Imagine getting a magic wand that eradicates all the diseases at a wave. Well, wishing for a magic wand in this digital era may not fetch you anything but the same digital world can empower you with the knowledge to be aware of all the risk factors that can be worked upon to clear up hindrances towards a healthy life. One major disease that the world, especially India, is facing is heart disease also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVDs are a range of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels. It has been found that India has one of the highest burdens of cardiovascular disease (CVD) worldwide. According to a study by InterHeart, CVD risk factors such as abdominal obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are high among Indians, even at young ages, than among other ethnic groups. This may be due to an underlying genetic predisposition to metabolic deregulation and cardiomyopathy as well as the indulgences towards unhealthier food choices consisting of excessive red meats, saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, sugars, alcohol, tobacco, low fiber diet and lack of physical activities.
There are modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors responsible for CVDs. While one has no control on non-modifiable factors like genetic predisposition, gender, ethnicity or age but there is a lot of scope for making changes in modifiable risk factors like diet, exercise, stress management and avoidance of smoking and alcohol indulgences. There is scientific evidence to claim that nutrition might be the best preventive factor of CVD deaths.
These are some of the practical nutritional tips that can help one come back to a healthy eating habit:
1.Start working on one habit at a time. Cut down on all the calorie and sugar laden foods, fatty, deep-fried foods. Keep them as an occasional treat and that too in a controlled portion. Having such foods several times in weekdays and (not to mention the weekends), will certainly add up extra fat deposits around the abdomen as your energy expenditure does not match the super-sized indulgence.
2.Cut down on carbonated drinks, sugary beverages and many other processed foods which have sugar hidden under several names. Refined carbohydrates are one of the main causes leading to all the lifestyle diseases.
3.After cutting down on all the 'excesses', start working on the portion size of the regular meals. When it is more than needed, try starting meals with salads, raitas or soups and then go to the main course of chapatis or rice. Vegetable salads can be steamed, grilled or boiled if there is intolerance towards raw salads. Salads consisting of vegetables and sprouts add fiber to the diet, give you a feeling of fullness and will stop you from overloading your plate. This has to be practiced for every meal of the day consistently.
4.Sodium plays a pivotal role in cardiac health. Excess intake of salt, salted products, processed foods containing sodium must be curbed.
5.Add food from all food groups that is less processed cereals, pulses, sprouts, dry fruits and nuts, vegetables and fruits, skimmed version of dairy foods and lean meat. Take care of the portion size. Avoid ultra-processed foods.
6. Keep your gut healthy because a good gut microbiota helps in overall wellbeing and also boosts immunity.
7. Get guidance from a qualified dietitian and follow consistently rather than getting carried away with fad diet information from various unprofessional sources because diet is not about only calorie restriction but rather a comprehensive approach which considers all the facets of health.
These are all required to ensure an intake of all the macro and micronutrients needed for the human body. Combine a clean eating habit with exercise and stress management to reduce the risk factor for heart diseases.
About Author: Ms. Shalini Arvind is Chief Dietitian at Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.