healthier heart

Top 10 Tips for a Healthier Heart

One of the hardest working organs in your body that you may not even realize is your heart.

Throughout the day, the heart pumps blood and oxygen that your body needs to function well. It needs to be at 100% at all times. Thus, even the slightest change in blood pressure or your cholesterol levels could potentially be linked to your heart. When that happens, you might need to make some changes in your lifestyle and nutrition.

Before you even have to fully overhaul your diet and habits, it’s good to take care of this important muscle as early as now. With only a few, small adjustments in what you eat and the way you manage stress, it could drastically improve your overall health.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute suggests ways on how you can take better care of your heart. Give these tips serious consideration especially if you’re already feeling symptoms of a weak heart.

How to keep your heart healthy

Whenever your doctors tell you to re-think your unhealthy choices in life, take that to heart (literally!). The food and drinks you tend to choose can be the culprit in causing artery buildup in your heart. In the long run, these tips can be beneficial to decrease the risks of heart failure. 

1. Give up vices, especially smoking
smoking bad for heart

Smoking is bad for your heart and lungs. According to the CDC, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases. As a result, more than 800,000 people a year died due to cardiovascular diseases. Also, in the US alone, almost 8 million had a heart attack (2014 data, report) 7 million had a stroke.

When you’re exposed to tobacco smoke, plaque builds up in the narrow vessels in your blood. Hence, less blood can flow. Your heart loses oxygen when a clot forms in these narrow vessels around the artery of your heart. Therefore, this can cause a heart attack.

Needless to say, this means you should avoid secondhand smoke, too, as much as you possibly can. Even if you’ve been a long-time smoker, as soon as you quit smoking, you can see significant changes in your health. You can even lower the risk of further damage in your lungs and heart, as well as other bodily functions.

Limit your alcohol intake, too. If at all possible, only do so occasionally. Lastly, say no to drugs. A combination of these vices can really take its toll on your body. Taking prohibited drugs can lead to substance disorders, thereby causing adverse effects in your circulatory and cardiovascular systems. 

2. Eat more fiber

The benefits of a high-fiber diet are related to lower cholesterol levels. You can eat soluble fiber that helps lower the low-density lipoprotein which is responsible for “bad” cholesterol. Some good sources of fiber are oats, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products.

Avoid processed and refined foods because they are typically low in fiber. For men, the daily recommended fiber intake is 38g (age <50) and 30g (age >51). On the other hand, it is 25g (age <50) and 21g (age>51) for women.

3. Eat healthy fats. Cut down on saturated / trans fat

Good fats can be found in safflower, canola, and olive oils. “Bad” fats, however, can be found in saturated fats and trans fats. Cut down on butter, cheese, fatty meats, and partially hydrogenated oils in your meals.

healthy fats for the heart

4. Keep moving. Sit less. 

When offices were forced to shut down due to covid-19 safety protocols, you’re probably one of those who had to work from home. At this point, you should have invested in a workspace or a dedicated area in your place. But, this setup may have kept you glued into the computer all day. 

With that said, it’s easy to just take everything close to you and not stand at all. That’s a recipe for an extremely sedentary lifestyle. Hence, to counter that, even if you’re working from home, try not to sit for too long at extended periods of time. Get active, stretch, and get up every once in a while.

Move for the heart

5. Cut down on salt / sodium

Choose unprocessed and whole foods more than salty and sodium-rich alternatives. What really happens when you cut down on salt and sodium, you ask? It lowers your blood pressure because the amount of fluid in your blood decreases. Note that too much salt or sodium causes your body to hold extra water so that it can “wash” that salt away. That extra work inside your body puts a lot of stress on your heart.

less salt for the heart

According to the World Health Organization, the recommended salt intake for adults should only be less than 5 g or under 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Imagine the amount of salt you put in your food when you cook, right? Not to mention the salty snack foods, ready meals, instant noodles, and processed meats you consume.

6. Practice good dental hygiene

Are you hypertensive? Did you know that gum disease can interfere with hypertension medications? Hence, it’s more difficult to monitor and control blood pressure which is crucial for your heart health.

oral hygiene for the heart

Both cardiologists and dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day to improve oral health and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It’s a basic hygienic practice that could prevent heart valve infections linked to poor dental health.

7. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly

Speaking of hypertension, high blood pressure is closely associated with high cholesterol. It is harder for the heart to pump blood when your arteries harden due to cholesterol plaque. Often, calcium also builds up in these arteries which results in abnormally high blood pressure levels.


In this study, researchers found a positive association between heart rate, blood pressures, triglycerides, blood glucose and blood cholesterol. 

8. Manage your weight

Now, does weight affect your heart? Yes. Obesity elevates the risk of circulatory and heart diseases because fatty materials build up in your arteries. If you are overweight, you are at serious risk of developing health problems such as high blood pressure, certain cancers, and heart problems.

Although for some, other factors come in that contribute to either adding or gaining weight. These are family history and genetics, environment, habits, and metabolism. Regardless, a good indicator to measure whether you have healthy weight is your body mass index. You can reach out to your doctor if you have further questions.

9. Get enough sleep

Sleep, especially these days, is now becoming more of a luxury. But, it’s something that you shouldn’t be taking for granted. Sleep is an essential part of life because your body repairs itself as you rest. Having a good night’s sleep increases your energy levels during the day so you can function normally and at your best.

CDC’s recommended hours for sleep is at least 7 hours for adults. Anything less (or more) than that can be detrimental to your health, including your heart. If you have sleep apnea, for instance, this could be an indication of heart failure because the airway is blocked during sleep. This condition affects how much oxygen your body gets, thereby, can potentially lead to stroke and heart attack. 

sleep for the heart

Insomnia is another sleep condition where you’re either having difficulty staying or falling asleep. This lack of sleep and irregularity in your rest schedule can hurt your heart, block your blood vessels, and make you restless during the day.

In order to get better sleep, you have to train your body to stick to a regular schedule. Start by setting an alarm for when you’re supposed to be in bed in the evening and when you should wake up. It should be the same every single morning for the entire week.

During the day, try going out to get natural light or go for a walk under the sun. Lessen your screen time especially when you’re already lying down. Avoid eating or drinking before bed time and set up your room conducive for sleep. For example, use low, warm lights and keep it cool and quiet.

10. Hydrate more 
hydrate for the heart

Stay hydrated. Your heart can pump blood better when you are well-hydrated. In fact, those with heart problems are advised to have proper hydration to decrease strain in the heart. Drink 8 glasses of water each day and add some more especially when it’s a hotter, more humid day. Also, try to replace sugary and carbonated drinks you would normally drink with water.Not only is proper hydration good for your heart but also for your brain and overall health and wellness.

Dos and don’ts

To sum up, here are the do’s and don’ts to a healthy heart so you can easily remember:

  • Do
    • Exercise
    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet (good for the heart)
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Manage stress well
    • Have regular health checks
    • Sleep
  • Don’t
    • Eat too much sodium, salt
    • Smoke tobacco
    • Sit for hours, all day
    • Drink alcohol excessively
    • Skip meals and stay up late all night

How to take care of your heart naturally

As you take your fitness journey more seriously, you are inevitably adding extra care for your heart, too. Know that heart diseases are mostly preventable. By eating a heart-healthy diet, you are naturally making your heart strong and well. If you’re gaining some pounds especially when holidays are approaching, add physical activities in your life so you can lose those extra calories. 

If, however, you are on medication, don’t skip it. Get immediate care from health professionals who can help reverse heart diseases through cardiac rehabilitation, if possible. Make your heart a priority! A healthy heart is a happy heart! 


health podcasts

Top 10 Health Podcasts

Busy? Health podcasts are a great way to catch up on new fitness trends, workout routines, meals, and everything in between.

Are you just getting started in your health and wellness journey? Or reviving your meal plans after a hiatus? Or maybe still religiously at it? Health podcasts can be your perfect partner to fitness and good nutrition. 

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down the top health podcasts (and maybe more?) from your favorite streaming platforms. This could be a long one so let’s get started!

