How can an individual change his or her lifestyle to promote a healthy heart and holistic well being?

How can an individual change his or her lifestyle to promote a healthy heart and holistic well being?
By: Robin Wolschendorf

Being holistically healthy and reducing disease risks is a goal every person should have in their futures. Health is of utmost importance in the path of achieving any other goals in life. Improving holistic well-being is not easy and takes an incredible amount of determination; this is why obesity and cardiovascular disease rates remain so dangerously high. However, becoming healthy is well worth the time commitment and effort. The best way to implement all the characteristics of a healthy lifestyle is to implement one at a time, until they become habits. With the plethora of steps which can be taken to achieve health, there are a few which may have the largest impact on heart health specifically. The major aspects of a healthy lifestyle which affect heart health can be divided into two main categories: nutrition and physical and environmental factors.

Diet changes are the most difficult to implement and maintain, but they do have the most profound effects on health. A healthy diet can manage one’s health even if they are not physically active, but one cannot out work a bad diet. The diet changes which may be most important in improving cardiovascular health include macronutrient and calorie control, DASH diet, and supplementation. The most talked about diet change and probably the most important is macronutrient and calorie control. Eating the correct macronutrient ratios at the right times of the day and in the right amounts can drastically affect health. If done exactly correctly, the body will be able to function to the best of its ability without any extra energy to be stored as body fat. The next diet aspect addressed may need to be a DASH (dietary approach to stop hypertension) diet. A DASH diet recommends a decreased sodium intake and increased fruit and vegetable intake for anyone at risk for hypertension. Much of the processed food which we eat as a society today contains an unhealthy amount of sodium and increases blood pressure and risk of hypertension. Finally, if some nutrients are deficient in one’s diet, supplementation may be used in some cases. Some nutrients may be included in the diet in the form of supplements if they are deficient in the regular day-to-day diet. This includes fish or krill oil supplements, which are mainly used to obtain enough omega-3 fatty acids, since most people do not eat enough fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are arguably the most important nutrient in the realm of heart health. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to many different diseases and supplements may sometimes be used to combat these. Executing these diet changes correctly can very significantly decrease any risk of heart disease or hypertension.

Physical and environmental factors include working out and how everyday life is lived. Working out has an incredible amount of benefits for the body to decrease heart disease risk. Regular physical activity can raise metabolism, decrease stress, and improve the cardiovascular system. A higher basal metabolic rate allows for a greater discretionary allowance in the diet and helps to decrease body fat. Stress levels are directly correlated with blood pressure. Working out can help relieve stress and increase endorphins. Participating in cardiovascular exercise can strengthen the heart and make the system more efficient. Besides directly working out, how we spend the rest of the day can also have a great impact on heart health. In the technologically advanced world we live in, much of our everyday life has been simplified to decrease “unnecessary” effort. We drive cars everywhere we go, take elevators instead of stairs, sit in office chairs for 8 hours a day, etc. Sedentary lifestyles do anything but promote holistic health. These lifestyles hold low metabolic rates, higher body fat and minimal amounts of lean body mass. Working out and remaining active throughout the day are key players in maintaining or achieving heart health and overall body health.

Sedentary and physically inactive lifestyles along with poorly executed diets are the fast track to developing hypertension and heart disease. Implementing healthy practices can be very difficult and may take a good amount of time and dedication. Every step taken is important and contributes greatly to achieving the final goal of holistic health. Your body being able to think and function is the most important step in achieving any success in your life.