Lovin' Your Heart
In honor or World Heart Day, September 29th, 2018, we would like to post some information that is beneficial to you living a healthy life with a happy heart.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among both men and women, and kills more people yearly than all of the forms of cancer combined. Approximately 92 million people either have some form of heart disease or are recovering from a stroke. In addition, over 1/3 of American adults have high blood pressure, which puts them at a higher risk for developing heart disease. What ways can you ensure that you or your love one’s do not become a statistic and wind up a victim of a heart attack or stroke?
Changing Your Behavior
Invest in your health, not just going for an annual physical, go deeper and get an understanding of what your numbers mean, how you feel, what you would like to feel like and understand you can be living your life at its optimum level if you decide to change for the better. After you make the decision to change your ways, you need to start eating healthy, exercising more and implementing some stress management techniques to keep your heart working at its optimum levels.
Eating Health with Fruits and Vegetables
It may sound cliché, but the most important dietary change for your cardiovascular health is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Research has shown time and time again, that heart disease risk decreases with more fruits and veggies consumption.
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and antioxidants and help protect the heart in multiple ways. Fiber helps with detoxification, lowers cholesterol, and lowers glycemic load by slowing absorption of sugars. Antioxidants prevent inflammation before it can even start. In general, the more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidant power the fruit or vegetable is going to have. The same pigments that give plants color, act as antioxidants in your body. Eating a rainbow – having some red, orange, yellow, green, and blue fruits and vegetables in your diet every day is a great place to start.
In the early 1900’s manufacturers found they could process vegetable oil in a way that made it solid. This increased its shelf life and let it be marketed as a healthy replacement for butter. In the 1950’s it was discovered that this solidified vegetable oil, often marketed as margarine, contained a substance called trans fat that was formed during processing. By the 1980s and 90s it was becoming clear that these fats had adverse effects on one’s health and lead to heart disease. Food labels are required to list the amount of trans fat in the food or product and some grocery stores, cities, and even countries have decided to ban trans fats entirely. Most recently, partially hydrogenated oils, a main source of trans fats, were banned as an allowable food ingredient by the FDA. To ensure you and your family stay away from trans fats, just stay away from highly processed pre-packaged foods, and read, read, read the labels on these packages every time you pick up a product. By law the amount of trans fat is required to be listed on the packaging now.
We generally eat around double the amount of salt than we should. This increases our risk of heart disease and high blood pressure drastically. We can all spice up our foods by using natural herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme, ginger, cumin, etc. and decrease the amount of salt you use. Garlic has been known to lower blood pressure (raw garlic even better) and ginger turmeric, curcumin have been known to decrease inflammation. By using herbs and spices, not only can you cut down on your salt intake, but the herbs and spices themselves can have beneficial effects for your heart and cardiovascular system. Don’t forget to add some onions to your meal too if they are tolerable.
One of the best tips for eating healthy is to plan out your meals for the week. If you are new to this, try to do it for at least the first 3 days of the week and go from there or work with a Professional to help you make this work for you. Next empty out your pantry and refrigerator of everything that is unhealthy. Find and use a lifestyle diet that works best for you and start restocking your kitchen with the ingredients, herbs and spices that you need to make this plan a reality. It is all about making better food choices and then coming up with a plan to implement them and then taking action by doing and sticking with it.
Now that we know eating well is imperative, staying active is just as important too in living a happy healthy lifestyle. It is necessary to add exercise to your healthy improvement regime.
• Walk—Using an exercise apparatus or some form of pedometer that can help you keep track of your steps throughout the day. This will help you track how active you are and need to be vs. not. Try walking in place at your office, parking far or at the end of the parking lot so that you have further to walk and take the stairs whenever possible. When walking, make sure to use your heel then toe with each stride. All of these things will help you move a little more and get some exercise throughout the day. • Be Reasonable—Many people create a plan to work out every day for an hour or two. This can be unrealistic and discourage you if you don’t hit your goal. Instead, start with something small like 15-30 minutes per day, three times a week and work your way up from there. It is ideal that you can get a workout in 5x a week, but if that is not doable at first, start somewhere. • Rev up your body. Make sure to get your heart rate up and of course exercise is a great way to do that, but if you really want to get your heart healthy, you have to make it work. This means taking part in aerobic exercise designed to raise your heart rate such as running/jogging, swimming, and bike riding, tennis as well as aerobic exercise classes.
Lastly, let’s talk about stress. Stress most of the time increases blood pressure and inflammation in the body, increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Below are a few tips you can try to help with putting your body at ease:
• Stress Journaling/Writing - One idea is to keep a notebook to journal in that can help you deal with and release some of the stress emotions. Writing about the things that are causing emotional upset and how you are feeling has been shown to reduce stress and improve health outcomes for numerous conditions. The general recommendation is to give yourself 15 to 20 minutes to write your innermost thoughts and feelings down on paper, relax and start to write again for another 10 or so minutes. The only caveat is that if you’ve just gotten over a traumatic event then immediately writing about it can make things worse. If you’ve experienced a major trauma or set-back, make sure you talk to a healthcare provider for assistance. • Practice Gratitude -That’s right, I can’t stress enough how practicing being thankful for things inclusive of the little things can help to relieve stress. It will magnify just how much we really have. We usually focus on what we lack. Gratitude short circuits that process and helps us be thankful for what we have. Clinical trials support how effective it can be to reduce stress and help with conditions like anxiety and depression. Practicing gratitude can be as easy as before going to bed writing down 5 things that you are grateful for that day. It might be the worst day ever, but you probably have a bed to sleep in, a pillow, 4 walls and a roof over your head and clean water to drink and to bathe with. Try practicing gratitude for a week and then two weeks and then a month, eventually you’ll start to notice your stress levels decrease and more joy come into your life. There is some serious power in practicing being grateful. • Resting - Many people are irritable and stressed out because of lack of sleep. Eating well and exercising properly will help provide a deeper and more restful sleep. Giving yourself at least an hour before bed without looking at any screen (tablet too) and minimizing blue light in your room can also improve sleep quality. The blue light from electronic devices alters the way melatonin, the main hormone of sleep, is produced. Finding a way to naturally get the sleep you need every night is a good way to help reduce your stress levels.
Conducting a healthy and active lifestyle daily or at least most days of the week, by making better food choices and eating better, exercising, and using regular stress management tools will surely help you keep your heart healthy and in optimum shape.
This Heart Health Day Do You! Take Care of Your Heart Today & Every Day!
Center of Disease Control and Prevention Retrieved on 9.4.18 from: https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_disease.htm