Heart Month takes place during February 2023 in the UK, encouraging the practise and celebration of positive cardiovascular health. In spite of its almost unrivalled importance, its existence isn’t widely known.
A number of different things go into your risk of developing heart disease, some of which are out of your control. But there are lifestyle changes that you can make right now to maximise your cardiovascular health.
On top of that, there are certain supplements on our site that can help to improve Heart qi, which in turn can have a positive impact on heart health. Read on to find out more…
What contributes to good heart health?
Preventing cardiovascular disease is a complicated topic – there are a number of things that can affect heart health. While these variables mean it’s impossible to suggest a one-size-fits-all approach to improved cardiovascular health, the abundance of research on this topic points us in a general direction.
Because the heart is the focal point of our body and its physical functions, poor health in other areas can have a severe impact on it. Practising good heart health isn’t just about doing things that are directly good for the heart – it’s about finding ways to reduce the strain, the effort it has to go to compensate for areas in which you’re making it work overtime.
It makes intuitive sense that getting your ticker pumping would have a positive effect – we know exercising our arms makes them stronger, or pushing our lungs to the limit enables us to run faster.
According to the Harvard EDU website, exercise can ‘lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and it can also help control stress, improve sleep, boost mood, keep weight in check, and reduce the risk of falling and improve cognitive function in older adults.’
The good thing is, that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous – even a simple 30-minute outdoor walk five times a week found significant reductions in body fat, BMI, diastolic blood pressure and increases in VO2max.
Obesity is a strong risk factor for a number of health problems, and especially cardiovascular disease. Multiple studies point to the fact that the ‘incidence of heart disease increases progressively with BMI’.
While this isn’t a perfect way to assess your risk of heart disease, it can give a good indicator of whether or not you are on the right path.
In terms of how to lose weight, exercise is a great place to start. Again, it doesn’t have to be strenuous – you can start with brisk walks, for example. All you’re trying to do is get into a calorie deficit until you are at a healthy weight. Of course, that’s a lot easier if you can get the following point sorted.
It’s astonishing how many health issues come from a poor diet. Unsurprisingly, it plays a huge role in the maintenance of good heart health. In fact, that’s underselling it – poor diet is the top contributor to heart disease deaths globally, according to this study.
A robust, healthy diet is one that is broad and encompasses a number of different food types. Moving away from the carb and sugar-heavy eating plans commonly adopted by most is a must. That means getting more greens, more fruit, good protein and swapping out simple carbs for complex carbs whenever possible.
What is the significance of the Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Of the zang-fu organs, the Heart is considered to be the most important, responsible for our sense of self and our spiritual and emotional capabilities. TCM dictates that the Heart has a number of functions:
- Responsible for the flow of blood throughout the body
- Controls mind activity, thoughts, feelings and emotions
- Stores the spirit (shen)
The health of every other zang-fu organ relies on the Heart, so maintaining its qi is uniquely important. TCM believes that poor Heart health can have distinct visual markers, like a pale, dull complexion. For further clarification on these topics, it's worth booking in some time with a practitioner.
Which supplements can help bolster Heart health?
Te Xiao An Mian Pian is a herbal formula that enters through the Heart, Liver and Spleen meridians to target a number of different issues. It aims to improve mood and internal harmony, which could be useful for heart health – happier mind, happier heart.
But more pertinently, Te Xiao An Mian Pian attempts to clear internal heat from the heart, giving it room to breathe. In addition, its ability to potentially nourish blood could have a transformative effect on the function of your cardiovascular system.
Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is a herbal supplement that enters through the Heart and Kidney meridians to potentially improve heart function, promote deeper sleep, and pacify the body.
It attempts to nourish Heart yin and blood, which is extremely useful for those seeking to improve their cardiovascular health. A knock on effect may be a reduction in anxiety, general fatigue, depression and more.
Sheng Mai San attempts to target a number of concerns that generally come with flu, but it also has potential to improve and maintain heart health, when paired with the lifestyle suggestions listed above.
Entering through the Heart meridian, Sheng Mai San aims to tonify qi and yin, potentially boosting its strength and therefore its capability to effectively coordinate the activities of all other zang-fu organs.
Fu Fang Dan Shen Pian is a herbally-derived supplement developed to improve the function of the cardiovascular system and promote increased internal harmony. Consumption of this formula has a number of possible benefits: reduced chest phlegm, renewed energy, and relief from internal discomfort.
But in terms of heart health, Fu Fang Dan Shen Pian may assist cardiovascular function by optimising blood flow and reducing hypertension due to stagnation.
Entering through the Lung meridian, Xiao Chai Hu Tang attempts to resolve digestion issues, symptoms of poor mental health, and most importantly for today’s blog, blood circulation.
While Xiao Chai Hu Tang is most effective for concerns associated with the flu, its ability to improve the circulation of blood could be incredibly helpful for maintaining heart health. By ensuring more blood is going to and then being pushed out by the heart, overall cardiovascular health may be improved.
Improving heart health requires a number of lifestyle changes that need to be applied consistently. Exercise, weight and diet are three factors that can have a huge impact, and improving those areas should yield positive results.
In addition to those suggestions, our selection of herbal formulas that each target Heart qi in their own way can be a fantastic supplementary option to increase heart health.
For more on heart health, please check out this blog.