Hormones Could Affect Your Heart Health: Our Hormone Experts RevealLuke Coutinho
Your life will keep beating until your healthy heart keeps beating. And to have a healthy heart, you must be aware of what matters to your heart! With so much evidence on the link between our habits and our risk for developing certain health risks, it may come as no surprise that the lifestyle choices you make related to your cellular nutrition, quality sleep, emotional well-being, and adequate activity levels have a significant influence on your heart health. While these lifestyle pillars play a solid role in maintaining good cardiac health, there are many other factors that can manifest some natural physical changes in our bodies as we age including family history, gender, body composition, and hormones.
Since hormones affect everything in our body and keep dictating their terms in the normal functioning of all our organs including our heart, let us talk more about The Heart-Hormone Connection.
We all know how hard our heart is working for us and the incredible functions it performs. But if we don’t have an understanding of how to keep the heart beating rhythmically, many heart-related conditions like coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure may surface.
To understand the link between hormones and heart health especially among women, we need to acknowledge that a women’s body undergoes changes during menopause that may influence her heart health. Let us deep dive into this.
Menopause occurs because women’s ovaries stop producing the hormones – estrogen and progesterone. We have estrogen receptors throughout our bodies. They are present in our heart, brain, digestive system, skin, and bones. When the estrogen levels decrease, the blood pressure increases. Due to this, there are also changes in lipid profile. That is, the good cholesterol (HDL) drops, and the triglycerides increase which may be a cause for developing cardiac concerns.
Apart from that, women who are in their perimenopausal or menopausal age are also likely to gain more fat, especially around their abdominal area, and lose muscle mass as the body goes through a lot of metabolic changes during this time. This can increase the rate at which fat is stored in the body and puts additional stress on the heart. Lower estrogen can also result in insulin resistance leading to high sugar levels in the body which can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
The male hormone testosterone is also known to play some role in maintaining a healthy heart. Like other muscles, cardiac cells have receptors that bind to male hormones too. An imbalance in these hormone levels can have a detrimental effect on cardiac health. High or low levels of testosterone can both lead to cardiovascular diseases. Similar to estrogen, low testosterone levels can lead to abdominal fat deposition in men causing changes in their weight, blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, or even cardiac arrest in the long run.
These changes are natural as we advance in years, but it is also instinctive to want to feel strong physically and mentally as we age. The good news is, you may have more control than you think when it comes to keeping the hormonal balance and boosting heart health.
- Optimum gut health: Optimizing gut health is key to keeping our hormones in balance. All the good bacteria in the gut are capable of metabolizing and adjusting the body’s estrogen levels. So, including pre and probiotics daily in the form of rice kanji or beetroot kanji, sauerkraut, kombucha, or even including raw garlic and onion would do the deal.
- Boosting liver health: The liver performs many vital roles in the body, including processing cholesterol and making proteins that help your blood clot. The liver also metabolizes estrogen. Having foods such as cruciferous vegetables, fruits from the berry family, nuts and seeds, turmeric, and garlic that keep your liver clean and healthy will help in protection against heart conditions as well as maintaining adequate hormone levels.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
- Seed Cycling: Seed Cycling is using mother earth’s goodness to your advantage. It’s simply eating natural seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds) in combination at different times in the menstrual cycle to support hormonal balance and maintain the heart-protective hormones as much as we can.
- Heart vitamins: Some vitamins may help ease or prevent the symptoms that may come along as a result of hormonal imbalance and thus support our heart functioning like Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E. Most of these vitamins can be achieved by eating healthy completely balanced meals with whole grains, good quality nuts, seeds, and adequate lentils and pulses on daily basis.
- Vitamin D: Getting mild sun exposure per day for 10-15 mins and consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium either from food or supplementation, as we age, is important for supporting immunity, bone strength, and hormonal health in men and women.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin plays a crucial role in heart functioning and its deficiency may lead to cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, and heart failure. We can look into adding some natural. Vitamin A sources including sweet potato, carrots, black-eyed peas, spinach, broccoli, and sweet red pepper regularly in our meals.
- Electrolyte balance: Sodium and potassium are minerals that are required by our body in balanced amounts. Avoiding processed foods high in sodium is absolutely essential to keep the heart healthy. Apart from that, including the right salt in our meals can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Green Sense with Luke Coutinho has curated the salt mix, the perfect blend of white and pink salt.
- Emotional detox: Emotional detox in simple terms means letting go of our emotional burden if any. Hormonal changes in the body have a direct link to our emotional health that further strains our heart health. Hence, it is always important to declutter our minds. Drawing healthy boundaries around yourself, practicing deep breathing, journaling, venting out your thoughts, investing time in hobbies are some known techniques for this.
- Sedentary lifestyle: There is a lot of emphasis on how an inactive lifestyle is a cause of many chronic diseases including hormonal imbalance and heart diseases. Your activity goal can be fixed depending on your age and health condition. Stretching, gardening, home workout video, walking, and talking while you are attending audio calls, are various fun activities that can help you to stay active while being indoors as well.
- Indian wisdom Ayurveda is the oldest and purest form of healing that involves plants and herbs. Some of these herbs help in balancing hormones and thereby retain the heart-protective hormone levels in our body like the licorice root, nigella sativa seeds, black cohosh root, and the ashwagandha root.
It is important to use these herbs under the supervision of a qualified health professional.
As understood above, a healthy lifestyle, especially when started at a young age, goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease. Regardless of the natural hormone changes in our body, cardiovascular diseases are not a natural phenomenon and are very much preventive. Giving well-deserved attention to the above-mentioned simple inclusions in your daily routine along with adequate exercise, regular yoga and pranayama, emotional detox, and getting good quality sleep every night will protect your heart health.
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