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:
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.
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!
6 ounces Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup strawberries and 1 teaspoon honey
1 slice whole-grain toast with half mashed avocado
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
1/8 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup peanuts
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)
Small bunch grapes
1/2 cup lemon sorbet
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.
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.
SPIRITUAL WELLNESS AND ITS IMPACT ON OVERALL WELL-BEING:
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.
The Old Ways 4-week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan
TAKING THE LEAP (Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears) by Pema Chodron