How To Take Care Of Your Heart
A healthy heart is very important to every living being, including humans. You are never too old or too young to begin taking care of your heart. The younger you start making heart-healthy choices, the longer you can reap the benefits of a healthy heart. So why not start now!!
Heart diseases are the world’s leading killer, causing 1 in every 3 deaths. The good news is that it is possible to lower your risk of having heart disease in your lifetime, by making changes in the way you live your life every day. Even if you have a family history of heart disease, the power of prevention and control is still in your hands.
Choosing to eat healthier foods, swapping good habits for bad, tackling stress, and exercising regularly are the four best ways to take good care of your heart, even if you have already suffered a heart attack.
It is never too late to start transforming your lifestyle towards a healthier heart. Here are a few practical steps you can follow.
- - Eat A Balanced Diet Consisting Of Whole Grains, Beans, Fruits and Vegetables
Balance is key to eating a heart-healthy diet long-term. Whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber – these are balanced nutrients that are great for your heart health.
Try your best to incorporate five cups of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.
As you select your vegetables, keep color in mind. A colorful plate filled with lots of bright vibrant colors like red, orange, yellow, and dark-green vegetables, provides the vitamins and minerals your entire body needs to strive well.
Cut down on or even remove heavily processed foods from your diet. Heavily processed foods such as (crackers, potato chips, pizza, burgers, mac and cheese, and every other ready-to-eat food). Also, look for foods low in sodium (salt). Remember, canned foods contain a lot of sodium.
Drink clean water or freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices, instead of sodas and energy drinks, which are bad for your heart health.
- - Add Good Fats To Your Diet & Avoid Oily Foods
Excessive consumption of animal fat and oily foods should be lowered as it is linked to increased cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. However, good fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado, should be included in your diet because they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- - Avoid Added Sugars
Sugars occur naturally in fruits and vegetables.
While added sugar refers to non-naturally occurring sugars in foods like doughnuts, cakes, junk foods, and pastries in general. These added sugars are bad for your heart health and should be eliminated.
According to a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, there is a positive correlation between people who consumed high sugar intake and a higher risk of death from heart disease, even if they were not overweight.
- - Watch Your Weight
Obesity or being overweight can lead to insulin resistance, a condition that has been linked to heart disease, especially if the fat is embedded in the abdominal area.
The more weight you gain, the higher your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. Being obese also puts you at risk for breathing problems, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and even cancer.
Eating a balanced diet in combination with regular exercise is the best way to lose weight. Even a small amount of weight loss can make a big difference in your health.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
- - Stop Smoking
It's no news that "smokers are liable to die young". Meaning that smoking is bad for you. The chemicals in cigarettes can cause severe damage to your heart, lungs, and blood vessels and even leads to atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and clogging of your arteries. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease.
If you currently smoke, now is the best time to stop. Think of your heart health. It's interesting to know that there are medicines that can help as well as other “quit smoking” tools such as nicotine gum and patches. Vaping is not a tool to help you quit, so don’t trade smoking for vaping. Ask your doctor to recommend a resource. Try to steer clear of second-hand smoke as well.
- - Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your liver, as well as your heart muscle and lead to arrhythmias, also known as irregular heart rhythms.
- - Get Physically Active
Your heart is the strongest muscle in your body. As with all muscles, exercise will help to strengthen your heart so that it can pump blood more efficiently. Getting physically active can be as simple as going for daily walks, dancing, taking the stairs at work, or doing some push-ups/sit-ups.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity for adults each week plus 2 days of strength training each week. Children should get at least an hour of activity every day. They should also get more intensive exercise at least 3 days a week which increases their heart rate.
A strong heart can pump blood more efficiently,
to deliver oxygen and nutrients to other parts of your body.
Exercise can lower your risk of looping plaque in your arteries. Plaque is a waxy substance that can clog arteries and reduce blood flow to your heart. If plaque builds up too much, it can even block the artery. This is what causes a heart attack.
- - Manage Your Stress Levels
Everyone deals with stress differently. The way you react to it can directly impact your health.
High stress levels are often associated with heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure which causes your heart to work under increased pressure constantly. Practice some breathing exercises and meditation to manage your stress levels.
Chronic stress exposes your body to else levels of stress hormones, which also is not healthy.
Exercise is also a great way to deal with it. Poor ways to react to stress are to smoke, drink alcohol, or let it interfere with your sleep.
- - Know Your Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Level
Every adult should know their blood pressure and cholesterol level. Beginning at age 18, you should have your blood pressure checked at least every 3 to 5 years. There are often no symptoms associated with high blood pressure. The best way to know for sure is to check.
Young adults who are age 20 and older and who smoke or have a family history of heart disease should have regular cholesterol screenings. Otherwise, women should begin having regular cholesterol checks when they are 45. Men should begin theirs at age 35. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should also be screened for diabetes.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you know other ways of taking care of your heart, do tell us in the comment section.