Five healthy heart tips
Leading a healthy lifestyle will cut your risk of premature death from heart disease by 80%. Below are five tips that will help you to do this and maintain a healthy heart.
Watch your diet
The Food Guide in Canada was reviewed in January 2019. There is now a greater emphasis on eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based protein. Much of this advice comes from the Mediterranean diet, which many researchers have shown reduces the risks of heart disease.
An easy way of improving your diet is to do most of your own cooking because then you can regulate the type of food you eat and the quantities. Cooking for yourself means that you can steer clear of highly processed foods like frozen pizza, industrial baked products, chicken nuggets, etc. Although such foods are tempting and easy, they usually have low levels of nutrition and high levels of sugar, saturated fat, and/or salt. All of those things can damage your heart if you have too much of them.
For a healthy heart, it is recommended that you undertake a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity every week. However, you don’t have to do a series of hour-long gym visits to achieve this; just walking instead of taking the bus, or tidying up the house will do, anything that involves physical activity for 20 minutes a day.
Aim for healthy, not thin
Media images of gorgeous slim men and women have nothing to do with maintaining a healthy weight. The healthy weight falls into a range that is suitable for you, depending on your height. The easiest way to see if you are a healthy weight is by calculating your body mass index (BMI).
If you have a BMI between 19.5 and 24.9, your weight is not much of a risk to your health. An example of a healthy weight for a 5’4″ (163 cm) woman would fall into a range between 110-145lbs (50-66 kg).
It’s not just what you weigh that matters, it’s also the way that fat is distributed around your body. If body fat tends to gather around your waist, you have a high risk of heart disease. Women should aim to have a waist of under 35 inches (88 cm), and men a waist of under 40 inches (102 cm).
Don’t smoke – anything
Smoking either tobacco or cannabis is injurious to health because smoke introduces toxic molecules into your body. If you’re not a smoker, politely request family and friends not to smoke around you either. If you are a smoker, your pharmacist can give you good advice on ways you can quit. Nicotine replacement therapy can be a massive help in stubbing out unhealthy habits once and for all.
You know yourself best
Stress is a major cause of heart disease; think about what is causing you stress and how you might be able to control it by taking action. Get help if you need it: if you’re stressed about money, talk to a financial advisor; if you’re stressed at work, discuss it with an appropriate colleague or human resources person.
Sometimes we can’t remove sources of stress, for example, if a loved one is ill, but we can manage it with a number of techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, etc.