“Eat your vegetables. Lay off the junk food.”
These are the typical advice we get from our moms and they really know best. Whether or not you heed the advice at the dinner table when you were a kid and ignored it when away from home is not the question. The question is: Do you take her advice to heart now that you’re old enough to think for yourself?
According to the World Health Organization, 33% of deaths due to non-communicable diseases result from cardiovascular ailments. And the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases is higher in lower-income countries like the Philippines than in developed countries like the United States. The DOH said 17.5 million Filipinos die each year of a heart disease — now one of the leading causes of death in the country.
Heart attacks and strokes are brought on by blockage to the arteries, restricting the flow of blood to the heart or brain. These obstructions are often because of fatty deposits that have accumulated along the passageways where blood flows.
And where do these fatty deposits come from? Trans fats! Because trans fats enhance the flavor of food, many food manufacturers and restaurants use these synthetic fats in the preparation of packaged goods and fast food such as doughnuts, cookies, cakes, chips, fries, margarine, animal fat, and nondairy coffee creamer.
The DOH recommends the following to beat heart problems early, especially for individuals in their 30s and up:
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Instead of cakes and sweets for dessert, try fresh fruit. If you need a snack, munch on fruits and nuts instead of salt-laden chips and sugary cookies.
- Craving chocolate? Choose dark chocolate, which contains more flavonoids and antioxidants.
- When doing the groceries, always read the nutritional labels and ingredients list on the packaging of food products to avoid trans fats, also called hydrogenated oils.
- Instead of soft drinks, lattes, and milk teas, try buko (coconut) juice or other freshly squeezed fruit juices, or just plain water.
- Home cooking is healthier than restaurant food. Avoid eating out too often, especially in fast foods where most menu items are fried or cooked in animal fat. When eating out, try to order more salads and fewer fried dishes.
But wait! According to health experts, trans fats can be burned as energy. And since it’s not always easy to resist temptation, keeping yourself heart-healthy also involves conscious lifestyle decisions like:
- Cultivate an active lifestyle. Sedentary habits are the root of many health problems. If you work at a desk all day, try to stand up and move around every two hours. Buy a standing desk. Drink water. You can hydrate and get your blood flowing at the same time.
- Going on a date? Instead of a late-night movie or a sit-down meal of rich food, try a brisk early-morning couple’s jog or couple time at a gym. Go kite-flying at a park or on a walking tour to rediscover the sights in nearby cities.
- Stop smoking. Smoking leads to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels that limit the flow of blood to vital organs such as the heart. Avoid places where people tend to smoke, such as bars.
- Get enough sleep at night. Chronic lack of sleep and late nights can interfere with the body’s biological processes and lead to greater chances of heart disease.
- Reduce stress in your life. Try not to take your work home. If you work from home, set a time for all work to stop and your home life-slash-relaxation to begin. Stress is not good for your heart.
- Regular visit to your doctor. Don’t self-medicate and leave it up to medical professionals who have years of experience and expertise on matters of the heart.
The important thing is to cultivate healthy habits while still young. That’s why Sun Life Grepa Financial, Inc. (Sun Life Grepa), a major life insurance company in the country, offers a new generation health protection plan suited for young people who want to be well-covered throughout their health journey — from prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and all the way to recovery.
The Sun Grepa Fit and Well plan provides coverage until age 100 and cash benefits that will help secure your finances should a covered critical illness strike such as heart attack. It also offers preventive wellness benefits such as access to premium workouts and various wellness activities that encourage you stay fit and healthy.
Let Sun Life Grepa help you take care of your heart and health. Your loved ones will appreciate you for it. To know more about Sun Grepa Fit and Well health protection plans, contact a Sun Life Grepa advisor, visit any Sun Life Grepa branch, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.