Health Habits: Heart Heathy Habits
Let’s speak matters of the heart. The heart is what everyone needs to live. It is the most important muscle in the body because it provides the body with oxygen and nutrients while carrying away wastes. It only makes sense to make sure that the heart remains healthy throughout our lifespan. When the body is subjected to prolonged stress, excess sodium, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking and alcohol the risk for hypertension and heart disease increases. Hypertension and heart disease are known to be “silent killers” because the condition progresses over time. Usually there are no obvious symptoms, allowing it to fly under the radar for extended amount of time.
The biggest contributors to hypertension are things that can be controlled with the development of particular habits.
Developing a good relationship with your primary care physician (PCP) is highly recommended. Annual check-ups are key to early intervention, positive outcomes and health maintenance. Ask your physician what your blood pressure is each time you go and learn what a healthy blood pressure is.
Keep the body active. Sedentary lifestyles lead to weight gain, which contributes to hypertension. Walking is the easiest thing to do and does not require any gym equipment. Making small changes such as parking further than normal, taking the stairs or start a walking regimen with a friend or family member. Fido would probably enjoy keeping you company.
Feed your body nutritious whole foods. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is widely known for reducing hypertension in as little as 2 weeks. The focus is on eating vegetables, fruit and whole grains along with lean protein such as poultry and fish. It limits foods high in saturated fats, sugar and sweets. Check out the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute’s website for information to discuss with your PCP.
Be conscious of the amount of sodium in your food. Limit your intake of salt-containing processed foods. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy people should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (the equivalent of a teaspoon) per day. Some things to try are: leaving the salt out of dishes you cook, taste your food before salting it, and use herbs and spices instead of salt. Replace “garlic salt” and “onion salt” with just granulated onion or granulated garlic. Experiment with creating your own seasoning blends.
The above are just a few things you can do to avoid or reduce hypertension. As always, speak with your doctor if you have any concerns. Those with hypertension in their family history should also make it a habit to see their physician at least annually.
This week’s health habits: Take a few moments to assess your health, set up an appointment with your PCP if needed, and incorporate one or more of the above habits.