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The Cardiovascular System

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched - they must be felt with the heart."

- Helen Keller

Definition

The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, is an organ system that encompasses the heart and blood vessels of the body. The cardiovascular system carries blood, oxygen, and nutrients to organs and tissues of the body, and carries waste and carbon dioxide from these tissues for removal from the body.


Organs involved

  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Blood
  • Veins
  • Endothelial

Important POINT:

The heart has played an important role in understanding the body since antiquity.  In the fourth century B. C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle identified the heart as the most important organ of the body, the first to form according to his observations of chick embryos.  It was the seat of intelligence, motion, and sensation -- a hot, dry organ.  Aristotle described it as a three-chambered organ that was the center of vitality in the body.  Other organs surrounding it (e.g. brain and lungs) simply existed to cool the heart.

Spices good for the heart

Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic,cayenne and chili, black pepper, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, basil, parsley, fenugreek, clove.

TIP

To get the most from the heart healthy spices, you can buy curry and chili powder as well as one or two seasoning mixtures which contain spices such as rosemary, oregano, parsley, thyme and sage, mix them all together and label it Heart Healthy Spice Blend!

Focus Spice: Curcumin

Nothing can replace exercise, but turmeric extract does a pretty good job of producing some of the same cardiovascular health benefits, most notably in women undergoing age-associated adverse changes in arterial health.

Despite the general lack of interest by conventional medical practitioners in turmeric's role in preventing heart disease, there is a robust body of published research on its remarkable cardio-protective properties.

Last year, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found turmeric extract reduces post-bypass heart attack risk by 56%. I would like to bring attention to a remarkable study published in the journal Nutrition Research in 2012 that revealed that curcumin, the primary polyphenol in turmeric and which gives the spice its golden hue, is as effective in improving vascular function in postmenopausal women as a moderate aerobic exercise training regimen. NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR EXERCISE! We still need to exercise, but this is quite remarkable.


COLOR ASSOCIATED WITH THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: RED

Red is the color for the cardiovascular system because many red foods are particularly beneficial and play a role in heart health.

Spices good for the cardiovascular system: 

Herbs/teas: Oregano, green tea, white tea, black tea, Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycanthus), lavender, chokeberry, ginseng, ginkgo,

Essential Oils:

Reduce High Blood Pressure: Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, and/or Ylang Ylang

Raise Low Blood Pressure: Camphor, Cumin, Rosemary, and/or Thyme

Regulate blood pressure: Angelica and/or Hyssop

Stimulate and warm the circulation: Benzoin, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Marjoram, and/or Nutmeg

Reduce spasms of the heart: Melissa, Neroli, Orange, and/or Rose

Combat constriction of the veins: Cypress


Functional Foods

Populations consuming a large proportion of plant-based foods, including fruits and vegetables, or those with high intake of seafood are known to have a lower incidence of CVD and certain types of cancer.

Almonds, olive oil, beets, asparagus, avocado, beans, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, dark chocolate, flaxseed, garlic, green tea, kale, lentils, oatmeal, oranges, pomegranate, salmon, spinach, sweet potato, turmeric, watermelon.

Focus Botanical: Beets

Beets are one of the most amazing and powerful plants there are! I know some people have a hard time with their "earthy" flavor, but if you can just get over that and focus your taste buds on their sweetness profile, I think you will like them much better. They are absolute POWERHOUSES bursting with health benefits! I'll just name a few, because you could write a whole book on the benefits of beets. 

Support of Detoxification

The betalin pigments present in beets have repeatedly been shown to support activity in our body's Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 is the metabolic step that our cells use to hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups. This "hook up" process effectively neutralizes the toxins and makes them sufficiently water-soluble for excretion in the urine. One critical "hook up" process during Phase 2 involves an enzyme family called the glutathione-S-transferase family (GSTs). GSTs hook toxins up with glutathione for neutralization and excretion from the body. The betalains found in beet have been shown to trigger GST activity, and to aid in the elimination of toxins that require glutathione for excretion. If you are a person who thinks about exposure to toxins and wants to give your body as much detox support as possible, beets are a food that belongs in your diet.


Lower Your Blood Pressure

Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points. The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

Fights Inflammation

Beets are a unique source of betaine a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases. As reported by the World's Healthiest Foods:

"[Betaine's]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems."

Nutrients: Nitric oxide, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, niacin, selenium, vitamin E, folic acid and other B vitamins.


Movement + Exercise

Anything that gets your heart rate up! Just get it up. Fast walking, running, jumping rope, rebounding, swimming, tennis, racquetball, rowing, skiing especially cross country, snow shoeing, cycling, cardio machines at the gym, etc. Animal flow is an amazing form of exercise that targets so much, with a focus on the cardiovascular system.

Yoga Poses 

Day One - Big Toe Pose

Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, place hands on the hips. Inhale, then exhale folding forward to grab your big toes or hang forward and grab your opposite elbows. Draw the belly in and lift your sit bones towards the sky. Activate the quadriceps and allow the neck and head to relax down. Bend your knees slightly if your hamstrings are tight. If you are flexible, draw the torso toward the legs. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles. Benefits: Strengthens the thighs and stretches the hamstrings and calves. Calms the brain, relieves stress, and reduces anxiety and mild depression. This is very therapeutic for high blood pressure.

