by Dani Stone
Americans spend a lot of money and time trying to get fit and lose weight. We pour over diet books, hire personal trainers, and pay for diet programs that help us count calories and track miles on the treadmill. Dr. Martha Grogan, a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic and medical editor for the new book Heart Healthy For Life says there’s a simpler equation we can use to achieve a healthy lifestyle and improve heart health. The answer, she says, lies in the simple equation Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8.
Eat 5 refers to eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. “The great thing about eating fruits and vegetables, they have all kinds of beneficial effects to your heart and for your health in general,” says Grogan. Working this number in to your daily routine can be quite easy if you make a conscious effort to do so and maybe even plan ahead when you’re at the grocery store. A typical day could look like this: Have a banana with breakfast, a juicy peach as a midday snack alongside a cheese stick, a salad of leafy greens with cucumbers and green pepper for lunch and for dinner, serve a side of asparagus along with lean meat, fish or chicken. Look at that, we actually got 6 servings in there.
February is American Heart Month. There have been many public service announcements, ads, and campaigns to bring awareness about the things you can do to improve your heart health. Eating right and getting exercise top the lists of heart healthy choices however, a new addition to the lists may be to get a pet.
A recent Japanese study found that pet owners with chronic diseases appeared to have healthier hearts than those without pets. These findings were published in the American Journal of Cardiology and specifically noted that pet owners in this study had a higher heart rate variability verses non-pet owners.
Heart rate variability refers to the patient’s heart’s response to change, such as beating faster in stressful situations. Reduced heart rate variability has been linked to a higher heart disease mortality risk. The study specifically monitored 191 people between the ages of 60-80 years old. All were afflicted with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. They were monitored for a 24 hour period and wore heart monitors for the entire study. About four out of every ten people owned a pet.
The study concluded that for pet owners, nearly 5 percent of their heartbeats differed by 50 milliseconds in length. Only 2.5 percent of the non-pet owners had differing heart rates, meaning that non-pet owner’s heart rates changed less or responded to change less.
As part of Heart Health month, the U.S. Post Office is issuing a new stamp to raise awareness about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among both men and women in America. The image evokes both healthy eating and physical movement, two key elements to a heart healthy lifestyle. The stamp is also being used to help promote the Million Hearts initiative, which was lunched in September 2011 by the Department of Health and Human Services with the goal of reducing heart attacks and strokes by 1 million over the next five years.
Last night, the Heart Health Forever Stamps were featured during The Biggest Loser as part of a sweepstakes. To enter the “Watch It. Write It. Win It.” sweepstakes, fans are asked to write letters of encouragement to the contestants for a chance to win a trip to the Biggest Loser Resort, a month of healthy meals or tickets to the Biggest Loser finale. Viewers can write to previously eliminated contestants from the current season. Visit the USPS website for more information about the giveaway.
So you’re an Italian who loves good food, even better wine, and you have your name behind some of the finest restaurants in the country. Sounds like the good life, right? Then, you visit the doctor and learn that you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and you’re going to have to make some changes. For many, this would be an end to the road of a life of feel-good, taste-good indulgence. However, it might have just been the beginning for Joe Bastianich.
“I’m enthusiastic to share how healthy living transformed my own life,” Joe told us in an interview. His diagnosis of these early indicators for heart disease forced him to make some changes in his lifestyle, and the result is inspiring and attainable for anyone. He credits diet, exercise and medication with helping him to “no longer have any medical conditions.”
Joe has previously taken Lipitor, a popular cholesterol-lowering drug that he also represents, and follows a heart-healthy diet and a daily fitness regimen which he credits with helping him to change the course of his health. “Lipitor, regular exercise, and a new way of thinking about food and eating,” point this proud Italian in a better direction.
He says he fell in love with running, something that is “very much a part of my life.” Last year he completed the world championship ironman competition in Kona, Hawaii, and next month you’ll see him running the LA Marathon. He’s looking at a half-ironman competition in Italy this summer, too. For him, “running, cycling, and swimming is my personal time, my meditation time.” More than his fitness and general health, his training contributes to his “mental health and overall productivity.” He takes time every day to eat right and allow himself to train. (more…)
Prepared by Director of Nutrition of CalorieCount.com Rachel Berman RD
While you are thinking about what to buy that special someone for Valentine’s Day this February, also consider giving yourself the gift of heart health. Whether you have dropped off on your New Year’s Resolution or just need a renewed sense of motivation, the American Heart Association’s designated Heart Health Month has come at a perfect time. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America and by making swaps in your diet you can take steps towards prevention.
