Are you looking after your heart?
Hand on your heart, are you looking after yours?
Your heart is amazing; it is a muscle, about the size of a fist. It beats approximately 100,000 times a day, delivering oxygen and nutrients through the circulatory system to all parts of our body and carries away waste products. Is the very reason we are alive.
The heart has its own blood supply through coronary arteries, overtime, these arteries can become clogged with fatty material which stick to the inside of the artery walls, the build-up makes the arteries narrower, restricting the blood flow to the heart muscle which increases the risk of developing angina or, a heart attack.
So, how can we look after this precious pump?
Be more active!
- The heart is a muscle and, like any muscle, it responds well to exercise, making it stronger and more efficient at pumping blood around the body
- Exercise helps to improve blood circulation, which helps to reduce the risk of developing clots or the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.
- It helps to keep blood pressure at a healthy level which reduces the force that the heart has to work against to pump blood around the body
- Exercise helps to manage stress. Stress has a detrimental effect on the whole body, particularly the heart.
- Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart disease than non-smokers. One of the best things you can do to protect your heat is to quit.
Eat a healthy balanced diet
- A healthy diet including a variety of vitamins and minerals can really help to keep your heart healthy.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, particularly those that are rich in antioxidants. These foods also help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure which are a cause of heart.
- Eat more oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. These fish are a good source of omega-3 fats which help reduce blood pressure and help prevent blood clots. Try to eat at least two portions a week.
- Eat more unsaturated fats such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, almond and avocado or polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil and vegetable oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds and of course oily fish.
- Drink plenty of water; try to have between 6-8 glasses a day.
- Avoid a diet high in saturated fats. Too much can increase the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood (which is the bad stuff) which cause damage to the artery walls.
- Avoid eating too many foods that contain trans fats, you will find this in cakes, biscuits, pastries, chocolate which is very hard to resist at times! But, too much will be detrimental to your health in the long term.
- Drink sensibly: Reduce your alcohol intake to the recommended levels: fewer than 14 units for men and women.
Take time out to relax
- Stress is part of our everyday lives but, when we get to a point where the stress factors switch off we could be harming our health. Some people find relaxing difficult, you don’t have to learn the art of meditation to be able to ‘switch off’. A luxurious bubble bath, listening to music, reading a book, going for a walk, watching your favourite TV show can all help to lower our stress levels.
- Hatha yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi sessions are very beneficial, not only for the mind but also the body.
- Mindfulness and relaxation sessions are available on the internet or, you could download a relaxation app. Learning to relax will help with good sleep patterns, sleep is vital for our health and wellbeing.
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