Dr. Don Colbert – Who needs a healthy heart, right? While this is a ridiculous question, millions of Americans engage in everyday habits that destroy heart health. Or, they ignore those that support it.
Are you destroying yours?
How can you reverse it?
Here are 10 ways to destroy heart health, and how to reverse your risk.
10 Ways to Destroy Heart Health
1. EAT A DIET HIGH IN INFLAMMATORY ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS
Our foods are literally killing us.
Many foods in plastic packages and boxes can destroy heart health, increase blood sugar issues, and even increase the overall risk of death (1) according to a recent study of 100,000 participants.
Ultra-processed foods are those commercial, processed foods that contain a lot of processed fats and sugars. Most of these fats are hydrogenated oils or soybean oil. Believe it or not, soybean oil is considered one the most-consumed modern toxins, and works against heart health by hurting:
- Metabolic Health. Lab studies show that soybean oil is one of the most detrimental foods to metabolic health (2).
- Cardiovascular Health: Soybean oil has been shown to cause harmful abnormalities to cholesterol and triglycerides (3).
- Overall health and inflammation: Many studies have concluded that concentrated sources of omega-6 fats increase inflammation in the body (4).
Don’t let ultra-processed foods destroy heart health.
Reverse Your Risk: You can take steps to reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods by following the Beyond Keto Book. This is an amazingly heart healthy plan that also supports whole-body and gut health. This is the best start! In addition, look for soybean oil in all foods you buy and rid your diet of it with these tips.
2. AVOID SPICES, FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Along with eating ultra-processed foods, avoiding all vibrantly colored spices, fruits and vegetables can destroy heart health.
Vibrant plant foods are full of antioxidants.
Antioxidants support cellular health, arterial health, and whole body health by reducing the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.
Specifically in the cardiovascular system, antioxidants work to reduce cholesterol plaque formations and elevated blood pressure (5). Additionally, foods high in antioxidants support brain cells (6), and may reduce harmful cell overgrowth. (Many studies also back up the health benefits of berries (7).
Reverse Your Risk:You can reverse your risk of poor heart health by eating foods high in antioxidants! The best place to start is Divine Health® Fermented Green Supremefood®. Also, here is a great list of our top 10 antioxidant foods!
3. NEVER GET YOUR HEART RATE UP
We all know sedentary lifestyles are bad for heart health and exercise is beneficial. But, how and why?
Exercise forces our hearts to pump a great volume of blood through our arteries. This forces our arteries to stay flexible and elastic, which is a healthier state than stiff or inflexible arteries.
Any exercise that increases heart rate can be beneficial to heart health.
For example, both endurance training at lower intensity and higher intensity workouts benefit blood pressure and heart health (8/).
Resistance training exercises (weight lifting) also supports heart health including heart variability. This remains true for both heavy weight lifting and high-rep, low weight exercises (9).
Sedentary living, on the other hand, can destroy heart health.
Reverse the risk: Start moving! Choose an exercise you like, and get your heart rate up. You can even use walking at a higher pace for better heart health. Here are 10 amazing benefits of walking!
4. ALLOW STRESS TO BUILD
High levels of mental stress can be devastating to your heart, brain, immune system, and overall health. In fact, chronically elevated cortisol levels can affect all our body’s systems.
Cortisol is a hormone that’s released by the adrenal glands when the body faces stress. In modern times, this stress is often more mental than physical and usually has no outlet. For many, it’s chronic. It builds. And, it does damage.
High blood cortisol levels are correlated with weight gain and impaired loss, negative impacts on mood, sleep and energy, an increased incidence of blood sugar, potentially lower brain volume and impaired memory, and heart health issues including altered blood pressure (10).
Don’t let stress bring you down.
5. STIFFEN UP EVERY YEAR YOU AGE
In addition to ignoring cardiovascular exercise, ignoring flexibility can destroy heart health.
Amazingly, the flexibility of your spinal cord and spine directly correlated with the flexibility of your arteries. Again, flexible arteries are crucial for healthy blood pressures and overall health. As crazy as it sounds, researchers have found that poor trunk flexibility is associated with stiff arteries. This means that keeping your body flexible enough to touch your toes means better artery health and blood pressure (11).
Incredibly, one study of a stretching program found better blood pressure results from stretching than from walking (12)!
