Do you know your risk factors for developing heart disease or having a stroke or a heart attack? Are your cholesterol levels elevated? Do you have hypertension or diabetes? If you are suffering from one or more of these risk factors, you should be doing everything you can to improve your heart health. Let’s look at the six best ways you can nourish your heart and lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or experiencing a heart attack or a stroke.
1. Vitamin D – The National Institutes of Health reports that a deficiency of vitamin D increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Furthermore, its deficiency can increase the risk of heart failure and hypertension. You can protect your heart by getting ample amounts of vitamin D. Supplementation, along with getting this vitamin from fortified dairy products and cereal, can help improve your heart health. Finally, you can increase your vitamin D levels naturally by spending time outdoors in the sun.
2. Exercise – Exercise is an integral part of caring for your heart. Improve your heart health by exercising daily. Seek to get moderate physical activity for thirty minutes or more daily to lower your risk of developing a cardiovascular issue. If you are out of shape and cannot do thirty minutes of exercise daily, start slowly by taking a ten minute walk. Slowly begin increasing your daily activity until you can complete thirty minutes of exercise each day. Of course, before you start any exercise program, you should speak with your doctor first.
3. Stop smoking – Cigarette smoking damages many organs in your body and increases the risk of cancer. It also increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and peripheral vascular disease. Smoking is tied to almost one half of a million deaths annually in the united states. Cigarette smoking causes the major arteries to become tight, the heart rate increases, and heart rhythms become irregular. Quitting smoking can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Once you stop smoking, your heart rate decreases in twenty minutes. After twelve hours, carbon monoxide levels return to normal. After three months, your heart attack risk significantly reduces. After a year, the risk of developing coronary artery disease is cut in half.
4. Stress – Chronic stress increases cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body. When these hormones increase, your blood pressure rises, and your cholesterol levels increase. Additionally, stress can change how your blood clots, increasing your risk of developing heart disease and experiencing a heart attack. A number of things can cause stress. An illness of yourself or a loved one, a death of a loved one or friend, problems with a relationship, changes in your job status, legal or financial issues, or a trauma can cause you to experience high stress levels. You can lower your risk of developing a heart condition by decreasing your stress levels. Lower your stress by practicing guided meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or journaling.
5. Weight loss – Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Body fat can cause the atrium and ventricles to become enlarged. Furthermore, obesity can lead to atherosclerosis. The American College of Cardiology reports that obesity can lead to systemic inflammation which can damage the heart. Losing weight by eating a diet filled with fresh fruits, healthy fats, low protein levels, fresh vegetables, and whole grains can help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
6. Sleep – Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your heart health. When you do not get enough sleep, your body’s biological processes can be interrupted, resulting in blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and systemic inflammation. For example, sleep apnea can lead to heart issues. Get enough sleep by practicing good sleep habits. Set a strict bedtime and wake up at the same time each day to help reset your circadian rhythm. Avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening. Use a white noise machine and room darkening blinds or curtains to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Learning how to nourish your heart through diet, exercise, and supplementation can keep you healthy. Stop smoking, lose weight, and get enough sleep to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.