It’s never too late to start taking care of your heart to prevent cardiovascular disease. Whether you’re older or younger, there are changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle that will greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Dr. Dee at Healing Hands Chiropractic wants to see you living a full, healthy life!
1. Lead an Active Lifestyle
Being physically active reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by helping to maintain a lower weight. It also decreases your chances of developing other conditions that would strain your heart such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. Here are some small changes you can incorporate into your daily life to help you on your journey to a better you:
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Walking to get the mail instead of driving
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Hiking or simply exploring nature
- Park farther away from the store
You don’t have to do all your activity at once in order for your heart to benefit. However, including at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise coupled with bi-weekly strength training will give you the most cardiovascular benefits.
2. Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet
Food is fuel for your body. Ensuring you eat the right foods can have a huge impact on your overall health. The foods you eat can lower your cholesterol, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, lower your blood pressure, and overall protect your heart. Besides watching your salt intake, here are some good foods for your heart:
- High fiber fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, mangoes, and jicama
- Beans and legumes (also high in fiber)
- 100% whole grains such as oats, barley, bulgur, and quinoa
- Lean meats and fish such as tuna, chicken breasts, and lamb
- Limit your dairy intake
- Choose healthy fats such as coconut oil or olive oil to replace butter (use these in moderation)
Some good heart-healthy diets include the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.
3. Avoid Tobacco Products
If you use tobacco products, one of the most beneficial things you can do for your heart is to stop. This includes chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and even heavy exposure to secondhand smoke. The chemicals that are found in tobacco products damage your blood vessels and heart. They also reduce the level of oxygen in your blood which causes your heart to beat harder and faster to make up for it.
Over time, this will cause high blood pressure and makes it even harder for your heart to get oxygen into your bloodstream. The good news is that your heart can start reaping the benefits in as little as one day after you quit using tobacco. After one year of quitting, your risk of developing heart disease drops by 50%.
4. Get Enough Sleep
This might come as a surprise to some but prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to problems for your heart. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and obesity. Most people, on average, need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Start making sleep a priority in your life. You can do this by taking things out of your schedule that are less important and by setting up a bedtime routine for yourself. Having the same routine every night will help your body get sleepy, which helps you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Also, avoid looking at screens for two hours prior to bedtime as this can disrupt your deep sleep cycles.
5. Watch Your Weight
Being overweight greatly increases your risk of heart disease, mainly because it increases your risk for certain conditions that affect your heart such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Fat stores around your midsection put you at an even higher risk for these diseases. One thing you can do to see if you’re at a healthy weight is to measure your belly.
A healthy measurement for men is 40 inches and 35 inches for women. Even losing a small percentage of excess fat can be good for your heart. Losses of only 3-5% are associated with a lowered risk of developing diabetes as well as lower cholesterol levels.
Risk Factors that You Can’t Change
While it’s good to ensure you’re doing everything you can to take care of your heart, there are a few risk factors that you can’t control. However, it’s good to know if you’re at higher risk so that you can ensure you do everything possible within your control to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, your risk of heart disease increases as you age. Men have an increased risk starting at age 45 and women at age 55. That’s why it’s even more important to start making good lifestyle and eating choices now to lower your risk.
Most heart conditions come from changes to a few different genes (67 to be exact). The more changes you have to these variants in the genes, the higher your risk. That’s why family history is taken at your yearly doctor visits. They are trying to assess your risk for developing heart disease based on your genetics.
For unknown reasons, certain races have a higher risk of developing heart disease. African Americans have the biggest risk while Hispanic Americans have the lowest risk. The good news is that improving your lifestyle can counteract this risk factor and give your cardiovascular health a boost.
Up until the age of 65, men have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease than women. This is believed to be from the protection that estrogen provides in women. However, after this age, both men and women have equal risk. Diabetes also plays a bigger role in developing heart disease for women than it does for men.
Give Us A Call Today!
The team here at Healing Hands Chiropractic can help alleviate pain due to a variety of conditions. We take the time to fully address your concerns and after running a few tests, will come up with a treatment plan best suited for your needs. We enjoy serving the community here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Call us today so we can get your first appointment scheduled!