This is a great time of year; love is in the air and everything is all chocolates, roses and romance. No doubt you’ve probably read many articles about the health benefits of eating dark chocolate, and trust me there are plenty, but today I thought we’d focus on something that also coincides with Valentine’s Day. I’m talking about your heart, or better yet your heart health.
What’s unknown to most is that heart disease is the number one cause of death in North America and although man of us fear cancer (as well we should), heart disease is considered to be a silent killer. When I say heart disease I don’t just mean a heart attack, I’m actually referring to a group of conditions that affect the cardiovascular system including Artherosclerosis (arteries clogged with fatty deposits), Cardiomyopathy (reduction in the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body), Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and many more. Some people have no symptoms whatsoever and then one day they experience a heart related event that sends them straight to the emergency room. If you’re lucky enough it’ll be caught early and probably by fluke, but for many that’s not the case.
As terrifying as it sounds, there are habits that everyone can easily adopt in order to reduce your risk of heart ailments. These include the following:
- Don’t smoke (and if you do, quit NOW!)
- Exercise daily and limit your amount of time sitting down each day
- Understand and control your blood pressure (your doctor can help with that)
- Eat a clean diet and limit your consumption of saturated fats
- Keep your weight at a healthy level
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Reduce stress
- Get regular check-ups with your health care provider
These strategies seem like no-brainers and they really are. The bottom line is that if you want to be healthy for your entire then you have always lead a healthy life. Diet wise pay attention to how much animal protein and fat you consume each day and reduce accordingly; consider incorporating more plant based meals into your overall diet, there are tons of delicious recipes that you can find online. In terms of reducing stress, well that’s a tough one. We all have stress in our lives and it’s pretty much inevitable no matter what you do, but there are a few things that you can do to manage it. Exercise helps as it releases endorphins which helps you feel good, laughing and smiling a lot is also a good idea (watching your favorite sitcoms each day is helpful, I like The Big Bang Theory and The Goldbergs), get plenty of rest (as I have mentioned many times before and will probably continue to mention) and give yourself down time too whether it’s through meditation, yoga or just reading a book for 10 minutes each day. The best thing that you can do for yourself here is to schedule annual check ups with your doctor where they do a full physical and can address any concerns or question you may have. Your doctor is a great resource to you and they can refer to specialists as needed. Be sure to take their advice seriously and if ever you’re not sure, get a second opinion. Always remember that you should disclose everything to them as they can investigate and help you get the best treatment possible for whatever ailment you may have or develop.
Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and take care of yourself, they need you. The best gift that you can give to them is the healthiest version of yourself, so keep that in mind around this time of year when you think about what love really is. Respect yourself, your loved ones and your body by adopting and maintaining all of these strategies for life.
Start It, Finish It
*For more information on heart health, please visit these websites: