As February draws to a close, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as well as the American Heart Association remind us to reflect on our healthy lifestyles to prevent the risk of heart disease by celebrating American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is widespread throughout all demographics. However, heart disease is considered the most preventable disease.
In the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, new findings suggest that gut microbiome research may help experts explore more options for heart disease prevention. Researchers found certain diets can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, a diet rich in plants can decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is a molecule that forms atheromatous plaques in the blood, this contributes to an increased risk of heart conditions like heart attacks or strokes. TMAO is produced when our gut microbes digest nutrients that are found in red meat.
The way we treat our gut can lead to the beneficial outcomes of the healthy actions we do on a daily basis. Your diet plays a major factor in your gut microbiome, however, it's important to consider that there are more external factors that can contribute to healthy living and we can be proactive in staying healthy by incorporating healthy habits into our everyday lives.
The National Institute of Health suggests the following tips for heart-healthy living:
- Choose Gut and Heart-Healthy Foods: Eating fruits and vegetables while limiting foods in other food groups such as saturated fats, trans fats, and artificial sugars.
- Aim For a Healthy Weight Goal: For this, you will need to know your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is used to determine whether your body is at a healthy weight. A BMI for a healthy adult is somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9.
- Manage Stress Levels: Stress can lead to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. In addition, the things we do to relieve stress may also affect our bodies such as substance abuse, drinking, smoking, or overeating. It's better to find positive activities or resources to keep our minds at peace.
Exercise Regularly: Talk to your doctor about beginning an exercise routine to get active and stay consistent with your physical activity. The more active you are, the more benefits you will receive. You can also make small changes like reducing the amount of time you sit throughout the day.
- Take a Gut Health Test: Understanding what your body needs and how it performs are key to taking control of your health. Kean Gut+ gives you an in-depth look at your current gut status along with actionable takeaways on how to improve your overall health & wellness.
→ Heianza, Yoriko, Wenjie Ma, Joseph A. DiDonato, Qi Sun, Eric B. Rimm, Frank B. Hu, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Jo Ann E. Manson, and Lu Qi. 2020. “Long-Term Changes in Gut Microbial Metabolite Trimethylamine N-Oxide and Coronary Heart Disease Risk.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 75 (7): 763–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.11.060.
→ Nabel, Elizabeth G. “Heart-Healthy Living.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oct. 2012, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-living
→ Biden , Joseph R. “A Proclamation on American Heart Month, 2021.” The White House, The United States Government, 4 Feb. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/02/03/proclamation-on-american-heart-month-2021/.