My head says YES!
But my heart says NO!

Greetings, Mama Lamas! Times are a little crazy right now, so I thought it might be good for a quick check-in.

While many of us are making more home-cooked meals, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been looking for comfort in food during these strange times. I have to admit indulging in an extra piece of chocolate cake or a large stack of pancakes for breakfast has made my attitude lift here and there. But, let’s not forget to pay attention to our heart health. 

Many women are under the misconception that we are not at risk for heart disease until later in life, but this is not true. Heart Disease is a broad term and includes a variety of conditions that affect the heart and or blood vessels. Being mindful of heart health and modifying your risk factors prevents changes that occur in our bodies, even as teenagers and young adults.

Food as Medicine

A life well lived starts with controlling risk factors and modifying lifestyle to keep body, mind, and spirit healthy and happy. Remember, all prevention begins with a healthy diet and exercise. Trust me, after 30 years of practicing, I’m convinced it is the foundation of cardiovascular health.  

There are so many diets that claim they will “cure all your ills,” but research continues to support diets such as The Mediterranean Diet because it is scientifically proven to reduce risk factors for heart disease.

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthy eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

It is also recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern and as an intangible cultural asset by the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

While there is no single definition of The Mediterranean Diet, it is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.

© Nikolay_Donetsk / Getty iStock

The main components of Mediterranean diet include:

  • Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
  • Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
  • Moderate portions of dairy products
  • Limited intake of red meat

Get Up & Get Moving

Physical activity of any kind can be exercise – bottom line…you need to move! You have to find something you enjoy doing; otherwise, you will never stick to it. 

Walking, biking, gardening, yoga, dancing, stair climbing, sports of any kind will keep you in motion. Work towards 150 minutes per week minimum – that’s only 30 minutes 5 days a week – you can do it!!

Did You Know…?

Myth: Heart disease doesn’t affect women who are fit.

Fact: Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon runner or workout fiend, your risk for heart disease isn’t completely eliminated. Contributing factors like cholesterol, diet and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. 

You can be thin and still have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. 

Find Stress Busters

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well being. All of these things affect how we think, feel, act, and determine how we deal with stress. Identifying healthy ways to cope with stress can help to reduce your risks for chronic diseases. If you need help, reach out.

Steps To Remember

  1. Eat a healthy diet with components like the Mediterranean Diet.
  2. Stay physically active. Goal is 30 minutes, 5 days per week.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. 
  4. Know your blood pressure. Goal is 120/80 or less.
  5. Talk to your doctor about screening you for Diabetes. 
  6. Quit Smoking
  7. Know your blood cholesterol levels
  8. Find Healthy ways to cope with stress.

Knowing The Warning Signs

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Spread the Word

Share this article with the women in your life. Knowledge is power! With a little know-how and some persistence, we can all enjoy a long, happy, healthy lifestyle together.

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