As your trusted partner in health and wellness, we’ve decided to flip the script this Valentine’s Day. Don’t get us wrong, we love love, but since it’s American Heart Month we figured we’d take this opportunity to talk about the heart from a different perspective. While we often hear about what not to do when it comes to heart health, we are here today to focus on five things you can do to show your heart some love!
1. Stay Up-to-Date with Annual Exams
Regular health screenings can help you catch small issues before they have the chance to develop into big ones. Each year you should visit your Primary Care Physician for a full assessment of your current health status and a review of important physiological markers. Some major factors that can contribute to heart health are weight, blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels. Having baseline measurements for each of these will allow you to track them over time, and take action if necessary.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
We always like to say eat the rainbow, but in reality there are quite a few areas to focus on when it comes to diet and heart health. Incorporating colorful vegetables and fruits into your diet will provide your body with a range phytonutrients, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. While whole grains and legumes are wonderful sources of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, they lose most of their most beneficial properties during processing. For this reason, processed carbohydrates like breads, crackers and pastas should be limited or avoided. Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados (and their oil), olive oil and fatty fish can add a lot of dimension to dishes, while at the same time helping to balance cholesterol levels. And finally, add flavor with herbs and spices. You can turn basic dishes into mouth-watering ones by simply mixing these up from time-to-time, and many of them have a positive impact on your health as well!
3. Be Physically Active
Aim to be physically active at least 30 minutes most days a week, and make sure you get your body moving in other ways as well. Walk places when you can, take the stairs, and if you spend a lot of time at a desk make sure you get up and take little breaks to walk or stretch once an hour. Anything you can do to get your blood flowing is going to be beneficial for your heart.
4. Maintain an Ideal Weight
An ideal body weight will vary from person-to-person, which is why at Pravan we measure both BMI and Body Composition. An ideal weight can be achieved for most people by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, but in certain cases a person may require a more involved intervention to restore their body’s optimal weight. Always work with a medical professional when considering extreme approaches to weight loss (including fad diets).
5. Manage Stress Levels
This one is so important! We are confronted with stressful situations all the time, but how we manage them is crucial, since uncontrolled stress is toxic to the body. For starters, get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep creates a background of physiological stress in the body. Find ways to reduce stress naturally, whether by spending quality time with friends and family, unplugging, returning to nature, exercising, practicing breathwork, meditation, or other mindfulness practices. Find time to do something you love, just for you. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin
Though all of these tips may seem obvious, it never hurts to have reminders! We also couldn’t resist the opportunity to promote American Heart Month, so thank you for tuning in!
At Pravan Clinic we make sure that all of our members are informed about the many ways they can improve and maintain their heart health, with a particular emphasis placed on screening and preventive measures. An initial medical evaluation and health optimization plan covers everything discussed here, and much more!