How to Prevent Heart Disease – Be Heart Smart!

Heart Disease ManWHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT HEART DISEASE?
Does heart disease run in your family? It is common for people with heart disease to ignore the problem and their doctor’s advice about how to improve their heart health. Maybe they have more pressing concerns. Maybe they do not understand the consequences of doing nothing. Maybe they are relying on prescription drugs to solve the problem. Taking prescription drugs can certainly help, but they do not get at the “heart” of the problem.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Obesity Diet AmericaThe problem is that the American lifestyle makes us susceptible to heart disease: high stress, easy access to non-nutritious foods, long work days that do not give us much time to exercise. It is a challenge to prevent and reverse heart disease, but it can be more easily faced when we learn to take control of our own health.

WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease can include high blood pressure, plaque in the arteries, and high cholesterol, among other things. Despite being often reversible and despite knowing so much about prevention and treatment, heart disease is still the #1 killer of both men and women.

Heart Attack SignsAccording to the American Heart Association’s most recent data, 1 out of every 3 Americans has heart disease. One of the first things we can do for our own health is to learn what our own risk is and what we can do to decrease it.

WHO IS AT HeartHIGH RISK FOR HEART DISEASE?
Most of us are familiar with the various risk factors for heart disease. Some we cannot control: older age, male gender, and family history of heart disease. However, most risk factors we can prevent or reverse: diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, high stress, and tobacco use. Research has shown again and again that diet and lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on these controllable risk factors in as little as 6 weeks.

WHAT PREVENTIVE STEPS CAN BE TAKEN?
Taking care of our hearts should be part of our daily routine. The prevention and treatment of any disease should always start with diet. In general, a whole foods diet is best for heart disease. This diet should be high in fiber, low in saturated fats, and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Daily exercise is known by most to help prevent and treat heart disease, but very few of us actually do it. Supplementing nutrients, herbs, and antioxidants is not always necessary but can speed the process of change and offer some additional protection.

HOW DOELow Fat FoodS NATUROPATHY HELP?
Sometimes people who have made diet and lifestyle changes and tried various supplements are still not able to decrease their risk factors for heart disease. For these people, there is often an underlying cause that is seemingly unrelated. It may be time for a new approach and Naturopathic doctors are trained to look for those underlying causes. They will consider medications, hormone imbalances, sluggish digestion, food intolerances, and heavy metal toxicities as possible contributors to heart disease. For most people, changing risk factors for heart disease can happen in as little as 6 weeks. Yet people struggle and worry for years without getting on a total program to improve the health of their hearts. There is so much that you can start doing today! Ask questions of your doctor until you understand your personal health situation. Do your own reading and research into the subject. Start trying new recipes. And most importantly, make a commitment to choose healthy daily lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease!

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Lisa OwThis article is written by Lisa Ow.  Lisa Ow is a practicing Naturopathic Doctor and a Health and Wellness Educator for the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

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20 Health Benefits of Chocolate

 

20 Benefits of Chocolate

Is Chocolate Beneficial to Me?
Studies have shown that dark chocolate can be beneficial to our health.  This is not the creamy milk chocolate commonly found in stores and in most commercial candy bars.   Healthy, dark chocolate is nearly black in color, does not have added sugar, and is bitter (for most sweet-seeking eaters) to taste.   It’s no secret that chocolate has lots of fat in it and calories and so does dark chocolate. But first let’s look at it’s good qualities.

Chocolate

The  Theobroma cacao also known as the cacao tree , or cocoa tree, is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae.  It is  native to the deep tropical region of America.  Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree.   Cocoa has long been known for it’s medicinal properties.  It was popular among Aztec and Mayan people.   The oldest known cultivation and use of cacao dates from about 1100 to 1400 BC.  Archaeologists reported finding evidence of Cacao beans being used for food, drink, and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
Cocoa beans
What is the healthy ingredient in dark chocolate?
The Europeans added sugar to the cocoa to create the sweetened chocolate that we know today.  Dark chocolate contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols, high in caffeine, and antioxidants.  Current research studies have shown flavanols to be effective in the following ways:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • lowering cholesterol
  • lifting the mood, curbing depression
  • providing anti-aging effects
  • serving  as a natural stimulant

