Top 6 suggestions to help prevent heart disease!

Heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide and the leading cause of premature death in women in Canada. Cardiovascular disease affects 1 out of 3 women globally. I don’t mean to start this off all gloomy and somber. Unfortunately, women are understudied, misdiagnosed and there is a lack of awareness when it comes to their cardiovascular health. That is the bad news! Now, are you ready for the good news? 80% of woman’s risks are within her control and heart disease can be largely preventable. Wow, Thank Goodness! Let’s have a look at the top 6 suggestions to help your own cardiovascular health.

1. ACTIVITY AND EXERCISE – This does not need to be complicated; I truly think we overthink how active we need to be. We sometimes think that we need to run a marathon or be a weightlifter in order to reach our goals. This is not true at all! The heart and stroke foundation recommends 150 minutes of activity per week. That works out to 22 minutes per day. Wow! Ok that is not so scary after all! I am not a gym girl that is just not my thing, trust me I’ve tried many times before. I personally enjoy walking my dog 30 minutes per day and I love throwing on a YouTube Yoga or Pilates video a few times per week. That’s as crazy as I get with movement. Some other fun things you could do are biking, playing sports, dancing, swimming and yes gardening and cleaning your house counts as well. I think we need to stop thinking of the word “EXERCISE” and flip it to “MOVEMENT”. That personally feels less overwhelming for me making my goals more attainable.

2. EAT WHOLEFOODS – Ok what does wholefoods mean? Basically, that is comes from a plant or animal and it was not made in a plant. Don’t over think this either. As a holistic nutritionist I see many clients that come to see me because they are overwhelmed by all the different diets out there and don’t know which one they should follow and they are also unsuccessful due to all the limitations. I always say the same thing “listen to your body” and “get back to basics”. Listening to your body is key. We are all biochemically different and what works for you might not work for me. Overtime I have learned to listen to my body signals, and I stay away from things that are bothering my system. Do not stress too much about following mainstream diets. Instead, I want people to focus on whole, natural, real foods and to stay away from packaged processed foods. Now ok, there is some room for indulgences once in a while, but-in moderation. I truly believe in the 80/20 rule and that works well for me. If we weren’t allowed to have any fun ever it would definitely be a hard thing to follow.

3. MANAGE STRESS – Wow ok this is a hard one for me and I am assuming for many other working moms that are trying to manage it all. We all have stressors in our life that we cannot control and things that pop up unexpectedly. The key here is how we manage it and how we respond to it. There are so many things we can do in our lives to help bring down stress levels. Meditation is such a glorious free tool that we have. The great thing is it doesn’t cost anything, and we can do it anywhere (except your car while driving, please don’t do that). I have been meditating for a couple years now and I’m not always sure that I’m doing it right but let me tell you that I always feel much calmer and relaxed afterwards so it has to be doing something positive for me. In the meantime, I’ll just keep at it. I also find self care is a huge thing that women put on the backburner. OMG WHY?! We are told to put on our own masks in a plane before we put on others. That means we cannot take care of others if we are not okay ourselves. I have truly mastered self care over the last couple years. I just don’t care anymore, nor do I feel guilty. I try and take approximately 20 – 60 minutes per day to do something I WANT TO DO! Whether that is to go in my room alone and read a magazine or book, or hit up my favourite infrared sauna or maybe it’s to go window shopping at Home Sense or go treat myself to some new crystals. These little things definitely help my mental state and I know I’m a better mom, wife, and worker because of it. So, bring on the self care people!

4. NO SMOKING OR VAPING – Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to get heart disease than a non-smoker. Both vaping and smoking can cause a similar level of damage to the arteries. Can quitting smoking benefit your heart health or is the damage already done? The good news is that quitting smoking can benefit your heart health now and in the future. If you are a smoker, I strongly recommend seeking the help you need to finally be free from this stimulant.

5. LIMIT ALCOHOL – Recently Canada released a new guideline stating the recommended alcohol consumption went from 2 alcoholic beverages per day to 2 per week. Wow that is a very different from the previous guidelines. But you know what, I’m here for it. I stopped drinking alcohol a couple of years ago because I started to develop an allergy/sensitivity to it. Do I miss having 1 drink occasionally…? yes, but I have thankfully found replacements and I’m still hopeful that maybe one day I can enjoy a drink (fingers crossed). The point is that we, as a society, are overdoing it and the sugar in these drinks and the actual alcohol content is not healthy for us and makes our bodies and hearts work extra hard to clear this out of our system. I’m not saying that we should never drink but honestly let’s tone this down a little. “Can you handle the tooth?” (recent Canadian joke – look it up if you don’t get it! haha)

6. GET REGULAR CHECK UPS – Did you know that we should be getting our regular CBC (complete blood count) checked yearly. I bet your doctors don’t tell you that. But honestly, we should all know our numbers so we can compare from year to year. That way we can see if things are off, such as cholesterol and/or sugar levels which both have a huge impact on our heart health. All you have to do is call in to your doctor yearly and ask for a regular CBC blood panel requisition. There is also so many amazing alternative medicine options that can help our health status such as live blood cell analysis. LBA is an amazing tool that helps us see our health on a cellular level and can determine if we have any ailments before they become an actual issue. This tool is not diagnostic, but it is a great option to see your health status on a regular basis.

Our hearts are responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen throughout our bodies as well as removing toxins. It is imperative to our overall health and for this reason we need to keep our ticker in top optimal health. I hope these suggestions have helped you and got you thinking of how you are going to start improving your heart health.

Be Authentically Well!

Chantal Mulhern, RHN