Heart health

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For many South Africans, February brings Valentine’s Day and it is termed by many as the month of love. However in health, February is known as Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Month, which is basically a time of raising awareness around living a healthy lifestyle.

Matters of the heart are important figuratively and literally. The heart as an organ, works as a hub for the entire body but it is also where we figuratively feel emotions of love. It can somehow be agreed that this organ brings joy to the person emotionally and improves overall health.

Here are some tips to adopting a healthy lifestyle for the health of the heart.

1. Manage your blood pressure

Blood pressure isn’t usually something you can feel. If it’s too high, it needs to be treated. It is important to know your blood pressure markers as hypertension is a silent killer and can creep up on you.

2. Adopt good nutrition: Nourishment, Enjoyable, Affordable & Accessible

Eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. The key is to adopt a diet that has good quality food, in right quantities.

There are also specific changes you can make to your diet to help prevent heart disease:

  • Eat less salt: Reducing your salt intake is good for your blood pressure. 
  • Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats: Choose more unsaturated fats and less saturated fats.  
  • Limit alcohol: Drink in moderation and the daily recommendation is one drink for women and two drinks for men. 
  • Drink plenty of water: There are many ways to make water appetising if you do not like the taste of water e.g. adding sugar free concentrate to enhance flavour.

3. Tobacco use

Being smoke free is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart. This includes direct and secondary smoking – it is very important to be aware of tobacco use.

4. Look after your mental health

Having a good social life with family and friends is important to a healthy mental status. Being socially isolated or suffering with depression can greatly affect heart health.

5. Manage your blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to be healthy, but an imbalance of cholesterol in your blood can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is both made by our liver and comes from food.

6. Manage blood sugar levels

It’s important to manage your diabetes to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. Aiming for high fibre foods and less processed foods is important to manage blood sugar levels.

7. Be physically active 

Regular, moderate physical activity is great for your heart health. It’s never too late to start and get the benefits. It’s also important to sit less during your day and break up your sitting time. 

8. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Reducing your belly fat by at least 10% reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Very important to note is that healthy weight is individualized.

Note: You do not have to adopt these healthy lifestyle habits all at once, but you can adopt them bit by bit and one by one until you get the optimal health you desire.

Live Long, Love & B-Fabulous

Yours In Health

Mbali Mapholi

XX

Author: Mbali Mapholi Inc

Mbali is a qualified clinical dietitian (Bsc. dietetics & PGDip dietetics) obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In dietetics she has special interest in Heart and heart related diseases, gastrointestinal (GIT) related diseases, weight management and African diet nutrition. She is a business woman with entities MiNutrition ZA and Mbali Mapholi Inc, under her belt. She is well published in the field of Nutrition with ray of media contributions (Radio, television and print media). Mbali believes is the type of eating that is nourishing, enjoyable, accessible and affordable. She believes in that nutrition education that is based on science delivered by a trusted source, is important to help people make informed nutrition decisions for themselves and those around them.

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