Heart disease is, by far, the leading cause of death worldwide. But, while aging, genetics, and family history may be beyond our control, there are a variety of ways you can still prevent the onset of heart diseases.
Trained to promote self-healing, naturopathic physicians can help you address the behavioral, lifestyle, environmental factors that may accelerate the onset of heart conditions.
No matter your age, these tips from naturopathic expert can help you maintain optimum heart health.
- Exercise Regularly
Just as exercise is essential in strengthening your other muscles, it also helps your heart muscles become stronger. In fact, research studies indicate that for certain heart conditions, regular exercise can be as powerful as some mediation.
Exercising regularly is also a vital component for losing weight, which in turn helps in optimizing your heart health. Being overweight is a key risk factor for developing heart conditions as well as stroke.
Exercise also lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure, another major risk factor for heart illnesses. Controlled physical activity works like beta-blocker medication in slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure. This also has an added advantage as it can help you reduce stress, which can also prevent heart problems.
Get at least 1 hour per day of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or a combination of both. Even light-weight exercise can prevent serious health risks, including heart diseases.
- Avoid High-Sugar & Chemically-Modified Foods
The cornerstone of a great dietary lifestyle is limiting carbs, the compound that makes up the sugars in foods. While we all love to indulge in sweet dishes, food with high sugar food contributes to the greater risks of diabetes, obesity, as well as heart diseases.
High sugar foods also deliver what is referred to as ‘empty calories’—essentially calories that aren’t accompanied by vital compounds such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber, amongst other nutrients.
Aside from high-sugar foods, you should also eliminate the consumption of foods that are chemically modified. Such foods are jam-packed with unhealthy fats and can also play a great role in raising blood sugar levels.
It’s true that ‘you are what you eat,’ which is even more integral when it comes to your heart health. It is therefore very vital to always check what you eat because, in one way or another, it directly impacts your heart-health.
- Choose Non-Inflammatory Foods
Substituting high-sugar, chemically-modified foods with foods that are non-inflammatory can greatly boost your heart health. This is true because all forms of heart conditions, from strokes to heart attacks to blood clots to atherosclerosis, are caused and aggravated by underlying chronic inflammation.
Simple rules of thumb for anti-inflammatory dieting include eating more plants, adding more omega-3s to your diet, focusing on antioxidants, eating less red meat, and cutting off processed foods.
Foods rich in antioxidants such as veggies, fruits, and leafy greens, for instance, can help delay, prevent, or repair some types of cell and tissue damage. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, tuna, and salmon can play a vital role in regulating your body’s inflammation and could also help regulate pain that is caused by inflammation.
It’s also essential to consume what is known as the ‘DASH’ diet, which are just foods recommended by the American Heart Association to stop hypertension. The diet includes less refined grains, reduced salt, and is rich in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Watch Sodium Intake
Sodium may be an essential mineral to our healthy living, but too much of it can harm your heart. An average person today takes about 3400 milligrams of sodium each day, which is more than twice the 1500 milligrams, the recommended intake.
Approximately 75% of the sodium you consume comes from sodium added to processed foods (pre-packaged, frozen, or canned), as well as the foods you eat from restaurants. The key point here is again to check the label list to determine if you are consuming foods that are high in sodium.
Consuming excessive ‘bad salt’ increased blood pressure, which, as mentioned previously, is a major risk factor for heart diseases. Aside from that, too much sodium also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, stroke, and heart failure.
- Embrace Healthy Sleep Habits
Lastly, it is vital to prioritize healthy sleeping habits. As a naturopathic doctor, I recommend having seven hours of sleep each night. While this may not be possible to achieve every night, given our daily routines, it makes sense because a recent study evidenced that too much sleep or too little can lead to a higher risk of heart attacks in adults.
Good quality sleep affords your heart a great chance to relax and rejuvenate as heart rate and blood pressure go down at night. It also helps you reduce stress. People who don’t have good quality sleep are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and cardiovascular conditions, regardless of exercise habits, weight, or age.