HEALTH A Pill-Popping Copout

Thanks to pharmacological breakthrough, The “polypill” will soon be with us. Combining six different heart medications in one supercharged tablet, it’s the latest in line of pharmaceutical attempts to banish heart disease.

The polypill combines aspirin, three different blood pressure-lowering medications, cholesterol-lowering drug and the vitamin folic acid. Its enthusiastic creators suggest that heart patients and everyone over the age of 55 should take the wonder drug, potentially preventing more than 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes.

What sad indictment of our attitude to health that we could consider such mass medication as solution for health epidemic whose causes are clearly apparent and could be virtually eradicated through education and personal responsibility. The Western “cardiovascular crisis” could be consigned to history with change in attitude and willingness to implement what we already know.

Why wait for the polypill when you can make real difference to your heart health, starting today. When it comes to preventing heart attack or stroke, little changes will cumulatively pay big dividends.

If you are smoker, quitting is your first task! Then start becoming more conscious of what you put in your mouth. rainbow spectrum of fresh fruits and vegetables daily will provide generous intake of dietary antioxidants, folic acid and soluble fibre vital for heart health. daily glass of red wine will provide more valuable dietary antioxidants – along with sensory delight.

Psyllium seeds (or linseed) provide an especially useful source of soluble fibre. Consuming as little as 10 grams of psyllium day lowers cholesterol by four percent and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) by seven percent without adversely affecting levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Studies show that as little as 60 grams of nuts (especially walnuts and pecans) each day also helps lower “bad” cholesterol levels.

Both the “fat story” and heart disease are more complicated than simply consuming low fat diet. Reducing intake of saturated fat (found in animal products such as dairy, meat, lard, as well as palm oil) is vital. However reducing total dietary fat to bare minimum is not necessarily the best policy.

Greeks and Italians eating traditional Mediterranean diet consume up to 50 percent of their total calorie intake as fat, and enjoy some of the lowest cardiovascular mortality rates in the world. The type of dietary fat consumed is of more importance than the quantity. Daily consumption of monounsaturated fats in the form of cold pressed olive oil, and omega-3 rich fish oils will actually improve your cardiovascular health. An American study in 2001 found that in as little as three weeks, consuming diet high in monounsaturated fats, and fish oils can reduce triglyceride levels by up to 60 percent, total cholesterol levels by 22 percent, LDL cholesterol” by 53 percent, while simultaneously increasing protective HDL cholesterol by up to eight percent.

Endless business lunches do not have to add up to heart attack. The American Heart Association is major advocate of the benefits of eating fish, recommending at least two fish meals week, or daily intake of fish for those already suffering cardiovascular problems. “Oily fish” such as halibut, mackerel, herrings, sardines and salmon are especially rich in heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids.

Once the sole domain of menopausal women and vegetarians, soy milk is now recommended by the American Heart Association as an effective way of safeguarding cardiovascular health. As little as 25 grams day of soy will lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels, and raise protective HDL.

Become “grazer”. 2001 study in the British Medical Journal followed the dietary habits of 15,000 men and women and found that eating six times day resulted in cholesterol levels five percent lower than those eating only once or twice day.

Everyone knows that regular exercise is an essential part of preventing an early death from heart disease. In high-pressured, fast-paced corporate world, simply finding the time to exercise can be challenging. Now it appears even that excuse has gone.

Studying group of men and women in their mid-40s, researchers found that three blocks of 10 minutes aerobic exercise conferred the same heart benefits as one block of 30 minutes. Park the car 10 minutes brisk walk away from work, use the stairs instead of the lift at work, and by the end of typical working day you will have painlessly completed the recommended 30 minutes of brisk exercise per day!

Lynda Wharton is Management’s health columnist.
Email: [email protected]

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