Whether you are 25 or 105 – we know this for sure about you – your heart is pumping oxygen and nutrition throughout our body 24/7 365 days a year.  Be kind to your heart and it will be kind to you!  Whether you want prevention or intervention, REMEMBER Shaklee products are tools that can make a difference in having a healthier heart.

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Building a healthy heart

man running Cardiovascular disease still ranks as the number one killer in America (and in the world).1The Centers for Disease Control suggests that as many as 200,000 deaths from heart disease each year could be avoided through simple lifestyle changes.

“Lifestyle” is a catchall phrase for many factors that generally consist of dietary changes, behavior modification, and activity level. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it’s also your responsibility.

The following four lifestyle factors account for the bulk of prevention:

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese is not what causes the harm; it is the diseases that are associated with those weight conditions that cause the harm. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and insulin resistance (a precursor to type-2 diabetes – a risk factor for heart disease). Even having a few extra pounds greatly increases the risk of heart disease. In a 14-year study, it was shown that moderately overweight (not obese) individuals have an increased risk of heart disease (50 percent higher for women2 and over 70 percent higher for men3). The costs of these diseases and syndromes are enormous, and that doesn’t even begin to calculate the personal, physical, and emotional problems associated with increased BMI.

Engage in regular exercise: The American Heart Association suggests getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and that this can help to lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Add strength training to your regime to help build and maintain lean body mass.

Eating a healthy diet: Food may well be your greatest opportunity to combat heart disease. The Mediterranean diet (which focuses on vegetable, fruit, fish, whole grains, and olive oil) has proved itself over and over to be beneficial to the heart.4 Whole grains, beans, and nuts/seeds are all good sources of plant sterols, which can help reduce cholesterol.5 Greens such as lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and vegetables such as beets, cabbage, radishes, and celery are all high in nitrates, which may help reduce blood pressure.6 It’s important what you are NOT eating on a Mediterranean diet as well as nutrient-poor, energy-rich foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt.

Smoking: Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, stop. There are many programs available to help you along the way.

In addition to the factors above, there are more lifestyle changes you can incorporate:

Cut the stress: Stress hormones over a long period can raise blood pressure and cortisol. Try going without your phone, take time to be quiet, meditate, and relax.

Sleep: People who sleep poorly have higher blood pressure, higher levels of cortisol, and other stress hormones. They also tend to have poor blood sugar control and higher inflammation.7

A recent study has suggested that lifestyle changes for women can have a large impact on their health. The study combined the above noted lifestyle changes along with a low-risk diet (consisting of a high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and beans), and moderate alcohol consumption and discovered that these lifestyle changes were associated with a 92 percent decreased risk for sudden heart attack.8

It is true that lifestyle changes do take effort, but the benefits for making these changes have a great impact and are long lasting. Try choosing one or two to start and then move on to the next.

  1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index2.html
  2. Manson JE, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE, Hennekens CH, Speizer FE. Body weight and mortality among women. N Engl J Med. 1995;333:677-685.
  3. Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Ascherio A, Spiegelman D, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Body size and fat distribution as predictors of coronary heart disease among middle-aged and older US men. Am J Epidemiol. 1995;141:1117-1127.
  4. Dalen JE, Devries S. Diets to prevent coronary heart disease 1957-2013: what have we learned? Am J Med. 2014 May;127(5):364-9. PMID: 24384466.
  5. AbuMweis SS, Marinangeli CP, Frohlich J, Jones PJ. Implementing phytosterols into medical practice as a cholesterol-lowering strategy: overview of efficacy, effectiveness, and safety. Can J Cardiol. 2014 Oct;30(10):1225-32. PMID: 25262863.
  6. Hobbs DA, George TW, Lovegrove JA. The effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function: a review of human intervention studies. Nutr Res Rev. 2013 Dec;26(2):210-22. PMID: 24134873.
  7. Aldabal L, Bahammam AS. Metabolic, endocrine, and immune consequences of sleep deprivation. Open Respir Med J. 2011;5:31-43. PMID: 21754974;.
  8. Akesson A, Weismayer C, Newby PK, Wolk A. Combined effect of low-risk dietary and lifestyle behaviors in primary prevention of myocardial infarction in women. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2122-7. PMID: 17954808.