    Chocolates

In the past the cocoa bean has been used as an elixir in the following ways:

  • to gain weight
  • to stimulate those who are exhausted or feeble
  • to improve digestion and elimination
  • to  stimulate kidneys
  • to improve bowel function.
  • to reduce or alleviate effects of anemia
  • to increase appetite
  • to eliminate mental fatigue
  • to increase breast milk production
  • to aid in the symptoms and discomfort of influenza, tuberculosis fever, gout, kidney stones
  • to increase sexual drive

    Chocolate dipped

Is there anything unhealthy  about dark chocolate?
Yes, chocolate is still high in fat and calories   Let’s first take a look at the fat.  First of all it’s important to note that there are good fats and bad fats.   Good fats are monounsaturated fats.   Not so good fats are   saturated fats.   Saturated fats, like full-fat dairy products and fatty animal proteins, have been shown in past research studies to increase risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and some cancers, including colon cancer.  There is currently a controversy about saturated fats, with recent research contradicting past studies.  More study may be needed.

When choosing fats, a safe choice is to pick unsaturated fat over saturated or trans fat.  Really bad fats are trans fats.  Fried foods, packaged cookies, chips, candy and granola bars, and cooking oils, contain trans fats which can increase bad cholesterol and inflammation, and decrease good cholesterol in the body.


Chocolate factory

It’s a mixed issue with chocolate.
Monounsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids are good fats and helpful to us.  Cocoa butter is mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats, with less polyunsaturated fats. So about one-third of the fat in dark chocolate can be potentially bad for us. The good fats in dark chocolate are Oleic Acid and Stearic acid. Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat. Stearic acid is a saturated fat, but it is neutral to cholesterol.  That is good.

Where People Get their FatsPalmitic acid is also in dark chocolate.   Palmitic acid is the bad fat.  It raises cholesterol and heart disease risk. So that fact is that one-third of the fat is not so good saturated fat, and about two-thirds of the fat is good or neutral saturated fat and good monounsaturated fat in dark chocolate.

Another issue is the caffeine.
Caffeine
is found in the coffee bean and cocoa bean. Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate, because it is more pure, and with less added ingredients. It is generally accepted that caffeine consumption that is kept under 200 mg per day does not result in illness However, intake of caffeine over 200 mg can create digestive problems. Pregnant women should not use high levels of caffeine. Difficulties in conceiving have been linked to regularly taking in 1,000 mg of caffeine per day. Other symptoms such as problems sleeping, nervousness, and rapid heart beat can be associated with high levels of caffeine. Caffeine in high doses has been known to trigger migraine headaches, although when taken in small amounts, it can be used to stop or reduce the effects of a painful migraine and also can be beneficial and helpful in stopping an asthma attack when an inhaler is not available.

Clean Teeth

What about tooth decay?
Surprise! Recent studies are showing chocolate can actually HELP tooth decay!   Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean, the main ingredient of chocolate, stop mouth bacteria and tooth decay.  The milk in the milk chocolate helps to halt plaque. The cocoa bean husk  has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth.  It can fight effectively against dental plaque and other damaging agents.

 

What is the bottom line?
The bottom line is that dark chocolate can be beneficial if eaten in small quantities.  Never overindulge and remember to care for yourself.  Exercise, eat a well balanced diet, do things that make you happy, be persistent with achieving your goals, and get plenty of sleep.   When chocolate is eaten in excess, it can raise cholesterol, increase weight, increase risk of heart failure and heart disease, and trigger anxiety, stress, headache, nervousness, and  cause rapid heart beat.

Use the cocoa bean and chocolate wisely and draw upon the wisdom of our ancestors.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  All photos are copyright free from www.pixabay.com unless otherwise noted.


Disclaimer:
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What is Good Fat?

Good Fat

It is not healthy to eliminate all fat. “Good fat”  is essential to good health.

WHAT IS GOOD FAT?
When it comes to health, not all fats are equal. Reducing some types of fats helps lower the risk of several chronic diseases, but other types of fats are absolutely essential to our body’s heart, nerves, immune system and even our brain function.


Our brain is composed of 60% fat
.

