How to Improve* Your Heart Health Through Fasting & Healthy Lifestyle?

Improve Your Heart Health Through Fasting
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

According to World Health Organization, ischemic heart disease is the deadliest in the world followed by a stroke. Categories of people who are at risk of heart disease include those who are overweight, diabetic patients, high blood pressure patients and those who smoke. Despite being the number one killer, heart disease does not always have to be fatal as it can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle.

One way you can do that is by exercising on a regular basis. Exercising not only makes you physically strong but it is good for your mental and body health. When you exercise, the heart rate increases* pumping blood to various parts of your body including the brain. This helps keep your heart, body and mind healthy.

How Healthy Eating Prevents Heart Disease?

Heart disease can also be prevented by eating nutritious food. Nutritious food is healthy for your heart because it has less* cholesterol which is harmful to your heart. It is true that our bodies require cholesterol in order to function well. However, a high level of cholesterol is not good for our bodies since it can build up in arteries increasing* the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Eating nutritious food is one step to reduce* blood cholesterol, therefore, lowering the risk of heart disease. Some of the nutritious foods you can include in your diet to achieve a healthy heart include fish, beans, greens and fruits. Taking white meat like fish can help you limit the intake of red meat which is harmful to your health.

Weight Management for a Healthy Heart

Weight management is another way to maintain a healthy heart. Being overweight and obese is not good for your heart health. Obesity refers to excessive adipose tissue in the body. People living in developed countries like Europe are usually obese because they eat junk foods that are sold cheaply. Junk food is not healthy because of the high level of saturated fat it contains.

Too many calories caused by eating unhealthy food builds up in your bodies blocking arteries that make you susceptible to heart disease. Body mass index or BMI is used as an indicator for obesity. It refers to weight to height ratio that is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters.

Although BMI is a useful way of measuring healthy body weight, it does not measure the amount or percentage of fat in the body. If your BMI is above 20%, it means you are overweight. Because of their unhealthy lifestyle, this group is at a high risk of contracting a cardiovascular disease like heart disease.

Healthy Heart Info

To help prevent obesity which can increase* your risk of contracting heart disease, it is recommended you reduce* the intake of unhealthy foods that contain excessive fats and replace them with nutritious food like whole grains and fruits. For our body to function optimally, it is important we eat the right food.

When we eat protein-rich food our body breaks it down into amino acids which give energy to our cells. However, eating high-fat food is not good for your heart health. Knowing which food to limit and which one to increase* is a good step towards having a healthy heart.

We are living in a world where eating processed food containing calories is the norm. Because these foods are unhealthy, supermarkets retail them at a low price making it accessible to almost anyone.

What many people are unaware of is that eating such processed food like meat is bad for your heart health and exposes you to risk of heart disease and contracting other cardiovascular diseases.

Processed foods have saturated fats and excessive salt in them. Taking food with too much salt increases* the risk of having high blood pressure. To maintain your heart health, you can avoid eating such unhealthy foods by fasting.

Fasting in Metabolism of Cholesterol and Sugar Metabolism

Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease

Fasting is where you abstain entirely from eating or limiting the amount and type of food you eat. Studies have shown that people who fast have better* heart health compared to people who do not fast. The reason for this is because people who fast limit the number of calories and processed salt they take thus preventing the risk of contracting heart disease.

When you fast, it means you have better* control* of your diet limiting consumption of calories which helps you manage your weight. Researches have shown that regular fasting can help control* the level of cholesterol in your body by managing how it is metabolized.

As we have seen earlier being overweight as result of eating unhealthy food that contains bad cholesterol is not good for your heart health. Fasting for a period of two days a week can help you lose* weight which can, in turn, improve* your heart health.

In addition to metabolizing cholesterol, fasting can improve* the way your body metabolizes sugar. This will, in turn, reduce* the risk of adding weight at the same time helping you control* the risk of having diabetes which is not good for your heart health.

Fasting in Relation with Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease

According to a study done by Dr. Alan Goldhamer, director of TrueNorth Health Center which is one of two facilities in the world that trains doctors in fasting specialization, fasting can lower high blood pressure which in turn improves* heart health.

In the study, Dr. Alan and a team of four doctors treated 174 patients with high blood pressure using a fasting regime of water only. For an average of 10 to 11 days, patients were not supposed to eat or drink anything but water.

At the end of the fasting period, 90% of the patients had blood pressure less* than 140/90 mm/Hg. Another 6.3% of patients who took high blood pressure medication discontinued the use.

The study found a reduction* of -37 mm/Hg in systolic blood pressure (that is the numerator) which made researchers conclude that fasting can indeed lower high blood pressure helping improve* your According to a recent study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care people who do not drink more than two glasses of water a day are more likely to develop high blood sugar. Fasters who drink water alone experienced lower blood sugar level because of taking water frequently.

In a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, the research found that people who fast whether or not they are smokers lower the risk of contracting the cardiovascular disease. After making amends to traditional risk factors, the research showed that 74% of non-fasters developed cardiovascular disease compared to only 64% of fasters.

Other studies done by doctors from Utah have shown that Mormons, a faith that encourages* members to fast every month, experience lower deaths due to heart disease compared to the general US population. The reason for this is because they don’t eat meat, smoke or drink alcohol.

At the age of only 8, this group fasts every month refraining from two meals. However, the study only showed an association between fasting and better* heart health. Meaning that fasting might not have a direct effect in lowering your risk of contracting a cardiovascular disease like heart disease but it might be as a result of healthy lifestyle.
The Mormons, for example, refrain from smoking, caffeine and taking alcohol which the general population of Americans does not which are factors that affect heart health.

Conclusion

Despite these studies, fasting has not been deeply explored. Therefore we cannot conclusively tell if fasting indicates a healthy lifestyle or it helps reduce* the risk of contracting a cardiovascular disease like heart disease. Before you fast it is important you are aware of the merits and demerits of fasting. Asking your doctor in case you are not sure is the right thing to do to avoid any complications as a result of not eating solid food.

References

  • http://www.who.int/features/qa/18/en/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995774/
  • https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0029665107005502
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Author

Expert Author : Annie Jones (Consumer Health Digest)

Annie Jones is the founder of BoostBodyfit. She is a huge fan of healthy eating and living! She creates the blog purely to share her experiences and expertise on health, nutrition, exercise and everything else between. Say Hi to Annie on [email protected]