AHCS is a healthcare staffing agency – so, naturally, holistic wellness is something we are passionate about promoting. As we shine a light on Heart and Stroke Month, we must also focus our energy on prophylactic measures we can take in pursuit of a strong and healthy cardiovascular system. And a big part of that is mental wellbeing. We all know that stress is closely connected to the heart and its capacity to function at its best. Stress has the ability to impact blood pressure, cortisol and adrenaline levels – all of which play their part in heart health. Given this information, it’s not farfetched to claim that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand.

A Substantial Link Between Mental and Physical Health – The Gut

The gastrointestinal system has a big job, and a fascinating relationship with the brain. The more we look into the gut-brain connection, the more this relationship is reinforced throughout medical literature.

Fun Fact: Did you know that 70% of our immune system lives in our gut? Impressive…

Many scientists have theorized that the gut acts as our metaphorical “second brain”, with so much correspondence between gut health and brain health. There is an abundance of medical literature claiming that neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, are influenced by what we eat, as well as our microbiome diversity (i.e., the balance of healthy bacteria and microflora living in our gastrointestinal tract).

Giving “You Are What You Eat” a Whole New Meaning…

We can’t help but wonder, if there was a greater emphasis within the medical community on healthy eating and how it can positively impact brain chemistry, perhaps there would be less strain on our mental healthcare system.

We know that now, more than ever, people are much more likely to experience poor mental health and mental illness. And with so many things out of our control, it’s a great time to take back some of that control wherever and whenever we can. This is where treating our bodies and minds with care can help us to navigate these uncertain times and dips in our mental health.

Bottom line – if a healthy and diverse diet plays a central role in manufacturing those “happy hormones” that we so need right now, it would be wise for everyone to take advantage…and maybe even start looking at food as the real medicinal MVP.

But not only does healthy eating improve mental wellbeing, it also affects our physical health, and it’s not hard to guess why. There’s a reason cardiologists discourage artery-clogging foods like red meat – and the same way avoiding “bad” foods can positively impact our heart, so can consuming more of the good stuff.

According to Harvard, “following a healthy lifestyle may prevent over 80% of cases of coronary artery disease, 50% of ischemic strokes, 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, and 72% of premature deaths related to heart disease.”

Those are hard figures to ignore, and show us that preventative measures mean more than just prescription medication and surgical intervention.

So this Heart & Stroke month, let’s all invest in better health habits so that our bodies and brains are set up to function at their very best.

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