February 2014 Challenge: Foolproof Your Ticker

What better way to say, "I love you" than to take good care of your heart? February is traditionally heart-health month, and for good reason, since the leading cause of death in the US is heart disease and stroke.Preventable Deaths727,165 people died in 2010 from heart disease and stroke. Factor in the 69, 071 people that died from diabetes and you have a total of nearly 800,000 people that could still be living, or, at the very least, have enjoyed their lives more, by living well.Are You a Ticking Time Bomb?The risk factors for heart attacks and stroke generally include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high body weight. The reality is that these conditions simply reflect the diet and lifestyle factors that are the real risk factors for heart disease. There is an artificial sense of relief when cholesterol and blood pressure improve, unless, your "numbers" improve through diet and lifestyle change. If you lose weight only by restricting your calories and not improving the nutritional quality of your diet and/or if you improve cholesterol and blood pressure with medications alone, your risk may actually remain the same.Diabetes ConnectionThere is a strong risk for heart disease in people who have elevated blood sugar, with the highest risk associated with after meal spikes in blood sugar. If you have diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, controlling your blood sugar is your best bet at lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke. Elevated blood sugar creates a significant amount of inflammation that accentuates the risk associated with other cardiovascular risk factors.Nutrition & Lifestyle Risk FactorsThe real risk factors for heart attacks and strokes are related to your diet and lifestyle. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of chronic health problems, now or in the future.Click here for a checklist of Nutrition & Lifestyle Risk Factors and take the Foolproof Your Ticker Challenge.Foolproof Your TickerOn the flip side of each risk factor is an opportunity to lower risk and prevent disease. The Foolproof Your Ticker Challenge is to turn as many of these risk factors into opportunities for prevention. This Challenge may last longer than 1 month; take your time, and work your way through each of these and you will see, and feel, a dramatic improvement in how healthy and vibrant you feel.Photo Credit: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Dr. Andrew Weil, please note that the recommendations found in this link must be tailored for your own needs and do not apply to everyone.Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.