Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind
With Monday’s readings at Bellahouston confirming what I already knew; that my weight was borderline morbidly obese, I started to worry about my general health and more worrying my heart health.
My mother, uncle, papa, great uncle, great aunt (the list goes on) have all had heart disease, heart attacks and heart surgery and not all have carried the excess weight that I have.
Thanks to several years as a long distance runner (going out for a ten mile or more run is far removed from my current activity levels and ability) and my Garmin’s wrist based heart rate monitor, I know that my resting heart rate is a healthy (or potentially bradycardia ) 43-51 beats per minute.
I do love my gadgets and we do have a doctor in the house, so we also have a home blood pressure monitor and at 130 over 86 my blood pressure is about normal, although it could be lower and as I lose weight and become more active again, it will improve.
However, there is another reading that I have been thinking about recently as all of last month was National Cholesterol Month
Cholesterol is something that we all know is important, but maybe do not know too much about. We know that it should not be high and that there is possibly good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but I will admit to not knowing much more than this.
What I do know, was that with a fatty diet and excess body fat, I was worried.
So what is Cholesterol?
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all cells of the body. It is when there is an overabundance of it clogging the arteries and contributing to a buildup of plaque that it becomes a problem.
A problem caused by a range of factors. Some that you cannot control, like your genes (it can be hereditary) and your age (especially if you are a man) and others that you can influence. Does anyone want to guess what these are?
You got it…..Diet and Exercise. While not quite the panacea for all that ills (or kills) us, eating a healthier diet and moving more are two of the main things that you can do to improve your overall health and two factors in managing your cholesterol levels
It is recommended that we reduce our intake of foods that can raise our levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).
As a “trying to be” vegan, I take no pleasure in stating that saturated fat is one of the main sources of cholesterol and it is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods (yes, all the really tasty stuff…I know, right).
Trans fatty acids (trans fats) raise your LDL cholesterol AND also lower your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol which transports cholesterol to the liver). Trans fats are made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to harden it. Trans fats are found in some fried and processed foods (how many more reasons do you need to avoid processed food?). Limiting foods with cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fats can help you control your cholesterol levels while being physically active can increase your HDL levels.
If you have a diet rich in the above foods you might want to look out for the symptoms of high LDL cholesterol.
If there were any symptoms, that is!
For high cholesterol does not normally present any symptoms and the only way to check it is to get a test.
We all know that the NHS is stretched and that getting an appointment at your GP can be difficult at the best (or worst) of times, so troubling them for a cholesterol test might not be something you feel like doing.
However, thanks to Push Doctor, I received a simple (even for me) and free (my favourite price) home testing kit that they are kindly offering this month for anyone (in the UK) who wishes to check their cholesterol.
The free kits can be requested d by contacting Push Doctor online and takes seconds to complete.
The Free Cholesterol Test
The test is both simple and painless (even for wimpy me). Step 1 is a small prick to the finger using a lancet which draws a few drops of blood. Step 2, drop some blood onto a testing strip which changes colour. Step 3 is comparing this against the colour card which tells you if your cholesterol is normal, slightly raised or dangerously high
Step 4 (which I thankfully did not need to do) is call Push Doctors for some advice on how to lower your levels if you are worried about your results.
Please note, however, that medical treatment can only be provided when these results have been confirmed by a test administered by a doctor.
And then, it is trying to keep saturated fats and processed foods to a minimum and keeping active as much as you can. It is also recommended that you should get further checks at least every five years if you are over 20 years old.
Now, with my own readings at an optimal level (must be the plant based diet), I can focus on improving that blood pressure.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Push Doctor, although I was genuinely concerned about my cholesterol levels