I saw a study published recently that turns some of the traditional dogma regarding diet and heart health on its head.
And it got me thinking.
I won’t get into the details of the study right now, because that’s not important for the purpose of this exposition.
However, the study (link beneath the article) concluded that low-fat diets that reduce serum cholesterol do not reduce cardiovascular events or mortality.
Which got me to thinking.
What if diet has much less to do with heart health than we’ve been led to believe?
Stay with me, this is important.
But before we begin, we must state that of course diet impacts heart health and the health of every organ and system in the body.
You can read about some of the foods that do on this very site.
But the science we’ve been fed as gospel in the past is changing.
And it is not unlikely to change again.
So let’s get a little mysterious here for a moment and see if we can uncover some ancient wisdom. Perhaps some wisdom that will uncover something that is even more powerful in terms of its impact on our health.
Something we cannot even see, but is ever present with us every moment of our lives.
Our spiritual, mental, and emotional states.
All stemming from our belief.
The heart is both an organ and a metaphor
The heart itself serves as possibly the greatest illustration of this.
The heart is not only an organ, but it is also commonly used as a metaphor for emotions, feelings, a place deep within each of us from where emanates the core of our being, how we love, treat others, deal with pain, etc.
What if the metaphorical heart is where our focus should have been all along?
Science has given us many tips on how to deal with heart health, but those tips constantly change.
How many of us have bought oatmeal with the thought of preventing heart disease? Cholesterol-lowering foods have flown off the shelves and into the carts of hopeful shoppers looking to protect their hearts.
There are some foods that appear to be on the naughty list for heart health, like sugar, refined carbohydrates, some seed oils, and perhaps others, depending on who you ask. And perhaps some or all will also be taken off the naughty list some day, only to be replaced by others, right or wrong.
Only time will tell.
Why is the “metaphorical heart” important to actual heart health?
Imagine this for a moment. You are undergoing a period of intense stress.
Perhaps you are experiencing conflict with a loved one.
Perhaps your workload at the office is piling up and you are running out of time to get it all done.
You’re staring at a clock that keeps ticking forward, but you need it to slow down. Of course it won’t.
You feel the walls closing in around you.
And there’s no door to be found.
Now, what do you feel? Physically.
More importantly, where do you feel it?
Does your chest tighten? Does your temperature rise? What else?
So, I thought of this myself. And it dawned on me.
What could have more impact on the health of my heart? Or my head or any other number of systems I’m not aware of for that matter?
Is it the foods I eat? Or is it the emotions I feel that immediately cause either tangible pain or relief in my body?
And depending on the emotion, it can manifest in different parts of the body: the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the brain, etc.
Perhaps we have been paying an unbalanced amount of attention on diet all these many years and not nearly enough on “heart”.
Diet does play a role, however.
How are we feeding our body to deal with stress and emotional wellbeing?
This is a question I ask myself, as a former vegan who has seen many other former vegans’ mental wellbeing turned around after reintroducing animal foods into their diet, for example.
Their tales may be anecdotal, but we do know that studies have shown cognition, energy, and mood to dip after eating carbohydrates. So, is this a factor we need to consider?
Perhaps a bigger question we should be asking ourselves is this: do the foods we eat contribute to our mental wellbeing or make our mental/emotional lives tougher for us?
My theory? The foods that help us deal with stress and provide the greatest chance at mental and emotional wellbeing will overlap with the ones that are best for our hearts. If nothing else, they will benefit our hearts in their ability to provide us a system that deals with stress better, resulting in less strain on the heart.
I know we need both – the diet and the emotional wellbeing.
I also know we need to start asking better questions.
And those questions lead me to believe we need to find a way to heal our pain, to love, to gain a greater perspective of what matters and how we treat others.
So, while a diet of unprocessed foods without added sugar may be a huge key to reclaiming our health and to thrive, we also need to ensure we have taken care of our emotional states.
And choose the right foods that do not get in our way while we attempt to do so.
While eating a diet free of processed and sugar-laden foods, focus on high-vibrating states like love and spreading cheer, while letting go of regret, grudges, and negative self-judgements that literally drag you down.
Think about how each of those states cause you to feel physically and how they effect your energy (it’s palpable), and you may never look at your physical health the same way again.
And I feel if we can find the right foods that team up with us to reach those positive mental states that raise up our physical health and energy, or at least foods that do not get in our way, then our chances at thriving health are exponentially greater than by focusing on either alone.
Enjoy the pursuit.
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