Right now in the United states, every 37 seconds a person dies from complications of heart disease, usually related to high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause of death in the US, and because it is so common, many people think that it is unavoidable. We often think of high cholesterol, otherwise known as cardiovascular disease, as something that everyone gets naturally over time. We assume it is related to genetics, and we might think - “Well, if I can’t avoid it, then I might as well just live my life and enjoy it!” But what we don’t realize is that we can also enjoy a healthy active life, it doesn’t need to be a chore, and it can stop the trend of high cholesterol and heart disease!
Family history, Smoking, Overweight, an Unhealthy diet, and Inactivity are all common habits that increase our risks for developing heart disease. In today’s society, where there are more processed foods, and more products and foods aimed at making life more convenient. As a result, the average American moves less, burns fewer calories, and eats many more calories and preservatives than 30 years ago, and even 50 and 100 years ago! That means that our risk of developing obesity or heart disease from high cholesterol or high blood pressure is higher than that of our parents, and higher than that of our grandparents.
There are steps you can take on your own to help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). It's not always easy, but making better food choices and staying active can improve your heart health.
Though our genes play a large part in our health risks, most of our risk comes, sincerely, from lifestyle. If your blood cholesterol levels remain high even if you take medication, are not overweight, you live healthfully with exercise and healthy diet, and you don’t smoke, then it is likely that you have some genetic component.
Sticking to a healthy diet isn't easy, but there are some helpful tips to help you stay on track:
Low-impact activities are a great way to get started on a daily routine. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking a few times a day is proven to be good for your heart. Some healthy activities include:
The easiest way to stay on track is to choose activities that you enjoy. But there's more you can do to keep yourself motivated:
If you smoke, definitely try to reduce it. There are several studies that link smoking to early death, and not just from cardiovascular complications, either. Though strong genetics definitely helps a person reduce their risks of complications, it is not the only factor - our parents may have smoked, but they may have been raised with more nutritious, natural foods, and were likely more physically active, and less stressed than we are today. So they may have had reduced risks for other reasons. Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation or reduction plan. Even tiny changes help!
Though the research is not 100% correlated, likely for the same reasons as genetics and combinations of other factors, there is still a significant correlation between maintaining a healthy weight and reduction in disease risk. Your Dietitian and health coach are very knowledgeable about weight reduction strategies. Talk to them to set up a plan and boost your longevity!
Every step toward a healthier you is a step in the right direction! The important thing is that you plan a program you can stick with. Your doctor, dietitian, or health coach can help you decide which foods to eat and plan which activities are suitable for you.