In addition, a strong, flexible spinal cord allows you to maintain good posture, with your head and neck upright, rather than forward. It promotes better range of motion of your limbs, making it easier to lift, walk up and down stairs, stay active, and remain injury free.
Reverse Your Risk: Stay flexible by working on trunk, spine, and limb flexibility every day. Do this in addition to other exercises.
6. DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO BLOOD SUGARS OR WEIGHT
Exercise and healthy eating promote healthy body weight and blood sugars. On the other hand, not engaging in these activities can destroy heart health.
Being in a state of overweight or obesity directly impacts heart health. In fact, excess adipose fat is correlated with impaired blood sugars and poor cardiovascular outcomes. Elevated blood sugars contribute to stiffened arteries (13).
What’s more, while your starting total cholesterol is highly influenced by familial history, age, sex, and ethnicity (13), changes in total cholesterol are primarily achieved by weight loss (if overweight), diet, and exercise (14).
You can make changes rather than destroy heart health!
7. SKIMP ON SLEEP
Sleep is an elixir for many ailments. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can destroy heart health.
In fact, a new study of 1,654 participants aged 20-74 years looked at sleep and its effects on those with chronic health conditions. It followed these participants for 20 years.
The researchers found that participants with existing high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes, who slept less than 6 hours per night, were 1.8 times likely to die of heart disease or stroke. Unfortunately, 45% of Americans have these conditions, and the majority do not get enough quality sleep (15).
The study was published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Improve your heart health with better sleep.
Reverse the Risk: Not sure how to get better sleep? Look no further than these tips for a better night’s sleep.
8. ISOLATE YOURSELF
Loneliness can strike anyone, even those surrounded by people. Unfortunately, loneliness can contribute to worsened heart health.
It’s never been more important to seek out others and prioritize relationships.
Your heart depends on it.
In 2010, a loneliness study shocked researchers. A research team from Brigham Young University looked at 148 studies, representing more than 308,000 participants for mortality risk factors. The researchers found a 50% increase in survival for those who were NOT lonely and had strong social relationships compared to those who didn’t.
This finding was consistent with other strong risk factors of premature death, including known cardiovascular risk factors (16).
Next, the same lead researcher performed a subsequent meta-analysis in 2015, representing more than 3.4 million people and found similar results. These included a 29%, 26%, and 32% increased risk of premature death for social isolation, loneliness, and living alone, respectively (17). Yet another study from Denmark found that heart health patients who were also lonely were about twice as likely to die from heart attacks and/or heart disease than those who were not lonely.
Tragically, this is indeed very similar to the mortality rate of smoking cigarettes.
Reverse the Risk: Do whatever necessary to reach out to others and prioritize relationships. Look at church groups, healthy social groups, and friends, whether in person or online.
9. FORGET GRATITUDE
It can be easy to forget gratitude. Some days, months, or even years roll by that feel more dismal than others.
However, gratitude, even when forced, can change everything including heart health.
There is emerging scientific evidence to support the idea that a simple daily practice of gratitude can dramatically affect our susceptibility to cardiovascular issues.
Gratitude affects both cortisol and our motivation for a healthy lifestyle. By first lowering stress, it supports heart health directly. By improving our outlook and mood toward healthy lifestyle habits, it improves heart health indirectly (18, 19, 20).
Reverse the Risk: You can work on gratitude starting right now! Try just listing 2-3 things you are grateful for each day, and continue to build the list. Small things, big things, anything. To learn more about gratitude, try our 15 tips for making gratitude stick.
10. IGNORE TRIGLYCERIDES AND SUBTYPES OF CHOLESTEROL
When most people think of heart health indicators or lab tests, they think of total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL.
Interestingly, more and more practitioners are looking elsewhere.
The ratio of triglycerides (TG) to HDL is emerging as one of the most important cardiovascular risk factors. In fact, when you calculate this ratio, you can infer your health risk of cardiovascular issues, blood sugar issues, inflammation and more. In addition, there are very important subtypes of cholesterol, called subset A and subset B. These numbers are extremely important (21, 22).
Looking only at total cholesterol and ignoring triglycerides can destroy heart health.
Reverse the Risk: Learn everything you need to know about cholesterol, subsets, and triglycerides! Take our quiz now!
Don’t destroy heart health this year! Instead, reverse your risk. Our simple tips can help you bolster your heart health, starting today.
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