heart health

February is Healthy Heart Month. We suggest that we all use this month to take a good look inward, a self-assessing, to see if we are doing all we can to ensure we have a strong, healthy heart. The principles of The Power of 5: The Ultimate Formula lay out the steps to follow for longevity and remaining youthful. Get more SWEAT (exercise), more SLEEP, follow a Mediterranean diet (reduce SWEETS), reduce STRESS, and enhance your relationships and community involvement (SEX).

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, taking the lives of 610,000 people in 2018. The primary causes of heart disease are a diet high in fat, carbohydrate and calories, along with complications from diabetes, smoking and stress.

As Dr. Bernstein discusses in his book The Power of 5, “Genetic factors do play a roll, however, 80% of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable with education and making lifestyle changes. ” Here are the key lifestyle adjustments you can consider incorporating to support a healthy heart.

  1. Stop Smoking! Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S. and smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders including atherosclerosis, or the build-up of fatty substance in the arteries.
  2. Know the Important Numbers! Maintaining a healthy weight, blood pressure, and total cholesterol can play a significant role in maintaining a healthy heart.
  3. Get Active! Physical activity will not only prevent cardiovascular disease but can also help to improve your overall mental and physical health. Dr. Bernstein says “Exercise is the best antidepressant there is.”
  4. You are what you eat, so don’t eat Fast, Cheap, Easy or Fake! Focus on eating a clean, balanced diet full of fresh food free of additives, preservatives or processed food. Avoid meals that are high in salt, fat, cholesterol and sugars. Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda and juice, which can increase your blood sugar levels and add extra calories.
  5. Stress LessIt’s as bad for you as smoking or obesity. Anxiety and depression can put a strain on the heart. Relaxation techniques, including meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi and leisure activities can help reduce your stress level. 
  6. Get more Sleep! Research shows that cutting back on your sleep can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and lower your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight.  
  7. Keep a Positive Attitude. Smile a lot! 

If you’re looking for some guidelines on heart-healthy recipes, check out February’s receipies in the Power of 5 Test Kitchen.

To a long and healthy life – and healthy eating!

Melissa & Dr. B

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