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"Healthy Heart" Living

By:  Nina Caron, MS/HUMAN NUTRITION, Certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

THE HUMAN BODY HAS THE AMAZING CAPACITY TO HEAL ITSELF.  WE ARE ABLE TO PRACTICE DISEASE PREVENTION AND ARRIVE AT SUSTAINABLE WELLNESS THROUGH LIFESTYLE CHOICES WE MAKE ON A DAILY BASIS.  THIS NATURAL HEALING PROCESS CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED WHEN WE DECIDE TO FOCUS ON THINGS IN OUR LIFE THAT WE HAVE CONTROL OVER, SUCH AS THE QUALITY OF OUR DIET, EXERCISE/PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, AS WELL AS THE ATTENTION WE GIVE TO OUR SPIRITUAL SELVES.

Heart disease, or CHD as it is often referred to as, is the number one cause of death among both men and women in the U.S.  There do exist risk factors beyond our control that we need to consider as we age, along with consideration of intelligent lifestyle management.  The major risk factors that are beyond our control include the following:

 

  • 65+ years of age
  • males in general have a greater risk of heart attack than women
  • Heredity (including race): children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop CHD
  • African Americans are at greater risk for high blood pressure and therefore at a higher risk of heart disease
  • Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians and some Asian Americans have a generally higher risk of heart disease than Caucasians
  • High blood cholesterol increases the risk for CHD: TOTAL CHOLESTEROL includes HDL + LDL + 20% of triglyceride level.  People with high blood triglycerides usually have low HDL cholesterol.  High triglycerides along with low HDL or high LDL is associated with atherosclerosis.
  • High blood pressure + obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Diabetes seriously increases the risk of CHD.

It is important to remember that although some risk factors cannot be changed, we all have the ability to practice the best possible self-care to better manage and even prevent CHD with simple and sustainable lifestyle shifts.  The following will make a huge positive impact on quality of life.

 

“CLEAN EATING”

The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to eat. Eating a Mediterranean diet can help your heart stay healthy and reduce your risk of obesity. The core concept behind this healthy diet is to eat like the people who live in the Mediterranean region. Fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes and fish and enjoy moderate amounts of red wine.   I have found that this way of eating is completely “doable”, as long as the individual takes the time to “shop smart” and prep AHEAD OF TIME!

 

SAMPLE DAY OF “MEDITERRANEAN EATING

Breakfast

6 ounces Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup strawberries and 1 teaspoon honey

1 slice whole-grain toast with half mashed avocado

Lunch

1 whole-grain pita with 2 tablespoons hummus and stuffed with 1 cup fresh greens and 2 slices tomatoes

1 cup minestrone soup

1 medium orange

Water with 1 lemon wedge

Snack

1/8 cup sliced almonds

1/8 cup peanuts

Dinner

Salad:

  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing

3-ounce salmon topped with 1 teaspoon tarragon and 1 teaspoon mustard over 1/2 cup couscous, 1/2 cup zucchini and 4 spears asparagus

5 fluid ounces red wine (optional)

Dessert

Small bunch grapes

1/2 cup lemon sorbet

Health Heart

EXERCISE AND ITS IMPACT ON PREVENTION AND/OR MANAGEMENT OF CHD

Primary risk factors increase the chances of developing CHD. They are commonly classified as either modifiable (e.g., smoking, high blood pressure, etc.) or non-modifiable (e.g., having immediate relatives with CHD). Regular physical inactivity has a positive impact on every modifiable risk factor for CHD, such as:

High blood pressure: Regular aerobic activities can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure 5-10 mmHg, which translates into a 10- to 20-percent reduction in heart attack risk.

  • Cigarette smoking: Smokers who become physically active are more likely to stop smoking or at least reduce the amount they smoke.
  • Diabetes: Regular aerobic activity has a profound effect on improving resting blood sugar levels and reducing the complications associated with diabetes.
  • High cholesterol: Individuals who perform regular aerobic activity lower their bad cholesterol (e.g., LDL cholesterol) levels while simultaneously significantly increasing their good cholesterol (e.g., HDL cholesterol) levels.
  • Obesity: Although regular aerobic physical is associated with moderate weight loss (e.g., a reduction of approximately 5 percent in body weight), this amount of weight loss is associated with positive changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

The appropriate amount of exercise required to positively impact the risk factors can be readily demonstrated by the FIT principle: the frequency, intensity and time individuals with CHD are recommended to exercise.

Physical activity recommendations: AHA and ACSM recommend the accumulation of a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity four to five times per week, coupled with an increase in daily lifestyle activities, in order to prevent heart attack and death among patients with CHD. It is important to note that exercise can be accumulated in 10- or 15-minute bouts. Thus, individuals can perform three 10-minute or two 15-minute bouts on the days they exercise. In addition, exercise does not have to be vigorous in order to be beneficial regarding its ability to effectively manage CHD. Moderate-intensity exercise examples include brisk walking and light cycling. One method in which to determine if a given activity is moderate or vigorous intensity is the talk test. If an individual can maintain a conversation while they are talking, they are likely exercising at a moderate intensity; if they cannot, they may be exercising vigorously.

Cardiorespiratory Exercise

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. 
  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.  
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.

Resistance Exercise

  • Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
  • Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
  • Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
  • For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.

Flexibility Exercise

  • Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
  • Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
  • Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
  • Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.

Neuromotor Exercise

  • Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
  • Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
  • 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.

SPIRITUAL WELLNESS AND ITS IMPACT ON OVERALL WELL-BEING:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness training

Attention to self-connection and spiritual wellness is vitally important to optimal self-care.   The willingness to “check in” and become intimately familiar with our own selves will help to complement any other lifestyle modalities boosting our overall wellness.

RESOURCES:

http://www.eatingwell.com/article/288560/7-day-mediterranean-meal-plan-1200-calories/

The Old Ways 4-week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan

TAKING THE LEAP (Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears) by Pema Chodron