Heart Health: Tips for Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Developing time for your self care in relation to your physical body is a must for optimal health. By now, most of us have heard that the leading cause of death for women and men in the United States is heart disease, and over 60 million Americans currently suffer from the disease (Source: Alternative Medicine). It is unfortunate that it is thought to be a “man’s disease,” though about the same number of men and women die each year of heart disease. In fact, in a 2005 survey, 36 percent of women did not identify themselves to be at risk (Source: www.cdc.gov).
Tips for Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Today, I would like to provide some easy steps to take to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle. Prevention is always best in my book! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that in 2010, coronary heart disease alone was projected to cost the United States$108.9 billion (Source: www.cdc.gov.) The American Heart Association has designed a program called Life’s Simple 7 with the goal of improved health by educating the public on best to live a more healthy life. The seven points they developed include: Get Active, Eat Better, Lose Weight, Stop Smoking, Control Cholesterol, Manage Blood Pressure, and Reduce Blood Sugar. There is even a test you can take to see how well you are doing at protecting your heart! (Source: http://mylifecheck.heart.org/) You can read more about their recommendations on their site here.
According to studies cited by the authors of Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide, 85 percent of all heart disease is caused by vulnerable plaque, which unfortunately cannot usually be detected by conventional cardiovascular diagnostic tests. They recommend that to effectively screen for vulnerable plaque, ultra-high-speed magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) may be required. Don’t feel you need to run out and get an MRI, but if you are at a risk for heart disease, keep this tool in mind. The authors also recommend that people at risk should also be screened for infectious agents, as well as oxidized cholesterol, fibrinogen and homocysteine levels, and free-radical damage. These are all tests you can discuss with your doctor (Source: Alternative Medicine).
Eat Organic Foods
As far as diet changes or additions, try to make sure you eat organically as much as possible as organic foods are free of pesticides, herbicides, steroids, and antibiotics. Also increase your fiber intake with leafy green vegetables, fresh raw fruits, and psyllium. I could write pages upon pages about the benefits of monounsaturated oils such as olive oil, omega-3 oils such as fish oil and flaxseed oil, and omega-6 oils such as borage oil and evening primrose oil.
Eat Less Processed Foods
Try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. I absolutely promise you will start to feel better the cleaner your food is. One trick I taught my five year-old is to look at the number of ingredients listed. If there is a long list of ingredients, especially ones you can’t even pronounce, then it is probably heavily processed.
Take Nutritional Supplements
Some nutritional supplements known to improve cardiovascular conditions include: beta carotene; vitamins B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C, and E; folic acid; the minerals calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium; the amino acids L-arginine, L-taurine, and L-carnitine; coenzyme Q10; and pycnogenol. (Source: Alternative Medicine.) A good multivitamin can provide many of these nutrients listed above. It would be best to work with a health provider to determine the best amounts to take for your body!
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Though heart disease causes half of all deaths in the United States, many health professionals feel that it is one of the most preventable chronic degenerative diseases. Heart healthy steps include making healthy dietary changes, exercise, stress reduction, and nutritional supplementation. Little changes can be made daily and always talk with your health provider if you have questions or concerns.
What are you doing to prevent heart disease?
- Goldberg, Burton., Trivieri, Larry, and Anderson, John., Alternative Medicine- The Definitive Guide. Second Edition. Celestial Arts.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC – DHDSP – Fact Sheets – Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet. www.cdc.gov
- The American Heart Association. Life’s Simple 7 Sheet. http://mylifecheck.heart.org/
Photo courtesy of flickr.
Melissa Northway, M.S. Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer and her storybook app Penelope the Purple Pirate has been chosen as a Top 10 Must-Have eBook by lilsugar of Popsugar.com and a Top 10 Educational iPad App by Digital Storytime. She does consulting work for companies interested in marketing their apps or eBooks. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.melissanorthway.com or @melissanorthway. See my review of The Hunger Games coming next week.