How many times have you received the shocking news that someone you knew has suddenly died from heart failure? It’s always a nagging reminder of how volatile our own situation is and how vital it is to be proactive in keeping and maintaining a healthy heart. Usually around the same time that we become overly concerned about ourselves, a series of questions seem to start streaming in our minds. For example, what are the precursors to heart disease? Are there any obvious signs or symptoms that we should be aware of? What can be done to prevent an onset of heart disease?
Studies show that the determining factor that puts us all at risk can be summed up with two words: lifestyle habits. Since many parents fail to educate their children on the importance of diet and exercise and its impact on our health, we have inadvertently developed behavioural habits that increase our risk of heart disease. However, it certainly is consoling to know that as long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to change. And those changes don’t have to be monumental. For instance, the five habits that prevent heart disease are: not smoking, being physically fit, moderate usage of alcohol, and maintaining a healthy diet and body weight. It is very important to note that one’s diet must be high in essential minerals such as calcium, potassium and fibre and low in fat. This coupled with regular exercise invites a healthy flow of oxygen to the cells and helps prevent clogged coronary arteries.
It’s easy to mention these five habits but probably not as easy to implement them into our daily routine. Becoming a non-smoker, for example, can be one of the most difficult habits to break. However, starting out with getting a yearly check-up on your heart might be the wake-up call that inspires you to action. In fact, since smoking prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart, it likewise exacerbates other risk factors that work double havoc on the body. Many have had success by cutting back each day the number of cigarettes smoked until it has dwindled down to none. Being determined and receiving input from your doctor can give added support and incentive.
Regular exercise doesn’t need to be complicated. Starting out with only 15 minutes each day with a march or jogging in place can make a significant difference. Each week add five more minutes until you reach a goal of 30 minutes a day while watching a movie or listening to your favourite songs on the radio. The most important thing to remember is to make it enjoyable. We usually don’t forget to do activities that make us happy.
Last but not least is maintaining a healthy diet. Low intake of fat and calories is crucial by focusing on eating plenty of fruits and veggies and eating more lean meats, such as, chicken and turkey. Staying away from trans-fats, saturated fats and cholesterol help keep blood cholesterol levels down. Monitoring your salt intake is also essential to maintain proper blood pressure levels. Herbs are a great substitute for salt which enhance flavour and provide a healthy amount of nutrition to your meals. Drinking plenty of water also helps dilute the amount of salt in the body, so it’s also recommended to always have a water bottle handy for good hydration.
Unfortunately, some days we’re overwhelmed with life’s surprises and can easily forget our health plan. That’s when it’s time to stack up on our favourite health juice to add fibre, anti-oxidants and essential omega-3 fatty acids that contribute just as much to a healthy heart.