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To have a better heart, we need to have a healthy lifestyle – this involves having sufficient physical activity and eating healthy. Having a better heart, in this context, refers to reducing the risk of getting a heart disease.
Many people that have trained under me or my trainers mention that their heart rate improve (lower resting heart rate) due to more exercise. To take it a step further, we need to also improve our diet. Fast food, convenience food and saturated fats that make it impossible to have a healthy and good heart.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to significantly reduce your risk of getting a heart disease.
These are some of the factors that increase your chance of getting a heart disease:
- High blood cholesterol and homocysteine
- Blood sugar
- Overweight and diabetes
You only need a certain amount of cholesterol as it is an important constituent of cell membrane and is found in every cell in your body. A high intake of saturated fat and lack of exercise can increase the amount of cholesterol produced by the body and so the amount in the bloodstream. Cut down on cooking fats, butter, margarine and full-fat milk. Be wary of trans fat intake than worry about cholesterol in food.
Nicotine constrict the blood vessels, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. The smoke includes carbon monoxide which reduces oxygen levels in body tissue and heart muscle.
Too much adrenalin and stress hormones cause the arteries to constrict and cause blood pressure to rise. It makes your blood stickier and thicker and therefore damages your arteries. It also affects calcium and magnesium levels in your body.
Heavy coffee drinking links to a rise in cholesterol and even though it temporarily increases blood pressure, the real culprit is the substance released during the roasting of the coffee.
Sodium and potassium work together in your body to help maintain the concentration of the body fluids at correct levels. However, too much salt and your blood pressure will be forced up as there will be more water required in your blood which means a greater volume of fluid is passing through your heart. This will cause an additional strain to your heart and increase the possibility of a coronary disease. The Food Standards Authority (FSA) recommend 5-6g of salt per day for an adult as a recommended amount.
Bring in your soldiers to build your defenses – here’s a quick recap of some of the vitamins that matter.
Vitamins that you need to make your heart healthier:
- Vitamin C
Excellent antioxidant and strengthens the walls of the blood vessels.
- Vitamin E
Reduces platelets sticking together in the blood and lowers blood pressure. It also neutralises free-radical damage.
It is needed for the production of glutathione the master antioxidant.
It is needed to covert methionine to glutathione to avoid homocysteine build-up and to make hydrochloric acid in the stomach. It will affect your ability to taste and therefore you are less likely to add salt to your food.
It helps to relax your heart muscle.
It works with sodium to balance the body fluids.
- B vitamins
It prevents the build up of homocysteine.
- Essential Fatty Acids
Reduces blood pressure by making your blood less sticky.
Helps to lower cholesterol as it binds bile acids and remove cholesterol from the body as waste.
In addition the the above, I’d like to add the ‘vitamin’ called Exercise. It works all your muscles, including your heart muscle which increases its capacity and endurance. Easy – just a total of 150 minutes of physical activity a week would go a long way. For those who would like to lose weight, do at least 250 minutes a week.
Your personal trainer
Team Fitness Guru