The heart of the matter: February is American Heart Month

Doctors To Youheart, WellnessLeave a Comment

February is Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by African Americans in our country. It’s also a month to acknowledge our hearts—and not just on Valentine’s Day.

February is American Heart Month, and with the ever-changing news about what’s good and what’s not, what to eat and what to avoid—you know, the fad diets and trendy workout routines—we figured we’d offer you a few tips that have and will continue to stand the test of time, and help keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Why is this so important?

As Americans, we all need to consider the potential risk factors for heart disease—the #1 killer of all Americans. And Black Americans, especially, are more likely to experience heart failure. Psychology Today calls heart disease the “silent genocide” for Black America: “Forty-nine percent of black men and 46% of black women have some form of heart disease in the U.S.

But the good news is that heart disease not only treatable but also preventable! Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes can all be reversed using food as medicine and making other lifestyle adjustments that will put you on track for a long and healthy life.


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February is Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by African Americans in our country. It’s also a month to acknowledge our hearts—and not just on Valentine’s Day.

February is American Heart Month, and with the ever-changing news about what’s good and what’s not, what to eat and what to avoid—you know, the fad diets and trendy workout routines—we figured we’d offer you a few tips that have and will continue to stand the test of time, and help keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Why is this so important?

As Americans, we all need to consider the potential risk factors for heart disease—the #1 killer of all Americans. And Black Americans, especially, are more likely to experience heart failure. Psychology Today calls heart disease the “silent genocide” for Black America: “Forty-nine percent of black men and 46% of black women have some form of heart disease in the U.S.

But the good news is that heart disease not only treatable but also preventable! Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes can all be reversed using food as medicine and making other lifestyle adjustments that will put you on track for a long and healthy life.


Image


Eat with your heart in mind

You know how we’re always saying that your gut is your first brain? Well, you can think about the gut as your first heart as well. What you eat, as well as how your body digests and metabolizes food can play a major role in how your heart—and the rest of your body for that matter—functions.

So, we know you’ve heard of Keto… Wait, hear us out. We’re not going to tell you to take on a Keto lifestyle, but we will make a case for why fat—the cornerstone of Keto—is actually so good for you.

We’re going to say it once: Eat fat!

First of all, when we say “fat,” we’re talking, of course, about the really healthy, natural fat you’d find in avocados, olive and coconut oil, nuts, and eggs. Not donuts, ice cream, or… pizza (that was hard to write).

And second, please understand that fat doesn’t make you fat—at least not by itself. You can blame sugar and processing techniques for that.

See, back in the 90s, there was a low-fat fad—funded, of course, by the sugar industry—to get you to stop eating fats and buy all these crazy low fat (mostly packaged) foods.


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The problem was two-fold:

  1. In order to get food to taste half decent, they replace the natural fats in the ingredients with sugar and salt (among other things), which leads to obvious issues because…
  2. Those packaged foods use a technique where they change the fat by taking out all of the good parts and leaving the bad stuff. It’s called “hydrogenation.” If you see “hydrogenated” oil, step away from the package and run the other way!

So, back to good fat… We, as a society, are learning, and when you know better, you do better. And Keto, although it feels like a fad and you’re probably tired of hearing about, does have some key takeaways that you should incorporate, whether you’ve adopted the diet or you’re just trying to combat heart disease and/or diabetes.

High fat, no carbs, very little protein might be too much to think about for you, so here’s what you can do:

You can still monitor your carbohydrate intake by focusing on quality complex carbs like quinoa or steel cut Irish oatmeal, and staying away from the processed bread products like muffins or pastries.

Fruit is a good carb, but perhaps you want to focus on increasing your consumption of low-insulin fruits like berries (they have a lower sugar count), and save the high sugar fruits like pineapples for special occasions (like that 5k you’re going to run) or timed around your more intense workouts.

And as far as fats are concerned, go ahead and have two eggs in the morning, add some avocado to the mix, use extra virgin olive oil on that salad, along with a handful of nuts.

The point is not to be scared of fat, and your heart (brain too for that matter) will thank you later.


Other foods for your heart

Another thing you can do is experiment with other cultures’ food. Indian, African, and Caribbean cuisines are known for their robust flavors. That’s because they use all kinds of spices, like cinnamonturmeric, cumin, and cardamom, which all have the power to help stave off cardiovascular diseases.

Food delivery kits, where they send you the ingredients and you make the food right at home, offer a variety of dishes from all over the globe. This way, you can get taste styles of food that are new, without getting stuck in some restaurant staring at an undesirable menu.

Most food delivery kits even offer big discounts and free shipping to try it. Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Purple Carrot, and Blue Apron are a few popular ones, but there are countless others.

Eat with your heart in mind

You know how we’re always saying that your gut is your first brain? Well, you can think about the gut as your first heart as well. What you eat, as well as how your body digests and metabolizes food can play a major role in how your heart—and the rest of your body for that matter—functions.

So, we know you’ve heard of Keto… Wait, hear us out. We’re not going to tell you to take on a Keto lifestyle, but we will make a case for why fat—the cornerstone of Keto—is actually so good for you.

We’re going to say it once: Eat fat!

First of all, when we say “fat,” we’re talking, of course, about the really healthy, natural fat you’d find in avocados, olive and coconut oil, nuts, and eggs. Not donuts, ice cream, or… pizza (that was hard to write).

And second, please understand that fat doesn’t make you fat—at least not by itself. You can blame sugar and processing techniques for that.

See, back in the 90s, there was a low-fat fad—funded, of course, by the sugar industry—to get you to stop eating fats and buy all these crazy low fat (mostly packaged) foods.


