The Heart Deserves Love Too
by Chef Wendell Fowler
The average heart beats 80 times per minute, about 4,800 times per hour, pumping blood throughout the entire body. That’s 115,200 beats daily and about 42,048,000 beats a year. By the age of 80, a heart has beaten approximately 3,363,840,000 times. Our blood provides oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs, carrying away waste. During each beat, the heart fills with blood, contracts, pumps the blood out into the body, working nonstop.
Even though the mechanics of the heart work seemingly on autopilot, we need to assist in its lifelong functioning. We expect a lot from our hearts; but like any machine, they require maintenance such as vitamin nutrition, daily exercise, and spiritual balance. If these requirements are not met, the heart struggles, weakens, breaks, and becomes susceptible to dis-ease or death.
This grateful writer learned the hard way. At the age of 17, I watched my 47-year-old father die from a massive coronary. Later on, at age 44 and weighing 300 pounds, I was bluntly told by a cardiologist to “get prepared, you’re going to die… soon.” My lifestyle of sloth, booze, cigarettes, gravy, fast food, sugar, and animal fat had taken its toll. My heart doubled in size, congestive heart failure set in and my electrical system went haywire, causing atrial fibrillation. Previously, I’d made absolutely no connection between food, lifestyle, and disease. Food was merely for quelling a rumbling tummy and a pleasurable indulgence.
After leaving the hospital with a miraculous second chance, I took control of my health, joined a gym, gradually transitioned to a sustainable, plant-based diet, and lost 125 pounds. Hippocrates’ quote, “Let food be thy medicine,” led me to a career of lecturing and writing about the value of plant-based eating. Thirty years later, I remain mentally and physically fit, spiritually grounded in the plant-based lifestyle.
Harvard Medical School advises, however, that “the types of plant foods and their sources are also important. For example, white rice and white bread are plant-based foods, so you would think they’re good to eat. But they are highly processed, and so are depleted of many heart-healthy nutrients and have a high glycemic index, which means they can make blood sugar levels spike and increase hunger, leading to overeating.”
So, to avoid cardiovascular disease, reduce or eliminate consumption of processed foods, saturated animal fats, trans fats, hydrogenated fats and oils (such as margarine,) pasta, white rice, processed breads and cereals, and fried foods. Also cut out sugary soft drinks and fruit drinks.
Nearly half of all deaths in the US caused by heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, have been linked to substandard eating habits, according to a study published in JAMA and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. And remember that smoking cigarettes damages the heart and blood vessels.
Keep the heart going strong by eating the rainbow of heart-healthy plant-foods: aim for at least 7-9 servings or more of fruits and vegetables daily. Salad bars, sans fatty salad dressing, are an easy way to achieve that goal. Can’t eat that much? Dairy-less fruit and vegetable smoothies and juicing are excellent ways to drink our produce.
Meditate, sit in stillness, or do yoga as often as possible in order to relieve everyday stressors. Ditch negative energies. Live an active, present, loving lifestyle and get physical at least 30 minutes to an hour every day in aerobic, heart-pumping activity.
Processed foods in the modern diet are killing us, so we must choose to eat local, organic, non-GMO, highlyvibrational, vitamin-dense plant-foods still tingling with the energy of the sun, rain, wind, and earth. When nutritional needs aren’t met, the human body is ill-equipped to fend off largely preventable diseases of the heart.
There’s a higher level of feel-good with a plant-based diet from Mother Earth’s lush pharmacopeia. Just as we were not born to hate each other, we weren’t born to hate plant foods either; we were taught that. Give your heart the love it deserves.
Chef Wendell is an inspirational speaker, syndicated writer, and author who shares his science-supported message of the mindbody benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle, and that disease is not necessarily your fault. Visit ChefWendell.com for more information.