I pulled up the 2022 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Updated Fact Sheet [At-a-Glance], a report compiled by the American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health and other contributing organizations. It's nothing new, really, but a serious reminder that we all need to improve our lifestyle in order to improve our health. Heart disease remains the number 1 cause of death in the United States. I'm writing this post for educational purposes and to increase awareness of what a healthier lifestyle can do for our health. In no way is this information intended to be medical advice. It's important that you see your doctor or other medical professional before making any lifestyle changes.
The sad truth is that most of us need a serious or life-threatening diagnosis before making long lasting, meaningful lifestyle changes. Our busy and often stressful lives don't help. Let's support our bodies by fueling it with proper nutrition and movement, along with caring for our mental health through gratitude and mindfulness. Studies show that adopting healthy lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of an event caused by heart disease dramatically, even if you already show signs of significant arterial plaque buildup. See for yourself: do a web search and you'll find countless studies and research showing that nutrition and exercise play an incredibly vital role in cardiovascular health and in reducing risk of an event such as heart attack or stroke.
A few things we can do to support our health:
Plant-based diet: This means eating a nutrient-rich diet filled with vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. If you do eat animal products, think smaller portions and fewer times during the week. Keep it simple-- plant-based, for the most part.
Phytochemicals are only found in plant-based foods and offer immense benefits: prevention of disease, immune system support, hormone regulation, reduction of inflammation, anti-aging, anti-cancer and more!
Fiber [found in plant-based foods]: helps to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, as well lower cholesterol.
Leafy greens: loaded with vitamins and minerals. Eating a salad every day (minus the crazy dressings that are out there) with leafy greens can significantly reduce your risk of having a cardiovascular event, according to doctors such as Steven Masley, MD and Joel Fuhrman, MD.
G-BOMBS: a term coined by Joel Fuhrman, MD to describe those foods that are immune boosters and that should be included regularly in a healthy diet. Stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds.
Healthy fat: includes nuts, olives, avocado, ground flaxseed and chia seeds.
Physical activity/Exercise: Regular exercise is super important and incredibly effective in reducing the risk of all cardiovascular events. It also improves blood sugar, reduces stress, aids in weight loss, makes you think more clearly, and soooo much more. Click the buttons below to learn more from a few trusted organizations:
Mindfulness and Gratitude: Tune into your mental state and take time to practice mindfulness which can be as simple as taking a minute (more when you can) to clear your mind and focus on your breath. Breathe in through your nose, expanding your belly and exhale fully through your mouth, contracting your belly. Do this a few times and focus on your breathing. As other thoughts come to mind, recognize them and gently move them out of focus.
Gratitude is being grateful for what is important in our lives-- this includes the greatest, most important people, furry friends and relationships, our incredible and complex bodies that work so hard for us each and every second, magnificent sunrise and sunsets. It can also include personal possessions like cars, clothing, and food. Love, smiles, kindness, laughter and small gestures fill us with Gratitude. Feeling gratitude will attract more wonderful things and contribute to a happier and healthier well-being!
With love and sparkles,
March 20, 2023 (originally published January 2022)