How to Improve Cardiovascular Health

Table of Contents

Improving cardiovascular health is essential to living a healthy life. The cardiovascular system transport oxygen, nutrients, and waste products throughout the body. Maintaining good cardiovascular health prevents heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. This article will discuss improving cardiovascular health and leading a healthy life. When starting an exercise program, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your intensity time. It would be better if you also chose activities that you enjoy so that you’re more likely to stick with them.

Exercise regularly

There is no better way to improve cardiovascular health than regular exercise. Exercise helps to strengthen your heart, increase your lung capacity, and improve your circulation. It can also help to reduce your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, and help you maintain a healthy weight. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week.

Some great forms of cardiovascular exercise include:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Jumping rope

Maintaining a proper weight

Being overweight can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Excess body weight can strain the heart and blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular conditions. 

Eat a healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet is essential to maintaining good cardiovascular health. A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Restrict intake of saturated and trans fats; added salt & sugar can also help improve cardiovascular health. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s also important to watch your portion sizes and avoid overeating. Overeating can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for heart disease. Some specific foods that are good for heart health include:

  • Fatty fish( salmon, mackerel, and sardines)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries
  • Leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil

Stop smoking

Smoking is the major risk factor for heart disease and is the leading cause of death. It damages the lining of blood vessels, leading to plaque buildup and narrowing of arteries, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Doing away with smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Manage stress

Stress can have a significant impact on cardiovascular health. When stressed, your body produces hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate. Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

It would be best to try to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine to manage stress. Some effective stress-reducing activities include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Spending time in nature
  • Listening to calming music

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining good cardiovascular health, and sleep helps regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. About eight hours of sleep per night is essentially required for adults to maintain cardiovascular health.

Manage underlying conditions

The chances of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions are increased by high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Managing these conditions through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups can help improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Limit alcohol consumption

Immoderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. 

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining good cardiovascular health. Dehydration can reduce blood volume, increasing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. Drinking enough water can help improve cardiovascular health.

Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels

High cholesterol and blood pressure are two significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease. You can manage these by making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking.

Some Important Tips

  1. Practice deep breathing: Deep breathing exercises such as pranayama can help improve cardiovascular health by reducing stress and improving lung function.
  2. Spend time in nature: Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve cardiovascular health by reducing stress and improving mood.
  3. Try cold exposure: Cold exposure, such as a cold shower, can stimulate the cardiovascular system and improve circulation.
  4. Laugh more: Laughter is known to reduce stress hormones and improve blood flow, which can help improve cardiovascular health.
  5. Do puzzles and brain teasers: Doing puzzles and brain teasers can improve cognitive function, linked to better cardiovascular health.
  6. Eat various colorful fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can help protect the cardiovascular system from damage.
  7. Reduce your sodium intake – aim for less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
  8. Increase your fiber intake – aim for at least 25 grams per day.
  9. Incorporate more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your diet.
  10. Avoid processed meats, which are high in sodium and saturated fat.
  11. Consider taking a daily aspirin if recommended by your healthcare provider.
  12. Don’t ignore any symptoms(chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue)of cardiovascular disease. 
  13. Consider using a heart rate monitor during exercise to ensure you are working out at the appropriate intensity.
  14. Practice good oral hygiene.
  15. Get vaccinated against flu and pneumonia to reduce your risk of respiratory infections, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
  16. Take steps to reduce your exposure to air pollution, which has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  17. If you have diabetes, manage it carefully to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  18. Take steps to manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Improving cardiovascular health is possible by making some lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure are all essential to improving cardiovascular health. Start making small changes today and build on them over time for a healthier heart and you.

Here we discuss this with Dr. Muhammed Usman Munshi, an Ayurvedic physician focusing on cardiology, to get her thoughts on this topic.

Ayurveda For Cardiovascular-Related Diseases

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Well, we know that Heart health is one of the leading causes of mortality in the world, for that matter, cardiovascular disease, and that’s why we wanted to bring up this topic today. How can Ayurveda help? We have Doctor Munshi. Doctor Munshi is one of the leading Ayurveda physicians focusing on cardiology. He is joining me live from India. Namaste, thank you so much, Doctor Munshi, for joining me.

Dr. Muhammed: Namaste, everyone, and a very good evening. I hope this evening, as of now, here it’s a pretty fresh morning going on. In India, namaste, and that’s a definitive word. It is a heartfelt welcome to my session.

