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Diet, Exercise And Supplements Help Keep Your Heart Young

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In most industrialized countries, the incidence of cardiovascular disease goes up with age. Canada is no exeption-heart disease is the number-one cause of death in this country. However, this may have more to do with lifestyle factors such as diet, inactivity and stress than with aging.

In most industrialized countries, the incidence of cardiovascular disease goes up with age. Canada is no exeption-heart disease is the number-one cause of death in this country.

However, this may have more to do with lifestyle factors such as diet, inactivity and stress than with aging. In some indigenous cultures, whose lifestyles are much different than ours, disorders of the heart and blood vessels are rare at any age.

Some Changes are Inevitable

Yes, the cardiovascular system does change with age. The walls of the arteries thicken and become less elastic. Aerobic capacity decreases, maximum heart rate declines and the heart shows subtle differences in how it adjusts to the increased workload of exercise. However, these are normal age-related variations, not life-threatening diseases. You can avoid becoming a heart disease statistic-but only if you take charge of your health now. Here's how:

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Blood pressure normalizes when you eat more potassium-rich fruits and vegetables and less sodium. Weight goes down as you cut out high-calorie junk food and excess fat and sugar. Free-radical damage to your arteries is inhibited by antioxidants in plant foods. Levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that damages the arteries, are kept in check by the B vitamins in vegetables and grains. Inflammation of the arteries decreases and blood flow is enhanced when you eat the healthful fats in cold-water fish and flax seed. Eat adequate fibre and cut back on saturated fat and starchy carbohydrates.

2. Exercise 30 minutes a day

Physical fitness is the most significant predictor of longevity. Exercise conditions the heart and stimulates the production of collateral blood vessels, which naturally bypass blocked arteries.

3. Take protective nutritional supplements

Numerous studies show that levels of protective nutrients decline as we get older. One of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular system is supplement your diet with the following:

  1. Antioxidants: A 2001 Lancet study found that people with the lowest vitamin C levels were twice as likely to die of heart disease as those with the highest levels. Vitamins C and E, along with other antioxidants (vitamin A, mixed carotenoids, and selenium), should be considered front-line defence against cardiovascular disease.
  2. B-complex vitamins: Folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 provide powerful protection against heart disease, normalizing homocysteine levels.
  3. Fish oil: Eat cold-water fish supplemented with fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help reduce inflammation and blood clotting, lower cholesterol and triglycerides and prevent irregular heartbeats.
  4. Magnesium: It increases your heart's supply of oxygen, retards arterial blockages and smoothes out irregular heart rhythms. It works similarly to the popular calcium-channel-blocker drugs and thus also reduces blood pressure but without the side-effects.
  5. Coenzyme Q10: It helps energy production in your cells, particularly in the heart, and is a potent antioxidant. It lowers blood pressure, reduces angina, corrects arrhythmia and protects against congestive heart failure. If you are taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug, you need CoQ10 more than you might know. These drugs reduce your production of CoQ10 by as much as 40 percent.
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