Happy World Heart Day! Sponsored by the World Health Federation, today is an occasion to raise awareness about cardiac health and what people can do to reduce their risk of suffering from heart disease.
This is incredibly important, given that heart problems are the leading cause of death in the world, and the number of people who die from heart disease annually is projected to reach 23.3 million by 2030. And though heart disease is declining in developed countries, it’s increasing in virtually every other region of the world.
Fortunately, preventative measures are low-cost (or free!), so people in developing areas can reduce their risk of heart disease. The challenge is increasing awareness.
World Heart Day provides a powerful platform for this, spreading information about what causes heart disease and what people can do to fight it. The theme this year is “Heart Choices not Hard Choices,” with an emphasis on creating heart-healthy environments through day-to-day decisions.
They identify four factors that contribute to heart disease:
- Tobacco Use
- Unhealthy Diet
- Physical Inactivity
- Harmful Use of Alcohol
As a whole, these four elements really come down to one thing: Treating your body well. In fact, if you work toward achieving better overall health, each of these four elements should fall in line.
In the Integrative Nutrition curriculum, we set out 12 Steps to Better Health. Of course, every step is connected to every other one—ever notice how one healthy change begets another, and vice-versa?—but it can be useful to break them down. Though following the path to better health inevitably improves heart health, some of IIN’s 12 steps specifically target these four factors.
For instance, look at Step 3: increasing whole grains. It’s widely known that whole grains can help battle heart disease, and help promote an overall healthy diet. What about Step 10, enjoying regular physical exercise? There goes any chance of physical inactivity! Tobacco and alcohol both tend to fall to the wayside as you adopt healthier habits, though things like Step 9, building healthy relationships, help feed you the Primary Food that habits like smoking and drinking often try to provide.
What steps do you take each day that support your healthy heart? Share with us in the comments below!