Simple Ways to Improve Heart Health
Sadly, the lifestyle of many Americans isn’t very healthy. Statistics show that even though there are less fatalities due to heart disease it’s, not because people are healthier. It’s because of advances in modern medicine. People can be brought back from the brink with surgeries and medications that can add years to their lives. The question is what are those years like? Most people who have undergone heart surgeries or survived a heart attack or stroke are on multiple medications, have frequent doctors’ visits and often have a diminished quality of life. It’s great that western medicine can do all it does to help bring people back but wouldn’t it be better to prevent heart disease in the first place?
There are a few really basic things that we all need to do to keep our hearts healthy and vibrant. Often these are things people find really hard to do because our unhealthy habits become so ingrained in our lives. It sometimes takes great effort to make the lifestyle changes required to turn your health around but compared to the lifestyle change after a heart attack or surgery, they are relatively easy to accomplish.
- Stop Smoking!!! This is the habit that has the biggest effect on your heart health. It fills your lungs and body with toxins, it diminishes your ability to get oxygen to every part of your body, especially your brain and heart and it puts a huge strain on your cardiovascular system. Unlike having a glass of red wine occasionally, there are no upsides to smoking. Your body can start to repair itself and become healthier after you quit but the strain on your heart could be permanent. Get the help you need to quit and do it now.
- Exercise. Your heart is a muscle and all muscles need exercise to be healthy and strong. Figure out a way to move your body every day that raises your heart rate to give it the workout it needs. Even just brisk walking will do your heart good.
- A healthy diet. There are a lot of foods marketed as “heart healthy” these days. However, many of them marketed that way actually aren’t healthy at all. For instance cereal companies put “heart healthy” on their products if they have oats in them because oats, in and of themselves, are healthy for you. But when they are mixed with sugar, preservatives and other ingredients the benefits dwindle considerably. Processed foods in general contain too much salt, sugar and unhealthy fats to be considered “heart healthy”. A healthy diet consists of a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, beans and a small amount of grains. Limiting sugar is helpful as high blood sugar/diabetes raises inflammation in the body, including the heart and inflammation can cause a host of health issues including heart disease. It’s not news as to what foods are healthy and what foods are not. We all just need to make better choices and go to the effort of making our own meals out of fresh, healthy foods. Put the cheeseburgers and malts down.
If you can accomplish those three things in your life you will set yourself up for a longer life with a healthy heart because just doing those three things will have great side effects like losing weight which can cause strain on your heart. Also, eating healthy and exercising will naturally lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar which is important to maintaining a healthy heart.
Some other things to consider would be adding some supplements to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are beneficial to lowering your cholesterol and maintaining cell strength as well as improving brain function. Fiber is associated with a lower risk of heart disease as well. B vitamins and CoQ10 are both recommended for heart health as is Vitamin E and magnesium.
One last thing to look at is stress. Stress can come in many forms, physical and emotional. Stressful jobs and relationships can actually be detrimental to your health. Make sure if you are under stress that you have ways to calm your body and sooth your mind. Exercise is actually a great way to relieve stress and flood your system with health producing hormones. Meditation or quiet prayer/contemplation on a daily basis has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Spending time doing something fun or relaxing is always good for your heart and your mind.
Start today! Make the changes that will lead to a longer, healthier life.