Good nutrition and lifestyle play huge roles in keeping your heart healthy. South Africans are very prone to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death as cases continue to rise.
According to the 2021 Momentum Life Insurance claims statistics, 20% of death claims were caused by cardiovascular disease. As many health-conscious people know, a healthy heart is dependent on a healthy lifestyle.
Marcia Eugenio, head of Incentivised Wellness at Momentum Multiply, says, “It is important to see your healthcare provider at least once per year for regular health screenings. They should test your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.”
Taking the right steps towards a healthier lifestyle will go a long way in drastically improving your health. Your heart depends on it, so we all need to work together to drive healthy behaviours in ourselves, our families, and our communities.
To maintain his heart health, Dakalo Mphephu (28) from Kathu, has set small targets to achieve his health goals. He tells Health For Mzansi, “I exercise from time to time, watch what I eat, my meals always consist of vegetables, drink lots of water and occasionally enjoy a glass of wine.”
Setting realistic goals
Kemelo Letswalo (25) from Kimberley, says that health is wealth. To achieve his goals, he believes that health journeys are a marathon and not a sprint.
“Slowly and intuitively introducing healthy lifestyle and dietary habits, by way of maybe swapping out just one of your daily meals for a lower calorie alternative, or maybe cutting down on snacking, or incorporating a daily walk with your dog can go a long way. And then gradually building up from there.”
While Bongani Dube (26) also from Kimberley believes that good health begins in the mind. “Keep the stress low. Don’t stress so much about everything that is going on around you. I am not as active as I want to be. My idea of being active is walking to the shop and coming back, I don’t have a strict exercise regimen.”
Prioritise heart health
Eugenio shares a few tips to help you on your journey to a healthy heart:
- Diet: Eat more fruits and vegetables. These contain vitamins and minerals that can help prevent heart disease. Try to also limit your red meat intake as the saturated fat found in animal meat increases cholesterol levels, which is bad for the heart.
- Exercise: Moving regularly makes your heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and reduces your risk of heart disease. Get your heart pumping by working out for at least 30 minutes, three to four times a week.
- Alcohol: Moderation is key. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and fat levels in your heart. Try to limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day. It is best to have a few alcohol-free days during the week.
- Stress: Anxiety, depression, and worry can significantly increase your risk of developing heart problems. Manage financial stress by planning properly and getting help from a financial adviser. You can also beat workplace stress by exercising and applying relaxation techniques.
- Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, body, mind, and heart. Aim to sleep for a minimum of seven to eight hours a night. Try to not scroll mindlessly on your phone before bed as this keeps the mind active and limits your ability to fall asleep.
- Smoking: Smoking harms not just the heart but almost every organ in the body. Consider quitting smoking. You should limit your exposure to second-hand smoke as well.