It’s a common misconception that exercise buys you a ticket to eat whatever you want. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a nutrition expert who understands the key to diet and fitness, this kind of dangerous logic can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Fuhrman says that strenuous exercise isn’t as effective at maintaining cardiac health as most people believe, and that there are major holes in the way doctors currently treat heart disease in the US.
Overlooking Alternative Choices
Alternative choice’s are all around us, so why aren’t people interested in them? This was one of the subjects of Fuhrman’s best selling novel, The End of Heart Disease: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. In the book, Fuhrman points out that surgery and prescription drugs aren’t the only way to treat or prevent heart disease, even though they are often presented as such.
Fuhrman estimates that more than 95% of all fatalities linked to heart disease could have been avoided, and that the most commonly used treatments come with serious health risks. Since doctors don’t typically provide alternative routes for controlling heart problems, patients falsely assume medications and surgery are their only choices.
According to Fuhrman, doctors are obligated to provide their patients with information about treating their heart disease through diet.
Prescriptions and Surgery Are Not Your Only Option
The End of Heart Disease stresses the importance of a “Nutritarian Diet,” which Fuhrman says can prevent and treat heart complications. He presents a three-step plan that involves:
- Eliminating high-glycemic foods, such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, and white bread. These can spike blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
- Ensuring your diet includes a “full rainbow” of vegetables and an abundance of healthy fats, as in fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocados.
- Reducing animal products as much as possible. No more than 3 servings of animal products per week is ideal, but most Americans eat closer to 21.
According to Fuhrman, “Diet is not just preventive, but therapeutic. After a short period of time – it doesn’t take years – you will see benefits.”
Those taking on the challenge of a Nutritarian Diet should be aware of the challenges they will face. Eating sugar affects the chemistry of the brain, resulting in cravings for unhealthy foods.
“People want the ice cream and cake. It’s possible for motivated people to make a change, but you have to change your taste buds, which takes three to six months,” Fuhrman says.
How to Remain Heart Healthy
The best way to avoid heart disease is to be proactive about your health; so how can you reduce your chance of heart disease down the line?
1. Brush your teeth. Research finds that brushing your teeth three or more times a day may link to stronger cardiovascular health. Our mouths are full of bacteria and poor dental hygiene can lead to respiratory problems.
A 2019 study published by the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology suggests that cleaner mouths reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
2. Catch some zzz’s. Hitting the snooze button might be necessary if your sleeping habits include less than 6 hours of sleep a night.
One study took 3,000 individuals over the age of 45 and recorded their sleeping patterns. Those who slept fewer than 6 hours, were twice as likely to experience some form of heart failure compared to those who received between 6-8 hours of sleep a night. A lack of sleep causes disruptions in our bodies systems, which we often pay for down the line.
3. Keep it moving. Science tells us that sitting for long period of times can lead to cardiovascular events later in life. Even if you find time for activity 30 minutes a day, make sure to stand up every hour and move around. Keeping your body active every hour stimulates your brain, elevates your mood and can even improve work performance.
For more on cardiovascular health, check out our disaster preparedness plan for a healthy heart.