Tips for keeping your heart healthy
The heart. It’s that thing that pumps blood through your circulatory system keeping your body alive. It beats about 2.5 billion times over a person’s average life span pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body.
Oxygen, fuel, hormones, essential cells and other compounds are carried throughout the body with its steady flow. Waste products and metabolism are detoxified out of the body. When the heart stops, it’s game over. Everything in the body comes to an end. Including your life.
The heart is the center of the human body’s life force. It’s continually taken for granted. Perhaps because it functions automatically. Stress, poor diet and substances like alcohol deteriorate its function.
In the 1950’s people were thin and smoked heavily. There were no Zumba classes or Cross Fit gyms. Not many people were dying from coronary artery disease nor were they obese. Today, coronary heart disease is the number cause of death for Americans.
Stress Increases Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk which include high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating. Stressful events make the body release adrenaline which increases the body’s natural fight or flight response increasing heart rate and breathing patterns. Chronic stress can lead to unhealthy eating patterns, increased alcohol use and an increase in blood pressure.
Be Mindful: Practice Yoga To Decrease Stress To Promote Cardiovascular Health
Stress reduction is key. Practices like yoga have been shown to be beneficial in improving cardiovascular health such as lowering blood pressure, promoting better sleep, and reducing artery damaging inflammation. In 2012 a survey from The National Center For Complementary medicine and Integrative Health showed that more than 80% of yoga enthusiasts said they practiced yoga to decrease stress.
Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khlasa, assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School states that “A 90-minute yoga practice can decrease the stress-producing hormone called cortisol drastically. Yoga also makes people more aware of the types of foods they put in their body and how it makes them feel.”
Evidence dates back to 1990 that a lifestyle that includes yoga as one of its four key components (along with a low-fat vegetarian diet, moderate exercise, and the maintenance of loving, supportive relationships) can actually shrink blockages in arteries, without the use of medication. The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program (www.ornish.com) is so well accepted that Medicare has been reimbursing participants since 2010.
Preventing Heart Disease and Increasing Longevity Through Flossing Your Teeth
“A person can prevent heart disease” states Dr. Steven Gundry, former cardiac surgeon and New York Times Bestselling author of ‘The Plant Paradox’ and ‘The Longevity Paradox.’ Dr. Gundry had noticed in his practice that his patients who didn’t floss regularly had an elevated C Reactive protein. C- reactive protein also known as C-RP is a protein found in blood plasma. CRP levels rise in response to inflammation. Dr. Gundry conducted a study with several of his patient’s where he had them floss daily or every other day. After several months of flossing his study results found that his patients had decreased C-RP levels which further decreased the inflammation in the heart.
Diet Diet Diet And A Bit Of Exercise
Eating a healthy diet is key to cardiovascular health. The American diet is a dietary nightmare. Portion size. Fat. Fast food. Marketing and branding further confuse the paradigm. Low fat, nonfat, and diet doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy.”
Watching what you eat, specifically avoiding foods high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt can help prevent weight gain and keep cholesterol levels under control. Be sure to read food labels to check the amount of sodium in packaged foods (in fact, avoid packaged foods when you can). Keeping a food journal is a simple way to hold yourself accountable to your healthy eating goals. Writing down the content on your food labels such as salt or sugar content levels or how many servings of fruits and vegetables you have each day will help you see, manage and plan your diet more effectively.
Get moving! Just 15 to 30 minutes of light physical activity three to five days a week can help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting off one stop earlier and walking for a couple of blocks can make a huge difference.
Stay Away From Sugary Sodas
A new study of more than 110,000 U.S. health professionals found that the more people drank sugary beverages, the higher their risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Many studies have linked sugary sodas and juices to ill health effects which cause weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. People who consumed at least two per day were about one-third more likely to die of heart disease or stroke, versus those who rarely had sugar-sweetened drinks. People who regularly downed sugary drinks did tend to eat more red meat and sugar, and fewer fruits and vegetables. They also got less exercise, weighed more and were more likely to smoke, versus people who rarely had the drinks.
New Recommendations Regarding Aspirin
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recently released new guidelines stating that they no longer endorse taking a baby aspirin in adults over the age of 50. They also agreed that for older adults with low risk-no prior history of heart attack or stroke the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding outweighs any heart benefit.
Knowledge Is Power
Being knowledgeable about your body, diet, and risks for heart disease is the key to staying healthy and living longer. Learn about your risks for high blood pressure or a heart attack. There are high-risk populations who will want to take extra precautions when it comes to being heart healthy. This includes African Americans and people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses such arthritis, COPD, stress and heart disease. Men and women have different risks, with men being at a higher risk of heart attack and women, especially after menopause, having a number of cardiovascular vulnerabilities.