Best Spotify and Apple Podcasts on Health 

When the covid-19 pandemic hit, self-care became one of the most talked about trends. But, it’s not just a fad that goes away. One of the best things you can never go wrong investing in is your health. As they say, health is wealth. 

Hence, even if you’re stuck at home or preoccupied with a lot of things on your plate, keep moving and stay fit. You can tune in to a podcast episode or two whether you are cooking breakfast, answering emails, walking the dog, or running errands. 

Although merely listening to podcasts doesn’t necessarily wean off those calories, you can get inspiration and guidance from experts so you can live a full, satisfied, and healthy life.

Here are the first top health podcasts you can stream right now:

1. Optimal Health Daily

It’s difficult to scour the internet for fitness and health podcasts, right? The episodes are curated and posted with author permission in this podcast on the latest health topics. This is supplementary to the Optimal Living Daily podcast more focused on personal development and mindfulness.

This is your audioblog and blogcast for everything health and fitness. If you want to know more about intermittent fasting, vaccinations, weight loss, and health care, this one’s for you.

2. TED Health

Who doesn’t know about TEDTalks? TED is a global community from every culture and discipline providing a platform for big ideas in short time frames. TEDTalks Health, on the other hand, specifically focuses on health-related topics from TED events and conferences.

In these health podcasts, TED speakers answer questions you never knew you had. You can hear phenomenal ideas you won’t hear elsewhere centered on how you can live a healthy, balanced, and quality life. Some of the recent episodes talk about how humanity doubled life expectancy in a century, and the future of psychedelic medicines and healthcare.

3. Food Psych Podcast

Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN hosts this podcast to talk about people’s relationships with food, body size and image, eating disorder, exercise, etc. It’s a good listen because it challenges diet culture in various forms, which includes restrictive behaviors. 

Food Psych offers a safe space and support to its audience to avoid triggers and stigma on weight acceptance, for example. You can learn self-compassion and self-care from this registered dietitian and nutritionist along with her guests and their stories. 

There’s one episode on intuitive eating and how it manages chronic illnesses so you can break free from the wellness diet. If you have friends and family who are always conscious about their bodies, invite them to tune in, too. Together, you can binge-listen to appreciate body liberation as you slowly transition to a healthier lifestyle.

4. Party In My Plants

If you’re looking for more upbeat and hilarious health podcasts with episodes on moving and eating thoughtfully, Talia Pollock is your friend. She’s a writer and storyteller known for her wit and warmth in the show packed with topics on science, psychology, pop culture, health, and more.

Talia believes that you can both drink green juice and enjoy drinking cocktails! She adds that being healthy should also equate being happy so you don’t have to feel bad or sad on your journey to being fit.

Stress is the ultimate destroyer of health. So, if you aren’t happy and only forcing yourself to be and eat healthy, then that doesn’t cut it. In the episodes, you can find inspiration on how to feel, look, and live your best self with actionable advice. She even shares recipes that you can do at home to try tasty, plant-based dishes. 

5. Ultimate Health Podcast

Dr. Jesse Chappus and Marni Wasserman team up in this health podcast to teach and inspire listeners to reach your full potential. There’s some psychology and exploration of the mind and human existence in relation to health and wellness, too.

You can find in-depth conversations on lifestyle, nutrition, anxiety, chronic health conditions, and how to live a full and meaningful life. The topics are so diverse that even actor Matthew McConaughey guested and talked about affirmations, appreciating the moment, fatigue, and chasing your better self.

6. The Food Heaven Podcast

Best buds Wendy and Jess guest different experts from the health and nutrition industry to deep-dive on topics such as food culture and body acceptance. If you need guidance from registered dietitians themselves, this duo can make your podcast hang-out fun. Not to mention the insightful tips for sustainable, healthy living you can take home with you.

Here are a few episode titles, if you aren’t convinced yet:

  • How to navigate people who constantly use triggering diet talk
  • The science of why diets don’t work
  • How to find the best workout for your body
  • Why self-care is not the answer for burnout
  • The racial origins of fat phobia
  • The ups and downs of intuitive eating 

7. That’s So Maven

Here’s one of the health podcasts you can rely on a weekly basis, especially if you’re feeling alone with your fitness struggles. Because, see, you don’t have to do this alone. You can be intentional with your new lifestyle even as you face challenges along the way.

