February is American Heart Health Month. Nutritionist Patricia Eales shares the steps to take to reduce your risk of heart disease. Read more from Patricia on her website.
February is Heart Month. Did you know that every 7 minutes in North America, someone dies from heart disease or stroke? Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for women in Canada and the United States. In fact, heart disease and stroke kills seven times more women than breast cancer. Women who are menopausal, have diabetes, and are sedentary are especially at risk.
As women, we spend our days looking after others, and very often put our own health on the back burner, not thinking that heart disease is something that can affect us.
Although symptoms are generally the same for men and women, women can sometimes experience symptoms that are less definite, such as chest discomfort rather than pain.
For women, chest pain may not be the first sign of heart trouble. Women have reported experiencing unusual tiredness, trouble sleeping, problems breathing, indigestion, and anxiety up to a month or so before the heart attack.
Learn how to recognize the warning signs of heart disease and stroke and take preventive action and control your risk factors.
Here are 9 steps that you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Drink Water
Get 8 – 10 glasses per day of pure, filtered water every day
Reduce your consumption of caffeinated drinks – caffeine causes stress, anxiety and has been shown in some studies to contribute to Type II Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease
- Improve Your Digestion and Gut Health
It’s as simple as chewing food completely to allow your body to do its job digesting the food and absorbing the nutrients. Taking time to savour your food not only makes eating more enjoyable, it can also help control your appetite. Your sense of fullness and satisfaction depends on hormonal signals from your digestive tract. If you eat too quickly, your brain may not receive the signals that say you’re full.
- Love Your Immune System
Boosting your immune system can help you to avoid the colds and flu that others around you share. Do this by eating foods rich in zinc (such as pumpkin seeds) lots of garlic and ginger, and drinking pure, filtered water.
- Let Food be Your Medicine
Eat fibre – get 25g – 30g of fibre each day
Eat the Rainbow- Choose red, orange, yellow and purple in addition to green. These vegetables contain carotenoids, flavonoids, liminoids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which help inhibit inflammation, relieve pain and reduce your risk of cancer, macular degeneration, heart disease and Alzheimers. They also look really pretty on your plate!
Eat whole grains and seeds – helps you get your daily fibre intake
Don’t Skip Breakfast and be sure to eat every 3 – 4 hours to keep your blood sugar stable
Choose alternative sources of protein sources often, and eat your veggies!
- Eat Healthy Fats
Avoid Trans fats, but love unsaturated fats, and saturated fats in moderation (butter, coconut oil, avocado oil) Fats are an important part of a healthy diet: They provide essential fatty acids that are vital for heart health, brain health, mood and mental cognizance, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel.
30 – 60 minutes 3 times a week – you don’t have to join a gym, just getting out and walking around the block at a brisk pace is a great place to start. Be sure to incorporate both cardio and resistance training for overall health and fitness
- Get Enough Sleep
get 8 hours of good quality sleep
Practice good sleep hygiene – keep electronics out of the bedroom, sleep in a cool, dark room to help boost melatonin levels. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine after 6 p.m. whenever possible
- Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins
choose organic wherever possible. Shop using the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list (www.ewg.org)
choose free range, antibiotic and drug free meats, dairy and eggs wherever possible
If you smoke, quit!
- Reduce or Eliminate Stress
In today’s world, many people feel stressed almost continuously. Chronic stress can make you more anxious, jumpy, fearful and impatient, and then later, fuzzy and fatigued.
Breathe, meditate, practice yoga, tai chi, have a massage, play!
Getting healthy doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Remember, that you needed to crawl before you could walk, and walk before you could run. Start taking the baby steps today towards a healthier lifestyle that will last for the rest of your days!