Culture: Carole Baker's yoga column - Love your heart

Carole Baker
Carole Baker

As it’s Valentines Day this month, I thought we would focus on looking after your HEART.

Heart disease and cardio vascular disease (CVD) kills one in four people in the UK – that’s quite shocking!

I am going to focus on blood clots as these are a very serious cardio vascular condition. Sometimes blood clots form in the blood stream when there hasn’t been an external injury and can lead to dangerous complications like pulmonary embolism, coronary heart disease or stroke.

It’s possible for a blood clot to form on the wall of a blood vessel or in the heart when blood, platelets, proteins and cells stick together. However, a blood clot stopping the flow of blood is a serious health issue that must be treated right away.

Luckily, blood clots are among the most preventable types of blood conditions. you can decrease your chances of developing one with simple lifestyle changes. If you already have a blood clot, there are things you can do to limit the amount of time you are on blood thinners and other conventional forms of treatment.

Some forms of treatment include:

Anticoagulants: these and antiplatelet agents reduce blood clotting in an artery, vein or the heart. These medications are sometimes called blood thinners. They prevent your blood from clotting or prevent existing clots from getting larger.

Thrombolytics: dissolve blood clots and limit the damage caused by the blockage of a blood vessel.

Catheter-directed thrombolysis: a non surgical treatment for acute deep vein thrombosis. It is used to dissolve blood clots.

Surgical thrombectomy: surgically removing a blood clot from inside an artery or vein.

Natural help for blood clots and for overall good heart health

Change your diet

Changing your diet to maintain a healthy weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce overall inflammation is extremely important. Be sure to focus on eating healing foods, which include dark leafy greens, colourful vegetables (like squash, red peppers and aubergines), fruits, legumes, whole grains (like oatmeal and brown rice) and omega-3 foods (like wild-caught salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds and grass-fed beef). These foods will help to keep your vascular system active, improve your heart health and help you to lose weight.

You also need to avoid foods, including artificial sweeteners, diet drinks, trans fats (like baked goods), refined carbohydrates and sugar, and limit alcohol consumption. Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day and women no more than one.

Stay active

Make sure you stay active by exercising regularly and avoiding periods of prolonged inactivity or immobilisation. Try for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise (or 60-90 mins if it’s low intensity). It’s also very important to take breaks when you’ve been sitting for an extended period of time. Try to move around and stretch every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Consider switching medications

Some medications can increase your risk for blood clots. These medications include hormone replacement drugs, birth control pills, medications to control blood pressure. Check with your GP to see if they can be lowered. Try to research natural remedies.

Quit smoking

Studies show smoking cigarettes or using e-cigarettes etc increases your risk of developing blood clots and heart disease. The risk increases even more when overweight.

Turmeric

Turmeric reduces inflammation and acts as a natural anticoagulant and anti-platelet treatment. A 2012 study proved curcumin, the polyphenol found in turmeric, inhibited the development of blood clots. Unlike most drugs, turmeric has relatively no known side effects, unless taken in extremely large amounts.

Garlic

Garlic is widely recognised as both a preventative and treatment for many cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including blood clots and hypertension. Studies show raw garlic helps reverse plaque build up and prevents accumulation of new plaque in the arteries. It contains a compound called allicin which has been shown to significantly lower cholesterol and blood pressure and blocking platelet clot formation in the blood vessels. It can be juiced with other veg for an immune boosting drink or there are odour-free garlic capsules as a great alternative.

Vitamin E

This anticoagulant is helpful against ischemic heart disease and stroke. It is used to treat and prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as chest pain, high blood pressure and blocked or hardened arteries. Increase your vitamin E intake by eating 2-3 of these: almonds, hazelnuts, avocado, butternut squash, mango, sunflower seeds, broccoli, spinach, kiwi and tomato.

Cardamom

Cardamom contains several compounds that help to prevent blood clots from forming in the blood stream, and preventing DVTs. It can be prepared as a delicious, warming tea by placing 4 cardamom pods in 2 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes, sweeten with raw honey.

Grapes

These increase nitric oxide levels in the blood and provide excellent protection for the cardiovascular system. The black variety of grapes are the most nutritious, with seeds even better. Grape seeds provide phenomenal healing benefits. You can chew the seeds or place the seeded grapes in a high speed blender or a juicer. It will make a sweet, delicious and powerful antioxidant drink. Fresh raw grape juice has been called the ‘nectar of the gods’ due to its high concentration of health promoting properties. The skins contain most of the antioxidants and nutrition, so choose organic whenever possible.

Reishi mushrooms

Good for helping to lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and to prevent blood clots. Reishi extract powder is an excellent way to include this into your diet added to water, juice, tea, smoothies, protein shakes, soups or veggie meals.

Sweet violet

Containing significant amounts of rutin and salicylic acid, which act similarly to aspirin and are useful in helping to prevent blood clots. Use 2 tsp of flowers/leaves to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for at least 10 minutes and sweeten with raw honey if desired. Fresh sweet violet flowers and leaves can be added to fruit and vegetable salads, smoothies and jams. Find them at your local health food store in tea, capsule, syrup, tincture, extract, salve and cream form.

Kiwi

This fruit contains certain compounds that act as a blood thinner, similar to the way aspirin works, which helps prevent blood clot formation and can protect the body from stroke and heart attacks.

Cloves

Clove oil is a potent platelet inhibitor which prevents blood clots. Clove tea strengthenis the immune system and detoxifies the body. Steep 2 tsp of whole cloves in two cups of hot water for at least 10 minutes, sweeten with honey if desired. Cloves products can be found at your local health food store.

Onions

Onions are the richest food source of quercitin, a potent antioxidant that has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides and prevent blood clots. Onions eaten raw provide the most nutritional benefits. Consider making a vegetable soup with onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes which provides cellular rejuvenation, especially when feeling run down or worn out.

Tarragon

The herb contains poly-phenolic compounds known to help lower blood glucose levels and is often used to help prevent strokes and heart attacks due to its ability to prevent clot formation. To make a tea, use two tsps of fresh/dried herb to two cups of water and add lemon and/or honey if desired. Tarragon can be found at your local health food store in various forms.

*With thanks to bhf.org.uk, draxe.com and medicalmedium.com for some of the info.

Carole Baker is founder of The Self Centre, Bury St Edmunds carolebaker.co.uk

The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.