Davida Kugelmass’s interviews movers and shakers, a.k.a “mavens,” in health and wellness to do three (3) things: inspire, entertain, and comfort you. Some of the episodes you can start with are the following: 1) facing your fears and turning obstacles into growth, 2) learning to love your body as it changes, and 3) letting go of food rules and recovering from binge-eating. 

Health and Wellness Podcasts 2021

See, the list goes on because if you want to be more specific, there are health podcasts focused on nutrition and fitness, too. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute adds extra podcast choices you can save and download on your device.

Nutrition Podcasts

8. Dr. Ruscio Radio

For updated information on health, functional medicine, and nutrition, Dr. Ruscio is that  geek doctor at your service. He can make very scientific details and concepts easy to understand for his listeners. If you want evidence on nutritional facts and a legit medical professional to bust myths on fitness fads, check this out.

Listen in for practice advice on how to get into a diet, taking the right medication when needed, understanding the science of sleep, etc. He also answers questions about training your body to exercise, fasting for your brain health, and managing moods and stress.

9. The Doctor’s Kitchen

If you want a show totally about food, lifestyle, and nutritional medicine, Dr. Rupy Aujla invites guests exploring these topics. Do you want to know what diet and lifestyle best fits you so you can achieve your healthiest self? Dr. Rupy’s got you!

This podcast also invites its audience to join the online community at its website. Here are some of its notable episodes:

  • Why South Asians are at worse risk
  • Wellness for entrepreneurs (3-part series)
  • Why we make bad food choices
  • The nutrition science series (3-part series)
  • Why community kitchens are essential
The Nutrition Diva

For quick and dirty tips for eating well and feeling fabulous, here’s a bonus podcast to help you upgrade your eating habits. Monica Reinagel is the author of a book with the same title (Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet).

If you find yourself stress-eating, overeating, or not enjoying your meals at all, this might be for you. You can learn cool stuff such as the cholesterol-fiber paradox, rules for snacking, glucose monitoring, and whether or not fitness trackers work. It’s totally up to you if you follow the recommendations or not but Monica does give sound advice and simple tips on how to live a healthy life. 

Best Fitness Podcasts for Men and Women

10. Ben Greenfield Fitness

Ben Greenfield, ultimate bio-hacker, is a New York Times bestselling author and fitness guru. He loves experimenting and learning about new things and talks about them in this podcast. Whatever health and wellness topics you can think of, he’s probably thought about and has done it. You can get free exercise, weight loss, and even triathlon advice from the man himself.

His impressive guest list includes other bloggers, podcasters, health experts, and filmmakers such as Donnie Yance, Sal Di Stefano, Darren Doane, Jay Shetty, etc. One of his most popular episodes was when he talked to Dr. Matthew Cook in BioReset Medical in California and discussed vaccinations at length.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

As another bonus, here’s another show that men and women alike enjoy. Oprah’s format is one of the few health podcasts that not only covers spirituality but also packed with health and wellness expert advice. The episodes are Oprah’s personally curated list of interviews with best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, and thought leaders to guide you through awakening.

If you want to get connected with your “super soul,” dig deeper within you as you listen to Oprah’s podcast. Expect to light up and discover your true self from hearing the interviews that are good for your health – mental, physical, and spiritual.

Other podcasts worth checking out

There are way too many podcasts out there and it’s really difficult to choose just the top 10. So, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute adds these other podcasts you can listen to for whenever you need that extra push, knowledge boost, and motivation about health. 

Surely, you can find more online! It feels good to get this connection with other humans who face hardships and the same challenges as you do when it comes to fitness and health, right? Even if it’s through a phone or your laptop, health podcasts can give you that sense of community that you need to feel human. 

Use technology to your advantage. You wouldn’t want to stay glued to your couch all the time and not at least consume health-related content to motivate you to keep moving. Get in shape! Listen to these health podcasts and then start removing those headphones and actually stay active while you can.