Steps To A Healthy Heart
There are quite a few natural heart health tips you can follow to get your heart healthy. The heart is an important muscle, yet it is one muscle many people forget. Sometimes I think more people are interested in building up big biceps, rather than making their heart a healthy, well functioning machine!
So what can you do to get started?
Steps To Natural Heart Health
- Schedule A Blood Sugar Screening
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by having your blood sugar checked for the presence of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Both conditions can be detected by doing a fasting blood test.
Values of blood glucose that are between 100 and 125 on a fasting basis mean you have pre-diabetes and should follow your blood sugars more closely so you don’t develop diabetes mellitus. Fasting blood sugars of 125 or more mean you have diabetes and must do things to lower your blood glucose levels such as eat a low sugar diet, exercise, and there are also natural blood sugar lowering supplements.
Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease but you can reverse Type 2 diabetes.
- Start an Exercise Program
This means getting off the couch and getting out there to do some form of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is particularly good at increasing your heart rate, increasing your respiratory rate, and lowering your blood pressure. You should aim to exercise in an aerobic exercise about 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.
Aerobic exercises you can do include brisk walking, running, jogging, using a stair-stepper, bicycling, and swimming. Swimming is especially good for people who want to exercise but cannot tolerate the wear and tear on the joints. You should also consider doing some kind of weight training about two days per week.
Weight training tones muscles and increases your basal metabolic rate so that you can burn calories more effectively, even without exercising. You should make exercise a family affair so you can do things as a group and reduce all of your family’s risks of heart disease.
It is rather surprising why people don’t seem to seriously consider exercise as a natural heart health practice. Being overweight puts a burden on your heart and ultimately makes your heart too tired to work! You don’t have to exercise until you drop, walking is also great exercise.
New research shows that strenuous exercise of more than 3 hours a week can actually have a negative health impact. The American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and other respected global health institutions recommend 30 minute sessions of moderate to intense physical activity no more than 5 times a week.
- Food and Diet
Food is the next most important aspect of natural heart health. If you want to keep your heart strong and healthy, you have to be careful of what you eat. The ideal diet is one that is low in cholesterol, sodium and fat, but high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and natural fibers.
There are things you can eat that will increase your risk for heart disease, just as there are things you can eat that will reduce your risk of heart disease. Check your pantry for foods that are high in cholesterol, such as meats, high fat dairy products, and certain processed foods.
Processed foods are also high in bad fats, such as trans fats, although the US government has made progress in reducing trans fats in the foods you purchase. Look for foods that contain no sugar. Instead of red meat, you can choose fatty fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered heart healthy.
Instead of cakes and cookies, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruits, which are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which have health benefits you can’t get through eating low fiber, high sugar foods.
Here are foods to add to your heart healthy diet:
- Wild caught salmon, sardines and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Garlic keeps your blood vessels from being constricted, allowing your blood to flow properly.
- Brown rice, black beans and kidney beans, oatmeal and other high-fiber foods regulate a healthy cardiovascular system, and lower your chances of suffering a heart attack and developing heart disease.
- Almonds, kale, oranges and blueberries.
- An occasional glass of red wine and plenty of water.
- Steer clear of processed foods, sugar, salt and white flour.
- Eat more plant-based foods.
- Cut back drastically on your salt intake and your risk of mild or significant heart problems and afflictions is dramatically lowered.
Salt is not needed in your diet and is directly linked to high blood pressure and coronary heart disease when you use too much. This means cutting back on processed foods, many of which have a high salt content.
- Alcohol and Smoking
Minimize alcohol drinking and quit smoking altogether for natural heart health. Smoking actually shortens your life with each cigarette that you smoke. I have heard people say, smoking reduces their stress levels and so that must be helping their heart more than the smoke harming them. Who are they kidding? Don’t smoke if you want a healthy heart.
Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate begins to return to normal. Only 2 hours after you quit, your blood pressure and heart rate have returned to naturally healthy levels and only 12 hours after quitting, your blood oxygen levels are normal once again. The negative effects of smoking on your heart and lungs are well known.
Stop smoking now and you will begin to experience the heart healthy benefits of kicking the habit in his little as 20 minutes.
As for alcohol, the occasional beer, a glass of wine or alcoholic drink is not unhealthy…that is ‘occasional’. However when you overdo it, you can cause short and long-term damage to your heart muscles, suffer unhealthy weight gain and raise your risks of having a heart attack.
Enjoying no more than 1 or 2 adult beverages 2 or 3 times a week is a smart rule to follow.
- Reduce Stress
Finally, you can round up your natural heart health regime by avoiding stressful situations as much as possible. Stress can cause high blood pressure and if you experience this constantly, heart disease won’t be far behind.
If you work in a stressful environment, make sure to take frequent breaks in order to take a deep breath and relax your mind so as not to be affected by all the stress and tension around you.
If you take all these natural steps towards a health heart, you won’t need to rely on medications, you may only need a little boost with natural heart health supplements. With natural heart health practices, you will not only have a healthier heart but live longer too!