Mindy's Musings: Heart Talk

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It's February. It is the shortest yet one of the most celebrated months of the year as romantic couples traditionally express their love in more ways than one. It's as if most people are suddenly in the mood for love. To wit: this is an excuse to get all cheesey for one day. I'd be lying if I said I haven't been like that even once in my life. However, I won't bother telling stories of my own romantic past. As we fear the extent of the economic crisis today, don't you think it's best to lay off this “Hallmark holiday” and be more practical?

Aside from the infamous Valentine's Day, February also marks the worldwide Heart Month celebration which aims to promote living a healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart. According to Philippine Heart Statistics, heart diseases (such as coronary, cardiomyopathic, ischaemic, hypertensive, inflammatory, and hereditary) remain the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines. In fact, heart disease is on the list of the most prevalent lifestyle-related diseases today. This is enough reminder that prevention is always better than cure. It's never too late to hype for a new year's resolution to make a few lifestyle changes, like engaging in physical activities or even observing a healthy diet.

While I was randomly browsing the Internet, I chanced upon a few tips from the British Heart Foundation website entitled “How to Keep your Heart Healthy.” The list may include one or two challenging ideas for starters. But in any case, the thing that matters above all is to keep our heartbeats' “lub-dub” always in sync towards a longer and healthier life.

  • Kick the habit. Yes, smoking it is! It is twice more likely for a smoker to experience a heart attack than a non-smoker. By quitting smoking, you're not only doing yourself a favor, but also those exposed to second hand smoke with a higher risk of getting lung cancer.
  • Watch what you eat. This requires a well-balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. You can do a little experiment in your cooking and discover new healthy recipes for your own taste. In no time, along with a physical activity routine, you'll be in shape to fit in your favorite dress again.
  • Shake off the salt. Get over the junk food. Say 'NO' to canned goods and ready-made meals. Consuming too much salt causes high blood pressure, thereby increasing your risk of having coronary heart disease.
  • Take five! As you take your junk foods away, replace them with a high intake of fruits and vegetables. Experts say eating at least five portions of fruits and veggies a day helps lessen the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
  • These boots are made for walking. Doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week should keep you in a good condition. Skip the short-distance ride -- walk. It will help you relax and reduce stress. Self-discipline is better than relying on a personal trainer in the gym. Keeping healthy should not cost you a penny if you're really driven to stay fit.
  • Cut the saturated fat. Too much intake of foods rich in saturated fat like butter, cheese, lard, beef, lamb, pork, and coconut oil can raise the blood cholesterol level,thereby increasing your risk of heart disease. You can switch from full fat milk to skimmed milk, or from frying to grilling foods. Also, choose leaner cuts of meat.
  • Up the oily fish. You've probably heard this, but a regular diet of oily fish is ultimately an excellent source of omega 3 that protects you against heart diseases. This includes, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, and salmon.
  • Check out the food label. It's all a matter of choice. Make a habit of checking on the food labels when you're shopping. This will help you make healthier choices for the foods you eat.
  • Drink moderately. Moderate alcohol drinking protects the heart from coronary heart disease. However, drinking over 1 or 2 units of alcohol a day is more than enough for the purpose. As always, you should drink moderately.

For your comments, suggestions, and inquiries e-mail me at mindy@wikipilipinas.org Also, you can visit Mindy’s Blog at WikiPilipinas <www.wikipilipinas.org>.

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