Cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. The major causes of heart disease can be attributed to lifestyle. While it’s an unpleasant truth, Americans need to accept the fact that many of our health problems are the result of poor lifestyle choices. The good news is that cardiovascular disease can be easily prevented. By making a few choice lifestyle changes, it is possible to avoid heart disease and to help restore the body’s total health potential. Making the following changes can help improve your overall heart health, and can stem the onset of cardiovascular disease in otherwise healthy individuals.
Smoking is one of the chief offenders in the cause of heart disease. Everyone understands the link between smoking and lung cancer, but many people overlook the direct connection between tobacco use and heart disease. Nicotine restricts the blood vessels, forcing the heart to work harder than it should. Moreover, the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the oxygen levels in the blood, ultimately damaging the lining of the blood vessels. Fortunately, it is never too late to quit smoking. Even heavy smokers who quit the habit can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease and lung cancer.
Transitioning to a Heart Healthy Diet
Diet plays an important role in the overall health and well-being of our bodies. Many Americans rely on a diet that is far too high in saturated fats, refined sugars and grains, and meat and animal byproducts. Transitioning to a largely vegetarian diet, rich in fresh fruits, organic vegetables and seeds, nuts and avocados, can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. It can also lead to an overall improvement of the body’s general health. Vegetarian diets help to boost the immune system, allowing the body to fight off infections and common viruses, thereby reducing the occurrence of everyday ailments such as colds, flu and stomach disorders.
When cholesterol levels in the body are too high, it can build up along artery walls, reducing blood flow to the heart and leading to atherosclerosis. Arterial blockage can also decrease the level of oxygenated blood reaching the heart, leading to heart attacks. Conventional medicine tends to treat high cholesterol with prescriptions, using drugs to lower cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, many of these medications come with unwanted side effects. The best and most effective way of managing your cholesterol is through diet and exercise. Eliminate high fat foods such as milk, cheese and processed meats. Replace these with plant fats like seeds, nuts, avocados, olive and coconut oils. Add plenty of raw vegetables especially greens like organic kale, collards, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Substitute heart healthy flax and hemp seeds high in Omega-3 fatty acids, for the meat that has been removed from your diet.
Exercise is one of the most powerful tools in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Not only does regular exercise strengthen the heart muscle itself, it also helps to oxygenate the blood which is vital to the health of all the body’s organs. Regular exercise will help you control your weight, reduce your cholesterol and maintain a healthy blood pressure. All are factors in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. An exercise routine of high intensity and short duration, three to five days a week, is ideal for most people. For those who already have compromised systems, it may be more difficult to fully engage with a regular exercise regimen. In those cases, it is advisable to begin slowly, perhaps with a regular daily walk or some light aerobic exercises, and build up the body’s strength. Even small amounts of regular exercise will be good for your heart.
Stress, both physical and emotional, can take quite a toll on our bodies. A healthy diet and regular exercise can alleviate much of the physical stresses and strains so common to modern life. Emotional stresses can be more difficult to address. Trusting God is the key to eliminating the emotional stresses and anxieties that can adversely affect the body’s health. Set aside a portion of every day to listen to what God is trying to tell you, meditate on what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart. These quiet moments spent in prayer listening to God’s voice will help to ease the daily stresses and strains. By remembering “not my will but your will be done through me Lord”, we can achieve the inner peace necessary to release the body’s own healing power. Through a devotion to God’s will, you can eliminate stress and anxiety. This allows the lifestyle changes you have made to help your body return to the total health of body, mind and spirit that God intended.