HEART health is a serious topic.
One Australian dies every 12 minutes of heart disease and one in two women carry at least one risk factor for heart disease.
But according to leading cardiologist Ross Walker, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” couldn’t be more accurate than in this case.
“Heart disease from lifestyle-related causes doesn’t have to be your reality, and there are steps you can take now to ensure heart health well into the future,” Dr Walker said.
Here are his tips on how to give your heart the love it deserves in 2017:
- Spend time with friends. Research has shown that people who maintain healthy friendship networks throughout life actually have a lower risk of heart disease. In places around the world where life expectancy is significantly higher than other areas, such as Okinawa in Japan, most individuals have strong social circles of family and friends they maintain throughout their life. Researchers think reduced stress and anxiety as a result of these relationships plays a significant role in these findings, not to mention the vital happiness chemicals (serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin) released as a consequence of love and bonding.
- Eat oily fish. Be honest for a moment: Do you eat two to three serves of fish a week? The answer for most people is no. Most of us don’t even manage to achieve one serve of fish per week, and unfortunately this means we are missing out on beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and additionally, reduces inflammation in the body, particularly around joints. It’s no coincidence that some of the longest living populations in the world, such as the Okinawans, eat plenty of fish.
- Try a ubiquinol supplement. Ubiquinol is the active (more readily absorbed) form of CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant found naturally in the body. Our CoQ10 levels decline naturally as we age, and ubiquinol supplements can help to support your natural energy levels. Research has also shown that ubiquinol can support healthy heart function, as well as in some cases reducing the common muscle pain and tension that people experience when taking statins for cholesterol management. If you’re over 50 and taking statins to manage cholesterol or are showing a risk factor for heart disease, it might be worth discussing ubiquinol with your healthcare practitioner.
- Get physical. It may seem too simple to be true, but exercise should be the first thing prescribed to people with health concerns. The benefits of exercise stretch far beyond keeping your waistband in check – it strengthens your heart, and 30 minutes of exercise per day has been shown to reduce an individual’s risk of heart disease. If this seems too much, take a five-minute break every hour to get up and go for a quick walk around the home or office. At the end of the day, you will have clocked up half an hour of walking!
- Embrace turmeric. Turmeric is an ancient spice which has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Many experts believe it can be very effective in assisting the reduction of inflammation in the joints. Recent studies have also discovered turmeric’s heart health properties. One study conducted in Japan found that curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its distinct yellow colour, significantly improved cardiac health over a three-week period and reduced inflammatory lesions in the heart area. Try sprinkling turmeric in your tea and munching on at least one turmeric-rich curry per week.
Ross Walker is a leading integrative cardiologist. He is the author of seven books including The Life Factor and 5 Stages of Health.