February 20, 2017
February is American Heart Month, and with all of the information the American Heart Association provides, there is no time like the present to examine your risk factors and start being proactive about preserving your heart health.
Whether you are a man, woman, young or old, there are certain things that everyone can do to greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Take some time to explore how your daily routine plays into your overall health and what adjustments can be made short and long term to improve your chances of staying healthy over time.
In recent years, it has come to light that the Mediterranean diet may be the most heart-healthy of them all. Named in accordance with its countries of origin, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet is rich in olive oil, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, nuts and includes moderate amounts of dairy, grains and wine. This style of eating is thought to improve the function of HDL, or “good cholesterol,” which eliminates excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, as opposed to LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” which is essentially a blood fat found in foods containing higher levels of saturated fats like butter and fatty meats.
According to the American Heart Association, “cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States, accounting for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths.” Consequently, smokers have a much higher risk of developing many chronic diseases, including artery build-up, cancers and lung problems. The benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately so if you, or someone you know smokes, help them take a step in the right direction by learning what tools are available to help them quit.
Thirty minutes a day, five times per week is the recommended amount of exercise for the average adult, according to the American Heart Association. This can be in the form of any physical activity, including walking, swimming, dancing, weight training, etc… as long as you are moving your body, you are burning calories and increasing your endurance and heart health. This will keep your mind centered, too.
Speaking of keeping your mind centered, it is important to learn how to counteract the effect of stress on your body. You may think that stress only affects your mind but that is simply not the case. When your body is under stress, your blood pressure rises, and the hormone cortisol is released. Over time, this creates physical damage that can be hard to undo. Stress is unavoidable in life, but you must figure out what your healthy antidote will be. Maybe a nice bath after a long day will calm your nerves. Perhaps exercise, yoga or meditation is your preferred outlet. Get a massage, take a walk, have a good laugh with a friend, do whatever it is you need to do to get yourself back to center and decrease the effects of stress on your heart.
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I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Follow me for updates @christiemandia.