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Take Your Heart Health To Heart

Start with the basics

When it comes to your heart health, starting with the right information is important. Talk to your health care practitioner to establish your own needs and then set yourself on the path to heart health with these basics.

Heart health is a topic often rife with conflicting and confusing information. When dealing with cardiovascular conditions such as high cholesterol or hypertension, it’s important to establish a baseline for your specific case. Do this by having your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly by your health care practitioner. Once you’ve reviewed your test outcomes with your doctor, it’s often most effective to start with the basics when beginning any treatment protocol. Making dietary and lifestyle changes is of the utmost importance, especially in the case of high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure.

Regardless of cardiovascular concern, fibre is an important component of any diet. Known for its ability to “move things along” digestively, fibre is also an important factor in regulating blood sugar levels. Keeping glucose levels stabilized will reduce the risk of plaque formation on artery walls.

Fibre is also an effective way to lower cholesterol levels, as fibre is very efficient at binding cholesterol and removing it from the bloodstream. Aim to get 25 g of fibre per day if you’re a woman and 38 g for a man, ensuring the sources are a good mix of soluble and insoluble fibre.

With so many treatment options on the market, from both pharmaceutical and nutraceutical perspectives, we often forget the importance of a well-balanced diet, and that includes colourful fruits and vegetables.

Phytonutrients are the active biochemical component in the skins of fruits and vegetables and are responsible for providing antioxidants in our diet. Antioxidants help neutralize any free-radical damage in the body—damage caused not only by external factors such as environmental toxins but also by our own cells when creating energy.

Phytonutrients not only contribute to heart health but have also been recently discovered to help feed the good bacteria in the gut (also known as prebiotics). If you find it difficult to get all your daily servings of phytonutrient-rich foods, consider incorporating a high quality food-based supplement into your routine.

One of the best ways to love your heart is by getting it pumping. The important thing to remember when working out is to keep switching it up—alternate using weight training, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and restorative exercise (such as yoga or Pilates) to keep your body guessing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week, with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.