As time has progressed and society has developed, we have started to value convenience over quality. This has become especially evident in our food choices, with processed foods and fast ‘1 minute’ meals becoming a part of our daily lives. Thus, it is no surprise that these foods have started to take a toll on our health, with deaths from cardiovascular disease increasing globally. However, as society advances, people have become more educated on health risks caused by poor life choices. Thus, it isn’t a surprise that people have chosen to transform into fitter and healthier versions of themselves through eating right and regular exercise.
And what better way to start than by keeping your heart healthy? After all, it is one of the most important organs in your body. Here are five simple ways to keep your heart healthy and happy.
We have all grown up with the belief that fats are harmful to our health. However, the truth is that not all fats are bad for our health. Did you know that certain fats when ingested can actually benefit the body? For instance, fats from olive oil, avocado, and omega 3 fats have health benefits. They give our body energy, support cell growth and protect our organs by cushioning them. That being said, what types of fat should you avoid?
One such example to avoid is trans fats. Trans fats are a synthetic type of fats, which are used in various industries to add flavour and taste. They are found in packaged baked goods, snacks, margarine and fast foods. Trans fats are known to increase the risk of developing heart-related complications or having a stroke. Trans fats also tend to clog arteries, as they tend to increase levels of LDL while lowering levels of HDL.
Eat healthy by including enough fruits, vegetables and natural protein in your diet. Doing so will help lower your risk to certain diseases like heart diseases and stroke.
Tip: When buying snacks or any processed snacks, you should read the labels. Many manufacturers label trans-fats as hydrogenated oils. Monitor trans fat levels on nutritional labels and even if they are labelled as 0%, check the ingredients for ‘trans fats’ or ‘hydrogenated oils’.
2. Avoid Smoking
One way to ensure that your heart remains healthy is to avoid both passive and active smoking. Smoking tends to affect our blood vessels by increasing their stiffness, thus making it harder for blood flow. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen flowing in our blood vessels.
Tip: Avoid smoking at all costs, even passive smoking as it may be just as dangerous as active smoking.
3. Dental Hygiene
Yes, to many this may be a shocker. But did you know that your dental hygiene and your heart health correlate? When one does not observe proper dental hygiene, the bacterium, which typically alleviates the development of gum disease, tends to move into the bloodstream and elevate C- reactive protein. High levels of C-reactive protein tend to increase inflammation in the blood vessels. Inflammation in the blood vessels, in turn, increases the risk of developing heart-related complications and stroke.
Tip: Try to brush and floss daily, for proper dental health and heart health.
4. Amount of sleep
For any individual, sleep is an essential aspect of keeping your body rested and healthy. Additionally, inadequate sleep increases the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Individuals who sleep less than 6 hours have higher chances of developing heart-related complications, as insufficient sleep can affect our normal biological processes, which in turn increases our risk of blood pressure and inflammation.
Tip: If you wish to maintain a healthy heart, you should try to sleep 7 to 8 hours a day.
5. Be more active
Recent findings have shown that people who sit for extended periods tend to have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular complications. Studies conducted on nearly 800,000 people show that individuals who sat for long periods tend to have a 147% increase in cardiovascular complications such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clot).
Tip: It is essential to ensure that you move all throughout the day. For individuals who have white collar jobs, you can park away from the office so that you take some few minutes to walk. Also, you could try to incorporate a standing workstation so that you can move up and down.
Our heart is undeniably our life source and one of our body’s strongest muscles. It pumps an average of 6,000 – 7,500 litres of blood a day and without it, we would cease to exist. Thus, there is no doubt that the heart is the most important organ in our body and we should do all we can to ensure it remains healthy and functions optimally. So eat your greens, put that cigarette down and get enough sleep tonight! Your heart and body will thank you.
If you’re interested in learning more about managing your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!