Dr Kim A Williams1, the first ever vegan president of the American College of Cardiology, gives2 his version of the American Heart Association’s simple rules for having a healthy heart, called “Life’s Simple Seven”. If we are really concerned about living long and healthy lives – both for ourselves and for our loved ones – why would anyone not use these as an essential lifestyle foundation?
1. Everyone should be on a plant-based diet.
The AHA don’t say “plant-based”, instead they talk about a “heart-healthy diet”:
“Eat Better – A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!” 3
There’s a clear reason why Dr Williams modifies the AHA’s definition of what is “heart-healthy” when you look at the list of foods the AHA recommend as foods we should eat4:
” Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:
- a variety of fruits and vegetables,
- whole grains,
- low-fat dairy products,
- skinless poultry and fish,
- nuts and legumes ,
- non-tropical vegetable oils “
This is not the place to go into the research showing the harmful effects of four of the items in the above list – dairy, poultry, fish and oils), so we’ll move on and just be thankful that the ex-president of the American College of Cardiology is up-to-date with – and prepared to be honest about – the findings relating to plant-based vs meat-based diets in nutritional research literature.
2. Everyone should be at their ideal body weight.
- If you’re overweight, you need to address it.
- If you’re obese, you really need to deal with it now.
- If you’re morbidly obese, you’re going to have to make some dramatic changes that are behavioural and not easy – but they have to be done.
3. Everyone should know their blood sugar and make sure it’s normal.
The health services of an ever-growing number of countries are increasingly under threat of being swamped by cases of diabetes. In addition to this, there is a worrying change in the CVD mortality figures.
For 40+ years, in the U.S., these figures have been dropping because of the pharmaceutical and surgical advances (stents, by-pass surgeries, etc) made in prolonging the lives of heart disease patients – admittedly they still have restricted lives and are not being cured, unlike some of heart disease patients treated with WFPB lifestyle changes by the likes of Dr C B Esselstyn and Dr Dean Ornish.
But between 2014 and 2015, this downward trend came to an end. Some5 predict:
“The number of people with heart failure is expected to rise by 46 percent by 2030.”
The rise could be partly due to the increase in obesity and diabetes, but also as a natural dropping of the curve as the average 10-year life expectancy increase of medical interventions in CVD catches up with those treated a decade or so ago.
For those who are diabetic, or at risk of becoming diabetic, losing weight is something that should be an immediate priority.
“The obesity and diabetic epidemic is real.”
And transitioning to a WFPB diet is probably the healthiest and most sustainable way of doing this.
4. Everyone should know what their blood pressure is and it should be controlled.
It’s shocking how few people are even aware of what their blood pressure is. And of those who do know, only a relatively small proportion are doing anything to control it. Surely almost everyone should be able to justify either the small cost of purchasing a wrist or arm blood pressure monitor (also called a sphygmomanometer) or the short journey to the doctor’s surgery for a test.
5. Everyone needs to be getting some physical exercise every day.
Even aiming for a daily minimum of 30 minutes exercise would make a tremendous difference – whether it’s on a cross-trainer, walking briskly or playing a round of golf. Mixing the types of exercise is ideal, so that both aerobic and load-bearing exercises are involved.
Regardless of your age or level of fitness, there are exercises6 that will suit you and allow you to grow stronger and feel so much more alive.
6. Everyone should should know what their cholesterol is and that it is at a normal level.
If you have to normalise your cholesterol with medication, then do it. Ideally, of course, it’s best to achieve it by eating a WFPB diet, since then the only cholesterol you will have in your body is what your body (liver, intestines etc) is making for you. And an added benefit is that you then don’t have to pay for possibly expensive medications.
There’s so much invaluable advice7 – that can be found online about which foods lower cholesterol and how important it is to reduce, or better still, eliminate dietary cholesterol completely from your diet. Remember that dietary cholesterol only comes from animal foods, and because almost all animal foods come naturally pre-packed with corresponding amounts of saturated fat, this increases the damage that the cholesterol can do to your body.
7. Nobody should smoke.
Although the rate of tobacco smoking has reduced in the Western World, it’s still a major cause of a variety of diseases that are almost completely avoidable if you don’t smoke.
If you follow these 7 simple rules…
…there will be a dramatic change in your lifestyle, functional capacity and the influence you will have on your friends and family.
If we ignore these rules, it’s not just the future of our own health that’s at risk. The solvency of our national health service and the economic future of our country will also be casualties – victims of the unfortunate lifestyle and dietary choices made by its well-intentioned citizens.
- 1st Vegan President of the American College of Cardiology
- Dr. Kim Williams And Jeremy Glogower Get Real About Going Plant-Based, Seven Rules We Can All Live By And More…
- My Life Check – Life’s Simple 7. American Heart Association.
- The American Heart Association: Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations.
- CBS News: U.S. heart failure rates on the rise.
- Physical Exercises for Beginners and Seniors
- Cholesterol Advice from Dr Greger