Ayurveda Can Help In Prevention

NourishDoc: Thank you. So let’s understand the role of Ayurveda in helping with prevention. We should be talking about the prevention of cardiovascular-related diseases.

Dr. Muhammed: As Amita rightly introduced, yes, I am Doctor Mohammad Usman an Ayurveda physician from India; I have been basically when I talk about Ayurveda, Ayurveda is the science of life. We learn many things regarding how to manage a life, manage disease, and prevent disease. Ayurveda focuses on two things. The first is, and the main focus of Ayurveda is to prevent the disease rather than treating the deceased one.

So, today’s session will talk about how to prevent disease. As Amita rightly said, we will talk about heart health. Yes, when we talk about heart health, heart health is not different from your body. So, you must first take care of your body; ultimately, your heart will be healthy. So when it comes to Ayurveda, I’ll talk about three basic things. Ayurveda has divided lifestyle into Ahara; Ahara is the diet you take.

Vihara, Vihara is the place where you stay, your environment where you stay around, and your Dinacharya; Dinacharya is a day-to-day lifestyle, what exactly it has to be, and then the ritucharya is the seasonal aspect. So, let me talk about what is an ideal Ahara. Ayurveda mentions that your Ahara should have Shastika Shali, the rice harvested for sixty days.

Mudga, Mudga is the green grams, moreover the lentils, Saindhava, a rock salt, a salt or a pink salt which is, I’ll tell you why I’ll just finish off with this details. I’ll go into detail about why this. Mudga, Saindhava, Amalaki is the gooseberry, and Yava is barley, these five things and later I’ll talk to you after this, I’ll talk to you why after this I’ll talk to you what next to be eaten as such. So these five things coming to Shastika Shali; why 60 days of harvested rice?

In Ayurveda, the rice harvested after 60 days is considered lesser in Kapha. When we talk about heart disease, in Ayurveda, it is said that it is predominantly because of the kapha or medha in the body. I, when you talk in some sense, but I’ll tell you what. Kapha is nothing but the thickest thing in the body. Some thick slimy things in the body and the medha.

Medha is the fats accumulated in the body; this is something called kapha, and medha is predominant if it increases; I am not talking about everything; Ayurveda talks about a balanced dosha concept. Dosha is vata, Pitta and Kapha. But when any of these three big pieces are increased, they get disturbed, imbalances, that cause a lifestyle disorder.

So, when you talk about balancing this, I’ll talk about when I talk about heart diseases, predominantly in heart diseases, there is kapha which is been increased, or medha, or fat, which has been increased. So, we have to cut down or we have to, I don’t say, cut down. You have to balance these things and to balance these things to make, to balance the Kapha; these five things are very much necessary.

Regarding Shastika Shali, 60 days of harvested rice is predominant. It is free from most cups. Usually, when we talk about rice, rice is rich in carbohydrates. But this rice is what I am talking about 60 days of harvested rice is lesser than normal rice; it has lesser carb content. So, Shastika Shali would help bring down your carbs, and carbohydrates.

Okay, which would later in turn increase if not metabolic excess of carbs again would lead to deposition of fat then fat of course excess of fat sometimes may get dislodged into some of your arteries and vessels and then somewhere hamper your blood flow and benefit of course then the pathology begins. Something goes wrong. When you have blood, blood gets hampered or blocked somewhere because excess fat accumulates in your vessels, and heart functioning would not be normal then.

If this is so, Shastika Shali would be an ideal option, a 60 days harvested rice or some older rice, not new in a normal sense. It’s older rice which is more than six months old. It has yet to be recently harvested; it’s a six-month-old rice with fewer carbs, Shastika Shali is over, and mudga is green gram or lentils. Now, why green gram and lentils? The obvious reason is that they are rich in flavor; they are rich in proteins.

Nowadays, you see there is much requirement for proteins for a day. Every human has one gram of protein per KG body weight which is not happening today in today’s lifestyle. We are back to having, I mean the flow-rich food, which is like bakery items, yeast, the bread, all of which are increasing. However, we have yet to think about which are increasing our carbs, the junk, what we have nowadays, the fries are deep fried items as such, all these things are increasing the kapha here and, in turn, increasing the medha or fat.

So they are increasing the carbs. They are increasing the fats. They are increasing the trans fat which is not necessary. So, it’s better we have lentils, Sprouts; when you talk about sprouts, lentils, never have raw sprouts. Raw sprouts, for some time, it is still okay, but every day you couldn’t have them. Just some seasoned sprouts and lentils would ideally work out to increase the protein content naturally in your body.

