As of 2014, according to the American Heart Association, an estimated 85.6 million American adults, which is more than 1 in 3, have one or more types of cardiovascular diseases.
The most common risk factors include smoking, being overweight, little exercise, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poorly controlled diabetes, among others. Most of these factors relate to lifestyle choices and can be controlled or avoided.
From a general perspective, your body’s health is defined by the stuff you put in it, what comes out of it and how well this whole process is regulated, or how much is it eroding your organs. Simply put, you either make sure you’re putting in your mouth the right stuff, in the right quantities or you can start doing more exercise so your body uses up more energy.
Everybody knows you should have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Every white coat commercial advertises risk factors and how to counter them. While exercising has great benefits, it is not that easy to get on a treadmill or start a daily workout plan. The best way to achieve great health in the long run is by making small changes every day, for extended periods of time.
The first thing you can start with is nutrition and until you figure out what you like most from the healthy foods section, you can do yourself a great favor and start by avoiding the bad stuff. Chances are you are eating at least one thing per day which is damaging your heart.
We have been modifying and tinkering with our food in order to extended shelf life, economies of scale and feed modern day society. Our bodies were designed to run optimally with the right nutrients through a slow process of evolution. Nowadays we have gotten so far away from the foods that our ancestors ate that they wouldn’t understand or be able to process most of what we eat today. While some foods damage your heart health directly, other only help create other problems which will then affect your heart.
While sugar isn’t necessarily bad for your heart, it contributes to a series of problems directly linked with heart diseases. Sugar in the body is transformed into glucose and most metabolic functions depend on it for energy production.
Refined sugars have zero nutritional value. The difference between refined sugars and natural occurring sugars is how the body processes them. When eating fruits and vegetables, you get sugars together with other vitamins and fibers that aid your digestive system and your bodily functions. When you go for products that contain refined sugars, you are eating empty calories and a lot of them at once. Most of our foods have so much sugar in them, that our liver instantly transforms it into fat and deposits it in tissues and arteries. Sugar has also been proven to be highly physically addictive. Like any other drug, your body gets used to it gradually only to experience cravings, fatigue, headaches and other symptoms when you attempt to quit it or even when lowering quantities.
Do yourself a favor and don’t stockpile empty calories. There are many other nutritious ways to meeting your caloric input for the day without relying on junk food. Do yourself a favor and stock up on granola bars, honey, nuts, fruits and dried fruits instead of candy bars. If you are stockpiling canned fruits, make sure it contains fruit juice instead of syrup. Although they both have plenty of calories, the juice will also have vitamins and other nutrients in comparison to the syrup which is plain empty sugar.
Refined grains are grains that are refined to the point that all healthy ingredients have been removed. These foods have zero nutritional value, no vitamins and no minerals left in them.
Foods in this category include white bread, white rice, pasta, biscuits, and pie or pastry crusts, among others. Similar to sugar, these foods don’t affect your heart directly, but contribute to other problems that greatly affect your heart.
Replace these with products made with whole grains and only eat long-grain brown rice. Whole grains contain fiber, which have numerous health benefits. They help with digestion and lowering cholesterol levels, which are directly linked to heart disease risk.
All whole grains last for years without losing nutritional values. Once you grind them, you’ll have about a week or so to eat them before they go rancid; since grinding releases the oils in the kernels. Make sure to get whole grains when stockpiling provisions.
Salt regulates your blood pressure. You definitely need salt in your body, but too much of it or if not properly regulated, will lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is directly related to heart disease. Salt is what keeps your blood volume up so that it can pump through your veins in a healthy manner and is essential for your survival. You should be very careful with your salt intake, especially if you already have high blood pressure.
Make sure to watch sodium levels in the foods you are stockpiling. You should store or can only natural foods and avoid processed boxed foods.
Trans fats were originally created as a “healthier” alternative to butter. As it turns out they are more hazardous to your health than most of the stuff out there. They have been proven to increase bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while decreasing good cholesterol levels (HDL). While your body needs fats in order to survive, the kinds of fats you are feeding it make a huge difference.
There are several types of fats: unsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and transfats. Unsaturated fats are the healthiest and have the least impact on your cholesterol levels. With the exception of coconut oil, saturated fats should be consumed in limited quantities and transfats should be avoided altogether.
Foods that you should avoid include packaged baked goods and icings, packaged cookies, hot dogs, canola oil, margarine, processed fried foods, biscuit mixes, microwave popcorn, non-dairy creamer and “butter” crackers.
When combined with sugars, as in the case of ice cream, baked goods and candy bars, all you are eating is empty calories. This combination will only get you fat, increase risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders, all of which lead to heart disease. If you are canning your own home grown whole foods, you’ll be avoiding transfats altogether without even realizing it.
Meats are very nutritious and play an essential part in our food system. They are packed with proteins that feed us and help us build muscles. However, most meats are also packed with fats, which are directly connected to your cholesterol levels. This applies to all meats. Red meats and pork are high in fat. Chicken meat has little if any fat in it, but you should be mindful of the chicken skin which is entirely made of fat. This is bad because they raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL), which sticks along your arteries and forms fatty plaques. This leads to arteries hardening or atherosclerosis, which leads to heart disease.
When stockpiling meat, make sure to separate the fat first. Make sure it is as lean as possible, especially if you are dehydrating it. Fat goes rancid quickly and should be stored separately. When canning meats, use lean meats or trim the fat. If you are canning chicken just remove the skin. You don’t need to completely cut fat from your diet, just be mindful of your intake. Too much fat will slowly and certainly kill your heart and cardiovascular system.
Energy drinks are becoming more and more popular. There is a lot of marketing behind them or should I say lies and brain washing. People purchase the idea that they will have more energy to do more things and be more productive; however these drinks are very bad for your heart and cardiovascular system.
Each product has its own proprietary blend, containing taurine, caffeine, guarana, ginseng and a lot of sugars. Some ingredients, like caffeine, work on your cardiovascular system, stimulating your heart to pump quicker, which is very tiring and damaging. The sugars raise blood sugar levels and your liver and spleen need to work really hard to handle it all. This results in an energy boost that lasts for a few hours, during which your cardiovascular and digestive systems are pushed to their limits. Once the drink is metabolized, you are left exhausted and looking for more kicks.
As long as you heart and cardiovascular system is healthy, you may enjoy a drink every now and then. Make sure to check yourself regularly and enjoy in moderation.
All of these foods are very dangerous for your heart health, but the most dangerous and damaging foods you can eat often contain a combination of three or more of these threats. Here’s a list of the most dangerous and popular foods that you shouldn’t eat on a daily basis, but rather enjoy them as a treat every now and then. Replace these foods with healthier options without sacrificing flavor.
Replace salad dressings with your choice of spices, olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Enjoy you chicken without the skin. Go for a filet or venison instead of a rib eye, or go for other lean red meats over beef. Replace all commercial sweets with fruits and naturally occurring sugars. Replace mayo and ketchup with mustard or oil and vinegar.
Make sure to watch your diet and exercise regularly. Having a healthy heart in a crisis situation is critical for your survival. Your body will be put to the test and you want to be able to jump, run and endure physical stress if you want to survive. The dream of the Big Pharma fat cats is to have a nation hooked on blood pressure pills. Increase your survival odds by not depending on their drugs and staying healthy.
How do you take care of your heart health? How do you avoid the bad foods? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.