Love it: Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats found in oily fish, enriched products such as eggs, and supplements. They can reduce your risk for heart disease by lowering blood pressure, increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and reducing inflammation in your body that can damage blood vessels. A study published this month in Circulation, also found that older adults with higher levels of omega-3 in their blood were 30% less likely to suffer from an irregular heartbeat. If you aren’t a fan of fish like salmon or tuna, you can also get a dose of omega-3 in with flaxseed and walnuts.
Leave it: Saturated & trans fatty acids
Foods high in saturated fat raise blood cholesterol which can damage your arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Saturated fat is found in full fat dairy, meats and even some vegetable products like coconut and palm kernel oil. Read labels to avoid products with trans fat. It is a man-made product that increases ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and suppresses protective, ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
Heart disease happens when a number of ‘risk factors’ add up. Some of the risks – gender, genetics and age – are uncontrollable; but others – smoking, inactivity, excess weight, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes – are within our control. The key to preventing heart disease is to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and take medications as prescribed. Use this Heart Attack Risk Assessment from the American Heart Association to find your risk for heart disease.
Men Need Help
Women take much better care of themselves. They might be programmed in to the system through OB-GYN care or maybe it’s taking care of the kids, but women visit their doctors for checkups, while men do not.
Over the past ten years, men have gotten fatter while women have stayed the same. In 2000, 27.5% of men were obese, but in 2010, it was 35%. In women, the obesity level remained stable at 33%. Along with obesity, men have more diabetes and high blood pressure, which places them at much greater risk. To their credit, men now smoke and binge drink less and they’re a bit more active. (1) (more…)
If you love cheese, you’re not alone, and you may not want to read this.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) believes cheese to be the guilty culprit of our nation’s obesity problem. They believe it so much that they have recently began a billboard campaign in Albany, New York. Large billboards display dimply thighs or flabby guts and read, “Your Thighs on Cheese,” or “Your Abs on Cheese.”
Are they right? Is the ooey gooey goodness of cheese really the enemy?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimates, Americans have tripled the amount of cheese they eat each year since 1970. Today, the average American eats 31 pounds of per year. Let’s be real, that’s a lot of cheese!
Neal Barnard is part of the PCRM and clearly stated how he feels about our cheese consumption, especially our children’s cheese consumption. “Cheese and other dairy products are the leading source of saturated fat that our kids are swallowing. And I think most Americans are totally oblivious to it.” (more…)
By Kelly Canull, an online soul and life coach at KellyCanull.com.
Every year, heart disease claims more and more lives. Countless people have had their journeys needlessly cut short. Even more people have been unable to receive the mindful and soulful benefits of having those people in their lives. Heart disease and other violent matters of the physical body are working against us, keeping us from fulfilling our destinies, and from touching the lives of those we know and love.
The Holistic Approach to a Healthy Heart
Your health is the most important tool you have in your pursuit of a higher purpose in life. And I’m not just talking about your body. Your mind, body, and spirit all require a healthy prognosis in order to reach their full potential.
The holistic student is one who understands that everything is connected. A symptom cannot be treated on its own in the holistic setting, because its mal-effects are able to travel across borders and infect every facet of your life, even if that doesn’t seem quite possible.
For instance, when you get a stomach bug, your physical body becomes worn down, which in turn darkens your mind, and even corrupts the light of your spirit. One cannot have the body treated and ignore the mind and spirit.
Your heart is a special place. Each of us is born with a guide, a Divine Guide, which helps conduct us through life in a purposeful manner and leads us ever on to the glories of inner peace. This Divine Guide lives in our soul, moves throughout our bodies, and uses our hearts as its voice. (more…)
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. (more…)
Red is a fabulous color. It’s bright, bold, and down-right stunning. It’s also the official color of the Heart Truth campaign, by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and its partners to raise awareness about women’s risk for heart disease.
The Red Dress is the centerpiece of the campaign and was created as a national symbol in 2002. Its presence is meant to remind women that they need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action. This Friday, February 3, everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness for women’s heart disease.
The campaign is specifically targeted toward women ages 40 to 60; however, all women can benefit from the small changes encouraged as part of the campaign. Since heart disease develops gradually, it’s really never too early to start promoting healthy heart initiatives.
Some of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and being over the age of 55. Although genetics can definitely play a role in susceptibility to these risk factors, changing lifestyle behaviors can also greatly impact an individuals likelihood of developing the condition.
Although eating a well-balanced diet, staying physically active, and keeping weight in check all seem like simple notions that most people know, it’s often hard to put those general principles into practice. This is probably true because it’s difficult to envision these large scale ideas as small individual actions we make on a daily basis. These small behaviors eventually add up and result in preventative steps toward heart disease prevention.