By Nicole Fuge, MD® Managing Editor
Mamas have STRONG hearts, we go through a lot a lot of physical, mental and emotional sh*t in a day. And while we think about February as being the month of LOVE – giving out heart-shaped chocolates and cards on Valentine’s Day, February is also Heart Awareness Month! So we asked legendary cardiologist Dr Ross Walker for his top tips on how to maintain a healthy heart.
1 // Prioritise your sleep
As mothers it can be almost impossible to get a full night sleep. So it’s important to get as much shut eye as you can, it also increases the risk of cardiovascular probs by increasing blood pressure and inflammation. Because the amount of sleep quite often depends on how your bebe sleeps, aim for good quality sleep – go to bed at the same time every night, turn off all digital devices at least an hour before you go to sleep, and keep your bedroom cooler and darker to improve your overall sleep quality. Good night, mama!
2 // Get moving
Good heart health comes down to a healthy, balanced lifestyle and exercise has increds benefits – it can lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be running a marathon every day, mama! Doing moderate-intensity physical activity (so you work up a sweat, but can still hold a conversation) on most days is a great start. So find something that makes your heart sing – power-walking, swimming or even dancing – and aim to move more and get the heart pumping for at least 30 minutes a day.
3 // Eat food for the heart
Have you ever thought about food for your heart? Because being overweight can dramatically increase your chances of developing heart problems, try to swap to healthy, unprocessed foods. And rather than getting on the scales, shift into a mindset of ‘I’m eating better and losing weight for my heart, so that I can live longer’.
Load up on omegas, healthy fats and turmeric. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of heart disease and reduces inflammation in the body, particularly around the joints. So load up your plate with salmon, walnuts, and oils rich in essential fatty acids like flaxseed and hemp. Nutritional supplements can also help, such as Ubiquinol, the active form of Coenzyme Q10 which is naturally produced in the body and is essential for maintaining a healthy heart; but as busy mamas, physical and mental stress on our bodies can mean that our natural levels of CoQ10 in the body decline. Other heart friendly supplements include magnesium orotate, aged kyolic garlic, bergamot, Vitamin K2.
4 // Make time for yourself and loved ones
Trying to set aside some mama me-time is not always easy. But it’s super important because giving ourselves time out of the day allows us to destress, meditate and boosts our positive mindset. Without giving ourselves the self-love attention we need, stress can be triggered which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. FYI – people who have healthy friendship networks have a lower risk of heart disease… even more reason for regular catch ups with your BFFs.
5 // Have regular check-ups
Do you have a family history of heart problems? Are you a smoker? When was the last time you asked the doc how your ticker is? Yearly heart check-ups are the best way to look after your heart and give you peace of mind.
Dr Walker is a leading practising cardiologist with over 35 years experience in integrative cardiology with a focus on heart disease prevention and optimal heart health.