Fall in Love with Your Heart and Gut
Celebrate American Heart Month with a Healthy Gut
As February draws to a chilly close, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as well as the American Heart Association remind us to reflect on our healthy lifestyles to prevent the risk of heart disease by celebrating American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and is widespread throughout all demographics. However, heart disease is considered the most preventable disease.
American Heart Month is celebrated every year to motivate us to take proactive measures in our heart health and stay consistent with these healthy lifestyles. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides us some ways to take steps to keep a healthy heart.
- Understand Your Risk of Heart Disease-- Preventing heart disease requires knowing what your personal risks are and what to do to lower those risks. Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease.
- Choose Heart-Healthy Foods-- Eating fruits and vegetables while limiting foods in other food groups such as saturated fats, trans fats, and artificial sugars.
- Aim For a Healthy Weight Goal-- For this, you will need to know your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is used to determine whether your body is at a healthy weight. A BMI for a healthy adult is somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9.
- Manage Stress-- Stress can lead to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. In addition, the things we do to relieve stress may also affect our bodies such as substance abuse, drinking, smoking, or overeating. It's better to find positive activities or resources to keep our minds at peace.
- Exercise Regularly-- Talk to your doctor about beginning an exercise routine to get active and stay consistent with your physical activity. The more active you are, the more benefits you will receive. You can also make small changes like reducing the amount of time you sit throughout the day.
How Heart and Gut Health go Hand-in-Hand
So how does my gut play a role in heart health? The way we treat our gut can lead to the beneficial outcomes of the healthy actions we do in the list above. For example, your diet plays a major factor in your gut microbiome. Therefore, by incorporating a wide range of fruits and veggies into your daily meals you will receive benefits in your gut by creating diversity as well as improving your heart by eating nutritious foods packed with vitamins and minerals.
In the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a newly published study demonstrated how certain diets can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that a diet rich in plants can decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is a molecule that forms atheromatous plaques in the blood, this contributes to an increased risk of heart conditions like heart attacks or strokes. TMAO is produced when our gut microbes digest nutrients that are found in red meat.
"Our findings suggest that gut-microbiomes may be new areas to explore in heart disease prevention." -- Li Qi, MD, Director of Tulane University Obesity Research Center.
Do you want to learn about how your diet may be impacting your heart and gut health?
Join the Psomagen community by purchasing one of our at-home testing kits. By purchasing this kit, you will receive a result report and diet recommendations unique to you!
- Heianza, Yoriko, Wenjie Ma, Joseph A. DiDonato, Qi Sun, Eric B. Rimm, Frank B. Hu, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Jo Ann E. Manson, and Lu Qi. 2020. “Long-Term Changes in Gut Microbial Metabolite Trimethylamine N-Oxide and Coronary Heart Disease Risk.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 75 (7): 763–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.11.060.
Nabel, Elizabeth G. “Heart-Healthy Living.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oct. 2012, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-living.
Biden , Joseph R. “A Proclamation on American Heart Month, 2021.” The White House, The United States Government, 4 Feb. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/02/03/proclamation-on-american-heart-month-2021/.