Making healthy resolutions in 2020 will help you increase your vascular health and reduce key factors that contribute to vascular diseases.
Now is the best time to kick the habit of smoking. Smoking increases your risk of cancer and heart disease. Tobacco use increases the risk for serious health problems, many diseases and death. However, those who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for smoking-related diseases.
When you feel the urge to smoke, REMEMBER THE 5 Ds:
- Drink Water
- Do Something Else
- Deep Breathe
- Discuss with a Friend
And for even more support, call the NJ Quits Line at 1-866-NJ-STOPS.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is essentially hypertension. Hypertension involves a blood pressure which is anything from 130/80 mm Hg to 140/90 mm Hg. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), around 103 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure. They expect that this number will continue to rise. Lowering your blood pressure can reduce your chance of having a stroke or a heart attack by 25%. Following the tips in this article are some of the natural ways to lower your blood pressure, along with reducing stress, alcohol, and caffeine.
Lower Your Cholesterol
High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. But if you'd rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes to your diet:
- Reduce saturated fats. Found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products
- Eliminate trans fats. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
- Increase soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.
- Add whey protein. Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
Control Your Blood Sugar
High blood sugar occurs when your body can't effectively transport sugar from blood into cells and this can lead to diabetes, which can put you at a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease.
Here are a few of the ways to naturally control your blood sugar:
- Exercise. Regular exercise can help you lose weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
- Reduce Carbs. Your body breaks carbs down into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin moves the sugars into cells.
- Increase Fiber. Eating plenty of fiber can help with blood sugar control, and soluble dietary fiber is the most effective.
- Stay Hydrated. Staying hydrated can reduce blood sugar levels and help prevent diabetes. Water is best.
- Choose Foods with Low Glycemic Indexes. Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce long-term blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Foods with a low glycemic index include seafood, meat, eggs, oats, barley, beans, lentils, legumes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
- Get More Sleep. Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can increase appetite and promote weight gain.
Practice Proper Foot Care
According to the most recent statistics from the National Institute of Health, there are more than 30.3 million people in the US with diabetes and over 7 million of those people will have a diabetic foot ulcer at some point in their life. If left untreated, however, these ulcers can lead to infections of the blood.
The best way to care for a diabetic foot ulcer is to not get one in the first place! Prevention is the key to this. Follow these steps to give yourself the best chance:
- Wash your feet daily and use clean, soft, cotton socks.
- Inspect your feet every day. Ask someone to help you or use a mirror on the floor.
- Always wear good fitting supportive shoes. Check the insides before you put them on.
- Never walk barefoot
- Don’t trim your own nail or remove calluses or lesions by yourself
- See a podiatrist regularly for nail and foot care
People with vascular concerns would be wise to consider the basics of the "Mediterranean Diet". This is a catchall phrase for cuisine found in Mediterranean countries and the diet generally features lots of fish and non-red meat sources, extra-virgin olive oil and plenty of fruit and vegetables, with additional flavor coming from herbs and spices, not salt.
In addition, make fruits and vegetables a staple. Fruits and vegetables are all high in things like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not only will you be getting all of the nutrients you need with these foods, but you’ll also be cutting your calories. Limiting calories helps to control weight, which reduces the likelihood of developing vascular disease.
Exercise More Often
After the age of 55, the risk for vascular conditions like heart attack, stroke, hypertension, peripheral artery disease, and high cholesterol significantly increases. Keeping in motion is important. Many of us sit far too long during the day. Get up regularly and walk around to get the blood pumping. Also, riding a stationary bike is a safe way to move the legs. If you’re more athletic, go for a jog or swim. Maybe even consider joining our Walk with a Doc program where we combine a healthy stroll with some vascular education.
As you may see, many of these resolutions complement one another and provide tremendous health benefits across many areas. Start the year off right with these simple New Year’s resolutions. Stay healthy and happy and let's make 2020 a great year!