February is American Heart Month, and whether you are battling heart disease or not, it is the perfect time to evaluate your diet and make some healthy changes that are good for both your heart and your colon.
A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and colon cancer, but exercise gets your blood pumping and your digestive tract moving. Find an activity you enjoy and commit to exercising regularly. Aim for slow but consistent workouts. Avoid the weekend warrior mentality that often results in injury or burnout.
To Support Heart and Colon Health Through Exercise:
- Take a 20-minute walk
- Find a yoga class
- Go for a swim
- Take a hike
- Play tennis or racquetball with a friend
- Lift weights
- Find a dance class
Obesity is another risk factor for heart disease and colon cancer. In the U.S., 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese due to overconsumption, especially of foods that are high in saturated fats (American Heart Association). What you eat and how much you eat affects your risk of both heart disease and colon cancer.
- To Prevent Heart Disease and Colon Cancer Through Diet:
- Use an app like My Fitness Pal to track calories, fat and macronutrients
- Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables
- Limit red meat consumption to once a week as it may increase heart disease and colorectal cancer
- Load up the rest of your plate with whole grains, nuts and lean proteins
- Avoid processed foods like chips, cookies, ice cream, cake and doughnuts
- Read labels and watch sodium intake
- Monitor your portion sizes using a food scale or measuring cups
- Bulk up on fiber-rich foods (SCCN)
Why Eating Fruits and Vegetables is Good for Your Heart and Colon
We all know that fruits and veggies are good sources of vitamins and minerals, are high in fiber, and are low in calories, but did you know that they also contain nutrients that may actually prevent heart disease? Research shows that people who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day have about a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke than people who ate less than three servings a day (Time). Here are some ways to increase your veggie intake:
- Make fruits and vegetables the main course of your meals
- Try vegetable stir-fry, vegetarian fajitas, burrito bowls, roasted or grilled veggies, soups and salads
- Avoid canned fruits and vegetables and opt for fresh or frozen ones instead
- Prepare and refrigerate fruits and vegetables for convenient and healthy snacks
- Check out our Colon-Healthy Recipes board on Pinterest for heart-healthy fruit and veggie recipes
This month, work to prevent heart disease and colon cancer by boosting your activity level and improving your diet. Your heart (and your colon) will thank you!