Heart disease is still the number one cause of death, killing 787,000 people in 2011 alone, and costing $320 billion annually. And, what is both tragic and exciting, is that 90% of heart disease is preventable by lifestyle change.
Let’s change this trend and learn a few things we can all do to protect our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones. We can make a tremendous difference in our health outcomes. True, our genes may put us at risk, but the environment can change the way our genes are expressed. Studies have shown that changing how we live is a much more powerful intervention for preventing heart disease than any medication.
General recommendations include:
*Eat a healthy diet consisting of 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables combined, fish, organic lean meats, and fish oil as well as fiber rich complex carbohydrates. The Modified Mediterranean Diet is ideal for many, see the link below.
*Get Regular Physical Exercise: Exercise is a necessity in preventing almost all chronic diseases. The exercise does not need to be intense, just move.
*Avoid Trans-fats and Hydrogenated oils.
*Avoid white flour, sugar and processed foods: These foods have been linked to poor health outcomes and diabetes, which is a primary player in heart disease).
*Limit Dietary Cholesterol from Dairy products and meat (if your levels are high)
*Stop smoking: Your Medical Practitioners can help you with Smoking Cessation
*Avoid or Limit alcohol
*Reduce Stress: stress alone can cause a heart attack. Stress causes: increase in heart rate and blood pressure, secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones. These stress hormones cause increased blood clotting, and increased belly fat storage. Chronic, unmanaged stress, overtime, can complicate heart disease.
Plant sterols and non-soluble dietary fiber lower cholesterol levels.
Consider incorporating Ground Flax seed into your diet; it can reduce cholesterol by 18%.
Consider adding organic soy to your diet; this can lower cholesterol by 10%.
Add some Green tea, this too can lower cholesterol (and it has many other benefits).
Try not to eat 3 hours before bed; unused calories/energy from fat and sugar will be stored at night while sleeping.
Talk to your doctor about the addition of Baby Aspirin and Omega 3 supplements if you are at risk.
If you are taking Statins:
Make sure to supplement with at least 100mg of Co-Q10. Statins deplete Co-Q10, which is a potent antioxidant needed for basic cell function, including heart function.
Statins do work to lower cholesterol; however they may increase your risk for diabetes by 50% in some people. Statins can increase insulin resistance and impair the body’s ability to secrete insulin. Therefore, if you are on a statin, you need to be extra mindful and avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Heart disease is something that we can prevent 90% of the time by modifying our behavior. Take charge of your life and make the changes you can in order to achieve health.
At Functional Medicine Specialists we are here for you, and can help you in reaching your health goals. Our Practitioners and Lifestyle coaches are happy to speak to you in regards to these health issues and many more.
Happy Heart Month, let’s work towards a healthier tomorrow!
– Cambria De Marco Perry, BSN, MSN, ACNP-BC