Maintaining healthy weight is imperative for overall health, and can help you prevent and control multitude of diseases. If you are obese or overweight, you are at maximum risk of developing serious health problems, including, Hypertension, Heart Disease, respiratory problems, Gallstones, type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and certain kind of Cancers. When it comes to your Heart, ensuring that you maintain ideal body weight is an important factor.
According to reports, being 20 per cent over your ideal weight significantly increases your risk for developing Heart Disease, especially if you have a lot of abdominal fat. The American Heart Association states that even if there are no related health conditions, Obesity itself increases risk of Heart Disease by multifold. There are several factors that can contribute to a person’s weight such as family history, genetics, environment, metabolism, habits and behaviour. While we cannot alter certain risk factors for heart disease, we can certainly alter our lifestyle habits.
Let’s understand the disease burden on our population better, according to The Lancet study, prevalent cases of Cardiovascular Diseases increased in India from 25•7 million in 1990 to 54•5 million in 2016. Prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in 2016 was highest in Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, and West Bengal.
Dr Zakia Khan, Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan suggests ways to better your lifestyle decisions to bring down this risk.
Relationship between obesity and heart health: Being ‘overweight’ is nothing but excess of body weight from muscle, fat and bone. Therefore, it is important to evaluate/measure Obesity via regular Body Mass Index (BMI) check-ups. An obese individual’s cardiac requirements are higher, it is required to pump larger amounts of blood. Over a period of time, in some individuals, the Heart cannot compensate, and eventually it begins to lose some of its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body; when over overstressed it can lead to Heart Failure.
Tips to maintain your ideal body weight: It is hard to maintain preferred body weight regardless of where you are in your weight loss journey. However, you may know that consuming certain types of food can spike your Heart Disease risks. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply wanted to fine-tune your diet, all you must know is – ‘what foods to eat’, ‘with what frequency’ and ‘which foods to restrict’. Another important aspect is exercising; as an important driver towards physical fitness and weight loss, exercising should never be an option. Ideal combination of diet and exercise regimen is important, once this is in place, you'll be on your way towards leading a heart-healthy life.
Six heart-healthy tips to consider are as follows:
1. Control your portion size: How much you eat is just as significant as what you eat. Putting extra on your plate and eating till the time you are stuffed, can lead to overconsumption of calories. Use a small bowl or plate to help control your portions. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables and fruits, and smaller portions of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, fast foods/ processed. This trick can shape up your diet as well as your waistline.
2. Reduce sodium in your food: Excess Sodium intake can contribute to high Blood Pressure, a risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease. Reducing salt consumption is a vital part of a heart-healthy diet. Salt that comes from processed foods or canned products, for instance- frozen dinner soups and baked goods, is especially harmful. Consumption of fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can lessen the amount salt you consume.
3. Choose low fat protein sources: Fish, lean meat, poultry, low-fat dairy products and eggs are a few great sources of protein. One must be careful while choosing low fat options, like choose skimmed milk rather than whole milk, and skinless Chicken breasts instead of fried Chicken patties. Peas, beans and lentils also are good sources of protein; they consist of less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Substituting plant-based protein for animal protein for example replacing hamburger with a soy bean burger — will reduce your fat and cholesterol intake and increase your fibre intake.
4. Limit unhealthy sugar or fat: Controlling how much saturated and trans-fats you consume is an essential step to moderate your blood cholesterol level and lower your threat of Coronary Artery Disease. Increased blood Cholesterol level can result ina build-up of plaque in your arteries that are known as Atherosclerosis, which can significantly increase your risk of Stroke and Heart Attack.
Also, it is a proven fact that junk food has large amounts of Sodium, artificial food colorants, hidden calories, etc. They may be delectable in taste, but they lead to weight gain. Consumption of unmodulated amounts of junk, over a period of time, results in Heart diseases, blindness, Kidney disease, Foot Gangrene etc. This occurs due to hardening and development of blockages of the blood vessels pumping blood in and out of the various organs in our body.
5. Exercises to shed body weight: In order to shed access fat, it is imperative that one must exercise to get the body into calorie deficit. Therefore, one must attempt to burn more fat/ calories instead of eating calorie-dense meals each day. One of the most effective exercises is weight training combined with Cardiovascular exercise such as cycling, jogging, swimming, dancing & skipping are all active methods of cardio. Doing these for a couple of days in a week will certainly help you to get closer to your weight loss goals. The entire motive should be to at least put the heart rate up for about 30-60 minutes daily.
6. Bariatic Surgery: Obesity is a harsh reality of this century, coupled with Type II Diabetes Mellitus, it is the most severe life threatening and costly epidemic. Non-surgical approaches have a few limited possibilities. When all non-surgical options have been exhausted, talking to your physician about Metabolic Surgery/ Bariatric Surgery would be a good idea. This remains the sole hope for a healthier future of those who are obese and striving to maintain a healthy heart, but have exhausted all corrective actions.