So, when it is, of course, protein cuts down the excess carbs. When they cut down the excess carbs, you are cutting down excess fat too. Now, this is the second thing. I talked about Shastika Shali, A 60 days harvested rice or older rice, rice that is more than six months old which is that, and mudga or green gram lentils, which are rich in flavor nights, rich in proteins and Saindhava. I was talking about rock salt. Saindhava is a pink salt. I’d say nowadays; it’s always famous in the name of pink salt. Why pink salt over regular table salt what we use? Why?

When discussing hypertension, you have seen people with hypertension or high blood pressure. Why is it so? It is because people with high blood pressure regularly have something called table salt in their day-to-day life. Table salt is a real culprit for getting up, I mean raising your blood pressure which is seeing blood pressure, in turn, increasing with ultimately somewhere hampering your heart functions. So let us bring down the blood pressure first, which is ideally a positive factor for heart disease.

So to bring down blood pressure, we must take care or consciously control our salt intake. Why table salt? Why pink salt over table salt or regular table salt? Table salt is rich in sodium. Okay, sodium is hygroscopic, which is loving water. What does it do now? Sodium gets into a body and absorbs all your water, and what is left then? There is nothing. Water in the blood, and what is left then? All your blood cells will settle down in a place.

Then they can’t move out properly, ultimately hampering the blood function. Ultimately, the heart can’t get the blood, and that’s where heart attacks or something would be possible again. So now, why pink salt? Because pink salt is rich in potassium. It is sparing water and which is helpful when we talk about potassium; potassium is needed to maintain your heart functions properly. So that is why I would suggest pink salt over any table white table regular salt.

So we have done with the Shastika Shali, we have done with mudga or green grams or lentils and Saindhava. Now coming to the fruits. Amalaki is gooseberry. Why was I talking about gooseberry? You, everyone, is known about gooseberry. Why is gooseberry required? Gooseberry, I hope everyone is aware of it. Gooseberry is rich in vitamin C.

The good thing about gooseberry is that gooseberry is the only fruit that is the source of vitamin C in every season in every form. Be it dry every time you take it; it is still the gooseberry, the rich source of vitamin C. Today, gooseberry is the gold standard for antioxidants. Isn’t it? Everything in our body is taking place, and whatever goes wrong, the lifestyle disorder, whatever goes wrong, is all because of oxidative stress.

Our body is undergoing degenerative changes, which is natural, but we are hastening. We are hastening that degenerative process because of our lifestyle. Hurry, worry, hurry kind of lifestyle wherein we don’t have any relations with vitamin C, we don’t have any relations with antioxidants. Here is where I suggest you, as everyone says, an apple a day keeps a doctor away. However, an Amalaki or a gooseberry daily would keep your heart disease up here in Ayurveda.

Role of Antioxidants

Any form, a source of gooseberry every day. Be it; you can soak it into sugar pulp. You can keep it soaked. Every day you can have pieces of gooseberry soaked into sugar pulp. If you don’t like to take it, take a little sugar, whatever you require, raw. Take raw pieces of gooseberry a day. That would help you to gain all sources of vitamins and minerals required for your body on common sense, and yes, it is rich in vitamin C. So, it is rich in antioxidants.

Why antioxidants? It will bring down your aging process. So, when the aging process comes down, your heart and be younger. You will be younger from the heart again. So, a gooseberry daily would keep your doctor away, especially from heart disease. So, I was talking about gooseberry over Shastika Shali, Mudga, Amalaki, and Yava, or barley is an excellent food that I suggest; barley is one of the richest food and is rich in proteins.

The basic idea is to say when we talk about these aspects of food; the basic idea is to say these are rich in proteins, lesser in carbohydrates, rich in antioxidants, enriched in protein, flavonoids, and whatever vitamin C is required. This is an idea I used to say you have to cut down on your carbs. So you have to have 60-day-old rice. You have to have gooseberry. You have to have fresh lentils and to come to have your plate should look when you every time consume your diet.

Okay, your plate should contain around twenty-five percent of raw vegetables and talk about raw vegetables. Some people are not used to it because Ayurveda also talks about temperament. Every temperament, every human has some different temperament, like a fingerprint. So, not all food suits everyone.

