Lifestyle changes rival pharmaceuticals to enhancing heart health. From my vantage point as a dentist, there is a commonly overlooked advantage to incorporating healthy habits. Healthy habits don’t cause dry mouth and bad breath. Most prescription medications have the side effect of dry mouth. That previous link is over 20 pages long! That doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. But, eventually you start experiencing new, and sometimes rampant, dental decay.
Treating health issues at the source is the key. Many foods dilate the arteries, reduce inflammation, prevent abnormal clotting, and promote circulation. Dr. Steven Masley, M.D., was a speaker at a recent dental conference that my team attended. This list is adapted from his book 30-day Heart Tune-Up. In it, he has this list of five heart-friendly food groups to eat each and every day:
- Adequate Fiber: I remember hearing this called “roughage” and is clearly the most critical. Divided into the categories of soluble and nonsoluble, it is the woody part of the plant and is partially digested. Sources of soluble fiber include beans, nuts, oats, vegetables, and fruits. They block absorption of bad cholesterol from the gut into the bloodstream. They also slow the release of sugars from the stomach to the intestines and thereby lower blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich foods contain anti-aging nutrients. They protect the heart and decrease artery stiffening that occurs with aging.
- Healthy Fats: This group includes organic coconut oil which contains medium chain fatty acids and dark chocolate which mostly has a form of saturated fat called stearic acid which acts like olive oil biochemically. Enjoy organic saturated fats in moderation.
- Beneficial Beverages: Water! Water! Water! Our bodies are 80 percent water and water doesn’t cause dental decay. When people sip on a large soda, even just one, the sugar slowly erodes the tooth enamel. A 12-oz can of regular soda has 140 calories. If you drink only one a day for a year, you’ve added an extra 51,100 calories – or 14 pounds of extra weight. Think of that as three to four extra footballs of extra fat mass – tough for a heart to handle.
- Lean Protein: Feed your body chicken, turkey, seafood, free-range game meats, beans, and nuts. One note of caution — the large big-mouthed fish that are high on the food chain are high in mercury. Limit intake of grouper, tuna, swordfish, shark, bass, and snapper.
- Fabulous Flavors: The following foods are delicious and “terrific for your cardiovascular system”:
- Fresh Garlic
- Herbs and Spices
- Real Dark Chocolate (at least 70% Cocoa)
START SOMEWHERE today to fuel your body with what it craves for optimal function. Lifestyle changes rival pharmaceuticals. Your teeth will be happier too and you will save lots of money on dental care. LIVE YOUNGER with just a few simple changes. You can do it!