February is Heart Health month and this year at Jamieson, we’re letting all of Canada know how easy it can be to start taking steps towards reducing the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease remains in the top three leading causes of death among adult Canadians, many of whom accept it as an inevitable condition of age. However, with emerging research, medical experts say heart disease is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. There are just a few factors, such as age and family history, that cannot be controlled, but managing other risk factors of heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight can help in its prevention.
This month, we’re asking Canadians to join our #ChangeofHeart challenge, a 28-day challenge consisting of simple things you can do each day that, over time, may help lower your risk of heart disease.
Along with encouraging you to increase your consumption of omega-3s to help lower your cholesterol, each challenge is designed to help you increase your level of daily activity, reduce your stress, improve your diet, or improve your night’s rest.
Be active everyday
A sedentary lifestyle can be just as harmful to our health as smoking and unhealthy eating. When we adopt an inactive lifestyle, this can lead to lack of blood flow, inflammation and obesity. Think about it: your body was meant to move. Exercising encourages the entire body to get up and go, which increases blood flow and oxygen in the body, and can help clear the arteries, thus promoting a healthier lifestyle. When we choose to exercise, we normally tend to eat healthier, sleep better and have less stress.
Exercising regularly is a vital way to keep your heart young and healthy. The heart is a muscle, and just the same way that exercise helps our muscles in our arms and legs, it also works out the heart by helping it efficiently pump oxygen and blood throughout the body. Additionally, exercise helps the body maintain a healthy weight; it improves sleep and minimizes stress, thus reducing other risk factors for heart disease.
Feed your heart
While we eat for pleasure, for comfort and to survive, food can be your heart’s best friend or its biggest enemy. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. Research shows that a diet high in saturated fat, refined sugar and grains and alcohol can trigger inflammation in the body, which we discussed is one of the major factors associated with heart disease. Additionally, unhealthy foods high in calories, saturated and trans fat and refined ingredients only offer empty calories; they don’t provide any benefits to the body and can increase your risk of diabetes and obesity.
An anti-inflammatory diet can fight this process of inflammation while ensuring that you are getting the nutrients you need to nourish the body and the heart, while omitting the foods that contribute to coronary heart disease associated with an unhealthy diet.
There’s no doubt that we live very hectic and stressful lifestyles. Ongoing stress can be just as harmful to our health and well-being as all the other factors mentioned above. Stress has been shown to increase inflammation, and when the body is under stress, it naturally produces a stress hormone called cortisol. High cortisol levels lead to high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats and blood clots, making you more at risk for a heart attack.
But that’s not the only thing that makes stress detrimental to your heart. It’s how people cope with the stress that can actually be the most harmful: smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise to name a few. So, think about how you deal with stress and whether or not your coping mechanisms are contributing to unhealthy habits.
The link between sleep and heart disease is now clearer than ever. If you’re waking up each morning still feeling tired, it may be time to re-evaluate your sleep routine since you may not be getting the rest your body needs. Research shows that those who have shorter sleeps have an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Less sleep also prevents your body from repairing and can lead to an increase of inflammation in the body. This in turn affects your body’s ability to naturally keep the arteries clear.
Sometimes we can’t get all the nutrients we need from our diet alone. Age, illness and prescription medications can also inhibit the absorption of nutrients in your body, while lifestyle factors or medical conditions may demand higher nutrient levels than the body can meet on its own. Supplements provide micronutrients for a variety of body processes and functions.
Inflammation is one of the leading cause of Heart disease, and many aspects of our Western lifestyle - smoking, excess weight, and diets high in fat and sugar – all cause a process of chronic inflammation in the heart and blood vessels, which have been directly linked to heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 essential fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body while helping to lower triglycerides, heartbeat and blood pressure. This essential nutrient also improves heart function and efficiency. While we can get omega 3s through our diet, it can be difficult to obtain the necessary amount of optimal nutrients through a proper diet alone.
Jamieson Omega COMPLETETMSuper Krill has been clinically proven to help maintain your heart health by reducing levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. If there is just one supplement to take for your heart, this is it.
So this February, we invite all of you to visit our Facebook page and join the 28-day #ChangeofHeart Challenge. Every day starting February 1st, we’ll be posting simple challenges that, over time, can help decrease your risk of heart disease.
Don’t forget, it’s never too late to start making changes towards a healthier heart.