Five Ways to Have a Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving
If there’s one thing to be thankful for this holiday season, it’s the engine of life – the heart. Did you know that over one’s lifetime, the heart beats three billion times and transports 66 million gallons of blood? The heart keeps our circulatory system running with an astonishing performance in which no other engine can compete. With such a vital role, it’s of the utmost importance to keep our hearts as healthy as possible.
A healthy lifestyle goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease. We encourage you to show appreciation for your heart this holiday by celebrating in a heart-healthy way. Here are five ways to have a heart-healthy Thanksgiving:
1. Add color to your table.
It’s no secret that a healthy, balanced diet links to heart health. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake to 10 servings per day may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 28%1. A great place to start is adding color – by way of fruits and vegetables – to your table this Thanksgiving. Try making this apple salad with figs and almonds or by substituting your sweet potato casserole with these honey-glazed sweet potatoes.
2. Practice gratitude
Did you know that an attitude of gratitude is related to better mood and sleep, less fatigue and more self-efficacy? Depressed mood and poor sleep are associated with worse prognosis in Heart Failure and other cardiac populations. Therefore, efforts to increase gratitude may have clinical implications for improving health outcomes and may be a treatment for enhancing wellbeing in heart failure patients’ lives2.
Put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving this year with a simple gratitude practice.
3. Avoid or reduce alcohol intake
You don’t necessarily have to give up a glass of wine with family or a beer with friends completely to lower your atrial fibrillation risk. However, it’s essential to be aware of the risks and moderate your intake if necessary. One study found that even a single drink per day — a glass of wine, a beer, or a shot of whiskey, gin, or other spirits — was linked to a 16% higher risk of developing afib compared with not drinking at all. For people who already have afib, alcohol appears to have a nearly instantaneous effect on their heart rhythm. Researchers found that a single drink doubled the odds of afib occurring within the next four hours.
If you suffer from diagnosed heart failure, alcohol consumption can trigger an afib episode that may worsen your heart failure status. Check your pulse for irregularity, as this can be a sign of afib. Additionally, speak to your doctor about your diet and alcohol consumption if you suffer from diagnosed heart failure.
4. Get Active
Did you know as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity? A sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The good news is regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of these established risk factors. It is recommended that every American adult should participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week4.
Some fun ways to get some exercise this holiday are signing up for a local turkey trot fun run or playing a flag football game in the backyard. Do you favor a less-intensive activity to get the whole family involved? Experts say even going for short, light walks5 is enough to start making a difference. Try going for a 15-20 minute walk with your loved ones after thanksgiving dinner or doing some light aerobics in the backyard.
5. Connect with friends and family
The holidays can be stressful for many. Stress may contribute to poor health behaviors that are linked to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Maintaining social connections and talking with people you trust is one of many ways to help reduce stress6. Thanksgiving traditionally is a day of gathering, so be sure to make time for friends and family.
As the holiday of gratitude is upon us, let’s be thankful for our health and the health of those we hold dear. However you choose to celebrate, we wish you and yours a happy and heart-healthy holiday. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at BIOTRONIK.
- Aune D, Giovannucci E, Boffetta P, Fadnes LT, Keum N, Norat T, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies, Int J Epidemiol, 2017 06; 46(3):1029-1056. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyw319
- Mills PJ, Redwine L, Wilson K, Pung MA, Chinh K, Greenberg B, et al. The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients. Spiritual Clin Pract (Wash D C ). 2015 03; 2(1):5-17. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1037/scp0000050