Seven Simple Steps To Prevent Heart Diseases In Your 20s

Today’s generation of teens is at increased risk of getting heart stroke and heart diseases. And it all happens because of our poor diet and routine. Ensuring our good health is in our own hands; a simple change in the regular diet and overall routine may not only prevent heart diseases in 20s, but also keeps us happy and healthy for a longer period. Take a look, how you can take your small step toward your good health.

  • Eat Healthy: One of the simplest mantras that keep all the heart diseases at the bay at your 20s, 30s and even 40s is your habit of eating healthy. Yes, if you eat well, you will live well. So, say no to junk today or at least limit your intake to ensure your good health.
  • Sweat A Little: 20 is the age when everyone should start some exercise to prevent heart diseases or early signs of aging as well. Sweating a little regularly adds some extra years to your life and helps you live a healthy life.
  • Say No To Smoking: Smoking is injurious to health; we all know that, but how many of us actually mean that. To prevent heart disease, you should say no to smoking. When you smoke socially, it might make you look cool in your squad, but it is harmful to your health. Therefore, you need to quit smoking as soon as possible to live a healthy life.
  • Don’t Take So Much Stress: Stress is not the solution of any of your problems; thus, you should say no to stress, instead do your best and forget the rest.
  • No Synthetic Sugar: Synthetic sugar is your biggest enemy and increases your risk of getting a stroke than an average person who doesn’t take it. To prevent any such situation, you should remove synthetic sugar from your diet, instead switch to natural sweet that mostly gets found in the fruits.
  • Consult A Dietitian: Also, you should consult a Dietitian or Nutritionist at your 20s to adopt a healthy diet plan that prevents you from a number of health issues.
  • Know Your Numbers: It is important to know your current health situation to improve it for the future. It gives you a boost to adopt a healthy diet.

These simple seven steps have great importance in the success of your life, as they help you win the battle against the heart diseases and you can do the rest by yourself.

Cancer-Causing Mutations in Blood Stem Cells May Also Link to Heart Disease

What causes heart diseases? We know that sometimes bad genes are responsible for it while sometimes unhealthy lifestyle is to be blamed for various heart conditions. But there is another factor that may take a toll on your heart as well. According to a latest research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, heart disease may also develop through a gradual accumulation of mutations in blood stem cells, just the way cancer forms in our body.

The study was, however, meant to detect how blood cancer could be traced early. Earlier studies proved that normal cells turn into cancerous cells in a slow process. It’s not an overnight affair. In case of blood cancer, scientists have found that blood cells go through a mutation that turns the normal cells into a pre-cancerous state. The moment the stem cells multiply, it creates a thread of clones of the blood stem cells, which causes the mutation and eventually leads to cancer.

The researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT tested the DNA sequences, derived from blood cells of more than 17,000 healthy people. The team confirmed that they had found 160 genes that could be mutated in cancerous cells. The study further showed that the mutation is more common in people above 40. Also the frequency is higher in people above 40.

In the study, the team found that the mutation mainly takes place in 3 genes, namely DNMT3A, TET2, and ASXL1. The scientists have drawn a clear association between the mutation and higher risk of developing blood cancer. But they have also found another unexpected relation between the mutation and higher risk of death due other factors like heart disease. They have noticed that the heart diseases are one of the main reasons behind high mortality risk. Later studies have also confirmed the relation between gene mutation and heart diseases and also how heart diseases may worsen the situation for cancer patients.

The team collected stem cells from the bone marrow of mice and engineered them to have deficiency in Tet2. Tet2 is one of the 3 genes that are responsible for mutation when the risk of heart diseases is present. The bone marrow cells were injected into the mice that had higher cholesterol and all the symptoms of heart disease. They had noticed that the mice that were injected with cells sans Tet2 showed chances of heart diseases, compared to those who received normal bone barrow.

Dr. Sekar Kathiresan from the Broad Institute, one of the team leads, said, “We were fully expecting not to find anything here. But the odds of having an early heart attack are four-fold higher among younger people with CHIP mutations.” He also felt that the results of the study have shown enough promise in therapies, as he said, “This is a totally different type of risk factor than hypertension or hypercholestserolemia [high blood cholesterol] or smoking. And since it’s a totally different risk factor that works through a different mechanism, it may lead to new treatment opportunities very different from the ones we have for heart disease at present.”

Your Child’s Healthy Heart

As your child grows, he or she is developing the habits that will last a lifetime. What you do now to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity will affect your child’s health forever. It’s important for you to examine your lifestyle right now and find ways that you can help your heart to stay healthy.

It’s crucial that you lead by example. Children learn much more by what they see you do than by what you tell them. So it doesn’t do any good for you to tell your child about the dangers of smoking while you have a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.

Start by looking at what kind of example you’re setting for your child. Do you need to stop smoking? Do you need to eat more fruits and vegetables? Look around your home to see if you’re providing a positive, healthy environment that will set your child up for a healthy heart.

For example, your child should never be exposed to second-hand smoke. You should also provide a large variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein for your child’s diet. In addition, physical activity should be a part of every day life.

