Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Your Heart Health This Summer

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Summer may not officially start until June 21, but the hot weather has already arrived throughout most of the country. 

Late spring and summer can be a very energetic time of year — many of us head outdoors for increased activities during the longer, warmer days. All the extra movement, time in nature, and fresh air does wonders for your health. But at the same time, it’s important to pay close attention to your body’s vulnerabilities during the “season of heat.”

Summer and FireHow It Affects Your Circulation & Creates Stagnation

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer relates to the fire element — and on a physical level, TCM emphasizes the health of your heart and circulatory system during this season. As daylight increases, your energy and activity will naturally expand, reaching further away from your core and calling on strong circulation to keep up with the increased demands.  

Even more critical, however, is the fact that poor circulation creates a condition of stagnation. In turn, this stagnant blood generates heat in the form of inflammation — the hallmark of numerous chronic illnesses, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.  

Inflammation and poor circulation also contribute to hyperviscosity, a thickness of the blood. Sometimes, this condition is due to genetic tendency (approximately 25 percent of the population exhibits one or more “defects”— such as elevated Lp(a), PAI-1, or homocysteine), but hyperviscosity can also be caused by lifestyle, dietary habits, infections, or traumas.  

When combined, inflammation and hyperviscosity negatively affect every system in the body, especially the heart and cardiovascular system.

Heat Waves and Your Heart Health 

During summer, the combination of hot weather, chronic inflammation, and lack of circulation can turn deadly, putting you at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious cardiovascular events.  

Additional summer health risks such as heat stroke/heat exhaustion, burns, and dehydration are all related to excess inflammation, causing our engines to “overheat.” 

The most important step you can take to protect your health during summer is to keep chronic inflammation in check. This degenerative process of continuous “overheating” degrades your body through wear, tear, and oxidative stress, serving as a primary function of the aging process — and of degenerative, life-threatening diseases.

9 Ways to Keep Your Cool

What can you do this season to make sure your heart stays strong and your body cool and hydrated? Here are some steps you can take to protect your health in the heat: 

  1. Take advantage of the increased fresh produce available this time of year, emphasizing leafy greens and hydrating fruits and vegetables with high water and/or mineral content (e.g., melons, strawberries, pineapple, celery, cucumbers, and zucchini).
  2. Drink LOTS of fresh, filtered or spring water (approx. 64 oz. per day).
  3. Replenish electrolytes with a healthy electrolyte and mineral drink or supplement (including electrolyte powder mixes).
  4. Take cooling, anti-inflammatory supplements (see below).
  5. Slow down.
  6. Get adequate sleep.
  7. Engage in gentle, regular exercise (especially walking) whenever you can, without overheating in the mid-day sun.
  8. Schedule that vacation — and take plenty of time to recharge your batteries every chance you get.
  9. Meditation and mindful relaxation practices can work to keep your heart (and your entire body) healthy and protected.

Slowing down and making sure that you allow your body to cool down, regulate internal temperatures, and regenerate fluids are necessary preventive measures for a long and healthy life. These simple steps are even more important for your health and vitality during periods of prolonged heat.

“Cooling” Botanicals and Nutrients 

Cardiovascular and circulatory health are a big focus in my clinical practice — and for my patients, I use a Tibetan-based herbal formula that embraces principles of both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine for a unique, natural, and very effective approach to maintaining cardiovascular health. Its positive effects on circulation are well-documented and are the subject of numerous published clinical trials. Additional circulation-boosting botanicals and enzymes include:  

  • Hawthorn berry  
  • Ginger  
  • Turmeric  
  • Chinese salvia  
  • L-carnitine  
  • Omega-3 oils  
  • Enzymes such as nattokinase and lumbrokinase 
  • Modified citrus pectin (see below) 

Repairing Chronic Heat Damage

We know from basic physics that heat is a manifestation of an increase in kinetic movement — and when you live a high-paced lifestyle with no time to relax, “cool,” re-hydrate, or lubricate your body, your “engine” is going to heat up. 

Sometimes, this damage from chronic excess heat can be more serious, requiring replenishment not just in the form of extra fluids and electrolytes, but also “fluid-generating” herbs and botanicals that can help hydrate and maintain moisture in tissues and organs.  

This type of heat damage can be addressed by a group of botanicals called “body fluid regenerators” (or YIN regeneration herbs as they are classified in Traditional Chinese Medicine) that work on different parts of the body:  

  • Tian Men Dong (asparagus tuber) and Mai Men Dong (Ophipogon tuber) work to promote blood and fluids in the heart, the lungs, and the stomach. 
  • Shi Hu (Dendrobium stem) helps maintain moisture in the lungs, the stomach, and the eyes. 
  • Zhi Mu (Anemarrhenae root) is another herb that’s very important for the stomach when you have severe dryness.  
  • Sheng Di Huang (Rehmmania) is also very important for nourishing the blood, which moisturizes all organs. 

Modified Citrus Pectin: Super-Nutrient for Healing Inflammation

My top supplement for inflammation and total-body health is a researched form of modified citrus pectin (MCP). With over 76 published studies, this unique ingredient is the only agent shown to block unhealthy levels of galectin-3, a pro-inflammatory protein connected to the body’s survival mechanism.

Thousands of studies show how unhealthy galectin-3 expression in the body can fuel chronic inflammation and fibrosis of organs and tissues, leading to heart conditions, neurological diseases, cancer, and more.

This proprietary form of MCP (not the same as pectin) works by “binding to” excess galectin-3 in the body and blocking its pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic effects. MCP is also an excellent detoxifier, safely removing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. 

Summer can be an exciting and rewarding season, offering more time in nature, new adventures, an abundance of healthy fresh produce, summer celebrations, and more. If you take the right steps to adjust your healthcare routine during this period, you will reap the benefits of increased vitality and energy, rather than sit wilting away in the scorching heat.

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