Some people who are sedentary can have serious health consequences. According to Forbes, who cites a few studies, they found that women who spent more time being sedentary were more likely to have heart disease later in their life. Of course, the solution to that is moving more (as we mention below), but there’s also a diet that can help prevent (or may help) heart disease. For people who are concerned about getting heart disease a high fat, low carb diet may be the solution. More specifically, the ketogenic diet, which we discuss in the Body Reboot book may improve heart health. As always, consult with a doctor and research what can help improve heart disease. In this article, we’ll cover how movement can decrease your risk for heart disease as well as how the keto diet provides many benefits for your heart.
Forbes discusses a study that found that sedentary women (as we mentioned above) who site for too long are more likely to get heart disease. That means you need to get up and move more regularly! Also, The Heart Foundation further discusses how movement can help you stay healthy.
The researchers, who published in the journal Circulation, studied a group of 5,000 racially diverse women who were 63-97 years old. They gave the participants accelerometers to wear for up to a week, to track their active vs. sedentary time. This method is an advantage since many studies rely on participants’ recall of how their time is spent, which may or may not be accurate. They tracked the women for five years, taking note of their cardiovascular risk, including heart attack, stroke, heart pains requiring hospitalization, and death from heart disease.
They found that, as expected, women who spent more time being sedentary had an increased likelihood of heart disease. And the longer the bout of sedentary behavior, the greater the risk.
“Each additional hour of sedentary time, on average,” the authors write in their paper, “was associated with a 12% increase in multivariable adjusted risk for CVD. Dose-dependent increased risk of 4% was also observed for each 1-minute increase in sedentary bout duration, indicating that prolonged sedentary accumulation patterns are associated with higher CVD risk in older women.”
In other words, for each additional unit of time a woman spends sitting, her risk of heart disease rises. The authors conclude that “both sedentary time and the way in which it is accumulated may be relevant for cardiovascular health in older women.”
As we just mentioned, The Heart Foundation recommends moving more. It can help your heart! Keep reading to find out how a high fat, low carb diet may help your heart too.
Moving more – will help you to have a healthy heart.
Engaging in 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week can decrease your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. It’s as easy as a half-time kick or after-game scratch match.
Research has shown that engaging in moderate intensity exercise such as walking may lead to:
a 7.2% reduction in the risk of high blood pressure
a 7.0% reduction in the risk of high cholesterol
a 9.3% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease
Exercise is known to help decrease ‘bad’ cholesterol and can help manage high blood pressure, both of which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Kaiser Permanente also argues that movement enables your heart to become more efficient. It also helps your heart do better during times of stress.
Just as exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it helps your heart muscle become more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. This means that the heart pushes out more blood with each beat, allowing it to beat slower and keep your blood pressure under control.
When you exercise regularly, your body's tissue (including the heart) does a better job of pulling oxygen from your blood. This allows your heart to work better under stress and keeps you from getting winded during high-intensity activities.
Physical activity also allows better blood flow in the small blood vessels around your heart. Clogs in these arteries can lead to heart attacks. There's also evidence that exercise helps your body make more branches and connections between these blood vessels, so there are other routes for your blood to travel if the usual path is blocked by narrow arteries or fatty deposits.
Exercise also increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol out of your system.
Now that we know that movement helps the heart let’s learn how a ketogenic diet (high fat, low carb diet) can help the heart. Heart disease can happen from inflammation, but according to Everyday Health the keto diet can regularly blood sugar levels and decrease inflammation.
The heart’s scourge is inflammation, which injures arteries, says Audrey Fleck, RDN, an integrative and functional dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. “Many times, the cause of inflammation is elevated blood sugar,” she says. What’s more, a keto diet may help lower blood sugar and improve insulin function, and can be anti-inflammatory, she says. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
But the specific foods you choose on keto matter, too. In a study published in September 2010 in the Annals of Internal Medicine on women and men who followed a low-carb diet, those who heavily relied on animal sources of fat and protein, such as cheese and meat, had a 43 percent higher risk of mortality compared with those who emphasized vegetable sources, such as avocado and nuts, for those nutrients. Those in the veggie low-carb group had a 20 and 23 percent lower risk of early death and heart disease, respectively.
Specifically, here’s what the 2010 study said in their conclusion:
A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.
Everyday Health cites another study that researched the keto diet and heart health. They found that blood sugar goes down which may offer protection against heart disease:
A review in the May 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients examined the effects of keto on the heart by looking at both rodent and human studies. In humans, the authors noted, research has shown that total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol often decrease on keto, while “good” protective HDL cholesterol increases. Blood sugar and HbA1C (which is a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels) also tend to go down, possibly offering protection against prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Another study, this time from Evidence from Animal and Human Studies Nutrients in 2017 reveals that the keto diet can result in some improvements for possible heart disease by preventing obesity, type 2 diabetes and controlling cholesterol levels.
The treatment of obesity and cardiovascular diseases is one of the most difficult and important challenges nowadays. Weight loss is frequently offered as a therapy and is aimed at improving some of the components of the metabolic syndrome. Among various diets, ketogenic diets, which are very low in carbohydrates and usually high in fats and/or proteins, have gained in popularity. Results regarding the impact of such diets on cardiovascular risk factors are controversial, both in animals and humans, but some improvements notably in obesity and type 2 diabetes have been described. Unfortunately, these effects seem to be limited in time. Moreover, these diets are not totally safe and can be associated with some adverse events. Notably, in rodents, development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance have been described. The aim of this review is to discuss the role of ketogenic diets on different cardiovascular risk factors in both animals and humans based on available evidence.
Based on the available literature, KD may be associated with some improvements in some cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and HDL cholesterol levels, but these effects are usually limited in time. As KD are often rich in fats, some negative effects could happen. Mainly in rodents, developments of NAFLD and insulin resistance were described. In humans, insulin resistance is also a potential negative effect, but some studies have shown improvements in insulin sensitivity. Nevertheless, many subjects contemplating such diets are overweight or obese at baseline, and even a moderate weight loss could be metabolically beneficial for them. However, it is mandatory to maintain body weight after weight loss, which is usually a major problem. More studies are therefore warranted to better assess the effects of long term use of KD on metabolic diseases and cardiovascular risk factors, but also to better define which dietary macronutrient composition is optimal.
Keeping your heart healthy is imperative, and if there was a way to prevent health disease in addition to exercise wouldn’t you want to try it? The keto diet can fight heart disease, and it also offers countless other benefits. For a free copy of the Body Reboot book help us cover the cost of shipping, and we’ll send it your way. Visit this page and see if there are any copies left.
Sources: Forbes, Everyday Health, Annals of Internal Medicine 2010, NCBI: Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2017, The Heart Foundation, Kaiser Permanente
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