8 Things Worse for Your Heart Health Than a Breakup
Heart ache, heart break, heartsore and wounded. These are all words people use to describe how they feel after a romantic relationship has ended. A breakup can feel like your heart is in genuine physical pain. It can feel like there is an elephant of sadness sitting on your chest or, possibly, jumping up and down on a trampoline.
But while a bad breakup can make you feel like you will die, it will not actually kill you. You will get through it and be better soon and your emotional heart will mend.
However, there are some things you could be doing right now that will damage your physical heart (the one that pumps blood throughout your body), and some of those wounds can be a little harder to heal. It’s important to show your heart some love, so let’s look at ten things worse for your heart than a breakup.
Bad Dental Hygiene
Flossing does more than than keep your smile looking great; it might prevent heart disease, too. It’s not clear yet what the exact relationship is between dental hygiene and heart attacks, but studies have shown there is a strong link between the two.
A 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden showed that having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%. According to Harvard Medical School, there are a few factors that may connect heart disease with poor dental health. If you have eroding tissue in your mouth, brushing teeth or chewing can release bacteria into the bloodstream. Plaque buildup from your mouth can end up in your arteries, leading to a heart attack. Better safe than sorry: keep your mouth clean.
Not all cholesterol is bad for your heart. Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the body (mainly the liver) and used to build cells. But if you have too much cholesterol, it can start to build up in the inner walls of the arteries in the heart and brain. According to the American Heart Association, high cholesterol is one of the major controllable factors in heart disease and heart attack.
Yes, you can control the amount of cholesterol you consume. Heart UK suggests staying away from the following foods if high cholesterol is a concern:
- Hard margarines
- Lard, dripping and goose fat
- Fatty meat and meat products such as sausages
- Full-fat cheese, milk, cream and yogurt
- Coconut and palm oils and coconut cream
Stress is a part of being an adult human being, but having chronic stress can be hard on your heart. When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called “cortisol,” which controls your fight-or-flight reactions. The University of Rochester Medical Center reports that long-term high levels of cortisol can increase blood pressure and blood cholesterol, which are both common factors for heart disease. Long-term stress can also make the blood clot more easily and can trigger poor blood flow to the heart. Stress can also lead to other bad behaviors like smoking, not sleeping enough and eating too much junk food.
There are lots of ways to reduce stress in your life. Some people find that regular physical activity, like walking or yoga, reduces stress. Some find that putting aside time to be alone or to be with loved ones can help. Try to find out if there are a few specific causes for your stress (a hard time at work, or a cluttered home for example) and deal with the stress at its source. Relaxation, rest and self care are all really important for overall health, so don’t take them for granted.
Sugars and Sweeteners
Oh, sugar. The sweet stuff makes everything taste better, but also damages most aspects of health if you consume too much of it.
When it comes to the heart, if we ingest a lot of fructose (a kind of sugar), we can raise the amount of bad cholesterol in our blood, raise blood glucose and increase insulin levels. These are all risk factors related to heart disease.
Studies have also shown a link between sugary drinks and heart disease in women; a link between diets high in sugar and coronary heart disease; and a link between sweetener consumption by youths and cardiovascular disease.
Generally speaking, we could all stand to be eating less sugar. Canada’s Food Guides suggest limiting the food and beverages we consume that are high in sugar. Sugars found naturally in dairy, fruits and vegetables are preferable to added sugars. The less processed the sugar is, the better.
Excess of Red Meat
Red meat has some health benefits; for example, it’s great for protein and it’s high in iron. It also tastes fantastic, so it’s understandable if you eat a lot of it. But you should know that it also raises your risk of a heart attack.
A study published in Cell found that a nutrient in steaks, egg yolks and other animal products can activate some gut microbes, which trigger physiological changes that increase the risk of heart attack.
Studies have also shown that a single serving of red meat, consumed daily, increases the danger of developing heart disease.
If you’re a big red meat eater looking to cut back, try cutting down the number of days per week you eat red meat. Substitute in vegetarian options, beans, soy or white meat for meals that are a little easier on your heart.
Too Much Salt
Eating too much salt can really raise your blood pressure, putting strain on your heart and putting you at risk of heart disease. The Heart Foundation reminds us that foods can be high in sodium even if they don’t taste “salty.” Salt is used as a preservative in everything from breakfast cereals to cheeses.
If you want to avoid sneaky salt, avoid processed foods that use salt above natural levels. Read your food labels carefully and consume a high percentage of fresh foods.
A Sedentary Lifestyle
Even if you’re exercising regularly, sitting or lying down for too much of your day can lead to heart problems.
“Intermittent exercise doesn’t compensate for the time you sit,” Harmony R. Reynolds, MD, associate director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center told Health.com. The theory is that prolonged periods of time where you’re not moving can affect blood sugar levels and fat storage.
Dr. Reynolds recommends walking around on a regular basis and standing up every time you use the phone at work. It would also be good to incorporate more movement into your daily routine: walk to work or for groceries, take the stairs instead of an escalator, break out into spontaneous one-person dance parties even. If people tell you you look silly, tell them it’s doctor recommended.
The British Heart Foundation says the best thing you can do for your heart is to quit smoking. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked. Why? Because smoking damages the lining of your arteries, the carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and cigarettes make your blood more likely to clot, among many other things.
Second-hand smoke is also dangerous for your heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, “breathing second-hand smoke can cause the cells in your blood that are responsible for clotting (platelets) to become stickier, making your blood more likely to clot. This can cause a clot to form that may block an artery, causing a heart attack or stroke.”
Be Kind to Your Heart
According to Herbwisdom.com: “Several studies indicate that flaxseed oil, as well as ground flaxseed, can lower cholesterol, thereby significantly reducing the risk of heart disease.” Left untreated, high cholesterol can cause clogged arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to maintain a diet low in saturated and trans fats, yet high in unsaturated fats.
Flax is rich in healthy fats and it has other key nutrients that are important for keeping your heart in tip-top shape too.
The lignans in flax prevent plaque deposits in your arteries by keeping white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ inner linings.
The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in flax oil also protects blood vessels from inflammatory damage.
According to Dr. Edward Group at Global Healing Centre, “The risk of heart disease is lower in individuals who take flaxseed oil. Evidence indicates that those who eat a lot of ALA are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and it reduces high blood pressure.”
Many people eat whole or ground flaxseeds. They have a nutty taste and the whole seeds add a pleasant texture to baked goods.
Unfortunately, the whole seeds don’t have much benefit, because they’re so small; your body can’t break them down to get the nutrition inside before they pass out of your system.
Milled seeds do have benefits, but flaxseeds are also commonly pressed for their oil, which has other benefits. Discover what you get from flax oil that you can’t get from the ground seeds (and vice versa) in this blog post.
Perfect Press® Flax Oil is the best on the market. We use only the finest organic flaxseeds and each batch is hand-selected. We created state-of-the-art technology that presses the oil out of each seed without damaging its powerful but delicate components.
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