Arteries are more than “pipes.” They are living tissues that contain powerful immune and other bioactive substances. The most common disease of these
living tissues is atherosclerosis, triggered by chronic inflammation.
Inflammation literally means “on fire.” Indeed, scientists now realize chronic inflammation is a major—if not the major—culprit in coronary artery disease. It underlies not only the creation of fatty plaques but also their growth and rupture.
Here are a few timely tips for reducing inflammation and sudden heart attack risk while improving heart health—naturally!
Stop the Smokes. Smoking as few as two cigarettes a day significantly increases inflammation throughout your body. Smoking robs your heart of oxygen. Quitting dramatically reduces your risk of heart attack.
Watch Your Mouth. Gum diseases which cause inflammation are linked with bacterial infections that can contribute to heart disease. Also, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes increase the risk of gum problems. Daily flossing and brushing, avoidance of soda pop, and enjoying a diet rich in plant foods helps mouth as well as heart health.
Shop Defensively. The produce department has been called “the Department of Defense” when it comes to disease prevention. Spend more time shopping in the fruit and vegetable aisles and you can dramatically lower inflammation throughout your body. In general, animal products tend to fan the flames of inflammation while plant foods dampen them. Get more healthy omega-3 fats by eating mineral-rich walnuts or ground flax.
Get in “D” Sun. Low levels of vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, are connected with increased risk of heart disease. Enjoy outdoor time in the sun, and get your vitamin D levels checked. You may need to supplement.
Mind Your Matters. Scientists have found a compelling link between stress and inflammation. Although we can’t always control the things that come at us, we can often learn better ways to cope. Take time to unwind by spending more time with friends and family. Trim your schedule and add daily time with God in Bible study and prayer.
Stack Those “ZZZs”. Lack of sleep increases heart attack risk. Tone down the intensity of evening activities; avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals at night, and your sleep quality will improve. Guard your bedtime—it is healing time.
Move it and Improve it. Lack of physical exercise is second only to smoking as a risk factor for heart disease. Daily exercise is linked to lower cholesterol levels, improved blood pressure, better diabetes control, improved mood and sleep, and fewer joint problems.