Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2020 at 06:27 pm

Heart Health Month culminates on World Heart Day on the 29th of September, raising important awareness on how much there is that one can do to prevent heart disease.

The World Health Federation reports that cardiovascular disease and strokes remain the leading cause of death in the world with estimates that 17,1 million people die every year due to heart disease and strokes.

In South Africa, 210 people die from heart disease each day

Only HIV/AIDS is currently a bigger killer. Cardiovascular disease is commonly referred to as a ‘lifestyle disease’, and the reason for this is that it is precisely lifestyle behaviours that predispose us to poor heart health.

The good news is that, since our lifestyle habits are the biggest contributory factor to most heart issues, once we change our behaviours, our lifestyle can easily become the promoter and protector of our heart health.

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The leading lifestyle behaviours that lead to heart disease include smoking, overeating, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet

These behaviours often lead to the development of atheroma (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol and high glucose levels, which are all conditions that threaten the heart.

Karin McCann, CEO of Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals, producers of BuchuLife products, shares her top healthy heart tips:

1. Quit it!

Smoking is the leading lifestyle behaviour that leads to heart disease, strokes and numerous cancers. There’s no better way to celebrate Heart Health Month than to quit smoking.

In fact, it’s the single best thing you can do for your heart. Even if you have smoked for decades, a year after you have quit your risk of a heart attack will fall to half that of a smoker and the benefits of abstinence will continue to accrue. If you can’t do it alone, get help, but quit it!

2. Get moving

Making physical activity a lifestyle habit will greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It has the added advantage of also being a great mood booster and stress buster. You don’t have to join a gym if you don’t like it. Find activities that you enjoy like daily walks around your neighbourhood which are an excellent way of exercising.

3. Manage inflammation through your diet

Recent research has shown that there may be a link between hypertension and persistent low-level inflammation in the body. Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) is a contributory factor to heart disease. Ensure that your body’s inflammatory levels are managed by eating right and supplementing when required.

It is recommended to eat moderate portions of a variety of healthy, unprocessed and minimally processed foods to maintain a diet that is low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Include plenty of fruit and vegetables as they are good sources of fibre, vitamins and anti-oxidants. Remember to opt for anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines when planning meals.

Opt for anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines when planning meals

Embrace natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as Buchu capsules, Buchu Water and Buchu Tea. “Buchu is a fantastic supplement which may be used to prevent inflammation or manage existing chronic inflammation without yielding harmful side-effects.” says McCann.

Buchu is the common name for the indigenous flowering plants of the genus Agathosma, which is part of South Africa’s unique Cape Floral Kingdom. Introduced to European settlers by the Khoi San people in the 1700s, Buchu has been commonly used as an effective herbal remedy for numerous inflammatory-based ailments for hundreds of years.

Recent scientific research conducted by Professor Patrick Bouic from Synexa Life Sciences, the independent research company contracted by Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals for research on their buchu extracts, has revealed the secret of this health-giving plant – it has particularly potent natural anti-inflammatory properties.

These findings go a long way to substantiate the claims of highly effective use of buchu by ancient tribes over hundreds of years.

4. Upscale your drinks

Drink water for thirst and swop the sugary sweetened beverages such as fizzy cold drinks, cordials, flavoured milks and fruit juices with unsweetened, healthful options. Buchulife Herbal Waters are sugar-free and sweetener-free.

5. Sleep well

Getting enough, restful and consistent sleep is vital for all aspects of our health because when your body is at rest you provide it with the optimal time to do its work of restoring and renewing. When you’re asleep, your heart rate and blood pressure naturally decrease to give your heart a much-needed rest.

The aim of Heart Health Month and World Heart Day is to improve health around the world by encouraging lifestyle changes. With statistics indicating high rates of adult obesity, a rise in obesity and smoking in children, poor diets and an increase in physical inactivity, South Africans need to particularly become aware of the health risks associated with our lifestyle behaviours.

Just by stopping smoking, eating healthily and exercising often, we can significantly reduce our risks of heart disease and increase overall wellbeing.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.