We do not want to eliminate all fat.  The key is eating GOOD FAT.   Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats,  Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, are good fats. They are found primarily in nuts, sea food, and plant oils like canola, peanut and olive oils.

Where People Get their FatsPolyunsaturated fats such as safflower, cottonseed and corn oils,and seafood.  Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts and seeds, such as flax seeds. People following traditional Mediterranean diets that are high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Of course just because something is labeled “low-fat” doesn’t mean that you can gorge yourself on it and gain no weight.  “Low-fat” foods can be bad for us if not eaten in moderation.

Here are the “good fat” vs “bad fat” basics:

Monounsaturated FatsMONOUNSATURATED FATS  – Monounsaturated fats such as avocados, salmon, almonds, walnuts and flax seed, olive oil can help lower triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation.  Research studies have shown that eating foods that are high in monounsaturated fats may help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats may also keep “good” HDL cholesterol levels high.

 

POLYUNSATURATED FATS and OMEGA-3, -6 and -9 FATTY ACIDS – Polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3’s,  6’s, and 9’s.   There’s only one omega-3 fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid, abbreviated LNA or ALA) and one omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid, or LA).  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods from plants like soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed.

Omega 3Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.  Most people eat too much of omega-6 and not enough of omega-3, so it’s a good plan to focus on eating omega-3’s. Omega-9’s are the most abundant fatty acids of all in nature, and they are not lacking in our diets. They are also not considered essential because our bodies can make omega-9 fatty acids from unsaturated fat already stored in our bodies. Omega-9 is found in animal fat, vegetable oil and olive oil.  Omega 3 can be found in fish, olive oil, nuts, and omega 3 eggs, green beans, mungo,  navy, pinto and kidney beans.

Most nuts have a much higher Omega 6 ratio than Omega 3.  For example, this nutritional  chart from SelfNutritionData, shows the large difference in  omega 6 and omega 3.  Therefore, the best nuts to eat would be walnuts, for  increasing omega 3 in the diet.

  • Macadamias – 60 vs 360  (about 16 times omega 6 to 3)
  • Almonds – 2 vs 3400 (about 1700 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Hazelnuts – 20 vs 2200 (about 110 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pistachios – 70 vs 3700 (about 52 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Brazil Nuts – 5.1 vs 5800 (about 1,137 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Cashews – 7 vs 2200 (314 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Walnuts – 2500 vs 10,100 (4 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pine Nuts – 31 vs 9400 (303 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pecans – 280 vs 5800 (about 21 times more omega 6 to 3)

Foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Wild Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Trout
  • Fresh tuna

 

SATURATED FATS:   There is currently some controversy about saturated fats. Saturated fats are fats that are turn solid at room temperature.   Over the years, mSaturated Fat Foodsany research studies have shown that saturated fats, like lard,  full-fat dairy products and fatty animal proteins, can increase risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and some cancers, such as colon cancer.  However, recent studies contradict earlier studies.  More research may be needed to determine the long-term effects eating a regular diet high in saturated fats.  It’s generally thought that it is best to limit the amount of saturated fats and replace the saturated fats with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats include:

  • High-fat cuts of lamb, beef, and pork
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Whole-fat milk
  • Whole-fat cream,
  • Whole-fat butter
  • Whole-fat cheese
  • Whole-fat ice cream
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Lard

Saturated Fat Benefits
There are some benefits to saturated fats as listed above.  However, according to recent research from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health   and a report from Harvard School of Public Health, cutting back on saturated fat can be good for health if people replace saturated fat with unsaturated fats.  A diet of all saturated fats can lead to serious health problems.  A balanced diet  rich in vegetables, fruits, and “good fats” is the best plan.

Saturated Fat Chart

Saturated fats are found in many foods and food products.  According to recent research from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health   and a report from Harvard School of Public Health, if people cut back slightly on saturated fats and replace them with more carbohydrates like breads, white rice, potatoes, and sugars, then they will most likely not see any improvement in weight loss or lowered cholesterol.  However if they cut back on saturated fats, and replace saturated fats with “good fats” they will see results.   Eating good fats, like monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats can help to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.  It can also  improves the ratio of total cholesterol to “good” HDL cholesterol.  This can reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating good fats in place of saturated fat can also help to reduce the risk of diabetes.

