Heart Disease and Ayurvedic Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
The heart is the most important muscle and organ within the body and is literally your lifeline.
The heart requires the utmost of care so that you are healthy both inside and out. An unhealthy heart leads to many other health conditions and illnesses. Take care of your heart and take care of your health and wellness to lead your most healthy and balanced life. Ayurveda is the “science of life” and is a traditional healing system that originated in India. Ayurvedic medicine and healing encompasses a wide range of techniques that include diet, herbal remedies, exercise, spiritual practices, lifestyle and other healing approaches to bring a person into balance. Ayurvedic medicine and natural herbal and homeopathic remedies can keep your heart healthy and pumping at its best.
Heart disease is prevalent everywhere and the statistics are appalling and do not need to be so. Take a look at these heart statistics:
- Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States
- Every 20 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack
- One in four Americans has some form of heart disease
- Every 34 seconds someone in the United States dies of heart disease
- Heart disease takes more lives than the next seven leading causes of death combined
The heart is affected by both your physical and emotional well-being.
Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart (coronary arteries). Coronary disease usually results from the build up of fatty material and plaque (atherosclerosis). As the coronary arteries narrow, the flow of blood to the heart can slow or stop. The disease can cause chest pain (stable angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, or other symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, about every minute someone dies from such event. The lifetime risk of having coronary heart disease after age 40 is 49% for men and 32% for women. As women get older, the risk increases almost to that of men.
There are many factors which increase the risk for coronary heart disease. Some of the risks are based on family history and genetics, and others are more controllable. Risk factors include:
- Family history of coronary heart disease (especially before age 50)
- Male gender
- Age (65 and greater)
- Tobacco smoking
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels (specifically, high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol)
- Lack of physical activity or exercise
- High blood homocysteine levels
- Menopause in women
- Infection that causes inflammatory response in the artery wall
Both Ayurvedic medicine and Modern medicine concur that there are things you can do every day to keep your heart pumping healthy. Following are some suggestions to get you started on keeping your heart healthy - Pick one or two and start with those and then add a couple more every few weeks until you are naturally living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Your entire physiology, not just your heart, will thank you. Your family and friends will thank you as well because they can enjoy you in good health too. Soothe Away Stress
- Nourish Your Emotional Heart
According to Ayurveda, a holistic approach to heart health requires you to nourish the emotional heart as well as the physical heart. The heart is not just a pump - it is the source of all emotions, whether it is joy and happiness or irritations and sadness. Mental and emotional stress disrupts the emotional heart. A number of Ayurvedic herbs are renowned for their positive influence on the mind and emotional heart. Cultivate the Positive
- Choose Activities That Make You Happy
While warding off excess stress is essential to prevent the emotional heart from wasting away, actively seeking mental and emotional well-being can help the emotional heart flourish. Ayurveda talks about ojas, the substance that maintains life. The finest by-product of digestion and the master coordinator of all activities of mind and body, ojas leads to bliss, contentment, vitality and longevity. Inner strength and poise and the cultivation of positive attitudes and emotions increase ojas. Spend time everyday on those activities that give you this contentment and happiness. Listen to soothing and uplifting music, enjoy calming and serene natural beauty, practice aromatherapy and drink relaxing herbal teas. Maintain a positive attitude and walk away from situations that distress, upset or anger you. Eat Right
- Choose Natural Over Processed Foods
One of the most critical steps you can take towards heart health is to eat a heart-friendly diet. This is also one of the most difficult steps to under take and maintain if you are used to eating fast food and the processed foods that are so readily available anywhere you go. There are small things you can do to make your diet more heart-healthy: eat more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, include blanched almonds in your diet, dress vegetables with fresh lime juice and eat heart-friendly spices such as fresh-ground black pepper and the antioxidant spice turmeric. Choose fresh foods over processed foods or leftovers, light foods over rich, deep-fried ones and warm cooked foods over cold, heavy foods. Eat Mindfully
- Maintain a Sensible Diet
How you eat is as important for heart health (and overall health) as what you eat. Eat moderately; the ideal Ayurvedic portion is what fits in your two cupped palms. Don't skip meals, because eating three meals at regular times each day trains your digestion to anticipate and digest your food. Stimulate a sluggish digestion with a slice of fresh ginger dressed with a pinch of salt and lime juice. Don't tax your digestion by eating late at night or eating a heavy meal at dinner. Cleanse Ama from the Physiology
- Avoid Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking
Arterial plaque is ama toxic matter that builds up in your blood vessels because your physiology cannot get rid of it efficiently. AMA is an impurity within the body and is a sticky waste-product of digestion that builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods. Ayurveda recommends a program of internal cleansing with every change of season to help your body flush out ama. Other things you can do to clear out ama is to drink lots of warm water through the day, go to bed by 10 PM to help the body cleanse itself during the natural purification time and eat a lighter diet high in fiber and antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Avoid all drugs, alcohol and smoking. Exercise Moderately and Regularly
- Make Exercise a Daily Routine
You don't have to do a strenuous workout five times a week. The key is to exercise with regularity and without strain. Walking is excellent exercise for everyone and excellent therapy as well. The early morning is ideal for taking a 30-minute walk. It will not only help your heart, it will prepare you for the day by charging up your circulation and your metabolism. Get Your Sleep
- Early to Bed and Early to Rise
Research studies have linked sleep deprivation to blood pressure problems, depression and other factors that increase the risk of heart disease. Ayurveda considers sleep just as important as diet in maintaining health. Practice good bedtime habits: choose restful, calming activities as bedtime nears to help disconnect the mind from the senses. Keep the bedroom clear of distractions such as television, computers and other work-related materials. Maintain a comfortable temperature. Stay away from stimulants in the evening. Go to bed by 10 PM. Early to bed and early to rise still works to keep you healthy and energetic through the day!
History of Ayurvedic Medicine:
Ayurveda, “the science of life”, is one of the oldest healing systems in the world. The word Ayurveda is from the roots “ayur” meaning life and “veda” meaning knowledge. Ancient Vedic texts indicate the system is the oldest being practiced prior to 4000 B.C. and some believe it is even 8000 years old. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are very similar being based on universal natural bi-polar concepts that matter and energy are one. Ayurveda largely encompasses spiritual philosophies and is a practice of mind, body and spirit. It is about being in-tune with your body and living naturally in natural balance with the universe and all around us.
The cause of disease and illness is a result of an imbalance. Anything can cause an imbalance from environment, to food and to living habits. The focus is to get down to the origin and base cause of the imbalance or disease. The treatment is removing it.
Most modern Westerners tend to want to treat the symptom and ignore what may be causing it once they feel better. Today that is changing which is bringing a new awareness which is also focusing on prevention. Many diseases can be prevented by living in balance.
Start to really look at your lifestyle and start to become focused on your body’s reactions to the environment, foods and herbs. Keeping in good health is our best investment for prevention of sickness and ill health. Balance your health and well-being in a natural way!
Parts of Article Provided by What is Ayurveda - By Swami Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha, D.Sc. author of The Ayurvedic Encyclopedia, Juli Kight author of Your Guide to Healthy Herbs and Vasu Nargundkar - editor of Total Health News and ayurvedic newsletters published by Maharishi Ayurveda
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