Happy February everyone! We are now officially into the new year and into the month that many of us consider the month filled with love. While your relationship status may vary this year, it is important to keep your heart healthy for yourself and your loved ones! To make sure this is possible we want to pay attention to the numerous ways we can improve our lifestyle to avoid suffering from heart disease or other heart related issues this year or in the future.
February also happens to be National Heart Health month! According to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm), heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for both Men and Women. While the numbers are staggering, the good news is heart disease can be preventable for many people if you take the necessary precautions to take care of yourself! Some tips for prevention include:
1. Developing a healthy eating lifestyle! No more yo-yo dieting or extreme diets as research has begun to show this can be more detrimental for your health than maintaining a slightly higher weight. Set up an eating schedule allowing you to time out your meals and snacks reasonably throughout the day (about every 3-4 hours) and ensure each meal or snack has a healthy balance of food groups (eg carbs/fruit, proteins, fats, and veggies) in the right portion sizes! This will help you maintain the proper weight for your body and activities.
2. Include physical activity into your routines! Physical activity plays a role in promoting positive mood, heart health, weight management, energy levels, and more! You should work up to a minimum of 30 minute of physical activity at least 5 days per week. This may seem daunting, but can be as easy as going for a walk, doing exercises at your desk, taking a dance class, swimming, or going on hike! Find some activities you enjoy and make them a part of your day you look forward to (clear any activity decisions with your doctor prior to participation if you have any health concerns)!
3. Stop stressing so much! Stress, depression, anger, and hostility have also been seen to increase risk of heart disease. Work to develop healthy stress and negative emotion management skills! It’s okay to feel these, but it is also important to find healthy ways to work through them. If Valentine’s day is causing you to feel any of these emotions, take the time to reframe and focusing on loving yourself!
4. Cut out smoking! Smoking can lead to significant increases in heart disease risk by damaging blood vessels leading to thickening and narrowing causing increased risk of high blood pressure or even blood clots. Smoking can also lead to deficiencies of nutrients that are crucial in heart and body function. If you use smoking as a method for stress management, take the steps to find healthier stress management activities to replace the need for smoking.
5. Manage your other health conditions! Conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or waist circumference >40 inches in men and >35 inches in women. These conditions can increase your risk of heart disease and should not be taken lightly work with a doctor and/or registered dietitian to ensure these conditions are managed both from healthy lifestyle standpoint and medication standpoint if necessary.
These are just a few tips to keep your heart healthy and making sure you love yourself and are there for your loved ones in this month of love! It is also important to know what signs and symptoms to look for when experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heartattack.htm (Heart attack); and https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm (Stroke) to identify these symptoms for you or a loved one quickly and contact 9-1-1 immediately to decrease potential damage or risk of fatality.
Many of these tips provided are easier said than done. If you are looking for extra help with your nutrition and health and health goals and need help making a healthy lifestyle as easy and enjoyable as possible, CONTACT US today and SCHEDULE your first appointment toward taking control of your health!
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Wishing you a month filled with health and love,
-Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”