11 Ways to Cut Heart Disease Risk: The Pill-Free Approach
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the UK. One of the most important things you can do to cut your risk of heart disease is to eat a healthy diet and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
In this article, we will go over some of the ways that you can reduce your risk for heart disease by doing some simple changes in your life without taking any pills. Have a look at these:
1. Take a walk
You don't need to do it all in one go - blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight can all be reduced by walking just 40 minutes three or four times a week (or 25 minutes of more difficult exercise, such as jogging).
Get creative with your walks; meet a friend or take the dog to the park - some exercise is better than no exercise - even 10 minutes at a time is great for your heart.
Start slow if you're new to working out or just returning to it. Get clearance from your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
2. Let's do lunch
We all know that spending time with friends can lift our spirits but did you know that it is also good for your heart?
According to studies, being alone, or more significantly, feeling lonely, is just as harmful to your heart as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, or not exercising.
It's all about connections; feeling connected to others can make you feel less stressed, which, in turn, can help lower blood pressure.
Make more time for friends and family - it may just save your heart! So grab a friend or two and have lunch to enjoy some friendly conversation.
3. Get your fruits and veggies in
There is a reason your doctor will tell you to make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
The fibre, nutrients + antioxidants that they contain means that they are not just low in kcals/fat and therefore good for your heart; they may also help protect your body's cells that can lead to both diabetes and heart disease.
Try to make your diet as colourful as possible - if you struggle with getting your veggies in, why not try to add them to some of the dishes that you already know you enjoy. That way you get the best of both worlds!
4. Aww, nuts!
The unsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids and fibre contained in nuts can aid your body in reducing plaque build-up, LDL cholesterol and inflammation, which have all been linked to heart disease.
Add a handful of almonds or walnuts to your breakfast cereal, use peanuts as a tasty protein-packed snack in between meals or even try sprinkling some brazil nuts over salads for an extra boost.
The possibilities are endless! Nuts make great healthy snacks and can be easily included in everyday life without having to go out of our way - as long as you remember that they are high in kcals, so don't go too "nuts!"
5. Go fish!
A diet rich in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, or tuna might benefit your heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish may play a part in it, but so does the food's other components. There's debate about whether farmed or wild-caught salmon is better.
The general consensus is that you should be eating fish at least twice a week - there is, of course, no magic number for how much is good for you - just aim to eat at least two servings of fatty fish each week.
If that sounds daunting, consider taking an omega-three fatty acid supplement instead so you know exactly what dose you are getting.
6. Get active outside the gym
Being actively active will also help to lower your risk of heart disease - even with an exercise plan, being a couch potato for the rest of the day may still be detrimental to your health and therefore making sure to move around as much as possible.
Just doing simple things like cleaning the house, putting on your favourite playlist and having a boogie around your living room, or parking your car a little further away from the office - these are all excellent ways to keep moving without doing extra.
7. Try yoga
Yoga has in recent times taken up a much larger part of our lives and there are very good reasons for that.
Not only is it exercise, it can help you to relax and destress but also the deep breathing exercises involved in yoga have been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate + anxiety levels.
Of course, yoga is not everyone's cup of tea and, if this is the case, try to make sure you do things to help calm your stress/mind on a regular basis as this will also help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
Read, meditate, listen to music, knit, do whatever it is that gets you to switch off and relax...!
8. Get enough sleep
On average, our bodies need 7-9 hours and in that time our heart rate/blood pressure is at its lowest.
If you don't sleep enough, your heart rate + blood pressure can therefore be higher - this puts a lot of extra stress on the body and is one of those things that we tend to overlook as being important but if it's not done properly could have some detrimental effects on our hearts long term!
Make sure you keep your stress levels low and that you are getting enough sleep every night - not only will it help to lower your blood pressure but also ensure that you have a healthy weight as this is linked to how well rested we are.
9. Ditch the cigarettes
We'd like to think that everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking and the effect it has on your health.
It raises blood pressure, makes it much harder to exercise, and makes your blood more likely to clot, which puts you at much higher risk of a stroke.
Once you have quit smoking, you'll be reducing the risks associated with heart disease, but it's a good idea to keep doing all of these other things too so you can continue to lower your risk.
Not only will quitting smoking help reduce your chances of developing heart disease, it will also help you to live longer - so, NO excuses!
10. Watch your weight
When it comes to predicting whether or not you'll have a heart attack, extra pounds raise your chances of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all linked to heart disease.
Don't trust quick diets or pills to slim down; instead, exercise and the appropriate amount of healthy food are the greatest methods to maintain a healthy weight. Speak to your doctor about the right diet for you and make sure to get regular exercise.
11. Get regular checkups
Going to see your doctor is probably on the list of things that you'd rather put off until the sun burns out!
However, it is important if you want to make sure your body if firing on all cylinders - your doctor will check your blood pressure, cholesterol level and pulse to make sure everything is in good working order and this will help ensure that any damage has not already been done which could lead to further complications later down the line.
They can also check for diabetes and thyroid problems which can also be linked to heart disease.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to take care of yourself.
We all know that it is important, but sometimes we just don’t have time, energy or bandwidth for everything on our plate.
The good news is that there are a few simple ways you can start taking better care of your health today without having to make any major changes other than prioritising these five things. What small steps will you be making this week?