Adopt a healthy lifestyle


What are the benefits of lifestyle changes?

Changes in lifestyle are an important part of the management of cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce a high cholesterol. In some people, these changes will be sufficient to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, others will also need medication.

Even if you take medication to lower your cholesterol, do not forget that the change in lifestyle is still important. Think of your medication as a component of a health program also includes a diet and exercise.

Continue reading to learn more about changes in lifestyle that can help control cholesterol levels and learn tips to help you accomplish these changes.
 
Healthy Weight

The new Canadian guidelines on cholesterol management recommend maintaining a healthy weight to help control cholesterol. You can tell if you have a healthy weight by calculating your BMI (body mass index). Overweight or obesity (especially if you have a large waist circumference) are important risk factors for heart disease for which you can act. Under the guidelines, a large waist circumference varies by ethnic groups:
  •  for people of European origin, Saharan, or populations of the eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East: more than 94 cm (37 inches) for men and more than 80 cm (31.5 inches) for women;
  •  for people of South Asian, Chinese or Japanese: more than 90 cm (35.4 in.) for men and more than 80 cm (31.5 inches) for women.

Canadian guidelines on cholesterol management recommend maintaining a BMI below 25 and aim for a BMI less than 23 for people of Asian origin.

The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a healthy diet and exercise. 

Diet and nutrition

By supplying more healthily, you can improve your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Here are some tips:
  •  Eat foods low in fat. Replace harmful fats with healthier fats. Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol are unhealthy fats. The healthier fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and omega-3. Opt for low fat dairy and lean meats that have a total content of fat and lower also contain less saturated fat. When cooking, use oils containing healthy fats such as olive, sunflower, safflower and corn.
  •     Eat more fruits and vegetables, from 7 to 10 servings a day.
  •  Increase the amount of soluble fiber you eat. Foods such as oat bran, oatmeal, high fiber cereals, legumes (eg. Beans, peas and lentils) and fruits high in pectin (eg. Strawberries, oranges, apples and grapefruit) Good sources of soluble fiber.
  •   Try to eat fewer desserts such as cookies and cakes.
  •  Ask your doctor or dietitian to help you adopt healthy eating habits and perhaps even determine how many calories you should consume each day to maintain a healthy weight.
  •  When eating out, choose if possible "healthy choice", for example, the food steamed, baked or grilled.

Avoid fried foods, fried or breaded and the dishes with creamy sauces. Choose dressings or sauces, low fat and ask for them on the side. Do not hesitate to inform you of how to prepare food or make a special request. Finally, beware the portions that are served. Many restaurants serve more food than you need for one meal. Do not feel compelled to eat everything on your plate. Ask for a smaller portion, share your meal with a friend or bring the leftovers home for another meal.

It may be difficult to change your eating habits. The key to success lies in the "moderation in all things." You can offer occasional sweet or fatty foods, but do not make a habit. Ask your doctor and your dietitian what changes would be beneficial in your diet.

Exercise

Exercising regularly helps you lose weight and control your cholesterol.

Wondering where to start? Here are some tips on exercise:

    Set your goal to do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (brisk walking) to high (jogging) on
​​most days of the week. Physical activities that you could include in your routine are swimming, walking, jogging or cycling. Remember that you are not obliged to do all your exercise at once. If you can reserve a block of 30 minutes in your schedule, three sessions of 10 minutes will give you the same benefits.
  •  If you are having trouble getting motivated, try to train with a friend or join a group. Choose activities that will please you.
  •  You should be comfortable and able to talk while you're exercising. Stop when you feel dizzy, faint or breathless, or if you feel pain.
  •  There are other simple ways to increase your physical activity level. You can for example take the stairs or parking your car further away than usual. Gardening, yard work and household chores you are also exercising.
Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you suffer from heart disease or are taking medication. Start slowly by you setting realistic goals and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of exercise as your fitness improves.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can increase your triglyceride levels and lower your HDL cholesterol. Smokers have a risk of heart disease 70% higher than non-smokers. Quitting smoking can also help people with metabolic syndrome to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Tips to quit smoking:
  •  The benefits of quitting smoking are felt first 24 hours after the last cigarette.
  •  There are several methods to quit smoking, including nicotine replacement products, prescription drugs, support programs and stop "brutal". Each person is unique and must find the method that suits him best. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to advise you on the most appropriate method for you.
  •  Visit the Health Canada Web site to find other web links where you can get information on various programs and tips for quitting.

  • If you have already tried unsuccessfully to quit, do not worry! It usually takes several attempts before successfully quitting for good. Each test brings you closer to your goal.
Moderate alcohol consumption

Excessive consumption of alcohol can increase your triglyceride levels and blood pressure.

Here are some tips to make your drinking does not harm your heart health:

    Limit the amount of alcohol you take in one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
    Remember that one drink equals:
  •         355 mL (12 oz) of beer - about a bottle of beer, or
  •         150 ml (5 oz) of wine - about one small glass of wine, or
  •         45 mL (1.5 oz) of distilled spirits at 40% (hard liquor) - about a shot glass.
  •     Avoid situations that lead you to drink too much. Ask family and friends to support you, and tell them you are trying to reduce your drinking.
If your drinking is a concern, talk to your doctor

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