Just like our vehicles, we need to do a little maintenance on our bodies. As with cars, we need good fuel to keep ourselves running efficiently. For us, “premium” fuel includes whole grains, lean protein, calcium-rich, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Take care of your “engine.” Obesity, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and family history are risk factors for heart disease. Eat a variety of colourful foods every day. Most adults need about 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily to meet their nutrition needs.
Be sure you don’t clog your “fuel filter.” Minimize the saturated and trans fat in your diet because they may raise your blood cholesterol level. Excess blood cholesterol in your body is much like a clogged fuel filter.
The fuel filter sends clean fuel into the engine to keep it running. If it were to get clogged, much like how cholesterol can build up in an artery, this would cause a restriction in fuel flow.
When cholesterol plaques form in arteries, our heart has to work harder to pump blood and nutrients throughout the body. A diet high in soluble fibre can decrease blood cholesterol.
Increase fibre in your diet by consuming fruits, vegetables, beans, such as pinto, navy and kidney, and other plant foods.
In cars, fuel pumps use pressure to pull or push fuel into the carburetor through the fuel line. If the fuel line is constricted, your fuel pump won’t be able to keep your vehicle moving. In us, blood is pumped from our heart through blood vessels. With narrowed vessels, our blood pressure may increase and strain our heart.
One in three adults has high blood pressure. Because there are no symptoms, many don’t know it.
High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. Some risk factors, such as race, heredity and age, can’t be controlled. Obesity, stress, lack of physical activity, eating too much salt and drinking too much alcohol are risk factors for high blood pressure that can be managed.
Have regular tune-ups by visiting your health-care provider.
Take your body out for regular test drives, too. Adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. Put on your walking shoes and schedule time for three 10-minute brisk walks to meet the goal.
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North Dakota State
University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.