Heart is one of the hardest working organs in your body. It is also the organ that is most neglected because of our lifestyle and dietary habits. As a result, you could end up with cardiovascular disease. But by making a few changes to certain habits, you can have a healthier and optimally functioning heart.
Here are the 10 daily habits you should be looking to change as they can damage your heart.
(Note: This content is prepared under the guidance of Dr. Zainulabedin Hamdulay – Leading Cardiac Surgeon in Mumbai, India)
1. Sitting and Watching too Much Television
You may be physically active for a short while, but if you love sitting for hours and watching TV, you are giving an open invitation to a stroke or heart attack.
When you sit for long hours, without moving, your blood thickens, causing your heart to work harder. This thickened blood can increase the chances of stroke or heart attack.
There is no harm in watching television as you make it a point to get up and walk around at least twice an hour. You can even use commercial breaks to do a little bit of cardio to keep your heart healthy.
2. Skipping Breakfast
If you are in the habit of not having breakfast before leaving for work, you are causing your heart a lot of damage. We are not saying it, research states this.
A study in 2013 by the US based Harvard School of Public Health found that people who regularly miss breakfast are 27 percent likelier to get a heart attack or succumb to coronary heart disease compared to those who always make it a point to eat in the morning.
3. Getting Overly Stressed
When you are stressed out, the body releases cortisol, the stress hormone, and adrenaline. Your body goes into fight-or-flight mode that increases heart rate and blood pressure.
If you are constantly stressed out, this perpetual state of elevated heart rate and blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the heart, thereby increasing your chances of getting a stroke or heart attack.
It is advisable to take up yoga or practice deep breathing exercises to de-stress yourself each time you find your stress levels increasing.
You can even find a way to release your pent up emotions by speaking to trusted friend or family member about what is bothering you. Even though you may not get a solution to your problem, you will feel lighter sharing your burden.
4. Not Flossing Your Teeth
You may not think that flossing is important, but researchers have found a connection between heart disease and gum disease.
If you floss regularly, you get rid of plaque that grow and thrive on your gums. If you don’t floss, you will ingest the plaque, which is replete with bacteria.
These bacteria can result in inflammation, which can lead to atherosclerosis. Now you have another reason to floss your teeth every day.
5. Going Overboard with Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can elevate your blood pressure, causes blood fats to increase significantly and it even increases your calorie intake which can lead to obesity.
High blood pressure & obesity both are linked to heart disease. Heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle which affects the hearts ability to pump blood and this is known as cardiomyopathy, it can even lead to premature death through heart failure.
6. Gorging on Red Meat
You may have heard it time and again that red meat is bad for health because it contains high levels of saturated fat.
This fat can increase your chances of developing not just cardiovascular disease, but also colorectal cancer.
So, learn to reduce your red meat intake. If you do eat it on special occasions, look to consume a small portion of lean red meat.
7. Inhaling Cigarette Smoke
Whether you are a smoker or work and live in the company of smokers, you are in the process of damaging your heart.
Both active and passive smoking can lead to blood clots, which obstruct the flow of blood to your heart. Smoking can also damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup in your blood vessels.
If you have been meaning to quit smoking, now you have another reason besides lung cancer and emphysema to kick this nasty lifestyle habit.
8. Not Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies
Even though you may consider yourself to be a thoroughbred carnivore, you better start munching on fruits and veggies if you want to keep your heart healthy.
Eating a diet that is rich in plant-based foods will decrease your chances of developing heart disease or getting a stroke.
Health specialists state that people who consume a heart-healthy diet comprising fruits, whole grains and vegetables, can reduce their chances of getting a stroke or heart disease.
9. Eating Too Much Salt
Yes, food tastes insipid without salt, but if you love salt, you will be a candidate for elevate blood pressure. The sodium in the salt is the culprit.
High blood pressure means increasing your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Healthcare providers recommend not consuming more than 2,300 mg salt a day.
However, if you already have high blood pressure or you are more than 50 years, you should not be consuming more than 1,500 mg of salt.
Read food labels carefully to study sodium content and this will allow you to make informed food choices. Also, while preparing dishes at home, start reducing the salt you add.
This way, you will get used to less salt. Instead, give your food a burst of taste and flavor with herbs and spices.
10. Eating Unhealthy Calorific Foods
If you favor foods that have high oil, fat and sugar content, you are just munching on empty calories without consuming vital nutrients.
A high-calorie diet that has few or no nutrients will cause more fat to circulate in the blood. This fat will get deposited on the arterial walls, resulting in clogged or blocked arteries, which can lead to a stroke or cardiovascular disease.
Make an effort, instead, to eat a heart-healthy diet comprising whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, and legumes.
Changing these daily habits that can damage your heart can be difficult. Also, it will not happen overnight. However, you should continue to persevere until you eliminate these habits and make heart-healthy habits a part of your daily life.
Note: Images used in this article are copyright free & used from Freepik