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Prevention

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Please choose one of the sections below for prevention information:


Exercise
Fitness Can Be Fun
Being physically active doesn't always mean you have to be on a treadmill or lifting weights. Try some of these playful activities instead. There's a good chance you'll be pleasantly reminded that a little movement can be lots of fun.
  • Hopscotch
  • Twister
  • Hula Hoop
  • Fly a kite
  • Take a healthy picnic
  • Hike
  • TV Tag
  • Hide-and-Seek
  • Frisbee
  • Wash the car
  • Bowling
  • Spelunking-caving
  • Play catch
  • Horse shoes
  • Badminton
  • Visit the zoo or amusement park
  • Miniature golf
  • Bike riding
  • Horseback riding
  • Dancing
  • Water or snow skiing
Here are a few resources that you might also find helpful when exploring new fitness ideas or additional information: 

Nutrition

Eating Healthy: Not As Simple as 1-2-3?
Allyson Wallbridge, MA, RD, LD

Surveys reveal that Americans are interested in eating healthier, yet conditions related to unhealthy eating such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer are on the rise. Many experts think this is because the overwhelming amount and sometimes conflicting information provided by the media, on the Internet, and even in television commercials, causes people to throw their hands up in desperation rather than take action toward healthy eating. The following information simplifies some confusing messages to help you understand how to eat more healthfully.

Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The secret is out: fruits and vegetables are good for our bodies. And the more the merrier. Choose a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables prepared in healthy ways (fresh, steamed, grilled or in a salad with low-fat dressing, for example). Vegetables and fruits contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, water, and countless numbers of phytochemicals that have a protective effect against cancer and other diseases. The best news of all is that most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, so we can eat lots as part of our overall healthy eating plan and not gain weight.

Choose lean protein sources and dairy products. Lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, beans and legumes, and even lean red meats help our bodies to grow, repair, and regenerate essential body tissue like muscles. They also contain B Vitamins and iron. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, also provide necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals like calcium. It is important to consume lean varieties of protein and dairy products to avoid excessive fat and cholesterol intake to protect against weight gain in the short term and heart disease and stroke in the long term.

Make half of your grains whole. Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel, thus retaining all of the grains nutrient content. Whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, rye, quinoa, oats, barley, bulgur, and even corn contain essential nutrients, loads of fiber, and even health-enhancing phytochemicals. People who eat whole grains regularly have a lower risk of obesity, and they also have lower cholesterol levels. Because of the phytochemicals and antioxidants, people who eat three daily servings of whole grains have been shown to reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, digestive system cancers, and hormone-related cancers. Visit www.wholegrainscouncil.org to find out how to identify whole grain products in your local supermarket.

Limit your intake of highly refined and processed foods. By reducing your intake of refined and processed foods, you are automatically limiting the amount of fat (especially the "bad" fats like saturated and trans fats), cholesterol, sodium, and sugar in your diet. Further, highly refined foods often loose the majority of their nutrient value during manufacturing processes. Therefore, they tend to add large doses of "empty" calories to our diet with very few nutritional benefits. Foods in this category include packaged snacks, cakes, cookies, soda, and some frozen meals and convenience foods.

Avoid portion distortion. As America's portion sizes increase so do our waistlines and our risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Cutting back food portions can help us maintain a healthy weight and avoid the potential long-term consequences of developing these debilitating diseases. To learn about proper portion sizes for food, click on www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/servingsize_poster.pdf.

Skip the soda. This may come as a surprise, but sugar water is not good for your body. Limit the amount of soda you drink and instead substitute water with lemon or lime, brewed unsweetened tea, or 100% fruit juice. Just remember to factor the calories you consume in beverages into your overall daily caloric intake.

