We spoke with Dr. Travis Stork, a co-host on The Doctors and active ER doctor, yesterday to help spread the word about women’s heart health. During the month of February we’re all doing our part to help to curb the number one killer of women in America – heart disease. The thing is, aside from genetic influence, it can often be completely preventable based on your lifestyle choices.
We asked Dr. Stork what one thing people should do, and could do, today to start making a difference for their heart health, and thus reduce their risk of stroke or death. He recommends “the simplicity of walking 30 minutes each day.”
“[Walking] doesn’t require expensive equipment, it doesn’t require any skill set,” he said. “What I also love about walking is it can do something else that’s interesting for your heart, it can increase the quality time you spend with loved ones.” Those relationships and that time bonding are just as influential on your overall health.
He recommends that we make a post-dinner walk for 30 minutes a part of our family routines. “Make it a habit with your family, your kids will watch you and engage in your habits.” It certainly sounds a lot more appealing than plopping down on the couch as a “root vegetable,” as he described.
Yesterday, in Dr. Stork’s first-ever solo episode on The Doctors, he discussed the Secrets of Losing Your Gut. He confirmed that a definite connection exists between belly fat and heart health. “Increased abdominal, or visceral, fat is a [heart disease] risk factor because visceral fat is so inflammatory in the body,” he told us. He explained that the visceral fat secretes more inflammatory molecules in to the body, which in turn increases the inflammatory level of the blood, which increases cortisol, which increases blood pressure, which actually causes your body to store more visceral fat. He called it “a viscious cycle.”
It’s not all bad news though. “Visceral fat is the easiest to lose,” he told us. In his “Losing Your Gut” episode, he introduced five belly fat burning foods, which include beans, eggs, dairy, whole grains, and berries.
Our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, recommends exercise for burning off belly fat. “Use cardio-type exercise and a low-calorie diet to burn belly fat. Do strength–training exercises that target the core muscles of the mid-section that will show when some of the fat is gone. Work all the muscles of the core – the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and internal and external obliques – for 2 to 3 (non-consecutive) days a week, and don’t be surprised if it takes up to six months to see a difference.”
His motto is “eat well and be active,” and when you adopt those two habits, your health will improve.