HEALTHY BITE | Heart Rate Variability: What can we Learn and Why it’s Important

Heart rate variability is a fairly new thing and has really come out of research from Harvard in 2016-ish. But what does heart rate variability mean and why does it matter?

Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability basically looks at, as the name implies, the variability in our heart rate. Let’s put this in perspective, for example, you have a heart rate of 60 beats per minute, you would expect that you would have a heartbeat every second and that means that you would have very low variability in your heart rate.

If, on the other hand, you had a heart rate of 60 beats per minute and you had a heartbeat at point seven of a second, and then you had another heartbeat at one point two seconds, and then the next one it was at point nine, and then it might go to one point one, four seconds, etc., etc. and it all averages out to 60 beats per minute. Actually, the variability between those heart rates is higher. That would indicate a good thing because heart rate variability is inversely proportional to your inflammation within your body, and it is suggested that it’s a good reflection of your immune function. The higher the rate of heart rate variability, the lower the level of inflammation in your body.

Chronic inflammation

Remember, this is another theme that we’ve talked about from various angles, and that is that chronic inflammation is the common denominator in all diseases, physical and mental. The higher your heart rate variability, the lower your inflammation, and presumably the better your immune function will be.

As we get older, our heart rate variability reduces as we eat poorly, as we sleep poorly and we are exposed to various stresses. I define stress as anything that compromises your immune system and promotes chronic inflammation. This is why we have these five stress or model now enabling you to identify stresses that have the potential to promote chronic inflammation and compromise your immune function. That’s why also, on the other hand, we’re looking at building resilience by focusing on the five pillars of health.

Just to remind you, those five stressors are emotional, environmental postural, nutritional, and dental stress, those things that can compromise your immune function and promote chronic inflammation and therefore chronic disease. On the other hand, to build resilience through focusing on the five pillars of health and to remind you of those sleep, breathe, nourish, move and think.

When I was introduced just recently to heart rate variability, I found this a revelation. I felt it was really interesting. I was introduced to this through this week’s guest, Dr Howie Hindin. Howie is just a really inspiring character. He’s a dentist with actually probably 10 more years of experience than me. I kind of see how he is a little bit of a mentor for me. I’ve so enjoyed connecting with him.

We both found ourselves as dentists, as presidents of organizations that brought together doctors and dentists. How is the president of the American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry? And me for two years, I’ve just stepped off that role. This year was the president of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine.

For us, as dentists to find ourselves in that position, we were introduced through a guest, another guest on my podcast, the legendary Dr. Rosalba Courtney, who’s done her Ph.D. On breathing and has been and we’ve spoken on several occasions about breathing in order to balance out body chemistry.

We’ve done an episode on breathing as a way of intentionally stressing the body with Deano Gladstone and using the Wim Hof Method.

Howie introduced me to the idea of heart rate variability as an excellent way of measuring health and I actually invested in a device that measured my heart rate variability to WOOP. I’m not doing an advertisement for that because that’s a whole other story. My device, which sat on my wrist 24 hours a day, seven days a week, was very interesting in what is revealed to me about my own heart rate variability and how that might vary.


I stopped using it because I didn’t want the Wi-Fi radiation. We’re going to be doing programs on that as well. But this week’s focus was on the topic of heart rate variability and there are many things you can do to improve it. There are many things you can do to make it worse. That’s true of health.

So it’s not surprising that heart rate variability might be another way of measuring that so hard. Variability is the theme for this week. I’m going to be having some resources about that in my blog post on Instagram post. But I hope you enjoy this week’s episode, which I have done with Dr. Howie Hindin from New York, USA. And I hope you enjoy it and find it informative.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.