BEFORE A BREATH: 12 months leading to birth
At birth most of the quality and longevity of our health have been predetermined by genetics and nutrition (preconception and prenatal). Studies have shown that the quality and quantity of micronutrients provided at these times is critical to normal development. Early nutritional status lays down the foundation for lifelong health. Managing adequate micro-nutritional intake, diet, exercise and healthy living practices during pregnancy are best approached through a health care provider. Your doctor can evaluate your family’s individual needs and risks.
Consult your healthcare provider while planning and implementing parental strategies aimed at minimizing health risks, including heart disease. Good prenatal nutrition increases your child’s chances of being healthy and avoiding the consequences of heart disease and other ailments.
LIFE IN THE EARLY YEARS: Children age 0 to 17 years
One in three in this group are overweight and 5% are obese. Children with Body Mass Index (BMI) scores higher than 25 (normal 18-24) have an increased incidence of diabetes, high cholesterol and other heart related risk factors.
Parents communicating the importance of exercise, diet management, and developing healthy lifelong habits is key to positive effect. Adequate intake of nutrients for growth and development can be balanced with maintaining a normal body weight. Daily exercise and activity is paramount. Children’s activities, such as sports and callings that include physical activity, should be encouraged. Improve diet by reducing solid fats and sugar, increasing fiber intake and using supplements. Maintain a healthy body weight through diet management and regular daily exercise. Consult your healthcare provider regularly. Supporting and encouraging our children to “Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle” will help increase their chances of being healthier longer and avoiding the consequence of heart disease.
YOUNG ADULTS: Age 18-39 years
Modifying behaviors, through specifically designed strategies that address your “Individual Risk” is key. Annual physicals, cholesterol and LDL testing, BMI score, study of family history, becoming knowledgeable about high risk situations, and consulting a physician will provide the data needed to determine your risk.
Know your “Individual Risk”. Don’t smoke and if you do use alcohol do it in moderation, maintain a healthy body weight and use vitamin-mineral supplements. Change your diet by reducing solid fat and sugar intake, increased fiber intake and eat more;( lean meats; chicken; fish and nuts). Manage health conditions through regular visits to your healthcare provider. Consider taking low dose aspirin and drinking tea. Learn the risk factors for heart disease and habituate (activities, diet and lifestyle) that avoid them. Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle, in your younger years, maximizes the chances of staying healthy longer and avoiding problems like heart disease.
MIDDLE AGE ADULTS: 40-55 years
“Ganging Up” of multiple risk factors and changing old habits are the primary challenges for this group. At age 40 most Americans already have at least one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Adding a second or third increases overall risk exponentially.
Consult your health care provider to help generate and evaluate data necessary to calculate your “Individual Risk”. This should include, but is not limited to: physical exam, Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, indices, BMI, Family history, medications, previous illness (eclampsia, sleep apnea) and any situation that increases your risk. Make a list of the things that make up your risk. Specifically design strategies that work for you, using the data collected and professional consultation. Modify lifestyle behaviors by stopping smoking, over eating and excess drinking. Adequately manage underlying medical issues like hypertension, diabetes, overweight, and high cholesterol through regular healthcare visits. Supplement a good diet with vitamins, minerals, cofactors and amino acids. Stay active by participating in 20 to 40 minutes of daily aerobic exercise. Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle in your middle age increase your chances of being healthy longer and avoiding the consequences of heart disease.
THE SENIOR YEARS: Age 55+
You face all the challenges the younger groups face plus some new ones, such as reduced nutrient absorption, secondary disease and “ganging up” all come into play. Things like medication interactions, previous illness evaluation, vitamin-mineral deficiencies make managing this group property of a professional.
Know your “Individual Risk”. Consult your health care provider to assist you in developing a Heart Healthy Lifestyle. Your doctor is the best person to consider the multitude of interrelated metabolic and physiologic factors involved in your “Individual Risk.” He or she can then make recommendations that fit your particular circumstance. This is the most important time to take action. Yes there are issues for our group that seem insurmountable. The bright side is, some combinations of heart healthy behaviors can reduce our risk by 30-40%, such as consuming 5 servings of walnuts* each week, drinking 2 cups of tea*, exercising* 20-40 minutes, taking daily aspirin*. Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle in your years beyond 55 increases your chances of being healthy longer and avoiding the consequences of heart disease.
*Consult your health care provider before implementing any strategies designed to minimize risk factors of heart disease or other ailments.
Nature’s Energy thanks you for following our series on “Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle”. Hopefully it was, at least, informative if not motivational. The ideas conveyed here primarily come from references at: NIH, Linus Pauling Institute, American Heart Association, and FDA Web site. The opinions expressed here are those of Dr. Clark Kinghorn (Technical advisor on Nutrition and Health) from Nature’s Energy Nutraceuticals. Consult your health care provider before starting any exercise, diet or supplement program.
Statistically things don’t look good.
We eat too much poor quality food, and we don’t exercise enough.
These articles have been primarily aimed at the majority of us with one or more risk factors or lifestyles that promote heart disease. If you are not in the majority and you are a young couple who may be contemplating children or you are a young adult reading this series, practicing “Nutrition Management” sets the base for lifelong health. If you’re an adult, in good shape and healthy, “Maintain that Status” through behaviors that avoid the development of the major risk factors. If you’re middle-aged, change multiple behaviors and get the “Matrix Benefit”. If you’re 55+ professionally manage your risk through the advice of your healthcare provider and “Take Action Now”. “Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle” comes through practicing good behaviors, eating a smart diet and taking vitamin/ mineral Supplements.”