Hello My Friends!
Welcome to the Vitality Project!
I have traveled to many places throughout my career and observed and studied many groups of people living in various geographical settings.
Here is what I have learned regarding the various types of health trends facing these communities.
There is a common theme widely apparent in these communities.
Cardiovascular/heart disease is the number one health concern facing our globalized world.
Having just returned from a vacation in the Caribbean, I can affirm that this is very much the case throughout this entire region.
As some of you may already know, February is designated as heart month.
In this fair month of February, I am going to give you some quick tips which will allow you to reduce your risk of ever suffering from this chronic disease which continues to plague our society.
For the purposes of this article, I will refer to primary prevention of cardiovascular disease….this is concerned with preventing a heart attack or stroke in an individual who has certain risk factors or may be at risk of developing certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking causes damage to arteries leading to endothelial dysfunction which leads to pre-mature atheroscerosis. Incidentally, you are much more likely to die from heart disease and stroke from the ravages of smoking than from cancer. In smokers or previous smokers, 64% and 28% of deaths respectively were directly attributed to the effects of cigarette smoking. In those who have quit smoking for longer than 20 years, the effects of smoking upon pre-mature death are the same as never-smokers.
- Maintain A Normal Body Weight: Measuring your waist circumference will tell you where you are in the risk category. This measurement translates to the degree of inflammation and insulin resistance you have. It also indicates the degree of liver fat accumulation, triglyceride and LDL cholesterol production. The reason why the various geographic areas around the globe are being effected by the scourge of cardiovascular disease is because there is a direct relationship between the degree of over-weight/obese people and the development of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have indicated that those folks who gain 11-20 Lbs. after the age of 20 are 3 times more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. If the weight gain exceeds 20 Lbs….the risk dramatically increases.
- Physical Activity: Those who get regular amounts of daily activity live longer, have a greater degree of quality of life and suffer much less chronic disease of many types. Those who are sedentary are at much higher risk of suffering from diabetes, hypertension, strokes and heart disease. There have been many studies that have warned against sitting for long periods, sedentary behavior and the associated health consequences. You don’t need to train like a professional athlete to experience the benefits of regular exercise. All you need is 30 minutes per day (even 5 days per week) of moderate-intensity but steady-state activity to notice a benefit.
- What You Choose To Eat: One of the most likely reasons why our society is suffering from chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease is what we choose to feed ourselves. Here are some general thoughts I have regarding our diet. We eat too much…and yes calories do matter depending upon the particular situation. We eat a diet full of nutrient-poor but calorie-rich food. We eat far too much refined carbohydrates and sugar. We eat far too much fast food, take-out food, canned food, snack food and frozen foods. We eat the wrong types of fat and avoid the good types of fat. We suffer from food addictions to salty, sugary and foods that have a distinct mouth-feel. It’s ok…food is pre-engineered this way by the food industry to get you hooked and keep you that way.
The best diet for the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and stroke is the Mediterranean diet. All the recent studies over the last decade have clearly indicated this fact! Those following this type of diet have a 31% decreased risk of heart disease, 33% reduced risk of developing diabetes and a 20% reduced risk of stroke!
Many studies have also indicated that following a healthy lifestyle may prevent over 80% of cases of coronary artery disease, 50% of strokes, 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, and 72% of premature deaths related to heart disease!
Cardiovascular disease is not a genetic disease, it’s a lifestyle disease simply stated. The above statements regarding risk reductions attributed to lifestyle dynamics should be proof enough.
Following a healthy lifestyle as you age is the key to the prevention of cardiovascular disease!
Dr. Kevin J. McLaughlin
The Vitality Project