 

WHAT ARE BAD FATS?


Trans Fat Food
TRANS FATS:  
|Trans fats such as fried foods, packaged cookies, chips, candy, granola bars, and cooking oils, increase bad cholesterol and inflammation, and decrease good cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Foods high in trans fats have little nutritional value.

  • Commercially packaged pastries, cookies, pizza dough, cakes, muffins, waffles, doughnuts, etc.
  • Packaged snack foods (chips, crackers, and popcorn)
  • Margarine in stick form
  • Vegetable shortening
  • All fried foods (fried fish, French fries, fried chicken, tempura, etc.)
  • Candy bars
  • Some commercially packaged granola bars (check for partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Bisquick

 

 

HOW DO WE MAKE A LIFESTYLE CHANGE?

Healthy French FriesIf  restaurant and food manufacturers can switch  to Omega-9 Oils,  they can reduce these bad fats by up to 80% when changing from partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  You can help make a change by alerting people to the research about the harmful (and perhaps deadly) effects of long-term use of trans fats.  The best plan is to eliminate all trans fats completely from the diet (especially fried foods and packaged or commercially baked foods) and to limit saturated fats.  Eat more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated foods rich in omega 3’s, such as flax seeds, walnuts, fish, and canola oil.   Check your labels and shop wisely.

Your label Trans Fat Misleading Labelprobably won’t list, “trans fats,”  or might list trans fats as zero, but if the label lists “partially hydrogenated oils,” this means it contains trans fats, plain and simple.

It’s important to check your labels.  The FDA  gave food producers considerable flexibility  in their labeling, resulting inn labeling which is misleading. Current law says that any food containing less than .5 grams of trans fat can “round down” and indicate trans fat content as 0 grams.  Therefore, a listing of zero trans fats, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is zero, and a food product that is advertised “trans-fat free” most likely is almost trans-fat free but might very well include trans fats.  If your label lists hydrogenated oils, you are eating trans fats.

 

We all have the freedom to be educated, informed consumers so that we can take care of our bodies wisely.  All fat is not bad, and it’s important to our health to include “good fats”  in our diets.  We can use the above tips, the resources below, and our good fat food chart to stay healthy and fit.

 

RESOURCES

Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S. Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS Med. 2010;7:e1000252.

Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010;12:384-90.

Astrup A, Dyerberg J, Elwood P, et al. The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93:684-8.

Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, et al. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011:CD002137.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition. 

Choosing the Heart Path and the Healing Power of a Loving Heart

Choose the Path With a Heart
What is the Heart Path?
What does it mean to speak from the heart? Is there a connection between heart disease and lack of heartfelt or heart-centered purpose in life?

How Do We Choose the Path with a Heart?
It is important to make lifestyle changes to keep a healthy heart. We must also make emotional and spiritual changes. Research shows that these aspects of health are highly influential on the total well-being of a person. When choosing the heart-path, we choose to be LOVING and conscious to ourselves, our family members and our friends. We choose to eat balanced and nutritious meals, maintain a healthy weight, and be physically fit by keeping active. We  participate in activities that make us truly happy.

 

Children HuggingWhat Does Research Tell Us?
In an essay and review of the research on the effects of love on health entitled  “Love Promotes Health”  researchers Tobias Esch, and George B. Stefano, state:

“Love has consequences for health and well-being. The better we understand the concrete neurobiology of love and its possible secondary implications, the greater is our respect for the significance and potency of love’s role in mental and physical health. Love is closely related to the concept of pleasure and ‘positive psychology’, i.e., joyful mental states, and therefore has become a feature not only of thorough psychological but also basic science research – e.g., neurobiology –and clinical medicine…..Community, social support, health and survival (of the individual and the species) clearly indicate further beneficial properties of the biological love concept. Social support has documented health benefits, and the absence of positive social interactions or social bonds is typically associated with both physical and mental illnesses.”

