This month is Heart Research Month in Australia, with Thursday 14th February being ‘Wear Red Day’ to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease. The team at Garden Of Vegan are all wearing red this week in the hope to start many conversations around how small lifestyle choices like what food you choose to consume and how much physical activity you do a day, could prevent you or a loved one from dying prematurely, due to our biggest killer in Australia.
Wear Red Day was established by Heart Research Australia, a group of Royal North Shore Hospital cardiologists with the aim to reduce the high mortality rates around heart disease.
Currently, in Australia, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death, accounting for 18,590 deaths in 2017, according to the ABS 2018.
Worldwide, approximately 50,000 people die every day from Coronary Heart disease, some without showing any symptoms prior.
Did you know that one Australian dies every 30 minutes from heart disease?
This equates to 20 Australians, who prematurely lose their lives each day due to a heart attack.
These statistics are devastating, but the most tragic part of this is, most of these deaths could have been prevented with simple diet and lifestyle changes.
So what is Heart Disease?
Coronary heart disease of CHD is a condition classified by the narrowing of the coronary arteries which reduce blood flow to the heart. This is considered to be the underlying cause of a heart attack.
Once the coronary arteries are clogged with plaque or ‘fatty’ build up and can’t deliver enough blood, oxygen or nutrients to the heart, discomfort and chest pain may present. This is known as Angina.
A heart attack occurs when there is a complete or sudden blockage of an artery that is starving the heart muscle of vital blood flow.
Heart failure, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Arrhythmias and Stroke are other serious and threatening heart conditions. To learn more head to; https://www.heartfoundation.org.au
What are the risk factors?
There is no single direct cause of heart disease, but there are many risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing it. The good news is that according to the Heart Foundation Australia, there are some risk factors that are in your control.
Factors you can change;
-High blood pressure
-Depression and social isolation
Heart Research Australia believes prevention is always the best medicine, with 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease & stroke being preventable. The four main healthy lifestyle behaviours and necessary changes, recommended by Heart Research Australia, are centred around;
- Mental Approach
Irrelevant of your age, current health status or fitness level, some form of daily movement has been proven to minimise the risk of a heart attack. This is because movement encourages blood flow, reducing blood thickening making it harder to clot. Exercise daily improves the body's immune system, helps to manage weight, increases brain function, lowers your risk of type II diabetes and some cancers, may prevent disability, slows down dementia, improves bone strength, improves muscular and joint health and lowers your risk of falls.
So how can you include more movement into your day?
-Park the car at the furthest point, to encourage more walking
-Walk, ride or skate to work if you can
-Minimise your amount of sedentary time each day eg: prolonged sitting
-If working at a desk, incorporate multiple mini-breaks that involve movement
-Join a community sporting team
-Schedule a daily movement activity with a friend or loved one
-Find an activity that you enjoy
Good nutrition is key for optimal health. Current peer reviewed medical studies suggest that eating a wholefood plant-based diet is essential for heart disease management, prevention and treatment.
The only diet that has been proven to reverse the majority of patient’s Heart Disease is a wholefood plant-based diet, with less than 10% fat and no salt.
So what is a WFPBD?
A wholefood plant-based diet is comprised of nutrient dense foods from nature, in their most natural state with minimal processing. This includes; fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes.
By making small changes to your weekly shopping you may be saving your life. Simply swap out the amount of processed foods, meat and dairy you are consuming for more natural, plant-based alternatives.
There is a wealth of resources available online to help get you started. Search, plant-based recipes, vegan meal ideas, vegetarian meals or wholefood recipes. This is a great place to get you started and have you making healthier choices at a pace that suits you.
It is important to regularly monitor your health and review your state of well-being.
Checking your weight, evaluating your exercise plans, checking cholesterol levels, and seeing a health professional regularly are all important when maintaining your health.
Current research is showing us how powerful the mind can be. Our mindset has been proven to have adverse effects on our health status. High levels of stress, a fixed mindset, lack of community or connection, anger, depression and low levels of happiness or fulfilment have been said to increase your risk of heart disease.
What does this tell us, that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Here are some suggested habits for you to adopt, which may help you to improve your mental health;
-Breath deeply and often each day
-Laugh out loud and make an effort to smile more
-Engage in a hobby or activity that you enjoy
-Have some form of connection with a friend or loved one daily
-Join a community group
-Have a daily journal, gratitude list or exercise of speaking positive thoughts daily
-Be aware of your stressors and minimise them where possible
-Reframe your mindset, but staying optimistic and open
Did you know that a wholefood plant-based diet has also been shown to minimise the risk of contracting other chronic lifestyle diseases and illness such as Type II diabetes and some cancers?
One of our success stories;
Paul Usher, a client of Garden of Vegan, was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease in the left anterior diagonal in 2019 at the age of 45.
Paul runs his own business, has a close family unit and prior to engaging with Garden of Vegan, ate your typical western diet including meat, dairy, gluten, oil and sugar.
He was overweight, suffering from gout and had serious inflammation in the joints.
Paul chose to eat only a whole-food plant-based diet every day for 6 weeks straight after finding out he was diagnosed with heart disease.
“After 6 weeks of eating a wholefood plant-based diet with Garden of Vegan, I lost 11kg’s and have started reversing my heart disease”. Says Paul.
“Heart disease is the biggest killer in Australia and I am grateful for the team at Garden of Vegan, as they have really empowered me to take back control of my health by adopting small lifestyle changes”.
To hear more about Paul's health journey, check out his personal blog which shares his story; https://paul-usher.com/2019/12/21/6-weeks-done-now-the-final-battle/
To learn more about how an organic, wholefood plant-based diet can assist you in your current health journey, reach out to the team at Garden of Vegan.
Robyn Chuter; https://empowertotalhealth.com.au/