The heart isn't part of our digestive system, yet it's very much affected by what we eat.
By pumping blood, the heart delivers nutritional substances, which are the raw materials required for the vital work of those little microscopic machines called cells. Furthermore, our nutrition has a lot to do with the way our heart functions. Just as the heart provides blood and nutrients to the rest of the tissues, its muscle structure must receive sufficient blood and nutrients so it can continue beating about eighty times a minute, every hour of the day.
The coronary arteries are the heart’s irrigation system: they bring in blood and nutrients. For the heart to receive what it needs to function properly, these arteries have to remain healthy; in other words, they can't become obstructed.
How do they become obstructed?
Obstruction of this delicate irrigation system occurs slowly, starting at a very early age and intensifying as the years go by. Initially fat and then calcium accumulate between the artery wall layers. There are other factors that are involved to a greater or lesser extent, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and smoking.
Most of these factors are closely linked to nutrition. Obesity, for instance, results from eating more than our body needs. Obesity is also a factor in hight blood pressure, as are eating too much of a certain food (such as salt), a sedentary lifestyle and stress. Likewise, the cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase when you consume more fat than required and when the fat is rich in saturated fatty acids (such as fats of animal origin and those that stay solid at room temperature, such as butter). Thus, what a person eats has a lot to do with his or her capacity to do exercise. And stress, needless to say, significantly influences diet patterns.
The importance of a proper diet is evident so the heart can receive the nutrients it needs and stay healthy. This is the only way this vital organ can accomplish its function of pumping the essential nutrients to the rest of the body.
*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.
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