There’s a link between stress and the heart. Do you know what it is?

During February, the month of romance, the heart takes center stage. Our minds and, well, our hearts are focused on love. On Valentine’s Day, many express their feelings for others with cards and gifts of candy, flowers and the like.

I’m all for this external expression of love, but I hope we also make time to turn some of that loving attention inward to our physical hearts.

In last year’s February blog I wrote about how the heart’s intelligence means our feelings impact our bodies and brains more than we may realize. Now a study in the January 2017 journal The Lancet indicates there’s a link between stress and the heart: The brain.

Researchers found that stress may activate the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear, stress and emotion. People with more activity in that area of the brain were more likely to suffer from subsequent heart disease, according to the study.

The report reads,

Amygdala activity is involved partly via a path that includes increased bone-marrow activity and arterial inflammation. These findings provide novel insights into the mechanism through which emotional stressors can lead to cardiovascular disease in human beings.

So once again we’re reminded about the role stress plays in our health. So what can we do to best manage our stress? We know exercise and meditation can surely help. Choosing healthy foods versus unhealthy foods during times of stress is another great choice. Maybe you even know about the importance of B vitamins and heart health. Let’s take a closer look at those.

Likely you’ve heard about the eight types of B vitamins:

  • Thiamin (B1)
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Folate (also called folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

These water-soluble vitamins wash out when we’re under stress—especially during long-term stress. Since they can’t be stored in our bodies, we have to consistently consume them in our diets. Alcohol, food processing and extended cooking can all negatively impact these vitamins, destroying them or reducing their availability.

Thiamin (B1), for example, is especially important to the nerve cells of our hearts and bodies. You might be deficient in thiamin if you experience heart beat interference (to be medically evaluated), depression and difficulty managing sugar, caffeine and your diet in general. When stress depletes our nutritional reserves of B vitamins, the best form of thiamin is enzymatic or co-enzymatic form. You should take it with a balanced form of B vitamins.

If you experience elevated pulse rate, anxious feelings and nervousness, these are also symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency. However, its the other half of the B vitamin complex: the G vitamin.

Known as the “relaxer,” the G vitamin often washes out under stress. This important vitamin can have a calming effect and promote muscle relaxation.
By taking a good B complex vitamin, you can balance out both sides of the nervous system while assisting the heart’s electrical system.

You should consult a healthcare practitioner to determine if B vitamin supplements would be helpful to you.

While you may not need a supplement, all of us can help our hearts and bodies by eating foods high in B vitamins, such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Calf’s liver
  • Lentils
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

It’s important that you rotate these foods since each vitamin B/G in the B complex has its own specific use in the body.

I Can Help

Think you could benefit from B and G vitamin support? Contact me or give me a call at 319-631-0824 to set up an appointment. We’ll start with a nutritional evaluation to determine any imbalances.

Here’s to love-filled, heart-healthy February!

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