So, I would suggest that it shouldn’t be wrong every time when we talk about having 25% of vegetables. It may not be wrong every time. It needs to be a properly cooked one, not properly, at least some seasoned food, boiled vegetables I like to share not raw because, of course, people say raw vegetables are still good, they are anti-aging, they are antioxidant, but at a certain point of time, they would actually hamper your metabolism because they say we humans are not different from animals, they are animals and ancestors of ours, but now since we have urbanized a lot, we could our tummy couldn’t digest that raw vegetable as animals have.

So, we need to have it because God has given us something to cook with us. So, let us have a white vegetable seasoned with as such would be ideally helpful, some pink salt, striped pepper and lemon over it, lemon juice, and yes, of course, you would enjoy a very relished snack with all-time meals of yours. So, this is what I was talking about.

This is 25% of your plate should consist of vegetables either in raw form or a boiled form, or cooked form. This is what I have, and yes apart from that I suggest you have to have a complete ideal diet and coming to bread, what sort of bread do you have to have?

When we talk about bread, you have to your iron flow, what you make the bread out of; it consists of millets, a little of millets, a little love wheat, a little of johar, a little Asafoetida, and a little of fenugreek seeds in it and course, sometimes this is what an ideal flour and you got to have, I’d like to suggest that, never have the bread which is being baked into oven.

I want to suggest that you can have bread in India we call Fulka. Fulka is something that you roll with a rolling pin, and a big bit you roast on a frying pan, and then a half is roasted directly on a mild flame; that’s what bread we have in India, and that’s suggested to be very high in proteins and lesser in carbs. So this is an ideal diet I would like to suggest, and coming to, this is what we had. Everyone loves to have fruits.

Yes, Everyone loves to have; apart from the gooseberry, the pomegranate is the most needed fruit for your heart. Ideally, pomegranate would be pretty; I mean very much essential for your healthy heart. Every day you can either have a juice of pomegranate or directly you can have the cradles of the now why pomegranate? Of course, pomegranate is also a rich vitamin C source; pomegranate helps keep your metabolism fit.

Pomegranates would help keep your aging process or cut down or slow down your aging process. Yes, pomegranate is one thing that is a hematoma, it is helping you to build up your red blood cells. It would help your arteries, your vessels, and blood vessels to be healthy in an elastic form. Isn’t it? You to maintain a healthy heart.

What is required? You require heart is not in Ayurveda. The heart is not considered the heart itself. It is considered to be a system, cardiovascular system, which includes your blood vessels. I’ll suggest you, Amita, you can answer me. What is good? Either stagnant water is good, or something flowing is good.

Vihara To Keep Our Body Fit

NourishDoc: Absolutely flowing. I was going to say that my computer is running very low on battery. We’ll have to wrap up pretty soon.

Dr. Muhammed: I’ll finish off with this. So, this is what I was talking about for a healthy heart, you have to have healthy food, and coming to this, this was Ahara, what I was talking about; what about Vihara? Vihara should include Brahma Murita Uttistyam. It is something you have to wake up for 45 minutes. I don’t say the parameter. I’ll just say the parameter 45 minutes before the sun rises.

That would help to maintain your hormone levels at a peak. At that particular time, whatever you do quickly, you can grasp. Same as your health. When you walk in this, you have to pray for yourself. You can have a brisk walk for around 30 minutes, or I suggest until you feel brisk. I’ll suggest your parameter, not the time matters here matters is your capacity to exercise when you walk; you have to when you start breathing from your mouth, stop there.

That’s where you can stop your walk and come back slowly. Then switch on to Pranayama. Let your body now cool down. Switch on to Pranayama. Breathing exercises. You can Google Pranayama. You can get a lot about Pranayama. Switch on to Pranayama. This is what I suggest to start your day with is a much better exercise, and since then, the worst thing is sleep. I suggest you sleep only in the evenings and not in the afternoons, except Ayurveda suggests sleeping during the afternoon only in summer.

You never get to sleep during winter or any season; you are not suggested to sleep during the action because that gets the culprit to cause any lifestyle disorder to be heart disease. These are healthy tips. Okay. Ahara, Vihara, and your exercise. This is an ideal thing about keeping your heart healthy.

This was all about preventive cardiology. In our next session, if Amita permits me for next any opportunity in the next session to have you, I will deal with some other topics as well. Thank you, NourishDoc, Amita, for having me, and your lovely audience for being with me and joining me for my session.

NourishDoc: Thank you so much. This is a great way to start the weekend of caring for our heart health. Have a great weekend, everyone namaste and Ayurveda helps you with prevention, and that’s what we are advocating on a daily holistic lifestyle. Have a great weekend, everyone. Thank you so much.


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