The number of chronic disease cases rises every year, and it’s not a healthcare issue. 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. That is 610,000 people dying each year from heart disease. And you want to know what the main causes are? Diet and exercise. You see, we started out hundreds of thousands of years ago eating off the land, and we did pretty good. The only things that really killed humans were diseases that science has now created vaccines for (yay). But as the years went on, obviously humans and food and business evolved. And as humans evolved, companies realized that they could prey on the idea what humans ate based off taste and budget. If they created food that was cheap and taste good, people would consume their product. But in order to create cheap, mass quantities, they had to also use cheap/synthetic ingredients. So, it’s a food issue. Let’s dive into how to prevent heart disease with diet and exercise, so down the road you don’t become part of this terrifying statistic.
If we know better, we can do better.
Heart Disease and Diet
There are a few key diet factors that contribute to heart health – sodium consumption and fat consumption. While the type of carbohydrates and protein sources we eat are important, these two are what we can really focus on in terms of heart health.
Sodium is important in decreasing our risk of heart disease because too much of it raises our blood pressure. Increased blood pressure over time can lead to hypertension, which then can lead to heart attack, stroke or heart disease. Right now, Americans are eating about 1,500mg of sodium over the daily limit. This means consuming 3,500mg of sodium each day can add up quick and cause complications. We want to try to be below 2,000mg per day to keep our body in a good place both with balanced blood pressure and fluid levels.
Fat consumption is also key when it comes to decreasing your risk of heart disease. Now, this does not mean you should eat a low fat diet, this means you should eat a diet rich in quality fats. I have a full blog post on the dangers of cheap oil like canola and vegetable, so you can check that out here. By eating a diet rich in healthy fats, we are actually promoting good hormone and heart health! Fats you want to stay away from include cheap oils (vegetable, canola, sunflower), too much red meat, and processed meats.
Diet culture is trying to kill us, literally. Between fake claims of packaged foods being “organic” and “all natural” to commercials and marketing preying on kids to consume more soda and sugar. All of it is a way for big food companies to make money, they don’t actually care about your health. So be sure to really do your research into macronutrients, meal creating, and a sustainable diet approach that will work for you.
In general, you want to try to consume a diet of whole, nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat and healthy fats. And stay away from things that make “heart healthy” claims like Cheerios and other whole grain processed foods.
Heart Disease and Exercise
I swear, exercise cures everything (or at least decreases your risk). Like I said, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US and accounts for roughly 600,000 deaths per year. That is insane. What’s worse? It is 100% preventable. Heart disease is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. So if you start changing those things now, or at least working on 1 thing everyday that can decrease your chances then you already have great odds of beating it.
The best exercise to prevent heart disease is ANY! Just moving your body in any way is going to decrease your chances. This is because you will lower your blood pressure, promotes better sleep, improves your mood and helps you get to a healthy weight. Being over weight automatically increases your chances of heart disease because of the stress extra weight puts on your system.
If you are someone who doesn’t even know where to begin with exercise and getting healthy, just remember to start simple. Walk the dog, park further away, take the stairs – all of these things are going to add up in the long run. I recommend working up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Maybe that is a workout and some walking, or maybe that is cleaning the house, a strength training workout and an evening run. It is going to look different for everyone but whatever fits your schedule and abilities is what is best for you. And if you want to get a little deeper into exercise, I suggest trying out my Collective program. This allows you to workout from home for 20-30 minutes and is a great addition to any lifestyle. You can also try it out for $1 today!
If you currently have heart disease, it runs in your family or you were told you were at risk of getting it, have no fear because there is still time. It is never “too late” to get healthy and to increase your quality of life. Just by simply starting with a few walks or even a yoga class can greatly reduce your risks.
Preventing Chronic Disease
If you are in poor health, this typically means you are at risk of more than one chronic disease. Heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease can all come hand in hand. That is why it is important to work towards living a healthier lifestyle, because it decreases your risk of most diseases.
Other aspects of your life that can make you healthier and prevent future disease…
• No smoking
• Limited consumption of alcohol
• Manage stress levels
• Get plenty of good sleep
• Create community
• Do things that bring you joy
Lifestyle as a whole is what is going to either lead you to a future of disease or a future of happiness. It’s diet, it’s exercise, it’s happiness.
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