This week's article does not serve as a lesson on anatomy and physiology, but rather to highlight some interesting facts regarding the vascular system.
The human heart is not quite like those depicted on valentine cards. Rather, it's more like an upside down pear, about the size of a closed fist.
Since the workings of the heart are so complex, in an attempt to simplify it in a biology lesson to a junior class, the instructor explained it by saying that the functioning heart requires structure, electricity and plumbing!
Structure; referring to heart muscle and blood vessels.
Electricity; supplied by nerve impulses.
Plumbing; the action of fluid circulation.
Readers will no doubt be familiar with the many types of heart complaints, known in simple terms as "cardiovascular irregularities". More important than being familiar with them is the avoidance of such problems. Considering the many different heart diseases that exist, however, it is interesting to note that heart cancer is rare.
Good nutrition plays a vital role in heart health, and some of the foods mentioned below are important to maintaining a healthy heart.
Spinach and oatmeal both contain valuable minerals and fibre. Nuts and legumes, like lentils and chickpeas, contain calcium and omega 3 acids as well as healthy fats and vegetable protein. Avocado pears are rich in nutrients, while berries have anti-inflammatory properties, and tofu is low in fat and has high levels of protein.
From a different prospective, it is interesting that the heart inspires so may metaphors such as having a broken heart, heartache, being heartened by kindness shown, heart-felt sympathy shown after a loss, and having a heart of gold, or one of stone.
The critical question arises as to whether or not any structural changes occur to this wonderful organ when life presents us with stress and emotional responses to situations.
The experts state not; but with the many different and complicated emotions than arise, powerful stress hormones are activated and a proliferation of these can lead to serious bodily changes as well as loss of self confidence.
Take, as an example, one having been "ditched" after a long-term relationship. Serious depression can lower the immune system, appetite disappears owing to a rise in cortisol levels, over-stimulated nerves can cause tightness in the chest, and trauma can trigger the brain to distribute harmful chemicals.
At times like this, all of us need to balance emotions with exercise and rest, to restore a sense of equilibrium.
The calming effect of meditation will lower blood pressure. Hot stone treatment during a massage will calm nervous tension. A long hot soak in a bath, with MatsiMela Home Spa's Kalahari Bath Soak will ease away the heaviness, increase blood flow, and leave one feeling alive and invigorated.