Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2020

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10 wholelifetimes.com healthy living Illustration: Rawpixel FIVE HELPFUL LIFE HACKS By Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., FACC, FAHA F ebruary is Heart Health Month. How many steps did you get in today? It sounds obvious but I often need to remind my patients that when you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity, increased blood pressure, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. The average American adult now spends roughly 6.5 hours a day sitting – an increase of about an hour a day since 2007. For teenagers, that number is closer to eight hours a day. More time spent on computers, social media, and TV is to blame for this uptick in sedentary behavior. These activities seem innocent enough at first, but they can add up quickly, and can significantly affect the health of your heart. It is never too soon, nor too late, to start taking care of your heart. Here are some helpful "life hacks" I recommend to my patients to achieve and maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eat Well: Eating lean meats, fruits, and vegetables is great. But even healthy foods can be a problem if you are consuming two or three times what your portion size should be. Controlled portion size is an important consideration for heart health. Keep lean protein portions to about the size of your palm. A quick way to eat smaller portion sizes is to use a smaller plate. The average dinner plate clocks in at 12 inches, so switching to a slightly smaller plate, like 8 inches, can help you control your portions. Heart-Smart Supplements: A healthy lifestyle can help protect your cardiovascular system and enhance circulation but adding a heart-smart supplement can give your arteries the extra protection they need, especially as you age. I have found that Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) may have the single best impact on heart health than any other known dietary supplement. My research suggests that it supports healthy blood pressure and reduces bad cholesterol levels, reduces plaque (buildup) in coronary arteries, and improves the health of blood vessel walls. Sleep: Sleep is very important for a healthy heart. Lack of sleep puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular and coronary health disease. During sleep your body repairs itself, so you do not want to skimp on it. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Move: Consistent exercise is a great way to lower your risk of heart disease. Just as exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it helps your heart muscle become more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. Try exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days. This can help to improve your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. It has been shown that exercising can also improve your brain health, delaying or stopping the onset of dementia. Brush and Floss: This might sound unrelated to heart health, but you'd be surprised. Several studies show that your dental health and cardiac health are intertwined. The bacteria in your mouth, when released into the bloodstream, can increase inflammation and lead to hardening of the arteries, which, in turn, can eventually lead to heart attack and stroke. Make sure to brush at least twice each day, and floss once. I chose these heart-health hacks for a reason; they are very achievable. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive. Anyone can do it by making a few small tweaks in their everyday routine. Start moving and practice these five hacks every day to prioritize your heart health. Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., FACC, FAHA, is Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He is Program Director and Director of Cardiac CT, Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA. He is also Endowed Chair of Preventive Cardiology, LA Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Budoff is at the forefront of the medical community's efforts to develop early detection methods for cardiac disease. A frequent lecturer at symposia, congresses, and annual conferences on every continent, he has authored or co- authored more than 800 research papers, seven books, and 45 book chapters. Best Moves for a Healthy Heart

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