Limit trans fats in your diet. Beginning in January 2006 the FDA required all food manufacturers to add information regarding trans fats to food labels. Trans fats (sometimes called trans fatty acids) are detrimental to our health because they actually lower our HDL ("good") cholesterol and raise our LDL ("bad") cholesterol, therefore substantially increasing our risk for heart disease. Trans fats are found in many packaged, refined products such as snacks foods, cookies, cakes, margarines, fried foods, and even some cereals and breads. The current recommendation is to limit your intake of trans fat to less than 1% of your daily caloric intake. The best way to do this is to limit your intake of processed and refined foods (see # 4) and be label savvy. Check the label for the amount of trans fat in each food product. You can even read the ingredient list to find trans fats. If the ingredient label lists partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient, it contains some amount of trans fat.

Eating healthy does not mean you have to give up everything you love. It does, however, require some careful thought and attention to your daily food selections. By following the above guidelines, you can substantially improve your overall health and look and feel great. After all, you're worth it!

7 Foods Your Heart Should Do Without
Seven food categories contribute significantly to the high rate of heart disease in the U.S. They are all high in either fat (particularly "bad" fats like saturated, hydrogenated, and trans fat), cholesterol, sodium, calories, sugar or a combination thereof. How many of these foods do you eat in a single week, or worse, in a single day? If your diet consists of mainly these foods, consider choosing healthier, lower fat options and eating these seven types of foods only occasionally.

  1. Full-fat meats - High in saturated fats and calories, avoid full-fat meats. Examples include: prime rib, bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, and regular ground beef.
  2. Full-fat dairy products - Whole milk, yogurt, cheese, cream cheese, and ice cream are high in saturated fats and calories, too.
  3. Unhealthy oils - Lard, palm oil, coconut oil, margarines and vegetable shortening, are hydrogenated and contain trans fats. Trans fats are produced when liquid oils are turned into solids. This process is called hydrogenation. Cut back on foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the labels. This type of fat is found in crackers and snack foods, baked goods like cookies and donuts, French fries, and stick margarine. Use a soft margarine in place of butter or stick margarine. Look for soft margarine in a tub that lists a liquid oil such as corn, safflower, soybean, or canola oil as the first ingredient.
  4. Fast foods - Double cheeseburgers, burgers with sauces and high-fat dressings, hot dogs, French fries, and onion rings are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and calories. Also, be aware that the "healthy salad" option available at many fast food chains is healthy as long as you don't drown it in a fatty salad dressing.
  5. Commercially baked goods - Donuts, pastries, pies, and cakes, are high in processed white flour, trans fats, and refined sugars.
  6. Packaged snacks - Potato chips, crackers, cookies, and breakfast foods such as cereals, breakfast bars, and toaster pastries are typically made with partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), artificial additives, high sodium, and refined sugars.
  7. Sugary beverages - Sodas, punches, and fruit drinks, contain artificial dyes, refined sugar, and corn syrup.

Top 10 Foods For Your Heart

  1. High fiber cereals and breads - Besides packing a solid punch of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, whole grain cereals and breads have been shown to help control diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. Whole-grain foods also help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

    Common Whole-Grain Foods 
    - Whole-wheat bread and rolls
    - Whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal, bran flakes, and shredded wheat
    - Whole-wheat pancakes and waffles
    - Whole-grain tortillas
    - Whole-grain pasta
    - Brown rice, barley, corn, and oats
     
