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Take care of your ticker

By Staff | Apr 23, 2009

A recent article in the New York Times just confirmed what I’ve been saying all along; it is cheaper to stay healthy than to get healthy. That eating correctly saves money in the long run in terms of lowered health care costs, even if your grocery bill is a little higher. Recent reports reflect a trend toward increased sales in supplements and organics, even in the face of economic upheaval. People can’t afford to be sick.

I love it when someone prestigious agrees with me.

Being sick affects our pocketbooks two ways: increased medical costs and loss of job productivity. Both hurt big time.

But the good news is that we can avoid so much illness if we take simple steps to improve our health. The US government agrees with me on that also. A more than 20-year-old study said that 85 percent of all health care situations could be avoided completely if we made simple lifestyle and diet changes. So let’s get started on it.

Cardiovascular disease is the logical place to start this conversation because it is the No. 1 killer of both men and women. Unfortunately, one of the most common “first events” of a heart attack is sudden death. Let’s avoid that.

Here are five simple things you can do to help avoid a heart event:

n Eat eight servings of fresh vegetables per day. You may prepare them in just about any way you enjoy (other than deep frying) but vegetables are very protective of the heart.

n Take fish oil. Fish oil is beneficial for just about every aspect of heart health including lowering inflammation, normalizing blood fats, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood viscosity, and so on. Very important!

n Take magnesium glycinate. Magnesium is an electrolyte mineral that helps regulate heart rhythm, and reduce blood pressure.

n Take coenzyme Q10. Lots of it. If you have a family or personal history of heart disease or are taking a statin drug, I recommend more than 200 mg per day. CoQ10 is expensive but well worth the investment. If you are also dealing with periodontal disease (which is a good marker for heart disease), also take liquid coq10 and swish it around in your mouth before swallowing.

n Take a really powerful antioxidant. There are lots of antioxidant products on the market today and if you read this column faithfully, you will know that I extol the virtues of raw cacao as a source of antioxidants because this biologically-complex plant has the highest ORAC (antioxidant) values of any plant on the planet.

Of course there are other recommendations: get plenty of sleep each night. Get moderate amounts of aerobic exercise. Reduce stress. Eat sodium from natural sources only. If you follow these recommendations, your heart will be healthier.

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 239-472-4499.