February is heart disease awareness month. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for both men and women in the U.S., striking more than 1 and 4 Americans each year. And if that didn’t get your attention, cardiovascular disease is responsible for nearly twice as many deaths in women as compared to all forms of cancer. That being said, it is never too early to start paying attention to your health and taking steps to protect your heart. Heart disease and strokes are very preventable, but only if you know your risks and how to lower them.
Get regular medical checkups. Talk to your doctor about your heart-health and what factors in your life can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Dr. Peter Alagona, the program director of general cardiology at the Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute, says “Everyday changes to your lifestyle can make a big heart-healthy difference.”
Maintain a healthy weight. A study of nearly 30,000 mean found that overweight men (BMI 25 to 28.9) have a 72% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease over a three year period, compared with men of a normal weight. Obese men have a 244% increased risk. According to the American Heart Association, excess body fat, particularly around the waist area, is a higher risk of heart disease. You are also at a higher risk for developing other health problem which can contribute to heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes.
Reduce your stress. It seems everyone is busy all day long, working, talking, texting, driving the kids from here to there and the list goes on. Chronic stress is damaging to your health and can drive you to overeat, lose sleep, drink and smoke more, and neglect taking care of yourself. Find ways to lower your daily stress levels – eat a balanced diet, use exercise as a stress reliever, connect with friends and family who provide emotional support, and work on changing things in your life that are creating stress. Try and sit down in a quiet place for 10 minutes a day, take some deep breaths, or practice some modest relaxation exercises.
Stop smoking. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking increases your risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. According to the American Heart Association, when you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease and stroke is substantially reduced.
Eat healthy. A healthy diet contains not only the proper foods but an appropriate caloric intake. Cutting calories from simple carbohydrates and substitute good fats (polyunsaturated) for bad fats (saturated), increasing natural fiber and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a good start. Track your food portions, and instead of eating large volume meals, eat smaller but more frequent meals and healthy snacks.
Get moving. A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, you can do something about it. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, low-impact aerobics, and water aerobics, have many benefits. You can also mix up your cardio by doing 3 minutes of cardio, and then 1 strength training exercise or a high-intensity burst of cardio for 1 minute. Another option is to choose 5-10 strength training exercises and perform 1 set of each. Move quickly from one exercise to the next to keep your heart rate up. You should work your way up to vigorous exercise (that means huffing and puffing!) 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week.
You may be thinking, “this is a lot of info and too much to do all at once”. You are right! So set small goals and focus on making small lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime. And if you want any help, I would love to help you become a better you.
What can you add to your diet that is 100% natural, low in sodium; calorie, fat, and cholesterol free? Water! And did you know that without water we will only survive about 3 days? It makes up 70% of our body weight, 75% of our muscle, 83% of our blood, 85% of our brain, and 22% of our bones. Water is essential for our body to function properly. It helps to transport fats, proteins, carbohydrates, oxygen & hormones that regulate your metabolism. It lubricates joints, keeps skin healthy and glowing, reduces headaches and dizziness, regulates body temperature, and helps dissolve nutrients to make them accessible to the body. Water lessens the burden on the kidneys and the liver by helping flush out waste products, and it helps with weight loss as it assists in removing the by-products that occur with the breakdown of fat. Water is one of the most vital ingredients our body needs. So what’s stopping you from drinking more water? You need at least 64 ounces a day or more specifically take your weight, divide it in half, and that is the amount of ounces you need a day. It’s the most simple and assessable way to look better, feel better, lose weight, and be healthier!
Fall is here! That means, cooler days, less day light, less vitamin D…… You’re saying, “So what?” Well, vitamin D is a fat-soluble prohormone, which encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which maintains healthy bones. It plays an important role in more than just our bones. It helps regulate our immune system and arm it against disorders like the common cold. It may also have a key role in helping the brain to keep working well later in life, according to a study of 3000 European men. Along the lines of men, the Today Show had a special on last week showing a study being done right now that might link vitamin D deficiency to hair loss. Vitamin D is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight and helps fight depression. According to researchers from Harvard Medical School, who found after monitoring 616 Children, vitamin D can also reduce the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms, and also the likelihood of hospitalizations due to asthma. It has also shown to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women. Various studies carried out by Cancer Treatment Centers of America have shown that vitamin D deficiency is found to be prevalent in cancer patients regardless of what their nutritional status is.
You may be asking, “How do I know if I am deficient or not?” Well, you can go to your doctor to get a blood test done to get your exact levels, but in the meantime this may help you too. If you live in the tropics, close to the equator, and can expose your skin unprotected for 2 sessions of 15 minutes of sunlight a week, you will naturally produce enough vitamin D. The farther you live from the equator your sunlight will be less. Also, cloud cover, smog, sunscreen, elderly people as well as dark skin should consume extra vitamin D for good health. We will have a Vitamin D Intake Questionnaire at IronFitness that will also help you calculate the recommended level of vitamin D supplementation for you. For your convenience we have vitamin D at IronFitness from Shaklee for $9.50 per bottle. You can also contact Sonia for more information at 330-806-2452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all hear how we need to cut back on salt. Ordinary table salt has been stripped of its companion elements and contains additives. In studies table salts have been linked to hypertension and other heart or blood illnesses. Table salt also gives many people the feeling of being bloated. Well there is a salt called Himalayan Pink Salt. It is a pure, hand-mined salt found naturally deep inside the Himalayan Mountains. It contains over 80 mineral elements that the body needs and has nutrients and minerals that help your body preserve the blood cells. Himalayan Pink Salt is a healthier replacement for ordinary table salt and you can find it at most grocery stores for under $4.
Do you ever have a hunkering for something sweet? Do you think about it all day until you satisfy it? After you have something sweet do you feel a rush from the sugar, almost euphoric? Research shows that a high intake of carbohydrates, including sugar, releases a feel food chemical in the brain called serotonin. Then within an hour of eating the sugar you start to crash and you feel tired, fatigued, and lethargic and grab another piece of candy or something.
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking “who cares, what harm can a little sugar really do to me?” Cravings, binge eating, weight gain, and heart disease are just a few problems that sugar can cause when eaten in excess. It also causes an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, elevated triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It has also been linked to depression, migraines, poor eyesight, autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, gout, and osteoporosis.
Twenty years ago the average person consumed about 26 pounds of sugar per year. According to the USDA, today the average American consumes over 135 pounds of sugar a year. That’s about 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, the equivalent of 350 calories which means over 8,000 teaspoons a year. That’s double the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends that we limit our daily sugar consumption to 7% or less of our daily calorie intake. That’s about 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. One 12 ounce can of regular soda contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar, and a glazed donut contains 6 teaspoons. At least half of the sugar we consume comes from high-fructose corn syrup found in fat-free foods like salad dressings, soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. The rest is in our diet from foods like ketchup, teriyaki sauce, chocolate milk, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and cereals. And even when you think you’re eating “healthy”, foods like yogurt and instant oatmeal can pack as much as 20-30 grams (5-7 teaspoons). Wow looks like we have some work to do!