Image
Image

The problem was two-fold:

  1. In order to get food to taste half decent, they replace the natural fats in the ingredients with sugar and salt (among other things), which leads to obvious issues because…
  2. Those packaged foods use a technique where they change the fat by taking out all of the good parts and leaving the bad stuff. It’s called “hydrogenation.” If you see “hydrogenated” oil, step away from the package and run the other way!

So, back to good fat… We, as a society, are learning, and when you know better, you do better. And Keto, although it feels like a fad and you’re probably tired of hearing about, does have some key takeaways that you should incorporate, whether you’ve adopted the diet or you’re just trying to combat heart disease and/or diabetes.

High fat, no carbs, very little protein might be too much to think about for you, so here’s what you can do:

You can still monitor your carbohydrate intake by focusing on quality complex carbs like quinoa or steel cut Irish oatmeal, and staying away from the processed bread products like muffins or pastries.

Fruit is a good carb, but perhaps you want to focus on increasing your consumption of low-insulin fruits like berries (they have a lower sugar count), and save the high sugar fruits like pineapples for special occasions (like that 5k you’re going to run) or timed around your more intense workouts.

And as far as fats are concerned, go ahead and have two eggs in the morning, add some avocado to the mix, use extra virgin olive oil on that salad, along with a handful of nuts.

The point is not to be scared of fat, and your heart (brain too for that matter) will thank you later.


Other foods for your heart

Another thing you can do is experiment with other cultures’ food. Indian, African, and Caribbean cuisines are known for their robust flavors. That’s because they use all kinds of spices, like cinnamonturmeric, cumin, and cardamom, which all have the power to help stave off cardiovascular diseases.

Food delivery kits, where they send you the ingredients and you make the food right at home, offer a variety of dishes from all over the globe. This way, you can get taste styles of food that are new, without getting stuck in some restaurant staring at an undesirable menu.

Most food delivery kits even offer big discounts and free shipping to try it. Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Purple Carrot, and Blue Apron are a few popular ones, but there are countless others.

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Image

Consider how lifestyle affects your heart

Okay, so we tried to find it, but there’s no way out of it. You gotta exercise. Sorry, but these bodies were made to move.

Chances are, though, you’re not preparing to be on the cover of a fitness magazine, so you don’t have to spend all day lifting and jumping on things. Just make sure you get moving, so simple things that you enjoy like walking, dancing, and yoga all count as exercise!

If you’re not used to pushing your body, start slow. Aim for at least 10k steps a day, but make sure to get at least 5k.

If you want a little extra challenge, High-Intensity Interval Training is great because, again, you don’t have to spend all day doing it. Give HIIT 15-20 minutes a few times a week.

Next, you want to reduce stress. Sometimes this is hard if you have a certain job or a home life that seems like it doesn’t allow it, but try to find a few minutes, either in the morning before things get hectic or at night after things have been hectic to dedicate 10-20 minutes to yourself.

This time can be spent meditating, journaling, visualizing, praying, or just sitting in the quiet.  Don’t over-think it. This small amount of time can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and help rejuvenate you after or before a long day.

Lastly, have more sexSex has countless benefitsthat can help your heart, which includes lowering stress, helping you to get better quality sleep, and boosting your mood.

February is also National Condom Month, so please proceed responsibly.





During this very important month...

...we want our patients and readers to take this disease seriously no matter your age because the likelihood that you’ll know someone suffering from heart disease in your life is 100%.

Black people, especially, must consider the risks of heart disease. “Black Americans experience higher cardiovascular and metabolic disease, comparatively, than any other population on Earth according to the World Health Organization.  This is not a coincidence, but a consequence of being Black in America.

Our tips only scratch the surface, but we hope it encourages you to start your own research and begin to incorporate preventative measures to keep your heart healthy.

Enjoy your dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day, take part in some stress-reducing extracurricular activities (wink, wink), and make sure to have a happy Black History Month!

Image
Image

Consider how lifestyle affects your heart

Okay, so we tried to find it, but there’s no way out of it. You gotta exercise. Sorry, but these bodies were made to move.

Chances are, though, you’re not preparing to be on the cover of a fitness magazine, so you don’t have to spend all day lifting and jumping on things. Just make sure you get moving, so simple things that you enjoy like walking, dancing, and yoga all count as exercise!

If you’re not used to pushing your body, start slow. Aim for at least 10k steps a day, but make sure to get at least 5k.

If you want a little extra challenge, High-Intensity Interval Training is great because, again, you don’t have to spend all day doing it. Give HIIT 15-20 minutes a few times a week.

Next, you want to reduce stress. Sometimes this is hard if you have a certain job or a home life that seems like it doesn’t allow it, but try to find a few minutes, either in the morning before things get hectic or at night after things have been hectic to dedicate 10-20 minutes to yourself.

This time can be spent meditating, journaling, visualizing, praying, or just sitting in the quiet.  Don’t over-think it. This small amount of time can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and help rejuvenate you after or before a long day.

Lastly, have more sexSex has countless benefitsthat can help your heart, which includes lowering stress, helping you to get better quality sleep, and boosting your mood.

February is also National Condom Month, so please proceed responsibly.





During this very important month...

...we want our patients and readers to take this disease seriously no matter your age because the likelihood that you’ll know someone suffering from heart disease in your life is 100%.

Black people, especially, must consider the risks of heart disease. “Black Americans experience higher cardiovascular and metabolic disease, comparatively, than any other population on Earth according to the World Health Organization.  This is not a coincidence, but a consequence of being Black in America.

Our tips only scratch the surface, but we hope it encourages you to start your own research and begin to incorporate preventative measures to keep your heart healthy.

Enjoy your dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day, take part in some stress-reducing extracurricular activities (wink, wink), and make sure to have a happy Black History Month!

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