Stress and Heart Health, A Wholistic Perspective

Cartoon about dog Saliva being the most effective antidepressantStress is normal in our everyday experience of life. When facing threatening situations and demands in life stress helps us adapt quickly. However, chronic stress take a toll on our body. It contributes to ongoing mood swings, hormonal imbalance, fatigue and exhaustion, ultimately contributing to a worrying state of stress and heart health.

When we are stressed our heartbeat speeds up, we sweat more, our stress hormones increase, our blood vessels constrict and our heart redirects the blood away from our digestive system for a short while but it should not remain elevated for too long.

When our stress levels remain elevated, it interferes with many functions including immune function, sleep, digestion (IBS) and their ability to keep our hormones in balance and make healthy food choices. Continuous life stress may cause physical diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and inflammation.

Heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps and IBS are all linked to, or worsened by, chronic stress.

“The intimate connection between mental health and physical well being has long been recognized; mental health can affect illness and disease, just as illness might affect mental health” according to Mathew Bambling.

How do we understand the mind-body connection for better health?

Psychological interventions such as relaxation and meditation, counselling and psychotherapy in the face of stress, have been shown to not only reduce depression, but also to reduce the physiological changes caused by stress. These interventions can not only provide a treatment for depression and anxiety, but can actually undo the negative physiological consequences that might lead to coronary heart disease and other negative health outcomes (Anthony & Swinson, 1996).

The relationship between depression and coronary heart disease serves as a useful example to demonstrate how thoughts and mood might influence physical health.

“The risk of coronary heart disease increases fourfold in depressed people. Men with depression are 2.34 times more likely to die of heart disease than non-depressed men”, According to a study in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

However, in this day and age, the constant stressors related to work, family life, financial concerns, noise, pollution, toxins in food, air and water and terrorism are even more heightened. This can feel like a never ending cycle where we experience continuous high levels of the hormone cortisol.  This cannot be maintained continuously without negatively affecting sleep, digestion, immune function and the heart.

What is the relationship between stress and heart health?

Optimal psychological health and physical health is achieved through a balance between the mind and body. It is so significant that chronic stress can be the factor that tips the balance into acute, and then chronic negative emotions such as anger, hostility and resentment. This  may then lead to metabolic changes and increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

According to recent findings from The Psychiatry Journal, “Psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, are independently associated with an increased risk of both diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease”

These mental and physical responses can change by decreasing chronic stress.  Adjusting our emotional responses to stress can make positive differences in how we think; what we believe and our lifestyle.

Mexican Basil Corn – It’s that time of year

It’s just the right time for Mexican Basil Corn

The summer vegetables in my Organic garden are quickly vanishing as we move from the summer to late summer and then quickly to Autumn. The basil is nearly finished along with the beans, chives and corn and in a few days the soil will be getting some yummy organic compost to nourish it before we plant the Autumn vegetables. Choosing to eat Organic home grown foods like my Mexican basil corn is one of the best ways to support your health and well being.

Corn and silk is the beginning of Mexican Basil Corn

The ancient understanding of good health places emphasis on the balanced interaction between eating seasonal produce, health and well-being.

basil plant

My basil plant

One of my favourite summer vegetables is corn and my favourite way to eat corn is with a little chili or lime juice. If you are looking for a quick and easy corn recipe, you’ve come to the right place – this is one of my favorite fresh corn recipes. I’ve added a few extra ingredients that were ready to be picked from the garden. Be quick though — fresh corn will only be in season for a couple more weeks!

Here’s a late summer recipe to start you on your way with a Mexican Flair! Use the leftover corn if there is any for a corn and basil salad.

Ingredients for Mexican Basil Corn

  • 4 ears of organic corn, husked
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Organic coconut or goat’s yoghurt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Organic lemon or lime juice
  • 1 cup Organic basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Organic fresh parsley leaves or oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder or 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped chili
  • Crumbled goats milk cheese

Ingredients to make the dish


1. Heat a grill until hot. While the grill is warming up, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and salt. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn until slightly tender, but not cooked all the way through. Drain the corn and transfer to a grill; lightly char the kernels. (if you don’t have a grill, just use a metal rack (or even old fridge shelves or cake cooling rack) or just boiled corn is fine.

The locals would cook Mexican Basil Corn on hot coals, we're using a stovetop

Make sure to get the corn nicely browned

2.Blend the yoghurt, lime juice, basil and parsley and/or oregano leaves together.

Basil sauce in a bowl garnished with herbs

Remove the corn from the grill, paint with a bit of the basil yoghurt, then sprinkle with chili powder and cheese.

Finished dish of corn on a plate, rubbed with sauce and garnished with herb leaves



If you liked this recipe, please Contact Me for information about cooking classes and professional nutritional services.