Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer worldwide, and yet it is largely preventable, simply requiring the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices to prevent or reverse the disease. Patrick advises a combined strategy of changing your diet, improving your lifestyle, taking the right supplements and working together with your doctor as an effective recipe for preventing heart disease.
“The cost of heart disease is, on average, 20 years less life. For those who survive a massive heart attack or stroke it may mean decades of compromised living. Yet heart attacks, heart failure and strokes are largely preventable diseases with highly familiar risk factors, such as poor nutrition, smoking, excess alcohol, obesity and lack of exercise,” says Patrick.
Investing in a few fundamental lifestyle changes is key to making a profound difference to the health of your heart and for adding years to your life.
Patrick advises the following 10 key ways to reduce and prevent the risk of heart disease:
- Everyday fitness – Keeping even moderately fit with an active lifestyle makes a big difference to reducing your risk of heart disease. Quite simply, the fitter you are, the lower your risk.
- Increase your water intake – One of the simplest ways to lower blood pressure and promote your health is to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. It helps to lower blood pressure because a lack of water makes the sodium levels inside cells rise, which raises blood pressure.
- Increase essential fats and get your daily fix of Vitamin D – Include healthy fats such as Omega-3 fats which keep your heart healthy. The best source of these fats is found in fish such as mackerel, organic salmon, herrings or sardines. Aim for at least two to three servings a week.The best source of Vitamin D is oily fish, although most is made in your skin in the presence of direct sunlight – so make sure you get a few minutes of direct sunlight each day.
- Cut down on sugar – The simplest and fastest way to reduce your risk of heart disease, and lower almost every indicator of risk, is to avoid sugars and refined foods with a high glycaemic load (GL). The best way to do this is to follow Patrick’s Low-GL diet by eating fewer carbohydrates, consciously choosing those which release their sugar content slowly and always eating these carbohydrates with a protein. By following a Low-GL diet, you avoid blood sugar dips, which trigger blood pressure-raising adrenal hormones. Insulin, the sugar hormone, causes the kidneys to retain both water and salt, which then pushes up your blood pressure. That is why balancing your blood sugar, which reduces insulin, is critical for lowering blood pressure and reducing your chances of a stroke.
- B Vitamins to lower homocysteine – High homocysteine levels damage the lining of arteries and contribute to the risk factors for heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. Reduce your homocysteine levels by eating more vegetable proteins such as seeds, nuts and beans, as these are rich in Folic Acid. Also cut back on coffee, limit alcohol, eat more green leafy vegetables, avoid prolonged stress, quit smoking and supplement daily with homocysteine-lowering nutrients that contain the vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid.
- Stress less – Too much stress can contribute to many health risk factors, including heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleeping problems; it also depletes the body of many nutrients and particularly Magnesium, which helps to relax both your mind and your arteries.
- Relax with Magnesium – There is a connection between low levels of Magnesium and a high risk of heart disease; in fact, heart attack victims are found to have 30% less Magnesium, and more Calcium, than normal. A recent meta-analysis of seven studies involving a quarter of a million people found that increasing the intake of Magnesium by 100 mg a day reduced the risk of stroke by 9%. In addition to eating plenty of vegetables, nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, supplement with 150 mg of Magnesium every day and double this if you have cardiovascular disease.
- Antioxidant-rich diet – The golden rule is to aim for at least five to six servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, and preferably multi-coloured foods. Green, red, yellow and blue foods such as broccoli, strawberries, avocados and blueberries contain a rich supply of antioxidants, which fight off oxidants that invade the arteries and damage blood fats. Many of these antioxidant foods are also natural anti-inflammatories that offer further protection in keeping your arteries healthy.
- Inflamed arteries – Every time you eat, your body’s immune system assesses the food, and in many cases, induces a state of inflammation. Furthermore, the more overweight or insulin resistant you are, the more your system may be “switched” towards reacting in an inflammatory way. Inflammation is a critical process involved in arterial damage. Patrick suggests you have your level of inflammation tested with a CRP blood test and reduce it by following the Low-GL diet, eating more fibre and oily fish, supplementing with Omega-3 fish oils, Resveratrol, Carnitine and Zinc, adding turmeric to your meals and eating foods rich in vitamins E and C.
- Test for Lipoprotein – Lipoprotein(a) is a sticky fat (and relative of LDL cholesterol) that binds to artery walls, producing a thickening of arterial plaque. Just like LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein is an independent and reliable marker of heart disease – it is considered to be part of the cause and not just an indicator of risk. The higher your level, the greater the risk. Patrick advises you have your lipoprotein level checked with your cardiologist or doctor. “If it is raised (above 30 mg/dl), and especially if you also have raised LDL cholesterol or triglycerides, or low HDL, consider taking 500 to 1,000 mg of niacin twice a day,” advises Patrick.
Up your heart health with Patrick’s H Factor which provides a combination of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as TMG, Glutathione, B Vitamins and Zinc.