“Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart” – Psalm 119:111

The word ‘heart’ is used in many contexts but common to all is the concept of a hub or some central mechanism which has an important bearing on the system at hand.

It may be a spiritual system. An example of this is the text above where the psalmist is saying that if one follows the word of God for ever, there will be continuing peace and rejoicing in one’s ‘heart’.

It may be an emotional system where when some emotional damage is done there is the reference to ‘breaking my heart’.

There may be reference to a sustainable economy where, in today’s energy rich high technology model of modern society (contrary to that of biblical times), energy is at the ‘heart’ of the system that drives the economy. In last week’s column I stated the following: ‘What is taking us so long to apply this (solar water heating) concept to other renewable energy sources? Barbados should place renewable energy development on the front burner and even though we might be a “babe and suckling” with respect to the rest of the world, we could set an excellent example of renewable energy awareness and implementation for others to follow. This could be a major role for Barbados’.

Alas, this week, the door bell rings – a Fedex package arrives. In it a book by Bilaal Abdullah (a Trinidadian) on ‘Peak Oil Paradigm Shift – the urgent need for a sustainable energy model’ www.peakoil-ps.com – A Medianet Publication. This short book is intended as a wake-up call on the question of Peak Oil which is an issue of global importance that will greatly affect the lives of people all over the world in the very near future. Peak Oil refers to the stage of oil production when the level of production can no longer be increased in response to increasing demand. We must look after this ‘heart’ of our economic system.

It may be a physical system. The human asset is our most important asset and we must exploit it to its fullest. This development is most effective if it takes place in an environment of optimal human health. The cardiac system, the ‘heart’, is central to this.

The World Heart Foundation celebrates World Heart Day on Sunday 25 September 2005. Its motto is ‘A Heart for Life’ and this year’s slogan is ‘Healthy Weight, Healthy Shape’. This is what their website has to say.

Being overweight is due to more calories being consumed than used. We need to live our lives in “energy balance.” If you need to lose weight, your calorie intake must be less than the calories you burn. Regular exercise and eating a balanced diet will help you to stay fit and burn more calories. Remember, if you lose weight gradually you are more likely to keep it off.

Adopt a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free products (however take calories into account), unsaturated soft margarines and oils (such as sunflower, corn, rape-seed, olive), lean meat, fish and pulses. Restrict salt and sugar intake. Eat breakfast and make sure to have at least 3 meals per day. Use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, grilling and baking instead of deep fat-frying and adding extra fat and develop healthy cooking skills within your family. Avoid buying sweets and junk food.
Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. Expect temptation, so plan healthy meals in advance.

For adults, even 30 minutes of brisk walking daily will help reduce your risk. Children should have 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Surround yourself and your family with supportive people who either participate with you or remind you to exercise. Support measures that encourage safe walking and cycling where you live. Decrease family television viewing and increase your involvement in regular family sports and activities. Encourage your family and friends to have ‘a heart for life’ too.

Extra weight means that the heart has to work harder to supply blood to the body. It significantly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. In children, excess weight means they are three to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke before they reach 65.

Remember the importance of ‘Peace of Mind’. Avoid sources of stress.

The Heart Foundation of Barbados’ World Heart Day Event will be held at the Ursuline Convent on September 25th. The event will begin at 4 p.m. Addresses will be given by Dr. Anselm Hennis of the Chronic Disease Research Centre, Professor Henry Fraser Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine and Research at the University of the West Indies and Mrs. Beverley Stanford of the National Nutrition Centre. The event is being sponsored by Guardian Life, a leading insurance company in the Caribbean. Guardian Life has agreed to sponsor the Heart Foundation’s World Heart Day celebrations over three years. Blood pressure checks will also be available. Light heart healthy refreshments will be served after the lectures. The general public is invited. We have a Heart for Life, let us look after it.