These 2 culprits will make your heart go ‘achy-breaky’
Yes, that famous song that has the singer wishing he had “two hearts” is all just wishful singing. The harsh reality is that we only have one heart, and the more frightening reality is that a lot of things out there would want to break it one way or another.
Today being the first day of the month of hearts, it would be wise to regard your heart as the most vital of your organs. And what attacks your heart is the most important concern for both the public and the health and wellness community.
According to the World Health Organization, heart disease has become the single biggest killer in the world, and the No. 1 killer of Filipinos.
The risks associated with heart disease are varied. There are those that we can do nothing about such as age (the older we are, the higher the risk) and sex (men are at higher risk than women of the same age).
For those risks that can be controlled, health experts single out the two most important risk factors: cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure/high cholesterol.
Preventive and cardiology expert Neil Nedley, MD, stressed that addressing these two factors can result in a significant reduction in the risk of heart disease, as he cited a study of 29,000 Finnish men and women over a 20-year period (1972 to 1992).
“When these individuals lowered cholesterol in their diets, lowered their blood pressure and stopped their tobacco use, they reduced their heart attack risk by more than half,” added Nedley.
As proven in the book “Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2nd edition” by Baltimore, MD, Williams and Wilkins, in 1996, coronary heart disease and stroke are related to smoking. Diseases of the blood vessels of the arms and legs, known as peripheral vascular disease, are also dramatically increased by smoking. The common denominator in all of these diseases is a process called atherosclerosis, which has been found to be greatly accelerated by smoking.
Knowing, however, is different from doing. For smokers and those who love their heart-clogging food too much, this difference can be a wide chasm that seemingly can’t be crossed. Nedley offers 10 ways on how to bridge that knowledge to positive action:
1. Choose not to smoke.
2. No hidden cigarettes.
3. Deep breathing;
4. Daily exercise (such as walking).
5. Get more sleep.
6. Drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least eight glasses of plain water). Exceptions are only made for individuals who truly cannot accommodate an increase in water intake such as those with certain heart conditions, kidney failure, or other physical problems with fluid balance.
7. If you are used to taking a bath or a shower once a day, you will want to increase it to twice a day, or perhaps even more frequently. Water has a tremendous equalizing effect on the nervous system.
8. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals and heavily spiced foods. More quitters relapse if coffee drinking continues. Alcohol will suppress your ability to stick with the decision to be a nonsmoker.
9. Avoid “high risk situations” such as special chairs, work breaks, or other people who smoke.
10. Expect others to understand your struggle and your resolve to change.
Ideal cholesterol levels
Scientific studies indicate that eating more meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc.), dairy and other unhealthful foods leads to worse aging. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points out that since the human body produces its own cholesterol, we do not need external sources.
The committee revealed that cholesterol can be found in all foods that come from animals: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and every other animal product and dairy product. Choosing lean cuts of meat also does not spare anyone from cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is found mainly in the lean portions. Chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef, as every four-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 milligrams of cholesterol.
DOST balik-scientist Custer Deocaris, a vegetarian, and founder of Meatless Monday Philippines (Luntiang Lunes), cited figures pointing to Filipinos as one of the lowest vegetable consumers, and one of the world’s highest meat eaters.
Plant-based nutritionist Blecenda Miranda Varona, DrPH, MPH, RND, a vegan book author and lecturer for nearly 30 years, stressed that creativity in the kitchen would be needed to prepare tasty plant-based dishes. She keeps numerous recipe books as her reference and guide for her own food preparations.
Cookbooks specializing in vegan dishes and desserts can now be increasingly seen in bookstores such as Fully Booked. Online, one can check out www.happycow.net—a directory of all vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants and stores anywhere in the world.
Dr. Dean Ornish’s “Program for Reversing Heart Disease”—available in local bookstores—allots almost half of the book to meatless, plant-based recipes, techniques and cooking instructions.
In Ornish’s book, Shirley Elizabeth Brown, MD, and Martha Rose Shulman said: “(Vegan diets) are not diets of deprivation; they are, on the contrary, diets vibrant with color and rich with flavors and textures of many different foods—fresh vegetables, tangy herbs and pungent spices, chewy, wholesome grains, savory beans, elegant pastas, and sweet, enticing fruit dishes.”
Among the menu items listed and explained in the book are eggplant lasagna, broccoli with teriyaki sauce, black bean burritos, risotto, green pea guacamole, pizza provencal, pasta primavera with Dijon Vinaigrette, mushroom braised with herbs, red bean chili, scalloped potatoes, buckwheat pancakes, oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon.
Virtually all of these can constitute a romantic and—healthy—dinner date with that special someone closest to your heart.