Love Your Heart this February
Since 1963 we have celebrated the Heart month in February. More than just Valentine’s Day, the health community designates February as a month to initiate conversations and bring awareness to the steps that can be taken right now to improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The Role of Nutrition for Heart Health
As a Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, I am intimately aware of the role that food and nutrition can play in managing heart health. The American Heart Association promotes maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle with steps towards living healthier. There are many diets to follow for a healthier heart and each person needs an individualized approach, so what may work for one person may not work for another.
In functional medicine, we take a deeper dive into analyzing your lab results. We look at not only cholesterol (both the LDL and HDL), but we also analyze particle size, particle number, and other values. While cholesterol isn't the only marker for heart disease (those with normal numbers can still have other factors that contribute to coronary disease) it is an important place to start.
Choosing an Eating Plan
There are many schools of thought on the ideal diet, be it eating less sugar or focusing in on healthy fat intake. Because everyone has different dietary needs, I always encourage patients to get a clear picture of their current state of health. Each person should have a food plan based on their lifestyle and their history as well as their lab work and physician assessment.
Most people that come to work with me are looking for guidance on how to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease to prevent a heart attack or prevent another heart attack from occurring.
I’ve always been an advocate of reducing sugar intake, eating healthier fats, choosing complex carbs and increasing fiber intake. All of this will work toward lowering the glycemic index. Let’s face it, balance in your diet is key to living a healthier lifestyle.
I’m working with more and more people that are seeking information on how to follow a plant-based diet to help reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. This type of diet doesn’t omit meat, fish or poultry, but its main focus is on fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts and seeds.
Other people are seeking a more vegan alternative and want to make sure they are getting their protein needs met as well as plenty of nutrients and variety in their diet. Another diet that is popular is called the Mediterranean diet which includes lean meats, legumes, grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Make sure you work with a registered dietitian who understands functional medicine and can guide you with a plan that is individualized for your needs.
Include healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax, chia, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Include phytonutrients that are found in fruits, vegetables, and starchy vegetables. Some examples include tomatoes, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Choose lower glycemic index foods that are packed with fiber-like sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts, quinoa, legumes, and vegetables.
Choose healthy proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, grass-fed beef and tofu.
If you are not a vegan try to choose a plant-based meal once a week.
Include at least 8-10 fruits and vegetables in your diet daily.
Increase your fiber intake to 25 grams a day.
For more guidance please call me at 804-254-1002 or visit my website at www.tinashiver.com If you are looking for healthy recipes check us out on Instagram and follow: tinashiverrecipes
Till next time...Eat Healthy and Move.