Jamila Musoki, was diagnosed with diabetes. She was told that the condition was causing irregular heartbeats. After her diagnosis, the doctor recommended that she make some behavioural changes. Here are some of the recommendations.
Steady your blood sugar
“I was advised to avoid processed sugars with carbohydrates such as table sugar, soda and processed juices because they cause a spike in the blood sugar which causes heart diseases,”Musoki recalls.
Blood sugar imbalances contribute to heart disease. Denis Katanku Musoga, a nutritionist at the Uganda Heart Institute says it is important that one eats whole and unrefined carbohydrates.
Dr Paul Kasenene, a nutritionist at Wellness Care Centre says it is wise to avoid processed, junk foods such as sodas, juices, crisps, chips and diet drinks. These affect sugar and fat metabolism. Liquid-sugar calories have become the most significant contributor to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
“Don’t be fooled that 100 per cent fruit juice is healthy.
Juices are mostly pure, liquid sugar. The processing that the fruit goes through strips away most of the fruit’s fibre,” says Kasenene.
Eat a balanced diet
Heart health can be achieved by consuming healthy, whole foods rich in nutrients and plant molecules. Eat fruits and vegetables every day. You can make vegetable juices and smoothies to increase your intake.
Increase omega-3 fatty acids
Eat foods rich in healthy omega 3 fats such as chia seeds, flax seeds, avocado and fish. Such foods are also anti-inflammatory.
Healthy fat found in these foods improve your overall cholesterol profile.
Dr Katanku says, “Most people think all fat is bad, but there is healthy fat that should be eaten often. Plant foods that are rich in healthy fats do not contain cholesterol and so should not be avoided.”
Increase your fibre intake
Fiber is very instrumental in digestion and regulation of blood sugar. Most processed foods however, are low in fibre. Foods that are rich in fiber include vegetables, nuts, seeds and lower-sugar fruits like green apples and watermelon.
Avoid hydrogenated fats
Hydrogenated fat is found mainly in margarine, processed oils and many baked goods and processed foods such as cookies and biscuits.
“Be careful even when the label states “no trans fats,” the word “hydrogenated” indicates that the product contains trans-fat in one or more of the ingredients,” warns Dr Kasenene.
Use healthy oils instead such as extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed, olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, organic sesame oil, and other nut oils. However, remember that even oils that are considered to be healthier should be consumed in moderation.
Other habits to adopt
Exercising will help reduce body fat composition and maintain strong bones. You simply cannot have a healthy body without sufficient exercise.
Manage your stress
Stress alone can cause a heart attack. Chronic stress often triggers a number of situations that can include fatal heart attack. Katanku says, “Stress increases inflammation, raises your cholesterol and blood sugar, increases blood pressure and even makes your blood more likely to clot.” You therefore need to relax, and learn to balance work and life for a great benefit.