Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Heart Health


Heart Health

I’ve just taken the NHS heart health check.  Now I count myself as pretty healthy, and my Fitbit says I’m ‘excellent’.  But the NHS website puts my heart age as higher than my biological age.  But, as I don’t know my cholesterol, its made a guess and has suggested that I go to my GP and get my cholesterol checked.  Oh dear.  The test doesn’t even have a section to fill in to say how much exercise I do and what my daily step counter is like.  It doesn’t ask me about alcohol intake, sleep or stress.  Cholesterol levels are complicated and need to be understood in the context of naturally occurring levels and those brought about by food.  There are criticisms of the studies of cholesterol and heart health (‘Nourishing Traditions ‘ by Fallon & Enig New Trends publishing 2001 p 133) so what are we to do?

An article in The Guardian on 8th Sept suggests that lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your heart age.  Here goes:

Diet - keep your refined sugar intake as low as you possibly can, avoid added salt and eat a good selection vegetables everyday.  Eat fat in moderation, those that are unrefined and unprocessed.  In fact, avoid processed food as far as you can.

Exercise (well, we would have to include this!) – go for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week and strength training at least twice a week.  So, walk fast, run, bike, swim, get your heart rate up.  Then lift some weights – ask one of us if you don’t know how to do this safely. 

Smoking and drinking -  Smoking triples the risk of a heart attack – so don’t.  Alcohol is less clear but new evidence is suggesting that you are better off without

Pollution - has been shown to have a bad effect on heart health.  I am guessing that living in the Fens means we have less car fumes and manufacturing fall out to deal with.  Unless muck spreading counts?!!

Stress - not good for your heart – and not easy to eliminate – but get some down time – enjoy the moment.  Learn how to meditate, breathe deeply, look up and enjoy the view.  Oh – and get some sleep!

So, I haven’t immediately improved my heart health – but I’m working on it and I know that if I keep at it I will feel healthy and keep going well for as long as I can