Here's how I keep my physical heart healthy. There's no real reason not to manage the modifiable variables of heart health. ZERO. If you can make a difference in your food and exercise templates- no magic fairy is going to arrive and fix this stuff. Get a mirror, look in it. Grab a home glucose meter and your recent blood work. Yeah! There's your magic fairy. Looking right back at you, with stone cold hard data!!!
(note- some things are not modifiable like aspects of AFIB or inherited cholesterol diseases, inherited blood clotting diseases. auto-immune disease that doesn't respond to diet modification- that just stinks, my blog post is about the modifiable risks)
We all control what goes inside our bodies - food, exercise, self monitoring, start there. No excuses. Just action. SMART goals.
1. I keep track of my hs-CRP (blood inflammation marker) normal = 0-3, I stay around 1.5 or lower. Inflammation from food or lifestyle. Removing sugars and grains had my hs-CRP going from 6.8 to 1.5 or below. Big difference in lowering my heart attack risk. hs-CRP can be really silent, so it's up to you and your doctor to look at the causes of inflammation and modifications that are effective. Life post auto-immune disease, I've been able to keep all that in check.
2. I keep track of my glucose levels periodically.
I can inadvertently get higher glucose readings, even with a LCHF food template if I swing a little bit to more fruit or higher carb within the food template. It's a glucose, 2 hr post, that will stay high. I'll go to bed with that glucose being high, even after a brisk walk. Pesky, but I control what goes into my pie hole, so I claim responsibility over keeping my glucose in check. It's not hard, but I cannot be an ostrich.
I can't change my genetics, but I can input food that keeps my diabetes risk low, and that will keep my heart health optimal. Get a home glucose monitor. Measure fasting and 2 hour post levels. Make changes that keep your glucose optimal. OMG- I'm my own magic fairy. Awesome. ;)
Our bodies will let us know.
|Feb 2016 herb garden, the mint wants to take over|
5. I eat natural fat. Think avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, grass-fed beef. Wow, I feel so good after I eat grass fed beef. Top some grass-fed beef with some guacamole, salsa, onions, in butter lettuce leaves. Or hey, some brisket from Whole foods with a salad. Super simple, super tasty. Low carb, higher natural fat. Tastes great.
Well, I can tell you, that my post menopause body really appreciates having some building blocks for hormone balance and for mineral absorption. Rather than have the heart disease cholesterol, I have high amounts of good cholesterol. And my doctor gets it. She understands and agrees, my heart attack risk is low. Now , some of that is genetic- low A-Fib
risk is a nice start.
|Encintias,CA beach cottage living|
Okay, here's what didn't work when I was moderating all the food and marching mightily to diabetes and heart disease.
1. Grains and sugars and even dairy elevated my hs-CRP. I also had joint pain. Massive, joint pain. And acne, worse than when I was a teen. Totally reversible. And preventable. Knowing the inflammation signs, taking action on hs-CRP all were my choice.
2. Glucose. I knew that my HA1c and fasting glucose were nearly pre-diabetic level in 2011. In fact, had I gone to see the doctor in early 2011, I would have likely been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes IS diabetes.
I knew that eating sugar wasn't working. I foolishly thought I'd go ahead and take action only when I needed to do so via blood work. Yikes. This is not a great plan, yet the disease of food addiction will use any means to keep itself alive.
I had high fasting glucose- just barely under 100, HA1c that were raising every year- 5.7%, morbid obesity, a great deal of visceral fat.
|Jan 2010, chronic cardio, visceral fat, fork outrunning din't work|
3. Walking super fast and training to walk a half Marathon. I thought I would get super slim. I got super inflamed and got a huge middle layer of visceral fat and a bad case of plantar faciitis.
You cannot outrun your fork. Just saying.... The damage from grains and high carbs. Oh, Me. I lived. Walking a half was not my best heart health move. Of course, I was a mighty WW points counter. Kashi, whole grains, low fat Starbucks muffins (yo! I just walked many miles, my body needs this and it fits my points very well, oh high fiber muffins and coffee, lordy!....)
I did meet fantastic friends. That was one great thing about the half marathon. :)
4. Hobbies: I sat on the couch and ate low points skinny cows and watched Biggest Loser. I still photographed, but tide pool hopping and super long moderate hikes were way out of the question.
5. Natural fat. It was going to make me fat. I was so afraid of avocados. BEEF, so many WW points. No way were eggs going to be okay, egg whites or Kashi cereal, or whole grain waffles with blueberries and cool whip. Oh, more cool whip. Oh what the heck, half a tub of cool whip lite was on sale and fits my points. Wheeeeeeee!!!!! I'm heart healthy. Because oatmeal, with equal sweeter and skim milk. Whole grain fiber is soooooooo good for me. Dang, I was brainwashed pretty well. Oh, but the American Heart Association, they are on my side, right? The DASH diet, it's low fat, yeah, because that's clearly going to help my heart. OMG.
Except I had my head in the sand. Good thing I did not let me get me. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. If I were taking simple monitoring steps, I could have taken action much sooner.
Here's to taking our heads out of the sand and improving our heart health with real, measurable SMART goals. Ditch the old way of thinking. You'll need your heart for long term good health. I can't tell you how happy I am planning vacations instead of sick care with my doctor.
Onward. Make sure your data matches your outcomes. Gather the courage to set down what makes us have high visceral fat. That's heart healthy. Happy Valentine's Day, no grains or sweets required. Find your inner magic fairy and you'll find your heart health, too.