Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are on the increase in the United States – in fact some doctors are even calling the poor health of individuals an epidemic. Your lifestyle impacts your health and it can also impact your quality of life as well as your longevity. Consider that close to three quarters of a million people suffer heart attacks each year and about one in four of those heart attacks lead to death. Ask your doctor and he will tell you that you can reduce your risk of heart attack, lower your weight and even ward off diabetes by changing to a more heart healthy diet.
Here are five steps you can take to improve your health and increase your quality of life:
- Add fiber to your diet. Foods with soluble fiber have been shown to lower your cholesterol levels and this can reduce your risk of heart disease. Add beans, oats, flaxseed, wheat germ and breads that are made from whole grains to your diet. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and fruits like apples and pears are good sources of fiber as well.
- Stay hydrated. Drink more water because research shows that adults who drink five or more eight-ounce glasses of water a day were less likely to have heart disease or suffer a heart attack. Most adults, however, are dehydrated because they simply don’t drink enough water. Remember, soda, coffee and alcohol are no substitute for water.
- Eat more fresh and less processed food. It’s tempting to grab pre-packaged food or go through the drive-thru on your way home from work, especially true for those caregivers who work outside of the home, take care of their aging parents and then go home to care for their family. Set aside a few hours on a Sunday and whip up some meals that can sustain the family throughout the week. Use whole foods and fresh ingredients. Plan your meal for the week, shop for what you need, cook and then you will be less inclined to eat fast food.
- Add healthy proteins to your meals. Healthy proteins include lean beef, pork, chicken, fish, skim milk, eggs and legumes. Adding legumes to your diet offers healthy protein and healthy fiber which makes legumes a win-win.
- You can’t avoid fats, but make sure the ones you eat are healthy fats. Saturated fats are bad for your cholesterol, your health and your heart. Unsaturated fats are essential for your body and can be found in salmon and trout, nuts and avocados.
If you’re not certain whether you’re eating a healthful diet, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your overall health and talk with him or her about ways to eat healthier and live longer.