Fuelling your heart: the engine keeping your body alive

The essence of life, our most essential organ, indeed, the engine that keeps our bodies alive, is the heart.

Albeit relatively small, the heart pumps a staggering estimate of 23,000 litres of blood around your body. This pumping of blood is essential in delivering oxygen and nutrients to every organ and part of the body while, at the same time, removing unwanted carbon dioxide and other toxins.

What it comes down to is that all of our other organs rely on our heart to continue working efficiently. Do we ever consider this? Do we take care of our hearts accordingly?

It’s only a healthy heart that can do its work properly. Here’s how you can fuel your heart and make sure it stays strong and healthy:

  • Exercise. An active lifestyle is probably the best thing you can do for your heart and your mental state as well.
  • Watch what you eat. Try to keep cholesterol levels low by minimising the amount of saturated fats you take in. Limit the amount of processed and pre-packaged food you consume as they are usually high in sugar and the wrong kinds of fat.
  • Eat the right fats. Since the heart has to work so hard, it needs a lot of energy. It derives about 70% of its energy from the burning of fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, which can lead to sudden death. Choose fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna.
  • No more sugary drinks. Swap sugary drinks such as soft drinks and juices for water or unsweetened juices.
  • Eat your fruits and veggies. Eat at least five fruits or vegetables a day. If you struggle to remember or maintain this, try using a food extractor such as a NutriBullet to get everything in your system in one go so you don’t have to worry about it throughout the day. The more of the right nutrients and vitamins your body takes in, the fewer cravings you’ll have for unhealthy things like sweet treats.
  • Reduce your salt intake. Even though salt is necessary for the body, too much salt increases blood pressure. Do not consume more than 6g of salt per day (adults).
  • Dump the cigarettes. Smoking is extremely bad for your heart. Take whatever measures you have to dump that horrible habit. Your heart will thank you.
  • Drink within the limit. Stick to the recommended guidelines when it comes to consuming alcohol. More than one glass a day might be harmful to your heart.
  • Ditch the cafeteria. If you plan in advance, it’s so much healthier to prepare your own lunches at home to avoid buying unhealthy foods from the cafeteria at work. Don’t fall into the ‘convenience’ trap!

If you just make a few simple sacrifices and changes to your habits and diet you can help fuel your heart and reduce your own and your family’s risk of heart disease and stroke.

About My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

If you would like to become part of our content team as a health and fitness professional, please email us at info@myhealthandfitness.co.za.

Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine or drastic changes in your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.


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