A Healthy Heart and a Holistic Well Being
By: Cecilia Alcaraz
The heart is the most critical organ in an individual’s body and it sustains an individual’s life. Therefore, an individual should maintain a healthy heart and a holistic well-being by having a healthy diet and by practicing a proper lifestyle.
In order to have a healthy heart and a holistic well-being, an individual should make some changes in his or her diet. For instance, consuming high amounts of trans and saturated fatty acids can raise blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels which in turn increase blood pressure. Trans and saturated fatty acids increase the risk of heart disease because they increase LDL concentrations. Trans fatty acids are even more harmful because they decrease HDL concentration and promote inflammation. On the other hand, an individual should increase the intake of unsaturated and w-3 fatty acids. For example, monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil and polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease blood lipid levels. Equally important, w-3 fatty acids such as those found in flaxseed oil and in fish are beneficial because they decrease very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) concentrations as well as triglyceride synthesis in the liver. Furthermore, w-3 fatty acids can decrease blood pressure, reduce the risk of atherosclerotic plaque rupture, and have anti-inflammatory properties (Beerman& McGuire, 2005, p. 280). In addition, an individual should increase the intake of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 because these vitamins help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. A deficiency of any of these vitamins can result in the accumulation of hemocysteine in the blood; high levels of hemocysteine in the blood are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Dietary antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, β-carotene, and selenium should also be included in an individual’s diet because they decrease chronic inflammation and inhibit the oxidation of LDLs which decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, functional foods such as garlic, fish, tomatoes, whole grains and oats, soy, and low fat dairy foods would be extremely beneficial because they contain compounds that can lower LDL cholesterol (p. 280-282).
Besides changes in diet, an individual should also change his or her lifestyle. Engaging in physical activity is extremely beneficial for the heart. For instance, physical activity can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity also strengthens heart muscles and lowers resting heart rate. In addition, physical activity improves blood lipids by decreasing triglyceride and LDL cholesterol and by increasing HDL cholesterol. Even more important, exercise slows the progression of atherosclerosis, maintains healthy blood pressure, and helps the heart to function more efficiently (p. 407).However, strenuous exercise such as running a marathon is also hazardous because people can suffer from heart problems while running since the heart needs time to strengthen and complete the strenuous exercise. Therefore, it is necessary to check with a physician before engaging in a fitness or training program. Also, doing yard work on irregular basis is bad because it increases the heart rate. Thus, an individual should start doing little yard work, take frequent breaks, and drink a lot of water. In addition, driving in traffic is a risky activity for the heart because it can cause increase the blood pressure if an individual is driving out of time (p. 324-325). Furthermore, aspirin can help to prevent heart disease because it thins the blood and reduces blood clotting, thus it maintains blood flow through a narrowed artery. In addition, aspirin suppresses the formation of a factor in platelet aggregation called thromboxane A2. Taking low doses of aspirin daily can suppress thrombosis; thus, helping to prevent heart attacks (Saladin, 2011, p. 710). Equally important, an individual should not smoke because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease. Also, smoking causes heart disease and raises blood pressure. Smoking canimpair heart functioning and damage blood vessels as well.Even though, stress is a normal part of life, it can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, and irregular heartbeats. In order to reduce stress, an individual should engage in physical activities such as yoga and aerobics, relaxation or counseling programs, and do activities that he or she enjoys. Eating healthy, managing time effectively, getting enough sleep, making time for hobbies or interests, and thinking positively will also reduce stress (p. 450).
In conclusion, if an indivual wants to have a healthy heart and a holistic well-being, he or she should modify both diet and lifestyle habits.
Beerman, Kathy A., & McGuire Michelle. (2005). Nutritional Sciences-From Fundamentals to
Food.Nutritional Academy Press.
Saladin, Kenneth S. (2011). Anatomy & Physiology- The Unity of Form and Function. New
York, NY: McGrawHill Press.