How to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong

A few decades ago it was rare to see young people suffering with heart ailments. However, a recent report by the WHO states that cardiovascular diseases would be the largest cause of death and disability in India by 2020.

• Four people die of heart attack every minute in India and the age group is mainly between 30-50.

• Twenty- five percent of heart attack deaths occur in people less than 40.

• Nine hundred people under 30 die due to heart disease I India every day.

Meaningful changes in lifestyle and eating habits are essential at this point and the focus rests on the younger generation. Doctors are now dealing with increased cases of heart disease in patients in the 20-30 year age group.

According to them, many of the young professionals today work the graveyard shift that leads to stress, and not many of them have the privilege of healthy home cooked meals.

Work pressure and stress leads to smoking and drinking to reduce the stress’ which actually worsens the situation.

The precious asset of any nation is its young population, the working force. Ironically, it is becoming the most vulnerable to CAD and myocardial infarction (MI).

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

1. Fitness:

With the rat race that our children are subjected to, the focus of most schools lies on just studies and curriculum rather than providing the child a wholesome education. Juggling with school, homework, tuition and exams, the child gets minimal physical activity.

Youngsters have to undertake aerobic physical activity for 30-60 minutes a day for at least five days a week. If your child’s school has a playground, consider them lucky.

Physical inactivity not only causes heart disease but also hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Youngsters who do hit the gym tend to focus on muscle building rather than aerobic training.

2. Fatness:

We are in the grip of an obesity epidemic. As Indians, we are genetically predisposed to obesity. Obesity is a combination of poor physical activity, increase in sedentary lifestyle due to hectic work schedules which in turn causes stress wherein some individuals turn to tobacco usage and alcohol which further increases the problem.

We are developing unhealthy food habits where there is an inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables, increased use of fried, processed and junk food, owing to the fast food culture.

Poor awareness and control of coronary artery disease risk factors, low HDL- cholesterol (good cholesterol levels) – all lead to abdominal obesity (belly fat), diabetes and high blood pressure.

3. Food:

Grabbing pizza when you feel hungry is normal among young people these days. With fast foods so readily available, the trend is shifting from healthy home cooked meals to process and convenience food. Working mothers and wives don’t have time to spare to ensure that the family gets balanced healthy meals.

The change in food habits has also seen a significant increase in salt consumption. Pre-packaged foods are high in slat and trans-fats leading to elevated blood pressure.

This places extra burden on the arterial walls leading to their damage. These injured arteries are most likely to become narrowed and hardened by fatty deposits.

In days gone by, humans had to procure their food. Even until a few decades ago families used to work hard on their agricultural lands, therefore, the quantity and quality of food had to meet the extra energy requirements.

In the present scenario, our modern lives have become more complacent and comfortable, but our food habits consuming the same high calorie food in large amounts.

While that may not seem like an issue, our genetic makeup also predisposes us toward low HDL (good cholesterol) levels in our body.

Surprisingly, many Indians who develop MI (myocardial infarction) have normal cholesterol levels. This is because although their total cholesterol levels are normal, good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) levels.

This is because although their total cholesterol (LDL) is elevated, which increases the formation of blood clots. Diabetes is on the rise and is another reason youngsters develop heart related issues as the disease hastens the formation of blockages.

Diet for the Healthy Heart:

• Reduce the overall quantity of fat and replace saturated fats with Omega 3 fats (fish, flaxseeds).

• Base your menu around one starchy food taking a pick from potatoes, cous cous, rice, cereals, rice, or bread. Carbs provide the essential energy for a good amount of time.

• Aim for natural and minimally processed foods. Foods high in magnesium protect the heart. Load up on broccoli, spinach, and wheat germ/bran.

• Include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, at least 8-9 serving along with a serving of green leafy vegetables.

• Have small frequent meals, which place less burden on the heart and help in keeping your metabolism active.

• Include antioxidants like garlic, onions, pomegranate, red grapes and green tea. These prevent the formation of free radicals that prevent early ageing.

• Change your daily diet, maintain a healthy weight, by physical active, quit smoking and alcohol.

• Drink plenty of water, carry a fruit or some cereal snack to keep yourself hydrated and increase your energy. This helps in concentration, increasing energy levels and reduces the tendency to over eat.

SOURCE: B-Positive Health Magazine

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