Heal The Heart With The Right Diet
A report by American Heart Association claims that 1/3 of deaths globally occur due to Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) (1). The spectrum of CVDs includes heart failure, Coronary heart disease, Cardiac Arrest among many other heart-related ailments. Also, the fact that CVDs are usually secondary disease to hypertension or diabetes is overlooked. Accumulation of plaque, which subsequently hardens the arteries and blocks the blood flow to organs, is a major cause of CVDs. Plaque is made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances.
Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are the number 1 cause of death globally, taking 17.9 millions lives each year, says World Health Organisation (WHO)
A known but underrated aspect of CVDs and its primary diseases are that they are directly connected with one’s lifestyle and most importantly dietary habits. Correct Dietary habits and a well-planned exercise regime can significantly control CVDs or any chronic disease.
One of the major causes of heart-related ailments is obesity, hence weight loss is highly recommended to every patient by a doctor. However, fancy diets to lose weight are never recommended, and more so in the case of a person with any medical history.
Here are some tips for a healthy heart:
-Sufficient intake of good quality proteins like legumes, pulses, nuts etc.
-Limited intake of carbohydrates is a major step in weight loss.
-Adding fibrous fruits and vegetables lead to improved digestive system.
-Food with good fat in moderate quantities is recommended. Junk or fast food is a major taboo for heart patients. However, nuts with good fat are recommended. Contrary to the common perception, eliminating fats from food is not prescribed. Our body needs fats, however, the classification of fats differ.
-Oily food too is unfavourable. However, Indian cuisine is heavily dependent on oil. Therefore, certain types of oils can replace the oil which is used regularly but isn’t recommended. MonoSaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) or Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) are preferred over saturated or Trans fats. Therefore, Rice Barn, Mustard, groundnut, Olive Oil are some of the most sought after types of oil recommended by doctors for Chronic patients to manage their disease.
-Apart from diet, regular exercise is fundamental to manage and control chronic diseases.
Walking is the simplest form of exercise and doesn’t require any equipment or is gender and age agonistic. Therefore, we encourage our beneficiaries to choose walking as an exercise form. For any other form of exercise that a chronic disease patient might want to follow, we insist prior permission from his/her doctor. It is essential to refer to doctor’s permission in everything, whether diet or exercise.
While diet and exercise hold the key to heart health, complete omission of smoking tobacco is necessary too. Alcohol needs to be consumed in nominal proportions with preference given to red wine over other options. Stress management is also crucial. We insist on meditation or engaging in activities that make the patients happy.
Our focus is to help the patient adhere to the diet and exercise regime. As simple as it may appear, planning the next meal is the most difficult. Consideration of availability of products, personal taste, allergies, and the entire culture and lifestyle is important. For example, insisting a Kerala bred person to give up on coconut oil wouldn’t be proper advice. In such a case, suggesting smaller portions would be ideal.
Vigilance to a structured diet, exercise regime can lead to less complicated health of the heart. Adherence to the prescribed regime will ensure many happy and healthy years to one's lifespan.
(The Author is an Assistant Vice President at Patient Outcomes, Process Excellence and Solutioning, Wellthy Therapeutics)