Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Take Care of Your Ticker

February is heart health month, but it's important to keep this subject on our minds year-round. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. You probably know someone who has suffered from heart disease. So let’s learn a bit more about your heart and learn five simple lifestyle tips to reduce your chance of heart disease.

The Basics:
-          The Cardiovascular System: consists of the heart and blood vessels (arteries and veins), as well as the blood that circulates oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and immune factors throughout the body.
-          The Pump: an adult heart pumps 5 quarts of blood per minute, which is 8,000 quarts of blood per day!  
-          Heart Disease: an overarching diagnosis of a variety of health concerns involving the heart and blood vessels including:
o   high cholesterol
o   high blood pressure
o   heart attack
o   stroke
-          How it starts: typically, heart disease begins with cholesterol plaque build-up or increased pressure on the arteries causing them to narrow. Narrowed arteries limit the amount of blood and oxygen allowed to circulate throughout the body, which leads to chest pain, erectile dysfunction, heart attacks or strokes.
-          Why it starts: genetics play a role in heart disease; however, lifestyle and environment factors are highly influential in your risk for heart disease. 

How to slow, prevent, recover from heart disease:

  1. Water: Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2, drink that many ounces of water a day, repeat every day.  Water helps your body do everything it needs to do, including reduce your blood pressure. Drinking coffee, tea, soda, or juices increase blood pressure in comparison to water, so cut back on the caffeine, drink more H2O.
  2. Plant Based Diet: This diet offers a variety of health benefits including, high fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats. Another benefit, is increasing the alkalinity/decreasing acidity of the blood that decreases the amount of cholesterol the body will lay down to protect the blood vessels. Consuming fats (olive, coconut, avocado, and macadamia nut oil) with vegetables and fruits improves the absorption of important vitamins, such as A, E, D, and K. These vitamins play an important role in heart health.  Can’t imagine a world without meat?  Start with replacing meat with a vegetarian option once a week, then increase from there.  No meat Monday for example.  Need good ideas for vegetarian meals? There are a ton on pinterest.
  3. Not All Saturated Fats Are Bad: 1 tablespoon of coconut oil has equal amounts of saturated fats as an 8 ounce steak. What determines why one is healthier than the other? Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides or omega-3 fatty acids. Whereas, animal fats are rich in omega-6 and 9 fatty acids. Overall, omega-3 fatty acids are easier to metabolize, anti-inflammatory, and are cholesterol free. 
  4. Exercise: Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily. Most people assume they need to go the gym in order to exercise; however, simply getting active and doing something you enjoy counts. Whether that be jogging, yoga, walking your dog, hiking, or swimming, etc. Exercising will release happy hormones (endorphins), improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and stress. Sitting is considered to be the new smoking, based on how much time we spend in our cars commuting to and from work and sitting at our desks. Our sedentary lifestyles are increasing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. 
  5. Human Pet Interactions: Petting and talking to your dog has been linked to overall heart health improvement: reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, and heart attacks. Also, time spent with your dog will help to lower anxiety and release of calming hormones (dopamine and serotonin).  Don’t have a pet but need to find out where to get one?  Start local with the Humane Society of Barron County.







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