It is clearly recognized and acknowledged that heart disease is still the nation’s No. 1 killer. However, business leaders and co-workers together can be essential to creating a culture of awareness as well as prevention.
Dr. Michele Neil-Sherwood and I recently began working with a company in Tulsa to invoke such a culture change. After hearing statistical data on the health taxation effects of inappropriate stress management, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and lack of movement in society, the company’s management decided to make a change by adopting a heart-healthy culture.
In only one month after initiating the steps below, the company’s 15 participants had lost over 200 pounds combined and noticed improved sleep, productivity and motivation.
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Here are some ways to start a heart-healthy lifestyle for yourself or create a heart-healthy plan for the office.
Educate yourself: Understand what causes heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. The answer is your lifestyle at home, on-the-go and at work. The way you live your life every day is what causes arterial inflammation, stiffening of the artery wall and plaque buildup, eventually leading to a heart attack or a heart attack of the brain (stroke).
Invasive procedures like a double bypass heart surgery or even the placement of a stent does not correct the long term underlying chronic disease of the arterial system.
It is the anti-inflammatory nature of your nutritional plan and the choices that you place at the end of your fork that will keep your arterial system healthy. Yes, the most important medical decision you make every day is at the end of your fork. Your doctor does not have control over your actions at the lunch table or your decisions about whether or not you eat at a fast food restaurant.
Know your risk factors: It is not just a simple cholesterol panel that will tell you whether or not you have heart disease. You must do a full panel and know all of your vital signs.
Be passionate about maintaining a healthy body composition. Understand all of the markers that are bio-chemical in nature that indicate systemic inflammation, a brewing heart attack or a stroke.
Exercise: You cannot out-run the fork. Your body will see the toxic nature of food no matter how much you exercise. Exercise is important for keeping your heart pumping strong and maintaining the amount of lean muscle mass. If you do not maintain muscular strength you will find yourself weaker than you should be when you are in your 80s and approaching your 90s.
Get plenty of adequate rest: Sleep is vital to the health of the cardiovascular system. A system that is continuously running on overdrive will eventually cause undue damage.
When the system does not rest, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels rage out of control. Epinephrine and norepinephrine can create abnormal blood pressure readings and cause excessive stress on the heart.
The body’s natural circadian rhythm will also get out of the balance. It is as if the system is no longer knows whether it is coming or going.
Renew your mind: What you have in your mind will get seated in your heart. If your mind is toxic, it will create a toxic environment in your heart. To be completely and totally well we have to be well in all areas of our lives, including our mind.
Staying healthy is your responsibility, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it together. We must be well educated and make personal decisions to be accountable for our own health. No longer can we depend upon drugs and surgeries to solve the root cause. It is completely unnecessary to have hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Your company can be a community of wellness. Stay connected to people who can help educate you, hold you accountable and are living a healthy lifestyle right along with you. Choose the restaurants in your area that have healthy food options for your lunch or dinner hour.
Finally, we have to develop a better relationship with food. Food is the gasoline that runs our engines and make us more productive. Changing habits is difficult but imperative to determining the long-term health of our heart and cardiovascular system.
Mark Sherwood is a naturopathic doctor at Functional Medical Institute in Tulsa.
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily the Tulsa World. To inquire about writing a Business Viewpoint column, email a short outline of the article to Business Editor Colleen Almeida Smith at [email protected].