Light Up Heart

Getting to The Heart of it: The 4 Keys To Preventing Heart Disease

The best cure for heart disease is prevention by getting your habits in check as early as you can. Eat nourishing foods, engage in active living, manage stress, and do something that makes your heart happy—these are the four keys to heart disease prevention.

Rethink daily habits and look for creative ways to “do life” so your heart stays healthy.

Choose the most nutritious foods available, stay hydrated, and eat regularly.1

  • Vegetables and fruits are inherently rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Eat a variety of textures and colors every day to ensure the body receives all the nutrients it needs.
  • Fat is essential to a balanced diet. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, avocado, and raw nuts.
  • Protein-rich lean meat, fish, fowl, and eggs provide the necessary macronutrients for growth and repair. Meat alternatives, vegetable-based proteins (soy, tempeh, tofu, beans + rice, nuts,…) are good options for those watching their cholesterol or following a vegetarian diet. Aim for 2-4 ounces, 2-3 times per day.
  • Complex carbohydrates like oats, quinoa, and sweet potatoes are high in energy and help keep insulin in check. To minimize unnecessary calories and weight gain, avoid simple carbohydrate sources that are high in sugar and flour.
  • Elevated salt intake can wreak havoc on blood pressure. Instead of salt, use herbs and seasonings to enhance the flavor of food.
  • Water is essential to the body’s systems. Make water your #1 beverage. Aim to drink 50% of your bodyweight in ounces every day.
  • A regular eating schedule helps manage total caloric intake and maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Create an eating schedule around your energy needs and lifestyle. To help the body manage the fat storage hormones insulin and cortisol, finish eating by 8 p.m. and hold off on breakfast until 8 a.m. the next day.

 

Participate in an active lifestyle and exercise most days of the week.2

  • Engage in mild exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Anything from walking to gardening to playing sports to participating in an exercise class counts—just get moving.
  • Regular exercise helps insulin lower blood sugar levels more effectively. It also helps with weight loss and hormonal stability.
  • Exercise boosts energy, improves mood, and elevates a sense of contentment.

 

Improve overall well-being by reducing stress.3

  • Spend more time with people who leave you feeling energized and restored.
  • Get a dose of sunshine every day. Vitamin D is a natural mood booster.
  • Focus your attention on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is stressful and often does not result in more getting accomplished.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude. Approach challenges and problems with optimism rather than dread. Ask for help before problems become a crisis.
  • Be present. Instead of worrying about the future, simply do today.

 

Make your heart happy by living with purpose.  Living “on purpose” is a great motivator for positive habit change.5

  • Align daily activities with your life’s purpose.
  • Reflect on the big picture daily.
  • Build your life around what matters most.
  • Let go of what no longer serves you or your big purpose.

 

A healthier heart is within your control. Risk factors like age and heredity cannot be changed; however, you can dramatically change and even eliminate other risk factors by adopting healthy habits. Changing how you do things may seem overwhelming, but every small shift is a step toward reducing your risk for heart disease.

In the next article in this series we’ll explore how to reclaim mobility so moving through life is easier and more enjoyable.

About the Writer

Kelley Rakow, Health and Lifestyle Coach

Sources:

      1. webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-eat-right
      2. cdc.gov/heartdisease/healthy_living.htm
      3. nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hd/prevent#
      4. Overview of primary prevention of coronary heart disease and stroke.
      5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151203112844.htm

Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.

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