Wellfie Wednesday: Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Happy Wellfie Wednesday! This week is brought to you by Alyssa (@kuhnalyssa_spt).
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die of heart disease each year. That’s 1 in 4 people! Heart Disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women. Coronary artery disease (CAD) takes the cake as the most common form of heart disease. So what causes it?
Many people used to believe that arteries became “clogged” due to high consumption of saturated fats. Fats commonly found in animal and dairy sources, along with highly processed foods. When arteries get “clogged”, the clots can burst and travel to the heart causing ischemia of the blood- aka a heart attack. The British Journal of Sports Medicine (2017) recently discovered that saturated fats may not play a large part after all.
A recent meta-analysis found that there was no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults. Interestingly enough, another study found that in postmenopausal women with coronary heart disease, greater intake of saturated fat was associated with less progression of atherosclerosis(“clogging”), whereas carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat intake were associated with greater progression. It has also been found that instead of looking to levels of LDL, typically deemed as “bad” cholesterol to determine risk of CAD, the ratio of total cholesterol (TC) to HDL cholesterol (“good”), has been shown to be the best predictor of cardiovascular risk.
What does this tell us?
Fat may not the enemy in our diets. It turns out that a high fat, Mediterranean diet (vegetables, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, oily fish) improved outcomes for recurrent myocardial infarctions and all-cause mortality discovered in the Lyon Heart study. We also need to find ways to decrease the TC to HDL ratio in order to diminish risk of CHD.
What do we do?
It’s been shown that replacing refined carbohydrates (highly processed foods) with healthy high fat foods (notably plant fats and vegetables can decrease the TC to HDL ratio significantly. Physical activity can also play a part. Those who walk briskly at or above 150 minutes/week (22 minutes per day) have been shown to increase their life expectancy by up to 3-5 years compared to physically inactive adults!
ONE THING I LEARNED TODAY:
Its all very simple. Overall, the two simple ways to reduce your risk of CAD and help to keep your heart healthy: 1. Eat REAL food. Decrease the amount of refined carbohydrates and processed sugars. Stay in the outer perimeter of the grocery store! and 2. Get moving! Walk 22 minutes a day (which is only 2% of your day!) to keep your heart strong!