We all know that taking care of our hearts is important, but did you know that there are some everyday habits that can be damaging your heart without you even knowing it? Eating the wrong foods, not getting enough exercise, and even stress can all have a negative impact on your heart health. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways you’re damaging your heart and don’t even know it, and provide some tips on how to make healthier choices.
Ways You’re Damaging Your Heart and Don’t Even Know It — Eat This Not That
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and it’s essential to take care of it. Unfortunately, many of us are unknowingly damaging our hearts without even realizing it. Here are some of the most common ways you may be damaging your heart and what you can do to prevent it.
Eating Too Much Processed Food
Processed foods are often high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars, all of which can increase your risk of heart disease. Eating too much processed food can also lead to weight gain, which can put additional strain on your heart. To protect your heart, try to limit your intake of processed foods and opt for fresh, whole foods instead.
Not Getting Enough Exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for a healthy heart. Exercise helps to strengthen your heart muscle, improve your circulation, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, five days a week.
Smoking is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your heart. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit smoking and get the support you need.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related conditions. The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink per day. If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption, talk to your doctor.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy heart. Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related conditions. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to keep your heart healthy.
Stress can have a negative impact on your heart health. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. To reduce stress, try to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. You can also talk to your doctor about ways to manage stress.
By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can protect your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress can all help to keep your heart healthy.
Your heart works hard every minute of the day to keep you healthy, and not taking care of it can lead to major health issues. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” While we all know smoking and excess drinking can damage the heart, there’s other unhealthy behaviors that are just as harmful that you might not even realize. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who reveal what habits to kick immediately to maintain a healthy heart. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, MD, a board certified cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA says, “Too much emotional stress will ramp up the sympathetic nervous system chronically, which is the part of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for an individual’s “fight or flight” response. Humans evolved this response to escape dangerous situations. When under chronic stress, pathways involved in the sympathetic nervous system are activated constantly, leading to increased inflammation and the secretion of stress hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline). This leads to changes in physiology that contribute directly and indirectly to high blood pressure, electrical rhythm disturbances, high cholesterol, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, exercising, or practicing a hobby can help improve the nervous system response, especially when performed consistently.”
Dr. Tadwalkar shares, “Poor diet is a major contributor towards heart disease. This includes fast foods, processed meats, red meat, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, and soda. Foods that are often not thought of as bad for the heart but actually are, especially when consumed in high quantities, include white bread, pizza, canned soup, energy bars, smoothies, sports drinks and ice cream. Unfortunately, foods that are bad for the heart are all around us and it takes some effort to eat heart healthy. Carving out a diet plan that is functional and easy to incorporate in one’s day to day life is indeed challenging, but necessary to improve heart health. Fortunately, there are many licensed professionals who can assist with this.”
“Not getting up and moving is a major cause of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Tadwalkar. “Being sedentary contributes greatly towards the process of atherosclerosis, which is the deposition of plaque within the inner lining of the arteries. The atherosclerotic process can contribute to the development of a heart attack. Replacing even 15 to 30 minutes of sedentary time with active time, for example, using a foot or exercise bike while watching television, or simply just standing instead of sitting, can have tremendous effects over time in preventing heart disease. Exercise will lower blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, weight and stress hormones, all of which protects the heart.”
According to Dr. Tadwalkar, “We see too many individuals needlessly taking supplements, including vitamins and herbals, that they do not need. In some cases, these supplements can interact with prescribed medication, or other supplements to cause destructive effects on the heart. Even more frequently, individuals may feel that they are receiving some form of beneficial effect from a supplement, when in reality they are not. This can be harmful because one believes they are protecting their heart but in actuality are not achieving any meaningful improvement in their cardiovascular health. It is important for an individual to talk with their cardiologist or primary physician about any supplements being taken, so an assessment can be made as to whether it is needed or not.”
Water expert Riggs Eckelberry, reveals, “When it comes to heart health, what we consume can be a major factor in both preventing and causing disease. Normally, we think of high-sugar foods and saturated fats, but what’s often overlooked is something very essential – the water you’re consuming. And if you’re consuming tap water, you may want to rethink that habit. According to a recent study by Columbia University, two-thirds of American drinking water has levels of detectable uranium! As noted in the article, studies indicate that exposure to elevated levels of uranium over a long period of time can damage your kidneys and heart, and “Even at low concentrations, uranium represents an important risk factor for the development of chronic diseases.” 37,000 drinking water systems were evaluated to determine the amounts of uranium in our drinking water, with the highest concentrations of uranium often found in the Southwest and Central Midwest regions of the U.S. The highest concentrations were more likely to be near semi-urban and Hispanic communities. The reality is that while the government sets “statistically safe” standards for contaminants in our drinking water, that doesn’t make it completely safe. In other words, while the water in the US may not immediately kill you, it can lead to long-term health conditions. As central water systems face underfunding and aging infrastructure, we as consumers must be aware of the quality of our water. The Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database is one way to find the true quality of water in your area – and you probably won’t like what you see. So, what can you do about it? In addition to kicking the tap water drinking habit and ensuring you consume high-quality, purified water whenever possible, we strongly encourage everyone to have an at-home filtration system.”