  2. Fish (salmon and tuna) - Cold-water fish like salmon and tuna are rich in important nutrients, including omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids got their name because they're essential for health but can't be made by the body; they must be obtained from foods.
  3. Legumes (beans and peas) - Legumes are a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Fiber also prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making legumes an especially good choice for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia. Combine beans with whole grain rice for a virtually fat-free, high quality meal. 
  4. Nuts (almonds and walnuts) - Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats found in olive oil. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  5. Skim milk - Milk promotes strong bones by being a very good source of vitamin D and calcium and a good source of vitamin K. Also, B vitamins found in milk prevent cardiovascular disease.
  6. Blueberries - Full of nutrients and flavor, blueberries are very low in calories. Recently, researchers at Tufts University discovered blueberries top the list of 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability. Antioxidants prevent cells from forming free radicals, which can damage your body's healthy cells.
  7. Apples and oranges - Apples contain both insoluble and soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol levels - reducing your risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Oranges provide healthy doses of vitamin C for antioxidant protection and support for immune systems.
  8. Carrots - Carrots are the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Carrots antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also promote good vision - especially night vision. 
  9. Tomatoes - A great source of potassium and a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, and folate, tomatoes help lower high cholesterol levels. Diets rich in potassium can lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease too. Lycopene in tomatoes helps prevent heart disease and protects against a growing list of cancers.
  10. Spinach and kale - Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale provide more nutrients calorie-for-calorie than any other food. Spinach and similar leafy green vegetables can not only help you stay strong, but can help to  prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases.

Tips for Losing Weight:
Make small Changes for BIG Results

Nutritional Changes:

  • When dining out ask for a "doggy bag" as soon as your food arrives and take half home.
  • Use half the amount of oil in cooking.
  • Buy oil and vinegar-based salad dressings and pour off half of the oil before shaking the bottle.
  • Switch to low fat dairy products like skim milk and non-fat cottage cheese.
  • Try salsa on your baked potato instead of sour cream.
  • End your meal with a cup of coffee or tea or a mint instead of dessert, or split dessert with a friend.
  • Fill 1/2 of your dinner or lunch plate with colorful vegetables.
  • Just say "No!" to fried foods.
  • Choose thin crust pizza and request that it be made with less cheese.
  • Place a small portion of snack food on a plate or in a bowl rather than eating out of the package to prevent overindulgence.

Activity Changes:

  • Pay inside at the gas station and use the walk-up ATM for added steps in your day.
  • Wash your car by hand.
  • Use the bathroom on a different floor while at work.
  • Walk the dog twice a day (you'll both benefit).
  • Park in the back row of the parking lot.
  • Go for a walk while your child is at sports practice instead of just watching.
  • Make an activity date with your spouse and/or family at least once a week.
  • Instead of sending an email to your coworker down the hall, walk to his or her office to deliver your message.
  • Take the stairs.

Before you can make the right food choices, it's a good idea to learn the facts about nutrition. There are six main nutrients found in our foods and beverages. Not all foods have all six nutrients, but for good nutrition, we need a combination of all of these on a daily basis.

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

Carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. It is the most easily processed form of energy by the body.
  • Every gram of carbohydrate supplies our body with 4 calories.
  • Carbohydrates supply us with fiber which can help to keep you regular and help to control your cholesterol.
  • There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates found in our foods. Simple carbohydrates are found in foods like sugar, fruit, honey, refined starches and refined breads. Complex carbohydrates are found in starchy vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta.

Protein

  • Protein is known as the "Building Block" of life because it's made up of amino acids. Protein is important for growth, repair, and replacement of tissue.
  • Protein also provides energy and helps maintain fluid balance.
  • Every gram of protein supplies our body with 4 calories.
  • There are both complete and incomplete sources of protein found in foods.
  • Sources of protein in foods are meat, fish, poultry, beans, eggs, legumes, and dairy products. Sources of vegetable proteins are nuts, seeds and soy.

Fats

  • Fats are a very dense form of energy.
  • They are needed to help to transport fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • They provide us with a sense of fullness from our meals and add flavor to foods.
  • Every gram of fat supplies our body with 9 calories.
  • Different types of fats include saturated, unsaturated and trans fatty acids.
  • Some fats naturally occur in food such as meats, dairy, vegetable oils, eggs, etc. Sometimes we add fats to our meals like oil for cooking, butter, cream, lard, etc. Foods like sweets, dressings, potato chips, croissants, and biscuits also may be high in fat.
  • Our body needs fat, but too much of the wrong types of fat can make you unhealthy.

