Clogged arteries, hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis — whatever name you choose for it, we assure you that the problem is a serious one. Any time you have a vascular problem that impedes your circulation, the consequences are not only significant, they can be life-threatening.
If you want to keep your arteries in prime health, allowing them to deliver oxygen-rich blood without issue, a few lifestyle changes can go a long way toward that end. Here at Soffer Health Institute, Dr. Ariel Soffer and our team of vascular experts decided that we’d kick off the new year with a few tips that will help you prevent atherosclerosis.
Each cell in your body counts on a steady supply of blood for the resources it needs to survive and thrive, including critical oxygen and nutrients. To ensure this delivery, your body contains 60,000 miles of vessels that provide passage for your blood.
With atherosclerosis, this complex system may become compromised thanks to a narrowing in your arteries, the vessels that deliver oxygenated blood from your heart to your tissues. As a result, you’re more prone to serious problems that include heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
The reason for the narrowing or thickening in your arteries is due to plaque buildup along the walls of these blood vessels, which restricts the flow of blood. This plaque is primarily made up of fatty deposits and cholesterol, which are two great places to start when it comes to prevention of this serious condition.
You are what you eat
The old saying that, “You are what you eat,” most certainly applies to atherosclerosis. If your diet tends toward high-fat, sugary foods and/or your cholesterol numbers are high, your body is overwhelmed by the fat and cholesterol and can’t process these substances quickly enough, allowing them to linger in your arteries where they become plaque.
One of the best frontline steps you can take to avoid atherosclerosis is to cut back on the unhealthy hydrogenated fats (trans fat) in crackers, bakery goods, fast foods, and other processed foods, as well as certain foods with saturated fat, like processed meats.
Your body needs fats though, and we urge you to enjoy healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, and grass-fed beef.
You should steer clear of foods that contain a lot of sugar, which can throw your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers off balance, not in a good way.
Eat these instead
We urge you to add more whole, unprocessed foods to your diet, such as fruits and vegetables.
Some great examples of foods that support a healthy vascular system are:
- Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
- Citrus fruits
- Dark chocolate (>85% cocoa)
This list is by no means comprehensive, and we’re happy to talk with you more about heart-healthy foods.
Keep your blood flowing
Another great way to prevent atherosclerosis is to keep your vascular system humming along through exercise. Any time you exercise, your body moves your blood more quickly, allowing it to make a healthier trip through your body without lingering.
To get started, we suggest that you do something that raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes each day. This can be a brisk walk or even some vigorous gardening.
New year, new you
Since it’s the new year, we thought we’d add some resolutions to your list that will help prevent atherosclerosis (and many other health issues). Let this be the year that you quit smoking and drink only in moderation.
These steps, along with a better diet and exercise, are powerful steps in helping prevent cardiovascular issues, including atherosclerosis.
If you want more ideas about preventing atherosclerosis or you’d like to evaluate whether you have an existing vascular problem, contact one of our offices in Weston, or Aventura, Florida.