A healthy diet is the cornerstone of a heart-healthy lifestyle, but the focus shouldn’t solely lie on the things you need to do in order to keep the ticker happy.
A cardiologist has revealed the five things you should never do for a healthy heart.
There are currently around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation.
In order to prevent this number rising, cardiologist Dr Ernst von Schwarz, author of The Secrets of Immortality, recommended avoiding the following five things.
2. Eating too much sugar
The doctor warned that intake of too many carbohydrates can lay the harmful groundwork to metabolic syndrome, which includes abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and hyperlipidaemia – elevated level of lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
“[These] are risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease,” Dr von Schwarz said.
3. Not exercising
Lack of physical movement leads to increased loss of blood vessel elasticity, which can in turn hike your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death, the doctor warned.
4. Spending too much time on social media
Dr von Schwarz said: “Studies have shown that especially at the current time adolescents, young and middle-aged adults spend several hours per day on social media, especially watching short-term clips of entertainment rather than having regular physical activity which results in sedentary lifestyles with all of the above consequences.”
5. Using illegal drugs
Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and opioids, have “direct toxic effects” on the muscle of the heart.
“[Use] can lead to constriction of blood vessels, resulting in reduced oxygen supply to the heart and potential heart attacks,” the doctor said.
The good news is that Dr von Schwarz also outlined preventative measures for reducing your risk of cardiovascular issues. He said: “I recommend following the American Heart Association’s recommendations of “Life’s Essential 8” to improve and maintain cardiovascular health by adopting behavioural lifestyle changes and controlling cardiovascular risk factors.”
Life’s Essential 8 includes the following practices:
- Adopting a healthy diet
- Having regular physical activity
- Smoking cessation
- Adopting healthy sleep patterns
- Weight control
- Lipid control
- Sugar control
- Blood pressure control.
Apart from adopting some degree of physical fitness, the doctor also recommended using techniques of mindful relaxation such as meditation or prayers among other spiritual activities which help to “maintain mental health and also reduce all-cause mortality”. “Try to follow the idea of ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, meaning a healthy body requires a healthy mind (and vice versa),” he added.