Our heart and brain are intimately connected. The health of our heart plays a huge role in the health of our brain. And vice versa. It is vitally important to take care of the health of our hearts through food, herbs and meditation to further support our brain health. The more I'm learning about how to heal our brains, the more I'm learning about the importance of focusing on our hearts as well.
The messages the heart sends the brain can affect performance, in the sense that, when the heart is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity, intuitive ability, including better decision-making. Who doesn't want to have greater mental clarity, intuitive ability and decision-making?! From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, the heart stores the "Shen," or the spiritual element of someone’s psyche. This is oftentimes translated into our specific state of mind, which when disturbed is said to have an adverse impact upon the heart. A healthy Shen is a mind that is in direct service to the heart, a disturbed Shen is when the mind is overriding the heart and running it out of control. In Chinese Medicine, many psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and stress to more severe conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia are said to have their root in the heart.
Side note- I feel it is really important for us to get out of our heads and into our hearts in times like these. There's a lot of chaos, uncertainty, and disasters going on and the worst thing we can do is freak out and stay in our limited minds to try to "figure out" what to do. We must turn to our hearts and focus much of our attention on them. They will guide us, we just have to trust them. These foods, herbs and exercises will help strengthen our hearts as our guidance systems and the more you tune into it, the easier the guidance will come. As far as dietary nutrients go, it is best to focus on foods that supply magnesium, omega-3's, fiber, antioxidants, potassium, selenium, folic acid and sodium (not from iodized table salt though).
Here are some foods that support cardiovascular health:
Oatmeal- Fiber. Want old-fashioned or whole oats.
Blueberries and other berries- Antioxidants
*Dark chocolate (70% or above and no milk chocolate)- Antioxidants, magnesium
This works on more than just a physical level.
Adding in 100% cacao to your daily regime is highly encouraged :)
Citrus fruits- Antioxidants
Cooked tomatoes- Potassium, antioxidants
Nuts- almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, macadamia nuts- all contain fiber. Vitamin E, omega-3's, vitamin K
Walnuts are especially high in omega-3 FA
Brazil nuts are high in selenium (which also supports thyroid health)
Olive oil- Monounsaturated fats, vitamin K, vitamin E, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant
Green tea- Antioxidants
Broccoli, spinach, kale, dark leafy greens- Antioxidants, fiber, vitamins (especially folic acid) and minerals (especially magnesium)
Kale is a source of omega-3’s
Flax and chia seeds- Omega-3’s, fiber
Avocado- Monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and potassium
Pomegranate- Antioxidants and polyphenols
Seaweed- Great source of sodium
Garlic- Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
It is also very important to consume things that make you happy. Life is about BALANCE!! If you eat a "guilty pleasure," enjoy the crap out of it and be present with what you're eating.
Enjoy the happy chemicals running through your mind and body.
There's no need to feel guilty, because the guilt will only increase your desire for more. So take a deep breath, enjoy that bowl or pint of ice cream, feel how your body feels during it and surrender to the moment. Who knows, you may not even want that next bite anyways. Then continue on with eating mostly fruit and vegetables and whatever food nourishes you.
Another idea is to try turning your comfort food into healthier versions by adding in vegetables, baking instead of frying... This is what I like to do at least- try to get the best of both worlds.
Here is some herbal support for your physical, emotional and spiritual heart (always consult your doctor/naturopath/herbalist when combining herbs with medications):
Hawthorne- Normalizes heart function
Rose- Balances and soothes the heart and emotions. It also balances the mind. Brings a sense of love and peace
Motherwort- Brings a sense of calm and nourishment to our hearts. Makes us feel like we are being "hugged"
Reishi- Calms our "Shen." Helps bring balance to our mind and our heart
Rosemary- Brings circulation to the cardiovascular system, therefore increasing the supply of oxygen to the entire
Here are some simple meditations to help get you out of your mind and into your heart. These can be done often throughout the day, even when driving, talking to someone, exercising and even at work.
Heart Focus: Shift your attention to the area of the heart and breathe slowly and deeply.
Heart Breathing: Keep your focus in the heart by gently breathing – five seconds in and five seconds out – through your heart. Do this two or three times.
Heart Feeling: Activate and sustain a genuine feeling of appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Focus on the good heart feeling as you continue to breathe through the area of your heart.
Do things that make you happy- dance, sing, play, walk in nature, go for a long drive with no specific place to go and play your music loud- whatever brings you joy... DO IT!! As often as you possibly can. Especially during those times when you feel sad, or angry, or when other emotions are flooding your body and you can't seem to "kick" it. Start by thinking of something that makes you happy and try incorporating that into your day...
Fuel your heart by doing what you love.
Heart Healthy Recipe
These make great snacks! Especially for on-the-go :)
Rose Cardamom Bliss Balls
1/2 c Brazil nuts
2 medjool Dates
1 tbs Chia Seeds
A couple pinches of Cardamom
Pinch or two of Sea Salt
Pinch Pepper (helps with nutrient absorption)
3 dropperfuls Rose Glycerite- check with your local herbalist or you can buy some here
1 capsule Mushroom Science Reishi or 1/2 tsp organic, ethically harvested Reishi Powder (can make it bitter, so can omit)
1-3 drops Organic Unity Wild Rose Spagyric Essence (optional)
Blend the Brazil nuts and walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until everything is evenly distributed and balls can be formed in your hands.
Roll into balls, store in the fridge. Can be stored for 2 weeks in fridge. These freeze well too!
This recipe is also very good for brain health. The omega-3's present do quite a bit for our bodies. This recipe is very nourishing and balancing to both the heart and the brain! This is a great go-to for parties, because not only do they taste great, they are also supporting everyone's heart, bringing us closer to a space of unconditional love. They won't even know why they feel so good!
Love it :)
Let me know what you think!!