Monday, February 13, 2012
Note: this is a re-post from last year. Today is the 29th anniversary of my grandfather's passing and February is also American Heart Health Month so I thought I would re-post. Shaklee has improved their CoQHeart supplement. You can also still get the Cinch Sampler Pack for free through March of this year. Enjoy!
I was 7 years old when my grandfather died of a massive heart attack. It was his second. He was 66 years old. Although I was quite young at the time, I have some clear memories of my grandfather: His short white buzz cut hair and how soft it was. I remember his nick name for me. I remember how he loved to fall asleep on his hammock with a good book. And how he loved to fish. I also remember feeling very sad because I wasn't going to get to see or talk to my grandpa ever again. He was too young to die and I was too young to not have him around anymore to learn from.
Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of Americans. I have a tendency to think, "that may be true, but I am healthy. I don't smoke, for the most part I eat healthy, I try my best to exercise, I keep my weight in check so that doesn't apply to me". But the truth is, that CAN be me or any of us. Heart disease runs in my family. Not only did it take my grandfather's life, but my dad had triple bypass surgery in 1987 at the age of 43. It is a reality for me and for many of us.
But there are things we can do to help prevent this disease. Because February is American Heart Month and also the anniversary month of my grandpa's passing, I thought it was a good and important topic to blog about now. The first step to prevention is to know your risk factors. Some of these, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, and stress can be controlled. That is good news! Other factors, such as family history, age and gender cannot be controlled. When we know our risks and make healthy choices, our chances of not having a heart attack improves dramatically.
Some facts to keep in mind for prevention:
Diet & Exercise
Good prevention starts with healthy food choices and also exercise. The exercise doesn't have to be a huge change. If you are not currently exercising, just start by walking for 15 minutes a day. Then gradually increase it. Find something that works for you. Maybe try parking a little further away from your office or the grocery store. Or take the stairs rather then the elevator. Just getting your heart rate up each day can help tremendously. And it also helps to manage stress. For me, I love doing yoga. It really helps to relax me and is also a nice form of exercise. Whatever you can do will help in this area! By starting to lose inches, particularly in the belly area, your risk of having a heart attack will go down. You may want to look into an inch loss program. Shaklee, the #1 natural nutrition company in the US, has a wonderful and clinically proven inch loss program called Cinch. This is a research-based weight loss program that is powered by leucine, which will help you to lose the fat and not the muscle and actually keep it off. Through March of 2012, you can get a Cinch Sampler Pack for free!! If you are struggling with weight like so many Americans are, then this could be a great way to start turning that around and help to get yourself and your heart healthy once and for all! By keeping yourself to a healthy weight, your heart doesn't have to work as hard.
Healthy food choices will also help you to keep saturated and trans fats intake low. These are found in a lot of deep fried and processed foods. It's bad because it raises our LDL or bad cholesterol, which puts us at risk to have a heart attack. I have been hearing a lot of success stories lately about Shaklee's Cholesterol Reduction Complex. Also, taking a good quality multi vitamin such as Vita-lea will help to "fill in the gaps" in our nutrition and help to ensure that we are getting the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to help to maintain good health. If you do have some of the risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol, you may want to look into Shaklee's CoQHeart. This has CoEnzymeQ10 plus resveratrol (the 'good for you stuff' found in red wine) that helps promote cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart muscle and promotes healthy blood flow to the arteries.
High blood pressure is another risk factor for heart disease. Keeping stress levels and weight low and making healthy food choices will help with this. Normal blood pressure ranges from 110/75 to 140/90. By eliminating things like smoking, caffeine and excess weight (esp. in the belly), we can help to regulate our blood pressure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
These are so important for prevention. Omega-3's (DHA and EPA) help to prevent blood clots and can lower your risk of having a heart attack. They also helps to maintain healthy triglyceride levels, maintain normal blood pressure and supports brain, eye and joint health. Omega 3's are found in some fish, especially in wild caught salmon. I have been buying more salmon lately and have found some good quality wild caught salmon in the frozen section of Aldi's for a reasonable price. You can also find Omega 3's in flaxseed. I have been adding this to things like soup and oatmeal lately. It doesn't have any taste, so it is a good way to sneak some nutrition into your food, esp. if you have children! Omega-3's are also in different nuts and seeds and also in sardines, but I think I will pass on those! Most people are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet however. Because of this, you may want to consider adding a supplement to your diet to ensure you are getting your daily allowance. For adults, you may want to try Shaklee's OmegaGuard. It is a natural fish oil supplement from small cold-water fish. It is gluten free and contains all 7 omega 3's including DHA and EPA. For children, Omega-3's can be helpful for brain development and concentration. Shaklee makes a tasty orange chew Omega 3 called Mighty Smarts which my 2 year old loves. We give him half of one a few times a week.
Many Americans just are not getting enough fiber in their diet. Good fiber can be found in whole grains, fruits and veggies. Fiber helps to decrease bad cholesterol and gives you nutrients to help keep your heart healthy. For added fiber, you could try Fiber Plan which is a powder that you can mix into juice or other liquids or you could try the apple cinnamon Fiber Advantage Bars.
Salt and Sugar Intake
When keeping your heart healthy, we need to think about our salt and sugar intake. The amount of salt that we take in influences our blood pressure. By cooking our own food and staying away from the processed foods, we can control what we put into the food we eat. I actually don't use much salt when I cook. I can thank my parents for this because after my dad had his bypass surgery years ago, my mom took most salt out of our diet. I am not used to it so I don't crave it. If you like a lot of salt, then try to gradually decrease the amount you use. I have heard that our bodies adjust to the amount we crave as we change our intake. I am thankful that my husband doesn't like too much salt either. His dad has kidney disease, so because of that, he did not grow up with highly salted food either. A friend of mine from college came to visit me a few years back when I was living in California and I had to leave for the day because I was on jury duty. When I got back, she asked me where I kept the salt. I realized then that I actually did not own any! Those were back in the days when I lived alone and did not bake much:)
Another thought for prevention is to keep sugar intake low, which will keep our weight low. Now if my friend would have asked me if I had any of THAT in my apartment, I would have been able to point her to several locations! Sugar is my weakness! But if we remember to keep our sugar intake low, that will help prevent diseases like diabetes. I wrote a blog about natural sugar substitutes last week that you can find HERE. One thing that helps me with my sugar addiction is to simply not buy too much of it. I make sure I am not hungry when I go to the grocery store and I stick to my list to avoid the impulse buys. I do believe that "everything in moderation" is ok for most of us, esp. when using the natural sugar substitutes that I talk about in my blog.
Whew! That was a lot of info, but worth reading I hope. I am not an expert on heart health. These are just my opinions and info I have gathered from researching the topic. Whenever making changes to diet, exercise, supplements, etc, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor. I did talk a lot about Shaklee products here. If you are interested in knowing more about Shaklee products, the company and the science behind it, please visit the "why Shaklee" tab on my website.
Thanks for reading and have a great and heart healthy week!
Disclaimer: I have been working on this blog for days and it has seemed to take on a mind of its own. If font size, color, links (or lack there of!) etc get weird as you read, I apologize. I am just so frustrated so I am putting it up anyway! Probably not too great for my blood pressure! lol Any blogging logistical tips would be appreciated. :)