Vitamins

  • Vitamins are organic, essential nutrients required in small amounts.
  • They help the body perform many of its essential functions.
  • Vitamins = Vital
  • Vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods.
  • Examples include: vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Minerals

  • Minerals are inorganic elements; some of which are required by the body to function properly
  • Examples include: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and magnesium to name a few.

Water

  • Water is essential for hydration, digestion and transport of our vitamins and minerals.
  • Water insulates our organs, regulates our temperature and helps to eliminate our waste products.
  • Water also helps our skin, kidney function and our electrolyte balance.
  • Without water, we could not survive.

Alcohol

  • Alcohol contains "Empty" calories because it doesn't provide us with many nutrients, vitamins or minerals.
  • Every gram of alcohol supplies our body with 7 calories.
  • Moderation is the key. This means limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • There is some evidence that one alcoholic beverage/day is beneficial to your health.

Food Choices

  • Our food choices are based on a variety of factors including availability, cost, taste, preference, and appearance.
  • We also base our choices on social interactions, emotional comfort, habit or tradition.

General Guidelines for Good Nutrition

  • Make smart choices from every food group.
  • Find your balance between food and physical activity.
  • Get the most nutrition out of your calories
  • Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, and milk products.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Limit added fats, salt, and sugar
  • Know how to prepare, handle, and store food safely to keep you and your family safe.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Smoking

Smoking Cessation: The Ten Stages of Quitting
If you are a health-concerned smoker who has been thinking about quitting, ask yourself which of the following ten stages you've reached as of today. Then pick three things you could to within the next month that would help you get to the next stage. Rank the three things you've chosen in order of importance. Then do them.

Stage 1: You've identified yourself as a health-concerned smoker. You're worried about the health effects of smoking and wonder if you should quit or cut down.
Stage 2: You decide that you will begin to seek additional information about smoking, quitting, and other health-related behaviors and will begin to actively explore your alternatives.
Stage 3: You decide to take some steps to modify your smoking level and/or your overall health status - eg., observing smoking triggers, cutting down, getting more exercise, taking vitamins, managing stressful situations more effectively, paying more attention to your bonds with family and friends, etc.
Stage 4: You make a firm commitment to quit, but do not specify a quitting date.
Stage 5: You set a quitting date and make a firm commitment to quit on that date.
Stage 6: You smoke your last cigarette and go without smoking for 24 hours.
Stage 7: You complete your first week as a non-smoker.
Stage 8: You complete your first month as a non-smoker.
Stage 9: You complete your first three months as a non-smoker.
Stage 10: You complete your first year as a non-smoker.

Keep repeating this exercise until you reach Stage 10.

This material is adapted from The NO-Nag, NO-Guilt, Do-It-Your-Own Way Guide to Quitting Smoking and is reprinted with permission of the author, Tom Ferguson, M.D.

Benefits of Stopping Tobacco Use
When you stop smoking, your body will begin to repair itself. Repair begins almost immediately.

At 20 minutes after that last cigarette:

  • Blood pressure decreases
  • Pulse rate drops
  • Body temperature of hands and feet return to normal

At 8 hours:

  • Carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal
  • Oxygen level in the blood increases to normal
  • "Smoker breath" disappears

At 24 hours:

  • Chance of a heart attack decreases

At 48 hours:  

  • Nerve endings begin re-growing
  • Ability to smell and taste is enhanced

At 2 weeks to 3 months:

  • Circulation improves
  • Walking becomes easier
  • Lung function increases

At 1 to 9 months:

  • Energy level increase
  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decrease

At 1 year:

  • Risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker

 
At 5 years:

  • From 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked.

At 10 years:

  • Risk of dying of lung cancer is similar to that of a non-smoker

At 15 years:

  • Risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked
  • Risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

Tips for Preparing to Stop Smoking

  • Decide positively that you want to stop.
  • List all the reasons you want to stop, and each night repeat one of them 10 times before bed.
  • Get into physical shape: exercise, drink fluids, and get plenty of rest.
  • Tell your family and friends you're stopping and when. Ask them to support you.

