From age 40 and upwards, heart health isn’t something you should take for granted. Nutritional Therapist, Declan Murphy, reveals how you may flip some alarming statistics on their head.
Did you know that heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of women in Ireland and world-wide? Approximately 5,000 Irish women die from cardiovascular disease each year. These are alarming statistics, but there are positives too – 90% of heart disease and stroke are preventable through lifestyle change and risk factor modification.
From the age of 40 (if not sooner) it is recommended to have your overall health checked. It is important to ‘know your number’ by getting a fasting cholesterol test, fasting blood sugar test, blood pressure reading and also have your weight checked regularly. This is imperative, particularly if you have a high genetic link to heart issues, diabetes, or other long-term conditions. There is a perception that if our cholesterol reading is within the normal range that subsequently our heart health will be fine. But this is not always the case. Many other factors are linked to poor heart health. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque in the arteries. The initial stage of atherosclerosis develops as a result of damage to the endothelium, found on the inner lining of the blood vessel. This damage can be caused from systemic inflammation due to poor diet, environmental toxins, or genetic predisposition.
Making changes now can help prevent heart disease in the future.
1. EAT HEALTHILY
Cut down on refined carbohydrates such as cakes, sweets, biscuits, and sweetened drinks. Reduce your salt intake, remove the salt cellar from the table, prepare home cooked meals where you can control salt addition and check salt levels on labels. Choose more high fibre foods – wholemeal or high fibre bread, breakfast cereals and pasta as well as oats, brown rice, plus beans, peas and lentils. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, aim to include five or more portions per day. Include oily fish 2-3 times a week, like salmon, trout, mackerel or sardines as well as a small handful of nuts and / or seeds in your diet, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t consume oily fish regularly consider a high-quality supplement like Cleanmarine MenoMin which contains EPA/DHA omega 3 fatty acids to support heart function.
2. INCREASE EXERCISE
Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise five times a week may reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart attack and help to release endorphins, which are natural pain and stress relievers. Finding a form of exercise that you love, for example swimming, yoga or jogging will help you stick with it. If you don’t exercise at all, talk to your GP before you begin and build up slowly.
3. REDUCE STRESS
Stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Use techniques that help you to reduce stress such as deep breathing. Build enjoyable activities, which reduce stress, into your weekly routine.
4. MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT Excess weight increases the workload on the heart and may increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
5. MANAGE YOUR HOMOCYSTEINE LEVELS
Poor diet, smoking, high coffee and alcohol intake may contribute to elevated homocysteine levels. The level of homocysteine in the blood is increasingly being recognised as a predictor of potential health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Vitamin B6 found in fish, bread, vegetables and eggs and B12 found in dairy products, meat and fish, contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism and to the maintenance of normal red blood cell formation. Cleanmarine MenoMin contains your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 and B12 in a handy capsule form.
6. STOP SMOKING
When you stop smoking, your mental and physical health improves immediately. After just one year, your risk of having a heart attack is cut to half that of a smoker.
7. REDUCE ALCOHOL
Know the recommended limits. This may reduce your blood pressure and calorie intake too. Limit intake to no more than 17 standard drinks (e.g. 1 pint beer = 2 standard drinks; 100ml wine = 1 standard drink) per week for men and 12 for women spread over three or more days and aim for at least 2-3 alcohol free days per week.
8. KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Having a close relative with heart disease increases your risk. Tell your GP and focus on reducing the risk factors you can control.
9. MAKE CHANGES GRADUALLY RATHER THAN ALL IN ONE GO
Making one dietary change each week tends to be more successful rather than changing everything too drastically. Along with lifestyle changes I recommend my clients take Cleanmarine MenoMin, it’s a nutritious blend of omega 3, EPA and DHA, combined with Folate, Biotin, Soy Isoflavones, vitamins D3, B1, B2, B6 and B12. Each ingredient in Cleanmarine MenoMin has been selected based on extensive scientific research. The EPA and DHA in MenoMin are well known for their contribution to the normal function of the heart. What’s more, in Krill Oil, the omega 3 is contained in phospholipid form, which makes it highly absorbable, whilst vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism. Hearts are amazing organs and we have only one. Start caring for yours today.