‘Following 5 healthy lifestyle choices can control – and perhaps even reverse – heart disease’
As Christmas and the New Year fade into the distant past we turn our attention to February and Valentine’s day. People choose heart shaped cards and heart shaped boxes of chocolates and compose poems from the heart for their loved ones, but I would like to encourage you to take care of your physical heart. Your heart plays a crucial role in your health, pumping blood around your body 24/7 carrying vital nutrients and oxygen to your tissues. What you eat directly influences the health of your heart and eating heart healthy foods is key to it getting the nutrients it needs.
Concerned by the increasing rates of heart disease, departments within the UK and US governments came up with the idea of using the image of a plate divided into portions to show the public what to eat. The UK’s ‘EatWell plate’ is more detailed than the US version and is based on the longstanding wisdom that fat makes you fat and carbohydrates are a relatively good form of energy. However research now shows that there are several flaws in this wisdom:
1) healthy fats actually lower the risk of heart disease
2) refined carbohydrates raise cholesterol by being rapidly converted into glucose which triggers high levels of insulin, the fat storing hormone. More body fat is laid down whilst cholesterol levels rise.
In the early part of last century, there was virtually no coronary heart disease and yet within 40 years it has become the main killer in the West. What changed? Human beings didn’t but our food did. We moved from a whole food, natural diet to a large percentage of processed foods. In Paleolithic times 21% of our total energy came from fat, 31% from protein, we consumed 45.7g of fibre and 591mg of cholesterol. Today’s average man in the UK consumes 37.6% of fat, 14.1% protein, 24.9g fibre and 390mg cholesterol. When you introduce a more primitive population to a Western diet, the incidence of heart disease rockets by roughly 31%.
Armed with this information what can we do to help ourselves? Researchers from Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago have concluded that anyone of any age who adopts the following 5 healthy lifestyle choices can control – and perhaps even reverse – their heart disease:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight
2. Don’t smoke
3. Engage in 30 mins moderate to vigorous physical activity 5 times a week
4. No more than 1 alcoholic drink a day
5. Eat a healthy diet, with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit
They add that adopting all 5 points and maintaining them for 20 years or more can control and even reverse the symptoms of coronary heart disease. It’s never too late to make changes, and even if you’re in your 60s, adopting just one of the above points can lead to a big improvement in your heart health.
The late French scientist Dr Michel Montignac made a hugely important discovery; namely when patients remove hidden sugars from their diets, their cholesterol normalises and their heart disease is reversed. Montignac’s diet has been approved by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration as the best way to lose weight whilst normalising cholesterol levels. In a nutshell, reduce your intake of sugars and carbohydrates and add plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.
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