The human heart, according to ancient healers in India, is actually two hearts: the physical heart and the emotional heart. One keeps us alive, the other keeps us happy. Of course, this is a metaphorical way of looking at an organ that is essentially a wondrous machine.
But this description works well for me when I try to think of ways to keep my heart in good shape. It tells me that I must not only pay attention to the foods I eat, but also the thoughts that I think and the feelings that I feel.
Here are five proven heart-harming agents. Avoid them, and stay well:
Carrying a grudge: or feeling intense anger, which remains bottled up. Very dangerous for the heart, because it raises blood pressure and makes you vulnerable to damage from free radicals, the agents of disease and aging. Let off steam from time to time. Smile more. Don’t walk around with an inflated ego. Be willing to apologize and make up. Life is too short to surround yourself with negativity. Help your heart; be a positive person.
Carrying a ‘beer belly’: A paunch can indicate coronary artery disease, which means you are at a greater risk of heart attack. Add to this the infamous ‘muffin top,’ and you’re looking at a very serious health threat. The solution: get off the couch. Toss away the bag of potato chips, and ditch the alcohol. Move, for your heart’s sake!
Sitting long hours: A sedentary lifestyle makes us sitting ducks for heart disease. Research has shown that even light to moderate exercise helps improve blood flow and makes the heart stronger. Also, try to get your full quota of sleep, because lack of adequate rest also places extra strain on the heart.
Large portion sizes: when we eat more than we should, we put on weight. All those extra pounds force the heart to work harder, and eventually weaken it. The best way to keep your weight in check is to eat less. Eat from a smaller plate. Avoid second helpings. Share dessert and fried foods if you must eat them. For every morsel you decline, your heart is one beat more grateful!
Lack of company: Loneliness can be a terrible thing. And its effects are not limited to the outpourings of poets and lovers. The heart takes the brunt of solitary suffering, and studies show that people with fewer friends die sooner than those with strong social bonds. Step out and mingle with people. Call a friend. Open your heart!