5 Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
The human body is like a machine made up of many different components that work in sync with one another. And just like a machine, our bodies require constant care and maintenance to make sure everything is functioning as it should.
Understandably, our hearts are one of the most vital components of all – they’re the motherboard, so to speak. This major muscle pumps blood around the body, which contains essential oxygen and nutrients, and removes metabolic waste.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a serious issue in countries around the world. In fact, so says the World Health Organization (WHO), more people die annually from CVDs than any other cause.
Around 17.9 million people died from some form of CVD in 2016, accounting for 31% of all deaths worldwide. Of these, 85% were from heart attack and stroke.
Not surprisingly, our lifestyle plays a key role in keeping our hearts healthy and happy. As the WHO explains, most CVDs can be prevented by ‘addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol using population-wide strategies.’
Now, if you’re a regular gym-goer or someone who plays a sport professionally, then chances are you’re getting plenty of exercise. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines cited by Mayo Clinic recommends that adults:
- Partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes or vigorous aerobic activity a week – or a combination of the two. This activity should be spread out across the week.
- Commit to strength training at least twice a week, focusing on all major muscle groups. You should aim to do a single set of each exercise at least, using weights or a resistance level that tires your muscles after around 12-15 repetitions.
Do things to get your heart rate up, and you could lower your risk of heart-related issues. Now let’s take a look at five other tips for keeping your heart healthy:
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
Exercise and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to protecting your heart. As WebMD notes, a heart-healthy diet requires you to follow certain ‘food rules,’ which include:
- Limit bad fat. Eating less saturated fat could cut your risk of heart problems by half. This may involve switching to low-fat dairy and meat products, and switching to healthier fats such as olive and canola oils.
- Cut your salt intake. You can limit your salt intake by cooking without salt, avoiding processed foods where possible and going easy on the salt shaker.
- Get your five-a-day. Making sure you get your five-a-day can lower the risk of not only heart disease, but also stroke and some forms of cancer.
- Embrace the grains. Whole grains help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and may even help to prevent type 2 diabetes. Foods include whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice.
- Up your omega-3 intake
Omega-3 is an important nutrient in maintaining a strong and functional heart. Of course, omega-3 can be found in abundance in fish, especially mackerel, salmon, cod and herring. But if you want to be sure you’re getting your daily dose, then you may want to consider taking supplements as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
If you’re looking for the best form of omega-3 supplement to support heart health, look no further than Lýsi’s Omega3 HEART. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which contribute to the normal function of the heart and cardiovascular system.
It’s one of the best DHA supplements as it contains a higher dose of the fatty acid as well as EPA, both of which contribute to normal blood triglyceride levels and blood pressure.
- Give up smoking
Tobacco use has strong links to heart disease, so quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Because smoking is an addiction, this is easier said than done – so here are some tips, courtesy of the NHS website:
- Think positive. If you’ve tried to quit before, learn from that experience and think about what you’ll do different this time.
- Make a plan. Set a date for giving up as this will give you a concrete goal to work towards.
- Stick to the ‘not a drag’ rule. One single drag could end up undoing all of your hard work. So, get into the habit of saying to yourself, “I won’t even have a single drag,” whenever you find yourself in difficulty.
- Swap out drinks. A US study found that fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee make cigarettes taste better, so try to up your intake of water and juice.
- Get some support. If a friend or family member wants to give up smoking as well, do it together. Also seek support from your local stop smoking service.
- Limit your alcohol consumption
There are a number of cardiovascular risks associated with drinking too much alcohol, explains Heart.org. For instance, it can increase the levels of some fats in the blood and lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and even stroke.
If you think that you may be drinking too much, some ways you can limit consumption include keeping a diary so you know that you’re not going over recommended limits; removing temptation by not keeping any alcohol at home; designating a few days of the week as ‘non-alcohol days’; and keeping yourself busy at times you’d normally enjoy a drink.
Taking time out to relax and recuperate plays a huge part in keeping our hearts healthy. So make sure you have plenty of ‘me’ time to find energy and calm.
There are many activities you can do to unwind and they will depend on your preferences. For instance, you might go on a hike in the great outdoors, find a quiet space to practice meditation, or snuggle up on the sofa with a good book.
And if you needed an excuse to laugh a little more, then research has linked laughing to making us feel altogether less stressed and more happy. This is because the action release endorphins – aka, the ‘happy chemical’!
So, what are you waiting for? Follow these five tips for a healthier heart and a healthier, happier you!