Alcohol’s effect on the heart is hotly debated. There are studies that claim that moderate drinking is beneficial to the heart and many studies which also say otherwise. However, the fact that excessive drinking is tied to various cardiovascular issues like obesity, high blood pressure and increased risk to coronary artery diseases cannot be neglected.
There is no alternative to being well informed. Get regular tests to check your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ECG test. Doctors suggest that one should start getting checked either after turning 30. People who experience symptoms like chest pain, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness or discomfort shouldn’t delay meeting a doc.
THere’s a compelling evidence to suggest that people who eat more greens and fruits significantly lower their bad cholesterol levels and this also improves their digestive system and metabolism allowing the body to function better. Most dieticians would tell you that you should get at least five servings (400 g) of fruits and vegetables in a day.
Unsaturated fats both mono-unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, peanut oil) and poly-unsaturated (sesame, cottonseed and soya bean oils). are known to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and boost up good cholesterol levels. Many dieticians suggest switching to olive oil, rice bran oil or other healthier oils. Other good sources of these fatty acids include fish oils, milk compounds, flax seeds and nuts.
While moderate intake of salt is necessary, too much is linked to various cardiovascular ailments, particularly hypertension. Most people end up consuming a lot of salt without actually realising it, because they aren’t actually separately adding table salt to their food. Food items like bread, butter or packaged noodles might not taste salty but play a part in increasing your salt intake.
Sugar on the other hand is an infamous culprit. Experts believe that the easy availability of sugar is fuelling the global obesity pandemic because we are naturally geared to seek it for the glucose – our primary source of energy which was earlier available only through natural sources like fruits. The only solution is to cut down on sugar intake by limiting – cakes, milk shakes, sweets, sweetmeats, fizzy drinks, cookies and ice-cream – pretty much everything your heart desires is bad for it.
It’s been suggested in jest that Thomas Edison’s light bulb is responsible for the current obesity pandemic. While that would be stretching the truth a bit too much, the fact remains that our current work-play around the clock routine does have a hand in the various lifestyle diseases. It has been suggested that initially our body’s internal clock was adapted to the natural day-light schedule and exposure to artificial light has thrown it off-track. This has also led to various kinds of sleep disorders which in turn impacts your appetite causing obesity, glucose metabolism and increases blood pressure. It’s a vicious cycle really and getting enough sleep is very important to keep heart disease at bay.
92 million out of India’s 285 million smokers don’t know that smoking bad for their heart and that it increases the chances of suffering from a coronary heart disease by two to four times. Smoking is also one of the major causes of lung cancer and also second hand smoke kills 600,000 people every year out of which 100,000 are children and 87% of deaths due to second hand smoke are due to cardiovascular diseases. So kick the butt now, if not for yourself then for your near and dear ones whom you're exposing to secondhand smoke.
It’s still not clear how stress causes heart disease. Most experts concede that its part of a snowball effect of obesity, blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, lack of exercise, insomnia, etc. All the aforementioned conditions seem to go hand in hand with stress and that’s why taking it easy is imperative for your heart. Take up a hobby, play with your children or take up meditation – anything that will keep stress at bay.
They are basically two kinds of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are present in food items like butter, red meat, dairy products, chocolates, etc. and are known to raise ‘LDL’ or bad cholesterol levels and most dieticians recommend limiting their intake. Trans-fats are unsaturated fats which have the same effect. Manufactured food items usually contain a lot of trans-fats and that’s why nutritionists suggest avoiding them.
Our current sedentary lifestyle has played a major part in the rise of cardiovascular diseases around the world. Lack of exercise leads to build-up of bad cholesterol which prevents the blood from flowing freely and causes hypertension, heart attacks, etc. Exercising plays a very important role in your cardiovascular health. It facilitates weight loss, lowers blood pressure, increases your good ‘cholesterol’ level, improves blood circulation and allows your heart to pump more efficiently. In fact it helps reduce stress also by releasing feel good hormones called endorphins!