7 Easy Things You Can Do To Protect Your Heart

7 Easy Things You Can Do To Protect Your Heart

Heart disease is, more often than not, entirely preventable!

That’s right: most of the heart attacks and strokes that occur in the country today could be prevented. Not with drugs or surgeries, but with simple daily habits that literally anyone can do.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but it’s definitely real.

The truth is that heart problems usually only occur because of years of dietary imbalances and unhealthy choices. Cleaning up our daily lifestyle, eating, and exercise habits is often enough to drastically decrease our risk of heart problems.

It’s as simple as following the tips below to help you protect your heart:

1. Drink Less

A hard saying for many of us!

It’s great to grab a couple of beers to kick back with buddies or a glass or two of wine at the end of a long day. Trying to cut that from your daily or weekly habits may sound tough.

The truth is that a few drinks a week (2-4) won’t impair your heart health. However, a few drinks a DAY will!

Alcohol raises your blood pressure, and it floods your body with sugars that can increase your risk of diabetes. You don’t need to cut it out completely, but scaling it back to just a few drinks per week can lead to visible improvement in your heart health.

2. Don’t Smoke

Nicotine and tobacco can do all kinds of damage to your heart: it damages the arterial walls, encourages the buildup of cholesterol, turns that cholesterol into plaque, raises your blood pressure, and makes it more likely that the plaque cracks and damages your blood vessels. It also lowers the oxygen content in your blood.

Smokers are more than twice as likely to suffer from heart problems as those who don’t smoke. For your heart’s sake, it’s time to quit!

3. Be More Active

You don’t need to become a gym rat—just a bit more activity in your life is all you need!

The current guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week are a pretty good rule of thumb. That can be broken down into 15 to 30 minutes per day—easy enough for anyone, right?

Moving around helps to clear out your arteries, strengthens your heart and lungs, and keeps all of your blood vessels flexible. The more you make it a point to move and get your heart beating, the healthier your heart will be.

If you’re like so many busy professionals and don’t have time for regular gym visits, make it a point to move around more when you can.

Go for a walk first thing in the morning or in the evening. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Take the stairs. Walk around your office every hour on the hour. Spend your weekends engaged in outdoor, active hobbies that get you moving.

The more you move, the healthier your heart will be!

4. Say No to Sugar and Salt

Sugar is definitely a no-no, because it will flood your bloodstream with glucose and raise your chances of diabetes. Sugar also leads to weight gain and obesity, which can put a strain on your heart.

Salt does another kind of damage: it causes your body to retain water, which raises your blood pressure and forces your heart to work harder to pump blood.

For your heart’s sake, make it a point to cut both sugar and salt out of your diet!

For sugar, say no to anything that isn’t naturally sweet (fruits), and which could contain additional sweeteners. That means baked goods, candies, chocolates, sweet sauces, and condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce.

For salt, avoid anything that is made with a lot of sodium, usually canned, packaged, and bottled products.

Cook everything from raw ingredients, and make sure to use lots of spices and herbs while steering clear of artificial flavorings and pre-made sauces.

5. Eat More Fiber

Fiber clears out fats, stops your body from absorbing sugar, and helps to prevent excess water retention. It’s one of the best nutrients you can eat for a healthy heart!

Veggies are obviously the top choice, as they all contain lots of very healthy fiber.

Fruit also works, though try to look for the higher-fiber, lower-sugar options.

Whole grains, nuts, and seeds are all loaded with fiber, and will do wonders to improve your heart health!

6. Manage Your Stress

Another one that probably feels easier said than done, right?

Stress raises your blood pressure and heart rate, and chronic stress can be one of the main contributors of heart disease. It’s also one of the things that cause you to smoke or drink in excess!

For your heart’s sake, try to find a way to keep your stress under control. Look for stress-managing techniques—like meditation, mindfulness practices, and breathing exercises. Find ways to de-stress throughout the day, and use your down time to relax and give your mind and body a break.

Your mental health is linked to your heart health, so it’s imperative that you work to keep both mind and body healthy.

7. Sleep More

Sleep is necessary for your body to make repairs of damaged or broken-down tissue, including in your heart and blood vessels. A good night’s sleep is crucial for a healthy heart!

Most of us have a problem with sleeping enough; we’re either too busy or have an active social life that we don’t want to let go.

But if you don’t sleep enough, your heart is going to suffer for it. You’ll see an increase in your blood pressure, higher diabetes risk, and greater likelihood of obesity, depression, and heart attacks.

Make it a point to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, even if that means you have to put your social life on hold for a while. Your heart health should be the #1 priority, and sleep plays a crucial role in that health!

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