There’s an old proverb – ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and it is especially true when it come to heart disease. While it’s undeniable that some people are predisposed to heart disease due to hereditary reasons, the fact remains that anybody will benefit by avoiding factors that lead to heart disease.
In this article, we’ll look at five risks that have been proven to cause heart disease. Most people automatically think of cholesterol levels when they think of cardiovascular disease. However, the 5 factors below are far guiltier of causing heart problems and many other health issues ranging from diabetes all the way to the dreaded cancer.
Below you’ll find 5 pointers to take note of. Do remember that avoidance of these mistakes is much better than the pain of remorse.
Without a doubt, this is one of the worst habits on the planet. There is absolutely no benefit that’s accrued from this unhealthy practice. Quitting smoking is one of the toughest challenges you’ll face if you’re a smoker. Yet, it’s something that you must do.
Use nicotine patches, electronic cigarettes, etc. to wean yourself off this addiction. The sooner you do it, the better. Some people can manage it by going cold turkey, while others need to gradually reduce the number of sticks they smoke a day. Find what works for you and go with it.
Lack of Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle not only leads to weight gain… but it leads to a weak heart too. You must engage in some form of cardio activity at least three times a week. Brisk walking, swimming, cycling, kickboxing, etc. are all fantastic forms of cardio.
Many people forget that the heart is a muscle and it must be worked for it to be strong. Find a cardio activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your lifestyle.
Try and challenge yourself daily by beating your personal bests. This will improve your stamina, strengthen your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease. Like they say, ‘If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll have to make time for illness.’
Being Overweight or Obese
This should go without saying. Carrying excess pounds on your body opens you up to a plethora of diseases just waiting to ravage your body. Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, hypertension, increased cancer risk, dyslipidemia and heart disease are just a few of the many health issues that can take root in your body when you’re overweight.
Aim to reduce your weight till your BMI is below 25. A proper diet and regular exercise will help you reach your ideal weight. It may take you effort and time while, but if you stick to it, you’ll get there.
Overconsumption of Alcohol
Alcohol in moderation has anti-inflammatory effects. However, when consumed in excess, it can wreak havoc on the body. A glass of red wine a day is great for the heart. Throwing back 10 tequila shots at the club is not.
Poor Diet Choices
Inflammation is the real cause of heart disease… and NOT cholesterol. So many people get this wrong. Your goal is to reduce inflammation. The best way to do that is to reduce or eliminate your consumption of processed foods.
Switch to a diet that’s wholesome, natural, low in sugar… but high in fiber and omega-3 fats. This is one of the best ways to combat heart disease.
Adhere to the tips given in this article and you’ll look better, feel better and be much less likely to suffer from heart disease. While it may seem like common sense and information that everyone knows, the truth of the matter is that the majority do not practice it. Be in the minority and you’ll be a radiant picture of health.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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