MIKE PHAN suggests 10 ways to have a healthier heart in his new monthly column
FEBRUARY is National Heart Month and organisations and charities such as the British Heart Foundation are asking everybody to pay attention to their hearts and start living healthier lifestyles.
Around seven million people are currently living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK and cardiovascular and heart disease causes 420 deaths in the UK every single day with death rates being highest in Scotland and the North of England.
Why not use February to change your habits and introduce more exercise and a better diet into your life?
Simple changes in diet, such as by reducing your salt intake, eliminating processed foods and trying to get a few hours of exercise a week, can make a huge difference.
A healthy diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart. Healthy, nutritious food also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s not too late to start now.
To help prevent heart disease, here are ten ways to change your lifestyle and take better care of your heart.
1. Eat oily fish – these oils tend to be rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are the fats we tend to eat less of, and which are actually great for our bodies due to their anti-inflammatory properties
2. Enjoy a balanced, sustainable diet – instead of following another quick fix/faddy diet, finding your own balanced and sustainable nutrition plan can help improve your lifestyle in the long term. The improvements in the way you look and feel are then long term instead of short lived. The changes become habitual and you never have to feel like you’re denying yourself of anything ever again
3. Reduce salt – excess levels of salt in the body can have a detrimental effect in terms of raising our blood pressure. Since the presence of salt encourages water retention within the body, the blood pressure rises which can lead to excess strain on the heart
4. Limit red meat – the more inflammation you have, which can be caused by foods such as red meat, the higher the risk of contracting inflammation-linked diseases in the long term
5. Cut back on processed foods – these foods are often laden with hidden additives (such as salt) and preservatives, which are, frankly, unhealthy when ingested regularly/in large quantities.
EXERCISE AND LIFESTYLE
1. Quit smoking – it’s both a saving in terms of the cost of purchasing tobacco and in terms of the long-term damage that smoking can have on your lungs and quality of life
2. Cardio workouts – these tend to be the exercises that get you out of breath and therefore help to make your heart and lungs stronger
3. Lose weight by joining a fitness class – the camaraderie and support that you will find when with a group of people will help you to push, grow and get results much faster and easier than were you to go it alone
4. Drink less alcohol – alcohol places stress on the body in terms of the body having to process what is, essentially, a liquid that is treated as a toxin. So although controversial and contrary to it’s regular use here in the UK, by reducing the amount we drink we can actually reduce the stress it has on our whole body. Plus you’re reducing how many liquid calories you’re also taking in too
5. Walk instead of driving when possible – by steadily increasing the amount of daily walking, we get to exercise the heart, avoid the York traffic and look after our environment more too.
Find out more about keeping your heart healthy at bhf.org.uk
Mike Phan of MPRS is a local health and wellness coach (michaelphan.co.uk)