In his latest NY Times Best seller, The Doctor’s Diet, Dr. Travis Stork remarks on how little we appreciate the work our heart does for each of us. Every day it pumps about 100,000 times. Try squeezing your hand 100,000 (or 100 times!) and you’ll start to respect the amount of work your heart does every minute of every day. Using about the amount of pressure it would take you to squeeze a tennis ball, the muscles in your heart push your entire blood volume – about 6 quarts total – throughout your body three times every minute. Heart disease is more than a statistic in his ER world. It’s a harsh reality of having to say good-bye way too early after the death of a loved one. Lucky for us, our hearts tend to be pretty responsive when we start to take better care of them. Not all heart disease is reversible, but many kinds are and many of the risk factors can be reduced.
Dr. Stork’s 10 Tips To A Healthy Heart
#1 Eat fish. Try to eat fish twice a week. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like halibut or salmon, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
#2 Add fruit. Fruit is great to have on hand as a quick, healthy snack option. It is also a nutritious, naturally sweet addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner meals.
#3 Avoid Unhealthy Fats. Choose foods that contain little to no saturated fat and no trans fat, both of which are linked to raising bad cholesterol.
#4 Mix it up. Swap unhealthy snacks for healthy choices. For instance, instead of chips, grab a handful of unsalted mixed nuts, which are high in healthy fats that may support heart health.
#5 Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be proactive and check with your physician about steps you can take toward a healthier heart. Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes to help lower cholesterol. Also, make sure to get regular cholesterol and blood pressure screenings.
#6 Be whole-hearted. Add whole grain oats to your diet. Oats contain beta glucan which is a soluble fiber that helps naturally remove bad cholesterol. So whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of whole grain oat cereal, oats help support heart health. Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce your risk of heart disease.
#7 Take baby steps. Small changes can make a big impact on your health. For instance, when making a salad refrain from using creamy dressings, which can turn a meal into one that’s unhealthy for your heart. Instead, use olive oil, which is a healthier alternative.
#8 Select healthy options. Make good decisions while dining out; order foods that are steamed or grilled rather than fried or sautéed in unhealthy oils. Ask how your meal is going to be prepared before you order. Feel free to ask for substitutions.
#9 Feel the burn. Remember to exercise. Incorporate fitness into your life so it becomes a part of your daily schedule. No time for a formal workout? Just get on your feet more throughout the day!
#10 Put out the fire. Smoking automatically increases your risk of heart disease regardless of what foods you eat or how much you exercise.
Emergency Room Physician and Emmy-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show “The Doctors,” Travis Stork, MD is on a mission to put the “health” back into “Healthcare.” His keynote addresses heart disease and the lessons he learned in the ER as he inspires audience members to feel empowered and teaches them how to take control of their health with the simplest of lifestyle changes.