Living in the 21st century is quite demanding professionally, physically, and mentally. Cardiovascular health is increasingly becoming an overlooked aspect of health in the current world. According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases are the reason behind 31% of total deaths annually. In some countries, heart-related diseases have taken the form of an epidemic and haunt people every day. In such circumstances, it is vital to consciously make an effort to ensure good health for your heart. This is where we intend to help you.
Here are 8 natural ways to improve your cardiovascular health:
1. Watch What Goes In
If you plan on changing your health, experts will advise you to pay attention to your diet. Many processed foods (this includes fruit juice!) have all the good nutrients removed to leave the bad ones. These foods cater to the scarcity of time people have and become regular options in sedentary lives. The regular consumption of such foods increases your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
We highly recommend replacing these foods with healthier whole foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit, which is always a big step towards a healthy heart. Fish have omega-3 fatty acids that work wonders against atherosclerosis and protect your heart, making it another excellent option for you.
Yes, you read that right. As a consumer, you should be reading regularly. Every packaged food or processed food that you put in your shopping cart has a Nutrition Facts label. This label shows the nutritional content of the food, like the amount of various nutrients, calories per serving and fats in the product. Most processed foods contain high amounts of sugar and additives, which increases your risk of obesity. By reading your labels, you can also avoid various other chemicals that are damaging to your health.
3. Get the Blood Flowing
Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your body and health. Research has shown that people who do not indulge in moderate physical activity for 30-40 minutes at least five times a week face a comparatively larger risk of cardiovascular disease.
Working out improves your blood circulation and muscular function. People that exercise live longer and healthier lives – FACT! It is a true panacea, preventing heart disease, cancer and dementia. Studies have shown that heart attack patients who exercised regularly showed improvement in terms of cardiovascular well-being. Supplemented with a good diet, exercising is amazing for your body. Besides, exercises have been long considered and proven to be stress busters, which brings us to our next step.
Related article: 6 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally – Backed By Science
4. Get Stress off The Equation
Stress in today’s world is detrimental to your mental and physiological health Studies state that work and private life-related stress can increase the chances of coronary heart disease by up to 50%. Stress also lowers the chance of recovery among patients with cardiovascular diseases.
It is highly recommended that you make a conscious effort to minimize stress in all walks of life. Various avenues like guided meditation, yoga, exercising every day, and maintaining a balanced diet will relieve stress. If you feel that stress is getting the best of you, you should consider getting professional help.
5. Put Away the Smoke
Smoking has been associated with various diseases and conditions in the human body. Not only does it affect your lungs adversely, but smoking has also been seen as a serious threat to your heart. People who smoke regularly are up to four times more prone to cardiovascular ailments as compared to non-smokers.
If you are looking to safeguard your heart against such diseases, it is essential that you quit smoking. People who quit smoking have shown better cardiovascular function than people who continue to smoke on a regular basis.
6. Get Enough Shut-Eye
Good sleep is a requisite for the overall health of an individual. Disturbed sleeping patterns are known to increase stress, fatigue, and other physiological damage to multiple organ systems. It accelerates the building up of blockages in your arteries, which are hallmarks of impending myocardial infarction and cardiac arrest.
Everyone needs 7-8 hours of sleep, have a regular sleep schedule, and be an early riser.
7. Have A Strict Hand With Alcohol
Some studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol can improve the heart’s functioning. However, these studies are not entirely backed by science. If you are not a consumer of liquor, it is not advisable to start just for the sake of your heart. Research has found that drinking in large amounts leads to arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) and risks like cardiac arrest and heart failure. However, you should understand that alcohol does not dramatically affect your heart if it is consumed in small amounts. So don’t be shy to pick up a glass for social occasions. Moderation is key.
8. Pay Attention to Your Weight
Obesity is linked to heart disease in many ways. People who are overweight experience higher blood pressure and can also develop diabetes. Experts advise that people should maintain an ideal weight according to their BMI (body mass index) to minimize the risks of such diseases.
So, in times of globalization and modernization, where various factors are affecting your body, it is up to you to take control of your health. Small firm steps can create excellent results for your overall wellness. Implement these 9 steps and you will see a change in not just your heart’s well-being, but also your general health and fitness.
Related article: Ultimate Guide to Heart Screening in Singapore
Dr Michael MacDonald is a heart doctor and cardiologist working in Singapore.