When I was a girl, I loved the song “Skeleton Dance,” you know the one
The foot bone's connected to the leg bone.
The leg bone's connected to the knee bone.
The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone.
Doin' the skeleton dance.
The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone.
The hip bone's connected to the backbone.
The backbone's connected to the neck bone.
Doin' the skeleton dance…
If you don’t know it, check it out (link here).
Whenever something surprises me in terms of the human body, I find myself humming along to that tune to remind myself that everything we do, eat and think about is somehow connected to our human body and health.
In fact, a gut health scientist told me, that not only would he be able to tell what I had eaten that day from changes in my gut biota, but he would also be able to tell whether I had exercised or not - such is the response of our gut microbes to everything that we do – we are all one big connected ecosystem!
When we started Zestt Wellness, we were driven to develop the EXhale® Lung Health and Immunity formulation because of Darcy’s battle with sarcoidosis and related COPD. But in parallel, we were working on a number of other products which we will tell you about in the next few blog posts.
Let’s start with our new Pulse Heart Restoration and Health lozenges and discuss heart health.
Like lung health, heart health is something we take for granted until something goes wrong. Darcy suffered a heart attack a few years ago, which was connected to his sarcoidosis and like when you buy a new car and notice everyone else driving the same car - he now seems to know and chat with everyone who has a heart issue – he is also frequently reminding me that women of “my age” are prime candidates for heart disease – thanks Darcy.
The heart and lungs work together to provide our body with oxygen rich blood. There are two loops which describe how blood and oxygen move around our body:
- The Pulmonary Loop.
The right side of the heart picks up the oxygen-poor blood from the body and moves it to the lungs for cleaning and re-oxygenating.
- The Systemic Loop.
Once the blood is re-oxygenated, the left side of the heart moves the blood throughout the body, so that every part of the body receives oxygen.
We recommend watching this video from the Mayo Clinic for a great explanation of how our circulatory system functions (link here).
Like your lungs, your heart is a muscle and needs exercising to maintain optimum strength. Health professionals advise us to exercise enough to raise our heart beat 3-5 times a week. As we improve aerobic fitness, our bodies can move more oxygen and blood into our muscles more efficiently. Over time, this means we can move with less effort.
Optimal heart rates while exercising
Target Heart Rate Zone 50-85%
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
100-170 beats per minute (bpm)
It’s important to not go charging out and overdo it, as we have a tendency to do after the excesses of the festive season.
Start slowly and build up - I began running again last week – my heart rate shot up to crazy levels, so I am working on alternating between 100m walking and 100m running to get going again – ask me how it’s going in a few months!
Darcy has started ocean swimming and is entering a short triathlon – he promises to wear a bright pink Zestt Wellness T-shirt for the occasion, he will be hard to miss and I promise there will be photos to come!
In addition to exercising, here are some great heart-healthy foods to tuck into this summer.
- Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach – these are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function.
- Whole grains, like wheat, quinoa, brown rice and oats – these have good prebiotic fibre and are associated with lower cholesterol, blood pressure and risks of heart disease.
- Berries – yes, we love berries at Zestt Wellness - boysenberries, blackcurrants (both of which are present in Pulse), blackberries, strawberries and blueberries – these are rich in anthocyanins which protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Avocadoes – these are high in mono-unsaturated fats which have been linked with lower levels of cholesterol and heart disease, they are also rich in potassium which is essential for heart health.
- Fish and lean red grass-fed meat – we all know that fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. But not many people know that lean red meat from animals which have been grass-fed (which is most animals in New Zealand and Australia) are also high in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. If you are vegetarian, chia, flaxseeds and algal products are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Walnuts – yes, sit under the walnut tree and get out that nut cracker – walnuts have good prebiotic fibre and are high in micronutrients like magnesium, copper and manganese which can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Beans – these contain resistant starch which aids fermentation in the gut by “good” bacteria. Eating beans (and try all types) is linked to reduced blood pressure and inflammation.
- Dark chocolate – had to be in here somewhere! Yes, a few squares of dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa content) contribute much needed flavonoids to your diet which can lower the risk of developing calcified plaque in the arteries and heart disease.
- Tomatoes – these are rich in lycopene, another type of anti-oxidant which reduces inflammation and also has positive effects on blood lipids, blood pressure, and endothelial function.
- Garlic – garlic has a compound called allicin which has many therapeutic functions including cholesterol reduction and inhibition of platelet build up, which can reduce blood clot risks. Allicin is heat sensitive though – so raw garlic is best (always eat with friends, share the raw garlic love 😊).
- Olive oil – this is rich in oleic acid and antioxidants which have been associated with lower blood pressure and heart disease risk – unfortunately, usually the most expensive first press olive oil is the richest in these compounds, so drizzle it over salads and cooked veges, rather than cook with it.
- Green tea – is full of polyphenols and catechins which are antioxidants that prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation, and protect the heart Interestingly, green tea grown in sunny climates like New Zealand and Australia have higher levels of these compounds because of our high UV rates. We are a big fan of New Zealand’s Zealong tea, check them out (link here).
All the best in getting heart-fit this summer. We would love it if you shared your journeys @zesttwellness and #zestteffect and remember, baby steps are ok (at least that is what I am telling myself).
Please contact us if you have any queries email@example.com and don’t forget to check out our new Pulse Heart Restoration and Health lozenges and Live Freely!