 

Choosing the path with the heart means choosing the path of kindness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, peace, contentment, responsibility, and generosity. Choosing the path with the heart means loving life…ALL life. YOUR life, my life, his life, her life, animal life, plant life. The air, the water, the soil. Loving it all.  When we choose the “heart path” of kindness and love,  this effects our both our spiritual heart and our physical heart, bringing health and healing to the body.


This sounds far-fetched. Do you meant that there is a connection between a heartless world and a world with heart disease?

 

Not exactly, but there is a scientific and chemical connection between a healthy heart and a heart filled with love and kindness.
First, let’s take a look at heart disease.

How Prevalent is Heart Disease in our Society?
Heart Disease Symptoms
Every year over half a million Americans die of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention most recent statistics:

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths!
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

When studying the principles of  heart health,  we know that heredity and genetic factors are major contributors to heart disease, but there are some things that we can change.  Making healthy lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the risks of heart disease.

What are Some of the High-risk Lifestyles for Heart Disease?

  • A poor diet high in trans fats
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • tobacco use
  • alcohol abuse
  • stress

Heart Attack CausesSo we can greatly lower our risk of heart failure and heart attack by making some life-style changes.  But what does this have to do with choosing the “path of the heart?

 “There are many paths to enlightenment.
Be sure to take one with a heart.”  ~Lao Tzu


Oxytocin in the BrainResearch Shows Kindness and Love Help Prevent Heart Disease

According to multiple research studies,  kindness and love create scientifically measurable chemical reactions in the body.   These chemical changes in the body are “cardioprotective.”    In other words, the chemical reaction that occurs when a person experiences the “emotional lift” during kind, loving, and heart-centered actions, protects our heart.  According to Dr. David Hamilton, PhD, in an article entitled, “5 Side Effects of Kindness,

“Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system.

Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure). The key is that acts kindness can produce oxytocin and therefore kindness can be said to be cardioprotective.”

Dr. Hamilton further explains that oxytocin also “reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system.”  This reduction of free radicals slows down the aging process. Free radicals and inflammation play a major role in heart disease , as documented by D. Jezova, and M. Ondrejcakova  of the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.  These researchers concluded that oxytocin has a powerful effect on free radical and inflammation levels, which have been proven to lead to coronary heart disease.  Therefore, when we engage in acts of kindness and love, we are reducing inflammation in the body and reducing heart disease risk.

 

Serotonin and the brainIn his book, the “Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer cites scientific studies concluding that kindness both increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and strengthens our immune systems. When serotonin is released into the body, people feel less stress, euphoric, relaxed and happy. The biological, psychological and mental effects of kindness on the human body are expansive and not limited only to the “givers” or the “receivers.”  Research has shown that an act of kindness not only increases the levels of serotonin in the recipient, but also in the person who is being kind, and in those who witness the act of kindness.

Multiple research studies show that love and kindness are key to health and healing.  When we ignore our true heartfelt instincts, we can make ourselves ill.   So why not listen to our hearts  and love ourselves and your lives?  Let our hearts tell us how to live our lives.

For now, let us always remember Lao Tzu’s words and choose the path with a heart.  If we as a country and as a world,  start making heartfelt choices in all we do, then we heal our bodies, ourselves and our universe and have a happy, healthy heart—mind, body, and spirit.

Resources
Bartels A, Zeki S. The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love. Neuroimage 2004;21:1155–66. (.pdf)

Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Babyak MA, Watkins LL, Waugh R, Georgiades A et al. Effects of exercise and stress management training on markers of cardiovascular risk in patients with ischemic heart disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2005; 293:1626–34.

Carter CS. Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1998;23:779–818.
Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, Muller, D, Santorelli SF et al.  Alterations in brain and immune function
produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med 2003;65:564–70.

Dyer, Dr. Wayne, The Power of Intention, Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way, HayHouse.com

Hamilton, David R, 5 Side Effects of Kindness,  May 30, 2011.

Tobias Esch, and George B. Stefano, Love Promotes Health.  Neuroendocrinology Letters, No.3 June, Vol.26, 2005,  ISSN 0172–780X, http://www.nel.edu

Velazquez, Barbara,  A Review of Scientific Evidence Supporting the Link Between Altruism and Health, Taskforce for Humanity Coalition,

_______________________________


Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:
 The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.