Encourage your child to turn off the television or video games and play outside. Riding a bike, skateboarding, and simply throwing a ball with friends is a great way to get physical activity. You don’t have to tell your child to “exercise”. If you encourage him to play, he’ll automatically get what he needs.

You can also help your child by having family time that’s devoted to physical activity and good nutrition. You don’t have to make a lesson out of it; you simply have to do it. For example, your family may want to plant a vegetable garden in the backyard.

You’ll use physical activity to tend the garden and you’ll have fresh produce that’s heart healthy. You may also want to take a stroll around the neighborhood as a family. As often as you can, walk to run your errands instead of driving.

Childhood is the perfect time to set up healthy habits for your child. If your child enjoys eating a variety of foods and gets a lot of physical activity, she’ll be more likely to continue those practices as an adult.

When you’re at work, you tend to be focused on the task at hand. That can put your health on the back burner. But if you’re serious about keeping your heart healthy, you can use work time to an advantage. There are plenty of simple things you can do to make work a healthy place.

Whenever possible, you should take the stairs instead of the elevator. This allows your body to get some extra physical activity built in. Now, if you work on the 25th floor, you may not want to walk up all those stairs.

Instead, you can try taking the elevator to the 23rd floor and walking up two floors. Once that becomes easier, you can add a floor at a time. Eventually you may find that you can challenge yourself to walking the whole thing – you just can’t be in a hurry.

Many workplaces offer gym facilities for employees. You can use your lunch break or come to work early to exercise. You can also hit the gym at the end of the day before you go home. If you’re job doesn’t offer this amenity, but you’d still like to work out at a gym find one that’s between your home and work so that it’s convenient to stop on your way home.

Brown bagging it can also save your heart and your money. Bringing your lunch every day is likely to be healthier than eating out. It’s also far less expensive than eating out. You may even want to keep some standard snacks in your desk or the work refrigerator so you don’t have to pack something every day. Packing your lunch the night before will help you to get out the door quickly in the morning.

Enlisting your coworkers in an exercise group can also be a great way to add physical activity to your day. Get together a group of people who want to walk on their lunch break or after work. You can help motivate one another on tough days.

Taking public transportation, where possible, is another great way to stay heart healthy. You’ll get more activity walking to and from the bus or train stop than you would by taking your car. You’ll also be doing something good for the environment.

Finally, when you’re at work stay away from tobacco use. If you don’t smoke, you want to stay away from second-hand smoke. And if you’re trying to quit smoking, you may find that smoking is difficult to stop when you’re around coworkers who smoke. You might want to find somewhere else to go during breaks where you won’t be tempted to try it.

Healthy Changes for Heart Month

From My Heart to Yours: Heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S. Please consider renewing your commitment to heart healthy habits for heart month and beyond.

Knowing that heart disease affects so many people in the U.S., I’m sure many of you can relate to my story. My dad had heart disease from the time I was 3 years old and died as a result just 10 years later. A cherished uncle followed, and then another uncle (my dad’s brothers). My mom had a heart attack at 80 years of age, which was the beginning of her health decline. Then recently, I was challenged with a heart arrhythmia myself. I was fortunate to have great care at the Cleveland Clinic where an ablation procedure cured my symptoms – but I am still careful to follow lifestyle habits to avoid future issues.

I’m also hitting a milestone birthday this month, and my health is at the center of my thoughts. Granted I can’t do anything about genetics or age as risk factors, but there is a lot I can do! Just because I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist, doesn’t mean that I’m immune to health issues – or bad habits for that matter! The last few years have been challenging between caring for our elderly parents and recovering from my own heart issue. But now that things have calmed down a bit, I’m committed to making more heart-healthy changes. For me, it isn’t all about losing weight; it’s about being healthy and having more energy to do the things I want to do. I was already doing most of the steps outlined below, and now I’ve added more of them into my regular routine. Steps are in no particular order. Don’t worry about making all the changes at once – just choose one step that you believe you can stick with, and go from there.

A few essentials: If you smoke, stop! Find a good program for smoking cessation. Know your numbers: Manage your weight, cholesterol, LDL, as well as hypertension and blood glucose if you have diabetes. Find a way to stay active. Follow a plant based diet, and follow doctor’s orders for prescribed medications. Some of the steps below can help you get started.

Step 1: Increase your physical activity! Exercising lowers blood pressure, strengthens your heart, helps maintain lean body mass, burns calories, and makes you feel good! Walking is one of the easiest exercises to fit into your day. Experts encourage a minimum of 10,000 steps a day (equivalent to 5 miles) – and yes, it’s possible to fit this into a busy schedule. If you are just getting started, walk at least 10 minutes at a time. Work your way up gradually to a minimum of 60 minutes on most days to meet the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

Before you make changes to your routine, check with your doctor. Once you get the OK, use a fitness tracker or pedometer to count the current number of steps you take per day to use as your starting point. I’ve been wearing a pedometer or Fitbit for more than 10 years to help me stay on target. I love the feature on my Fitbit that reminds me to do a minimum of 250 steps every hour! I no longer sit at my computer working for hours on end without moving.

