Four keys to ideal heart health discussed previously are: not smoking, body mass index of 25 and under, physical activity per week and total cholesterol under 200. I added my comments where I thought appropriate to agree or disagree with the recommendations. Allow me to do the same with the final three keys.
The fifth key is blood pressure. The current standard is 120/80 mmHg. Newer studies indicate that 115/75 mmHg should be the new standard. High blood pressure has many known cardiovascular challenges. Your blood pressure is something you should know, especially if it is higher than normal. Blood pressure measuring equipment is available in many places and relatively inexpensive. It’s a good investment in your health.
Pulse is another indicator of heart health in my opinion. You have a resting pulse and a recovery pulse. Both are good measures of heart health. High pulse rates without a know cause is reason to see your doctor. The average resting heart rate is between 50 and 100 beats/minute. I believe a slightly lower range is indicative of good heart health – 50-75 beats/minute.
Recovery heart rate is measured after exercise. Measure your pulse immediately following any type of cardiovascular exercise (running, jogging, etc.). Measure it again one minute later. When I first started measuring my recovery heart rate 40+ years ago, the standard time was three minutes. Today the literature says one to two minutes. A delay in recovery heart rate from exercise can be a predictive marker for your heart health. Your heart recovery pulse should be below 120 beats/minute after one minute.
The sixth key to ideal heart health is a fasting blood glucose level less than 100 mg/dL. My research shows that the normal range for your blood sugar level is 82-100 mg/dL. If your fasting blood glucose readings exceed 126 mg/dL on two consecutive occasions, you are most likely diabetic. Talk to your doctor immediately. If you exceed 109 mg/dL on two consecutive occasions, you are most likely prediabetic. Again, talk to your doctor. Fasting blood glucose means that you have eaten no food for a minimum of eight hours.
The seventh key to ideal heart health is eating a healthy diet. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the many heart healthy diet suggestions – lots of fruit and vegetables, lots of fiber, fish rather than meat, low sodium and low sugar consumption daily. I won’t argue with those recommendations.
However, as we age, our bodies are not as efficient as they were when we were younger. For example, your digestive efficiency decreases approximately 13% per decade. After age 50, your digestive efficiency is less than half what it was when you were a teenager. So, if you eat the same amount of food, then you are absorbing less than 50% of the nutrients that your body needs. If you eat more to absorb more, then you risk gaining weight – also not a good sign for a healthy heart.
The best healthy diet is really a lifestyle – you eat the same things on a regular basis. A diet implies it is a temporary change to your eating habits. I highly recommend the Wahls Protocol when it comes to food options. It is low-calorie and nutrient dense. It is also nutrient balanced. This is something that every diet does not mention.
Several years ago my wife had breast cancer. She had surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Her most detrimental side effect of the drugs and treatments was fatigue. She would take one or two two-hour naps daily. And, she ate very little when awake. She agreed to adopt the Wahls Protocol dietary regimen on Day 1 of radiation. In forty-eight hours she has never had another nap.
She breezed through radiation as a new person. One the last day of radiation therapy, we left Houston, Texas and drove to Jacksonville, Florida (1000 miles). I rented a U-Haul trailer and brought my parents estate stuff back to our home. My wife followed me alone and drove 500 miles each day. She suffered no fatigue-like symptoms at all.
That sounds amazing, but read about Dr. Terry Wahls life and how she conquered multiple sclerosis using her own protocol. Nutrient balance is super critical to overall health and especially heart health.