It’s easy to forget about our hearts. They go on, day after day, pumping life into every part of our body. These unseen, and often silent, workhorses will beat roughly 2.5 billion times in an average lifespan. As important as they are to our health, it's easy to neglect and overlook taking care of our hearts.
Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart disease, and heart failure, claims more lives in the United States than any other illness, including cancer. That’s why heart health should be a focus in your daily diet and exercise routines, but taking care of our hearts is a lot easier said than done.
One of the problems with maintaining our heart’s health is that, although we understand there are certain foods and activities that are bad for our hearts, there are many things we do, or don’t do, that puts our hearts at risk.
Here are 5 things that are bad for your heart.
Though the exact reason is still unknown, there is a strong link between gum disease and heart disease.
One theory is that, when you don’t floss, bacteria-laden plague builds up. The same bacteria that causes gum disease can also trigger an inflammation in your body, which is not good for your heart.
Keeping healthy gums can help improve your blood vessel function.
Watching TV (or sitting for a long time)
Sitting for hours on end can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, even if you exercise regularly. Lack of movement can affect blood levels of fat and sugar.
It's critical to get up and get moving, but If you have to sit at work all day, there are still opportunities for physical activity. Try going for short walks on your lunch break or in downtime, or stand while talking on the phone.
Drinking (Too Much)
Although some studies suggest drinking, in small doses, might be good for the heart, there is plenty of information available about the negative effects of drinking too much.
Excess alcohol is linked to a greater risk of high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and heart failure.
Alcohol also has extra calories and can cause you to gain weight, which is also a threat to your heart’s health.
If you must drink, men should have no more than two drinks per day, and no more than one a day for women. (One drink means a 12-ounce beer or 4-ounce glass of wine).
Being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease, and 72% of men and 64% of women in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Portion control is an important component of heart health. By cutting your portions in half, eating less often, and substituting sugary sodas for water, you can reduce your risk of becoming overweight, which is great for your heart.
It’s true some foods taste better with a little bit of salt, but as far as your heart’s health is concerned, a little dab will do ya.
The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Avoid pre-packaged junk food, sports drinks (unless you cut it with water), sauces, and mixes. Also, check the sodium content of your food, and opt for “unsalted” options.
To be healthy we should keep our sodium intake to below 2,300 milligrams a day. If you are older than 50 or already have high blood pressure that number should be cut to 1,50 milligrams.
Taking care of our hearts is critical to our health and wellness. We can help prevent heart disease by taking a few moments a day to thank our hearts for all it does for our minds and our bodies with good habits.