Jan 18, 2024 Ask the Doctor – Heart Month

Nurturing Your Heart: Tackling Obesity and Boosting Cardiovascular Health

Jasmeet K. Mehta, MDHamilton Township, NJ, January 22, 2024 – Obesity isn't just about appearance—it significantly impacts heart health. Below are some helpful simple steps to help keep your heart in top shape from Jasmeet Mehta, MD, Internal Medicine, RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton, an RWJBarnabas Health facility.

Mindful Eating: Kickstart your heart-healthy journey by adopting mindful eating habits. Chose nutrient-dense foods, limit processed items, and savor your meals. A colorful plate filled with fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains can be both delicious and beneficial for your heart.

Move More, Sit Less: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Whether it's brisk walking, cycling, or dancing, find activities you enjoy. Regular movement not only helps with weight management but also enhances cardiovascular fitness. People find it hard to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into their routine regularly; one way of accomplishing this is by going for a quick 10-minute walk after your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Incorporating that 30-minute time into breaks helps those with busy schedules.

Hydration Matters: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated supports overall health and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Chose water over sugary beverages to cut down on unnecessary calories. Ideal water intake—half of your body weight in oz. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 oz of water daily.

Sleep Well: Quality sleep is a friend to your heart. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep per night. Poor sleep patterns are associated with weight gain and an increased risk of heart issues. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to improve your sleep quality.

Watch Portion Sizes: Be mindful of portion sizes to prevent overeating. Use smaller plates, listen to your body's hunger cues, and avoid going back for seconds. This small shift can make a big difference in controlling calorie intake.

Know Your Numbers: Stay informed about your health metrics. Regularly check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. Understanding these numbers empowers you to take proactive steps toward heart health. Schedule a routine physical with your Primary care provider to stay on top of your health. Hypertension, Diabetes, Hyperlipidemia and Obesity are all significant risk factors contributing to increased cardiovascular mortality.

Social Support: Share your health journey with friends or family. Having a support system can make lifestyle changes more enjoyable and sustainable. Consider joining fitness classes or walking groups to stay motivated.

Manage Stress: Multiple studies have shown the impact of mental health on your physical health. Positive psychological well-being can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Chronic stress can impact your heart. Incorporate stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your routine. Finding healthy outlets for stress can contribute to both mental and cardiovascular well-being. Journaling and writing your thoughts are another great way of managing stress. Seek help of your primary care physician in treatment of your chronic anxiety or depression.

Limit Screen Time: Reduce sedentary behavior by limiting screen time, especially for activities like binge-watching TV shows or extended periods of computer use. Take breaks to stretch and move around, promoting better heart health.

Celebrate Progress: Recognize and celebrate your achievements along the way. Whether it's weight loss, improved fitness, or better eating habits, acknowledging your successes can keep you motivated on your heart-healthy journey.

“It’s the small, consistent changes that lead to lasting results”, says Dr. Mehta, “by adopting these consumer-friendly steps, you're not just preventing obesity but actively nurturing your heart for a healthier and happier life.”

For more information about Dr. Mehta or to make an appointment at her office at 3100 Quakerbridge Road, Hamilton, NJ, please call 609-245-7389.