NEW YEAR’S HEART RESOLUTIONS
By Raul L. Lapitan, MD
December puts everyone in a festive and in panic mode. No matter how busy or toxic our work schedule is we need to attend calendared celebrations, reunions and meetings and do last-minute shopping. And since it is the last month of the year, we are required to do our year-end reports. And this early, a few people I know are mulling their New Year’s resolutions. The usual top New Year’s wish list are focused on career and compensation, business, love life and health, in this order. It is high time that we aim our goals at the very aspect responsible for motivating or experiencing these things – the HEART.
The Philippine Heart Association (PHA) strongly suggests including a better heart health on your New Year wish list – in 2017, to adopt 5-2-1-0-0, adapt to its every tenet --5 servings of fruits and vegetables, less than 2 hours screen time, 1 hour of exercise everyday, 0 sugar and 0 smoking – on a daily basis for a healthier existence the whole year. By the way, 52100 is the Healthy Lifestyle Advocacy flagship project of the PHA.
1. Go Green
Like most resolution-savvy people, this is also the top choice on the list.
This normally means having fruit and vegetable selections as a part of the daily meal regime, but not automatically stacking up the good leafy stuff for an all-salad menu, just servings of fruit and vegetables to go hand-in-hand with meals everyday. These are natural sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and natural unsaturated fats (good cholesterol) and calories which help maintain blood pressure and, thus, keep the heart “on the beat”.
2. Go Easy on the sugar
Aside from balancing the greens, consuming less sugary products should be something to discipline oneself about. Fares high in added sugars during processing or preparation are carbonated or caffeinated beverages (which has 9 tsps. of sugar), candies, pastries, dairy products and other baked or sugar-raised foods. Do a juicing regime instead for a more natural source not only of glucose but vitamins for the immune system as well. Too much sugar can put someone at risk of cardiovascular diseases like obesity which could lead to high blood sugar, high cholesterol and eventually high blood pressure.
To eat healthy is a popular choice for New Year’s resolutions not just because of the cliché trends, but the truth behind it. Five servings of fruits and vegetables and 0 sugary beverages would not only get you healthy, but will give you a reason to look forward to attending more holidays if you feed your heart right.
3. Go Out
With the onset of the app and gadget era, the most prevalent health problem among people is inactivity or lack of physical movement needed to keep the heart functioning properly. According to a recent finding reported by the CNN based on the June 2016 report of the Nielsen Holdings PLC on subjects based in the US which sits at the top four countries with the most smartphone and gadget usage, the average adult spends about 10 ½ hours of screen time, while teenagers come in at a close 9-hour estimate range. A separate report by the BBC last year stated that children now spend six hours glued to screens.
Exercising, even for just a bit, is not just an issue of capability but time as well, as most people see going to the gym or taking jogs out is a bit constricting to their schedules. However, similar to the healthy options rule, exercising does not necessarily mean enrolling to a workout plan. The 52100 lifestyle plan recommends a daily movement routine for about 4 minutes. But should this prove unattainable on a daily basis, usual activities that require “moving more” or physical exertion is ditching that seemingly imprudent short ride to or from work for walking.
The maximum recommended time spent glued to your gadgets should only be limited to 2 hours to leave space for a healthy heart.
4. Check Labels
Another habit to adopt is to check labels of food items first before buying. Reading labels is intended not only because the Food and Drug Administration requires it but to give reason and encourage consumers to also lead a healthier lifestyle.
The common phenomenon of masarap or “consumer-famous” purchases sacrifice the needed nutrition in each consumption that could possibly impair health.
Watch out for the indicated calorie, fat and sugar level in processed food labels to monitor your numbers (weight, blood pressure and sugar). Labels with high levels of saturated fats are fats inducing “bad cholesterol” which could in time affect blood flow to the heart, and the same goes to products made with hydrogenated oil.
5. Quit Smoking
Any doctor would advise quitting smoking because, unlike sugars, cutting back on them would not have any positive effect either.
Even those who are only “social smokers” are not safe as “this is absolutely not a good thing to try. We certainly know the health risks associated with smoking. At this point we have not determined a safe amount of smoking”.
Even those patronizing the current trend on “Vape Culture” or electronic smoking or “E-Cigarette” are still candidates for cardiovascular diseases. The 52100 promotes a zero smoking lifestyle to completely steer the heart clear of any illness.
6. Celebrate with Less Alcohol
Alcohol is like smoking but is much easier to get addicted to, making it a leisure quite difficult to discipline oneself on. The good news: You do not have to necessarily quit drinking now!
Be that a celebration of some sort as it may, alcohol consumption is still under a prescribed principle. Recent findings, which are now singularly agreed on by the international community of cardiovascular health, recommend at least 1 glass of wine a day for women and not more than 2 for men. More than that amount and you would risk adverse affects not only on the heart but to the liver as well.
Starting next year, try to refuse a third round of drinks or reschedule that binge session to a series of meetings with friends. Abstinence would benefit both you and the people close to you.
7. Power Up Your Power Nap
Sleep deprivation leads to instances of slower metabolism – because of the lack of interest to exercise – which then leads to obesity or weight problems which could affect heart health and would make one more vulnerable to other illnesses as inactivity weakens the immunity.
According to the Forbes’ list of most successful people, sleep is their secret to success. This is highly likely as getting the recommended hours of sleep – 6 to 8 hours – helps avoid “brain fog” or lack of concentration and alertness needed for a productive day at work. Sleeping for 5 hours or less has been seen as a contributing factor to heart diseases particularly high blood pressure. So no matter the workload, treat sleep as the forever essential escape every now and then.
8. Meet a Heart Doctor
Even if the steps above are already being practiced, it is not enough to be complacent about where you stand in heart health. One of the most important friendships you have to make is with a doctor, especially a cardiologist. This does not apply only to those who are already suffering from cardiovascular offsets, but to everyone – be it individuals with or without history of cardiovascular disease, ill or healthy – as the heart can be the most unpredictable and deceiving catalyst.
Undergoing non-invasive screenings like blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood glucose or sugar count to see the state of the heart could come a long way after all the holiday feasts and celebrations. Thus, make it a point to schedule an appointment not just at the onset of the New Year, but in a regular manner, as this could be especially rewarding for constant health.
Similar to the recommended treatment towards New Year’s resolutions, everything should come from, and for, the heart. Basing your top resolutions on this list would certainly give your heart a chance to make the next resolution for 2017.