hemoglobin. This simple non-fasting blood test can be performed at any Peoples location.
  4. hsCRP: high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein. This blood test is a marker of cardiovascular inflammation. Discuss with your doctor about any personal needs for testing.
  5. Homocysteine: looks at risk factors related to poor methylation and inflammation that can contribute to heart health risk.
  6. Blood pressure. Do you know your blood pressure? Keeping your blood pressure within the normal range at or below 120/80 mm Hg. Peoples offers complimentary blood pressure checks in all of our stores!
  7. Waist circumference and calculated waist-hip ratios. Performing these simple measurements at home can help you to track the effectiveness of your exercise. The idea range for men is less than 0.90 and 0.85 for women; numbers above these ratios are described as abdominal obesity.
  8. Consider imaging to detect existing calcifications and build up. Carotid Artery Scans or CIMT are great ways to learn more about potential plaques in your body. Ask your doctor or look for local screening promotions at regional heart hospitals.
  9. Let Peoples help support your heart health this month by taking advantage of our promotions, free blood pressure checks and invaluable consultations with our world-class practitioners. Request a consultation here or visit your nearest location to develop a customized wellness plan.

by Julia Strickler, ND*. Julia is available for consultation at the Central, Westlake and South Peoples locations.

Interested in learning more about heart health? Join Julia on February 10th at 7pm at Peoples South for her can’t-miss talk Listen to Your Heart:¬†Mechanisms, Lab Tests & Tools for Heart Health!

*Naturopathic doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.