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  • Writer's pictureMartha Calihan MD

Heart Health is More Than a Number

As the recognized symbol for February, the heart will be prominently featured in the media in the coming weeks. We will see a lot of messaging about heart health and about love itself, both really important topics.

When I sat down to reflect on the heart in terms of our health and wellbeing, I was drawn to the notion of self-love and compassion for ourselves, and the importance of including a focus on self love in each of our own lives.

On the surface, self-love might sound like a selfish concept, but we need to care enough about ourselves to take care of ourselves.

And how, exactly, do we do that? This might be a good time to pause and reflect on what we need in our own lives to improve our health and overall well-being. Are we eating a diet that contains fresh, whole foods? Do we get enough fresh water? Do we incorporate adequate movement into our day? Are we sleeping well? Do we have a practice to help us deal with stress?

And how is our physical health?  I see a lot of people who tend to the basics when it comes to their physical health, but have you ever considered looking further? What might it take for you to be at optimal health?  What patterns and imbalances might you have that are setting you up for physical problems down the road?

In my Functional Medicine practice, I like to work with people to help them understand the “behind the scenes” state of their health. Things might look OK on the surface, but when we look more deeply, we often find things that are out of balance, creating risk. And the beautiful thing about this approach is that there are actions and interventions that can be taken to turn these imbalances around. Who wouldn’t want that?

Did you know that you can look at the state of your microbiome in your gut and see the levels of the beneficial bacteria that are so critical to good health? That you can be tested for imbalances on your nutrient status, vitamin levels, amino acids and organic acids that reflect the state of your health?

We have all learned to know our cholesterol number, and we are likely to hear this a lot this month. But knowing your total cholesterol is not enough, there are much more significant markers that imply increased cardiovascular risk. Perhaps we should have Advanced Lipid testing done to get a better look at our individual risk.

And what about toxins? We know that we are living in an increasingly toxic world, and if the often quoted statistic that the average American woman leaves the house in the morning after having been exposed to close to 200 chemical is true, then perhaps we should take a look at what toxins are affecting us. How able is our liver to detoxify all these chemicals efficiently? And what health effects might there be if we don’t detoxify efficiently?

All of these tests will help determine your individual risks, and perhaps even more importantly, determine a personalized intervention protocol to bring you back towards more optimal health.

These kinds of assessments are possible and available…..and really something worth considering.

Could you honor and care for yourself enough in this “Heart Month” to think about getting a good, functional medicine evaluation of your health and potential health risks? 

We would be happy to help you take this step to improve your health. Like they always say in the airline safety talk, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you’re able to help another. The same is true with our health.

Happy February, Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Heart Month. I hope that you take time to honor yourself this month, and take a most important step towards improving your own health. Let us know how we can help!

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