Step 2: Cut back on high calorie beverages. Do you drink sugar sweetened beverages every day? Just 8 ounces of most sugary beverages packs a whopping 100 calories, and most people don’t stop at 8 ounces. An extra 100 calories a day adds up to 3500 extra calories in just 5 weeks – which could mean an extra pound of weight – or 10 extra pounds in a year!

What about alcohol? Has that “healthy” 100 calorie daily glass of wine turned into 2 or more glasses a day? Alcohol calories go down quickly, and they can also loosen your resolve to control your food intake.

Eliminate sugary beverages and alcohol for at least 30 days to break the habit. Replace them with unsweetened beverages such as water, sparkling water, diffused water (lemons, limes, cucumbers or fruit), hot or iced tea.

Step 3: Cut the saturated fat. Animal fats found in meats, poultry, full fat dairy products (milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc.), salad dressings, and fried foods are full of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease. Reduce portions, cut visible fat from meat, remove skin from poultry, prepare foods using low fat cooking methods (baking, broiling, roasting), and read labels to identify foods with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat for better health. Skim or 1% milk, low fat cheese and sour cream, low fat yogurt, and other low fat dairy options are available – and many of them taste good!

Ready to use spray cans of healthy oils found at the grocery store can help control the amount of fat you use. Choose a healthy corn, safflower or olive oil to spray on foods so you can bake instead of frying or brushing foods with oil.

Step 4: Eat your veggies and fruits! Eat a range of colors: green, red, orange, yellow vegetables and fruits contain essential nutrients and fiber for good health. These foods are high in vitamins C, A, potassium, antioxidants, phytochemicals; and are naturally low in fat and sodium.

Fill at least half your plate with vegetables, and reach for fresh fruit for dessert or snacks.

Step 5: Reduce the sugar. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I’ve cut back on sweets to improve my health and manage my weight. Most of us consume much more sugar than we realize. It lurks in juices, jellies, jams, cookies, candies, cakes, pies, regular soda pop, cereals, snack bars, condiments, and many other foods.

Start with obvious sources of sugar and switch to naturally sweet foods like fruits (fresh, canned without syrup, frozen without sugar, or dried – go lightly here as these are concentrated sources of calories). And don’t think switching to raw sugar, honey or agave syrup is better – it’s still simple sugar.

Read labels: look for the number of grams of sugar per serving and choose alternatives that are lower in sugar. One more caution: some studies indicate that even artificially sweetened foods and beverages may still create cravings for sweets.

Step 6: Cut the sodium and increase the potassium. Almost 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. A high sodium, low potassium diet is linked to high blood pressure. Sodium is abundant in our food supply. Years ago it was used to preserve foods, but today we have a taste for it and think lower-sodium foods are bland. To add some zip to your foods, replace salt and high sodium spice mixes with naturally spicy ingredients such as hot peppers or jalapeno peppers (also high in vitamins and antioxidants), and your favorite salt-free spices.

Remember to read labels and avoid foods and beverages that are high in sodium.

Increasing potassium in your diet can also help lower blood pressure. Bananas, oranges, potatoes with skins, and low sodium V-8 juice are some of my favorite high potassium (low sodium) sources.

Step 7: Switch to whole grains. Focus on whole grains for nutrient dense foods that can lower blood cholesterol and improve regularity. Whole grains are much tastier than refined white breads, cereals, pastas, and rice.

Some of my favorite grains include steel cut oats, kamut and quinoa. I cook my whole grains in a rice cooker, Instant Pot or a crock pot so I don’t have to monitor the cooking which usually takes 45-50 minutes on the stovetop. Many whole grains can be used to make a simple, tasty salad or can be eaten as a hot breakfast cereal with fruit and nuts.

For quick and tasty whole grain hot cereal, I like old fashioned oats cooked on high for 2 minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to eat. Top it with some dried cranberries and walnuts to add sweetness and texture. It’s quick and easy, inexpensive, tastes great, filling – and healthy too!

Step 8: Reduce stress by taking time for yourself. With a busy schedule, it’s essential to take time out each day to relax, renew, and reenergize! Walking is my time to take a break, step away from daily stresses and enjoy some fresh air, music, or time to talk to friends and family. Choose something every day that allows you to take time to yourself: yoga, meditation, a hot bath, or anything that helps you recharge. Allow yourself at least 10-15 minutes a day – Yes, you can!

Step 9: Include some stretching and strength training. Strength training is essential for maintaining muscle mass, strength, and balance as we age. Stretching helps us to avoid injury and reduce pain. Strengthening your core will protect you from back pain and injuries, improve posture and help you look thinner – and who doesn’t want that?

Step 10: Believe you can do it. It takes time to develop new healthy habits. Try one thing that you believe you can be successful with, and move forward from there. The most important key is to believe that you can make changes that become lifelong commitments for your health.

Best wishes for a heart-healthy future!