Tuning in to the heart is an integral part of developing a healthy lifestyle, says Mimi Guarneri, MD, keynote speaker at this year’s Natural Products Association MarketPlace in Las Vegas. The renowned cardiologist and author of The Heart Speaks promotes a comprehensive approach to well-being. We spoke with Guarneri about her methods, the role natural products retailers play in supporting health and the benefits of listening to one’s heart.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: What will you discuss at NPA MarketPlace?
Mimi Guarneri: I’m going to share a new paradigm of health, one that getsto the underlying cause of problems. In Western medicine, we name a disease and we treat it. We have this ill-to-the-pill mentality. I tell my patients, if you are a tree, and your soil and your fruit are sick, you have a choice. You can cut off the fruit, which is what Western medicine does, or you can find out how to nourish the soil. Nourishing the soil is really about how we live our lives.
NFM: How can retailers address health issues from this approach?
MG: You have yoga, which has at least 39 health benefits. Then there is guided imagery, which has been shown to get people out of the hospital two days earlier after surgery. There are supplements, with omega-3 fatty acids lowering triglycerides and B vitamins raising good cholesterol. Retailers can sell relaxation CDs, yoga mats and supplements, all of which can be used to improve health.
NFM: Your book is titled The Heart Speaks. Does the heart really have its own language?
MG: Expressions such as “his heart is broken” or “she died of a broken heart” are clichés, but the reality is that the heart can convey symptoms of health issues. On a fundamental level, somebody will have coronary blockage and the heart will speak with angina, or chest discomfort. On a deeper level, people experience chest discomfort even in settings of stressor grief.
NFM: How can we become more adept at listening to our hearts?
MG: You have to be quiet enough to connect with your inner wisdom. I teach my patientsto do something called heart-focused breathing. When they’re feeling anxious, I have them breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds. This relaxes the body because breathing helps the autonomic nervous system come into balance. Then they turn their focus toward their heart and ask themselves, Is there a better way to handle this problem? This is how you ask from the heart rather than the head.
NFM: What are the benefits of this approach?
MG: Research shows that when the heart and the brain communicate, people make clearer decisions, memory improves and creativity increases.