One of the preeminent causes of death worldwide is heart disease. Heart disease can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender. Most of the time, it can happen to people with poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. However, out of all the deadly illnesses out there, heart disease is the most preventable.
Your heart health and the risk of contracting heart disease solely depend on your lifestyle. The healthier your heart is, the more chances it can defend itself from symptoms such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular pain, and high blood pressure. Moreover, your heart is a vital part of your body system, and it can only function at its best when you’re in optimal health. Having a healthier heart makes it easier to practice personal wellness as well.
To keep your heart in excellent condition, you need to be ready to accept and make changes to your lifestyle. Some of you may not be aware that your habits are slowly leading to the deterioration of your heart health and must therefore be tweaked or corrected while it’s not yet too late. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you should go for huge lifestyle changes right away.
You can boost your heart health in small ways. Once you get started, it will then become easier to tackle bigger lifestyle adjustments. Here are seven health and wellness practices you can follow to promote good heart health:
- Switch To A Heart-Healthy Diet
As expected, your heart health is influenced by your diet. Constantly consuming unhealthy foods can easily lead to an unhealthy heart, and sooner or later, you’ll experience negative effects on your cholesterol level or blood pressure. With that, it’s imperative to be mindful of everything you eat and ensure that most of it is beneficial for your heart.
Some heart-healthy foods you should have more of are vegetables, fresh fruits, fish, nuts, and whole grains. These will allow your heart to get nutrients like vitamins, minerals, potassium, and fiber. Fiber is known to help lower your cholesterol. You can consume more fiber from sweet potatoes, mangoes, citrus fruits, beans, and pulses. Meanwhile, potassium is also known to help reduce your blood pressure.
For healthier snack options, go for almonds, peanuts, and walnuts instead of the processed snacks or oily foods you can buy in food stalls and convenience stores. Nuts are incredibly good for the heart.
- Take Heart Health Supplements
Besides getting nutrients from your diet, it’s recommended to turn to heart health supplements for certain nutrients you may not get from your food. However, before taking anything, consult your doctor and ask for insights or suggestions regarding supplements that may be best for your heart and body.
Doctors may recommend dietary supplements, multivitamins, and vitamins, particularly those with unique vitamin E benefits. But keep in mind that supplements are only additional nutrients for your heart, so you shouldn’t consider them a substitute for real food.
- Minimize Salt Intake
People who have a high salt intake or are used to eating salty food for every meal are at risk of high blood pressure. If you have that condition, it means you’re also at risk of stroke or a heart attack in the future. Thus, as much as possible, avoid using too much salt when cooking. The recommended daily salt intake for adults is 6g and 3g for children.
Aside from cutting down on salt during food preparation, it’s ideal to check food labels when shopping. Check how much salt you’re getting from every processed item you eat. If you spot anything with more than 1.5g of salt per 100g of product, steer clear of them at all costs.
- Consume Healthy Fats
Like vitamins and minerals, your heart also needs fat. However, not all fats are beneficial for your heart. The healthy types of fats you should focus on are unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Meanwhile, the one you must avoid is trans fat. This is one of the primary causes of heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. A heart attack can occur when too much trans fat clogs your arteries, slowing down the blood flow needed by your heart.
If your heart’s not getting sufficient blood supply due to poor blood flow caused by trans fat, this may result in heart illnesses or even death. Simply put, avoiding trans fats would boost blood flow in your body. Trans fat can often be found in baked goods, fried fast foods, and snacks. Thus, it’s highly recommended to take your time in reading food labels and go for foods with zero trans fat content.
- Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is an integral part of heart health. Frequent sleep deprivation can put you at risk for cardiovascular diseases regardless of what age group you belong to or how healthy the rest of your habits are. Research states that people who often sleep fewer than six hours every night are more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke than people who regularly get seven to eight hours of sleep.
So no matter how busy you are, always prioritize sleep. Work and other tasks can wait, and you still have plenty of time to finish them in the following days. Meanwhile, you only have one heart, so take care of it by developing healthy sleep habits. Your heart will thank you for it.
- Quit Smoking
Everyone knows what smoking can do to your health. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage not just your lungs but your entire body, including your heart. Frequent smoking can harm your arteries and reduce the oxygen in your blood, resulting in higher blood pressure. Whether you’re a regular or an occasional smoker, it’s recommended that you quit smoking as early as now. Quitting this habit can be tough, but it’s not impossible. You can consult a doctor or a psychologist to help you get through smoking cessation.
Meanwhile, even if you’re not a smoker or you’ve never smoked before, tobacco can still put you at risk through secondhand smoke. This is when you’re often surrounded by active smokers and unintentionally breathe in the smoke they produce. Thus, if you live in an environment or neighborhood with active smokers, the best chance to fight off secondhand smoke is by wearing a mask when going outside. If you can, try avoiding all the places where smokers tend to hang out.
- Be Active
Exercise can indeed bring numerous benefits to your health, unfortunately only 23% of Americans do it often enough. Exercise can help you live longer, as seen in this study where older people who exercise are healthier than younger peers who don’t exercise. However, it may not be enough for your heart, especially if you spend the rest of the day sitting for long periods. People with sedentary jobs, such as working in an office, are at great risk for heart disease. Thus, if you’re one of them, you have to find ways to keep your body moving throughout the day.
For instance, you can try standing up between working hours and intentionally walk up and down the stairs. If you’re working in a building with elevators and stairs, it may be best to go for the stairs whenever you can. When parking your car, go for the farthest parking lot and walk the rest of the distance. During your lunch break, you can have a 5- to 15-minute walk at the park before going back to work. All these practices can do so much for your heart health.
Following these health and wellness practices would do your heart health a world of good. As mentioned, it’s best to make small changes at a time rather than doing nothing at all. Sooner or later, you’ll feel much better and more confident to face life as you now lead an active and heart-healthy lifestyle.