Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in India. A healthy heart translates into a healthy life. The lifestyle choices you make determine how happy your heart is.
While age, family history, and genetics can predispose you to heart disease, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Let’s see how diet, sleep, or exercise can help your heart.
What are the best choices to make our heart healthy?
Diet choices affect your overall health. Diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure are food-related factors that increase susceptibility to heart disease. A healthy diet can be an effective way to manage all of these conditions. Some heart-healthy food habits are:
- Try to have a mix of fruits and vegetables of different colors every day.
- A combination of legumes, whole grains and nuts can give you essential nutrients for a healthy heart. Whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice are rich in dietary fiber.
- Healthy food choices are just one part of the heart-healthy regimen. Be sure to limit the consumption of poor food choices, such as processed foods and fizzy (sugar) drinks.
- It’s never easy to immediately switch to these healthy choices and make them long-lasting habits. You have to be patient and focus on changing your lifestyle. Going on a fad diet may not help. A keto diet may not be effective for heart health. Nor should we regard nutritional supplements as a substitute for a healthy diet.
- Vegetarian diets can help lower cholesterol. But if you are a non-vegetarian, a sudden switch to a vegetarian diet may not be feasible. Instead, you can make this change gradually. A meatless day in a week can be a good starting point.
- One thing we often forget while following a heart-healthy diet is monitoring sodium intake. Excess sodium can raise blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Sodium is present in many of our favorite meats, popcorn, pizza, burritos and soups. Home-cooked foods and keeping table salt to a minimum can help you moderate your daily sodium intake.
- Establish exercise routine
Exercise gives strength to your muscles; the heart is no exception. Regular exercise can keep your heart strong and healthy. According to several studies, 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week can keep you fit.
Experts suggest that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. It could be brisk walking, cycling, or anything else that can raise your heart rate. If you want to level up, try high-intensity exercise for 75 minutes a week. Vigorous exercise such as running or dancing will leave you breathless and your heart racing.
Start slowly and try to find an exercise routine that you enjoy.
Chronic smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. Smoking not only weakens your lungs, but can also affect other organs such as the heart.
Nowadays, vaping is in trend as a substitute for cigarettes. Although vaping contains fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes, vaping still contains nicotine. In addition, some studies have shown that people who use vaping as a cigarette substitute end up using both.
According to several studies, stress can lead to various heart conditions. Stress management can be a difficult task in this fast-paced world. But all we need is a start.
Some stress-bursting techniques include:
- Have some time in a day to breathe, relax and meditate
- Improve physical activity. Exercise in any form triggers the release of happy hormones.
- Keep in touch with your friends and family and don’t hesitate to share your feelings.
- Don’t hesitate to consult an expert if you need to.
A good night’s sleep is like an elixir. It lowers your blood pressure. Someone who sleeps soundly is less likely to develop diabetes and obesity. An adult needs 6 to 9 hours of sleep to rejuvenate his body and mind.
Try these simple ideas for a good night’s sleep:
- Make your bedroom a cool and dark place with little to no noise.
- Avoid using laptops, televisions, or other gadgets before going to bed.
- Create a sleep routine and stick to it
The research and advances around heart disease have improved our understanding of heart disease and their risk factors. But it all depends on our determination to manage these risk factors.
Dr. Anand Pandey, Director & Senior – Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi