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February 6th, 2016

Getting Into the Valentine’s Day Spirit—The Healthy Way

Category: dental health

dentist in cincinnati hagen dental ddsAs we get into the Valentine’s Day spirit, here are two main ways we can stay heart-healthy and happy this February.

Exercise for Your Heart

Whether you have a special someone in your life this Valentine’s Day or not, one thing is still true: cardio (or cardiovascular) exercise is important for the health of your heart because it increases your heart rate and increases your blood circulation.

Besides being good for your heart, cardio makes us feel better, strengthens our bones in many cases, reduce stress and anxiety, helps us sleep better, and research has shown it adds years to your life expectancy. (Source.)

When we maintain our cardiovascular fitness, we are “working” our heart, which makes sure that is stays strong.

As you likely know, there are quite a few different varieties of cardio exercise. Whether it’s cycling or running (which just might be our favorites) or another form such as an organized sport team you play on, get in cardio exercise so that you can work your heart muscle just like you would want to work any other muscle in your body!

Not only are you helping your heart stay in shape, but with regular cardio, you can help support your metabolism, help manage your weight, improve your ability to recover from workouts in general, and for those with diabetes, cardio actually can help you manage your condition.

Pro tip: use a heart rate monitor to really see how hard you training. Many of the heart monitors today are very affordable and some can even get data from your wrist.

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Eat for Your Heart

Eating for the health of our heart involves eating foods that support our nutritional needs, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. This also means eating in a way that doesn’t spur too much inflammation in the body.

While Valentine’s Day may mean a time to reach for some candy treats including sour candies and hard candies, just remember when we eat foods high in added sugar, over time, we can do damage to the body.

And yes, we also have to mention how the constant sugar on your teeth is harmful—and not to mention it sometimes can even result in a broken or chipped tooth!

But when it comes to our diet, more specifically, too much sugar can mean your body is not getting the nutrients it needs. That is because sugar contains calories that lack nutrient value, but at the same time they can still be quite high in calories. Additionally, when we eat lots of sugar regularly, it can result in insulin resistance (2). You can also think about it this way: while inflammation is a natural response in our body, if we have too much of it—which can happen when we eat too much sugar—it is thought to play a role in heart disease, certain cancers and in obesity.

Smile- and heart-friendly options that you can choose instead of all the hard, sour or gummy candies that can be popular around Valentine’s Day include:

  • Fun finger foods that can still be healthy such as stuffed mushrooms
  • “Tater tots” made from sweet potatoes
  • Fruit skewers: fruit that you put on kabobs—think blueberries, strawberries or another fruit if you are sticking to a color theme
  • Watermelon or another melon “cut out” using a heart cookie cutter. If you put these on kabobs, you can call them “Cupid Kabobs”
  • Mini smoothies made with no added sugar. You can even top it off with a red or heart-themed straw!

Healthy Choices: That’s Something We Love to Hear!

Whether you choose some of these more healthy and fun alternatives or not this Valentine’s Day, find what works for you by looking for lifestyle changes that you can sustain. Be sure to look to incorporate nutrient-dense foods that support your level of activity! It’s never a bad idea to educate yourself on just how much added sugar you’re consuming! This alone might be motivation so that you can cut back on sugar-added drinks that offer very little nutrients.

References/Sources

  1. http://www.livescience.com/36723-exercise-life-expectancy-overweight-obese.html
  1. http://whole9life.com/2010/06/sugar-sugar-sugar/

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