Day Two -Triangle Pose

This is a heart opening standing yoga posture designed to promote cardiovascular exercise. The chest gets expanded while breathing deep and in rhythm increases stamina.

Day Three - Bridge

1.      Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Extend your arms along the floor, palms flat.

2.      Press your feet and arms firmly into the floor. Exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.

3.      Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone holding your buttocks off the floor. Do not squeeze your glutes or flex your buttocks.

4.      Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Clasp your hands and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis. Straighten your arms as much as possible, pressing your forearms into the mass. Reach your knuckles toward your heels.

5.      Keep your thighs and feet parallel – do not roll to the outer edge of your feet or let your knees drop together. Press your weight evenly across all four corners of both feet. Lifting your tailbone towards the backs of your knees.

6.      Hold for up to one minute. To release, unclasp your hands and placed them ponds down alongside your body. Exhale is you slowly roll your spine along the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae. Allow your knees to drop together.


 

Day One Focus: Fats - choosing the right fats; emphasis on olive oil

What makes olive oil so heart-healthy? It's the oil's unique combination of healthy monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, both of which help to block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Remember, the oxidation of LDL cholesterol fuels relentless inflammation, which in turn causes coronary heart disease. So protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation is a crucial step in preventing atherosclerosis ("hardening" of the arteries). And when it comes to olive oil's blood-pressure lowering effect, one Spanish study showed that systolic and diastolic blood pressures fell by approximately 8 mm/Hg on an olive oil diet, compared to those using sunflower oil. In animals, olive oil led to enhanced relaxation of the aorta and was successful in treating rats with high blood pressure.This is a quote from a study in the British Journal of Nutrition,

“Dietary lipids are able to affect lipoprotein metabolism in a significant way, thereby modifying the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Day Two Focus: The Role of Exercise

One of the best, fastest forms of exercise I recommend is High Intensity Interval Training - HIIT. There are many different forms of it, but the one I've been doing for years now is Peak 8. It's very simple. All you need to do is find which way you like to do it the best. I use a stand up bike, you could also do it by sprinting outside, which I do as well, swim, treadmill is tough because you can't switch quickly enough from full all-out heart rate exertion to cool down fast enough. The first 3 minutes your slowly pedaling, warming up. Then the next 30 seconds you pedal as hard and fast as you can, maximizing your heart rate, then you cool down pedaling slowly for the next minute and a half, 90 second. Simply repeat this 8 times. Your done in 20 minutes, and you have done a HUGE service to your heart, as well as naturally releasing Human Growth Hormone - the "youth" hormone.

The originator of Peak 8 Fitness is Phil Campbell. He has a book I highly recommend called Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness for Time-Crunched Adults. 

Day Three Focus: Suppleness - the role of Nitric Oxide (NO) on the heart

Imagine for a moment a miracle molecule that could dramatically improve your health - if you could increase the amount of the molecule in your body. Biologically speaking it's definitely a miracle maker because it can prevent ~

•   High blood pressure hypertension, a disease that damages your heart, brain, and kidneys.

•   Keep your arteries young and flexible

•   Present, slow, or reverse the buildup of artery clogging arterial plaques.

•   Lower cholesterol.

•   By doing all of the above, reuse your risk of heart attack and stroke, the number one and number three killers of Americans.

The best foods that you can put in your body that have my check oxide or rather we should say support nitric oxide production are spinach, broccoli, and beets. These help to raise the levels of nitric oxide in your body. Beet root and Hawthorne, an herb well-known for it’s positive effect on the heart, not only are two rich sources of nitric oxide, but they also have an independent role to play besides their effect on raising your nitric oxide levels. They nourish and heal the endothelium - the inner lining of your blood vessels.

 


Affirmations for a healthy Respiratory System

Day One - I have a healthy heart that beats the perfect rhythm of my life.

Day Two - I'm grateful for all the challenges that helped me to transform and open up to love. 

Day Three - All of my blood vessels are soft and supple flowing well throughout my entire body.


Meditation for a Healthy Heart

Day One - Chronic stress is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In this meditation you are going to be thinking about calming yourself, uncluttering your mind and thoughts, and learning to let go of the many things that would stress you out. Imagine your cares as butterflies flying out of your heart, being set free and setting you free from the worries and cares of the day. The to-do lists, the many things at the end of the day that remain undone, these are things we have no control over, so we will not let them control us. They are butterflies, being set free and setting us free!

 

Day Two -

Your heart is the center of your being. Sit quietly with your legs crossed and notice your breath. As you inhale, imagine your heart being filled with love and energy to love. As you exhale, imagine the things that are not beneficial for a healthy heart, emotionally and spiritually, maybe the lack of forgiveness, maybe negative self talk, maybe a past wound or hurt, imagine as you breath out you are releasing that energy that is destructive and not self serving.

 

Day Three -

We have learned some fascinating facts about the heart. Sitting quietly with legs crossed and eyes closed, meditate on the miles and miles of blood vessels flowing throughout your entire body. Think about the powerful work our heart does day-in and day-out. Send waves of appreciation to your heart and meditate on the electrical aspect of it’s being and how you are truly an electrical person, full of charge and full of life.

 

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