Lifestyle and diet changes are critical when it comes to reducing your risk of heart disease. If you haven’t already done so, here are four important changes you should consider.
Exercise is critical to almost every level of well being. A recent study showed that just 15 minutes of exercise per day will add three years to your lifespan, even if you already have heart disease. An additional 15 minutes further reduced mortality by an additional 4%.
Insulin resistance is an underlying factor in almost all chronic diseases that shorten life, including heart disease. Exercise is crucial to longevity because it promotes healthy insulin levels. In a culture like ours that consumes far too much sugar and other refined carbohydrates, daily exercise is crucial.
Still, as important as exercise is, it only comprises about 20% of a healthy lifestyle. The other 80% involves nutrients.
Study after study continues to link heart disease with a lack of vitamin D. In other words, the less sunshine you get, the greater your risk of heart disease. Sunlight, due to the vitamin D it produces in your body, increases your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, decreases vascular calcification and also decreases vascular smooth muscle growth. All this leads to a healthier heart.
Some recent studies are even challenging the links between the sun exposure and skin cancer. Most Americans don’t receive adequate sun exposure, especially during the winter months, and are therefore deficient in vitamin D. It is important to have your doctor check your vitamin D levels to determine if supplementation may be required.
Avoidance of High Glycemic Carbs
Several studies show a link between high consumption of simple carbohydrates and heart disease. A recent study showed that women who eat high amounts of high glycemic carbs, such as white rice and white bread, are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who eat the least amounts.
A diet high in refined sugars and grains, such as bread, pizza, pasta, pancakes, bagels and rice, increases insulin resistance which is harmful to your heart.
Finally, as I continue to promote prevention rather than just treatment of symptoms, it’s important to recognize the power of pomegranate in avoiding the numerous pathological changes related to heart disease. Scientists believe pomegranate has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight the growth of undesirable muscle cells in blood vessel walls as well as lower LDL, or bad cholesterol. In one study, pomegranate juice outperformed numerous other antioxidants, including grape juice, blueberry juice and red wine, in reducing the damaging effects of free radicals. Other studies have suggested pomegranate may not just help prevent heart disease; it may even help reverse it.