It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being better. Many people think that to achieve a health improvement through lifestyle change you have to upend everything. That’s simply not true. For example, I’ve demonstrated with a clinical trial that you can achieve highly meaningful - even medication level - cholesterol reductions with a tiny dietary change in as little as 30 days!
Small dietary changes add up to big health results over time. We eat multiple times per day every day. So even seemingly minor changes in what we eat can add up quickly. One can of soda per day might not seem like a lot, but that adds up to 30 CASES of soda in a year. So, eliminating one can of soda per day is actually a health transformation. Adding something good has the same giant effect. For instance, an apple a day is 3 BUSHELS of apples over the course of a year. That’s a lot of beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and micronutrients you’re putting into your body. And if the apple is an exchange for your regular cookie, that’s double the impact!
The most impactful thing you can do to lose weight is change what you eat. Most people look to exercise as a great way to lose weight, but changing what you eat is far more efficient. Eliminating 100 calories per day (the equivalent of a piece of bread or small cookie) will lead to a 10-pound weight loss over the course of a year. To burn off 10 pounds through exercise alone, you’d have to walk from Minneapolis to Chicago!
Unless you do your part, medical treatments will be far less effective. It’s not enough just to be on medications to protect yourself against devastating health events like a heart attack or stroke. For example, studies have shown that people who have one of these events are much more likely to have subsequent cardiovascular problems if their diet remains poor (irrespective of all the drugs they’re on).
Increase fruit and vegetable intake, while lowering sodium intake, if you want to avoid or reduce hypertension. Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, and most of us consume far too much salt. Keeping sodium consumption below 2300 mg/day while increasing fruit and vegetable intake can be as effective as a drug in lowering blood pressure readings.
Move your body through space every day. People who live long well are physically active – and not just a little -- a LOT. The good news is that they’re not marathoners or Ironman triathletes, but instead, they are people who engage in moderate aerobic physical activity (walking, biking, gardening, dancing) for at least 60 to 90 minutes EVERY DAY. That amount of physical activity might seem daunting, especially if you’re starting out as a couch potato, but most people can get there over time if they stick with it. A fit body is a resilient body. It not only works better, but feels better.
Don’t assume that genetics is destiny. A great phrase I heard once was, “Genetics loads the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Only about 20% of heart disease can be attributed to genetics. Which means the vast majority is driven by how we live and by how well we control risk factors. This is why partnering with a physician interested in prevention is very important if you have a family history of heart disease.
At Preventive Cardiology Clinic, care begins with a conversation. We spend time with you to really learn about what symptoms you are experiencing, what your risk factors are, and what you hope to achieve in terms of your health. A typical first consultation with Dr. Klodas takes approximately one hour. During that time, we will go over your general health history, your heart history, your cardiac risk factors and your diet. Please call 952-929-5600 to schedule your consultation today. Learn more.