Tips Just Before Stopping

  • Think of stopping in terms of one day at a time, not as never smoking or dipping again.
  • Stop carrying cigarettes, dip, or other tobacco products with you - make them hard to get.

Tips for the Day You Stop:

  • Throw away all of your cigarettes, or other tobacco products, lighters, matches and ashtrays.
  • Clean your clothes to rid them of the cigarette smell.
  • Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains.
  • Make your home, work and automobile clean, fresh and non-smoking.
  • Stay very busy - go to the movies, take a long walk or go bike riding.
  • Refuse to allow anyone or anything to change your mind.
  • Avoid alcohol - it will weaken your willpower.

Tips to help you cope with the urge:

  • Avoid or prepare to handle people, places and things you associate with smoking.
  • Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, exercise, washing the car, eating in a non-smoking restaurant).
  • Put something else in your mouth - carrots, sunflower seeds, celery, raisins, sugarless gum.
  • When an urge to smoke or dip hits, get up and do something else.
  • Change your daily routine to break your habits and patterns:
  • After meals, get up and take a walk or brush your teeth
  • Change the order of your morning routine
  • Don't sit in your favorite chair
  • Eat your lunch in a different location
  • Keep a daydream ready to go - plan a vacation or a project - instead of thinking about cigarettes.
  • Remind yourself that you're a non-smoker/dipper and have good reasons for it.
  • Use relaxation and deep breathing techniques. Breathe in deeply and slowly, while you count to five; breathe out slowly, counting to five again.
  • Many smokers or dippers experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, mild headache, constipation. Remember that these are only temporary.

If you slip:

  • Don't be too hard on yourself. One slip doesn't mean you're a failure or that you can't be a non-smoker, but it is important to get yourself back on the non-smoking track immediately.
  • Identify the trigger. Exactly what was it that prompted you to smoke? Be aware of the trigger and decide now how you'll cope with it when it comes up again.

Stress Management

Identifying Stress Signals
Common Stress Signals

  • Digestive upset
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Eating binges
  • Increased distractibility
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Smoking more
  • Acting grouchy and irritable

Take a minute to identify your own stress signals. Think back to the last time you found yourself feeling extremely stressed. Close your eyes and remember how you felt and what you did during that high stress time.
 
Seven Steps to Stress Reduction
Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD., author of Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer, is associate clinical professor of behavioral medicine at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. According to Pelletier, "Successful stress-managers have learned to provide themselves with periodic islands of peace - little daily 'stress vacations' that help them break the cycle of chronic stress. For many smokers, having a cigarette provides just such an island of peace. It is this factor - in combination with the pharmacological actions of nicotine - that makes smoking such a valuable tool in dealing with stress. Smokers who wish to quit need to establish other islands of peace in their lives."

  • Learn to identify and understand the key stressors in your life.
  • Learn to identify your stress signals.
  • Learn to create non-smoking islands of peace in your daily schedule.
  • Experiment with new stress-management techniques.
  • Rehearse and visualize your de-stress plan.
  • Put your plan into action.
  • Adapt and improve the plan over time.

Juggling versus Balancing, Stress Management versus Harmony, Depletion versus Fulfillment?
There is a great deal of information out there about weight management, smoking cessation, time management, quality parenting, job satisfaction, and stress reduction. So, if we're so self-improvement oriented, why do we have such a high rate of physical illnesses ranging from allergies to cancer, and such a fragile psyche that we're expressing ourselves through rageful behaviors in our cars, with testy interactions with people we care about, and with self-destructive choices such as over-eating, smoking, drinking and over-doing?

Perhaps the answer is self-awareness. Think of the last time you rested…could you? Or, did you feel guilty for not doing something "constructive." Did your mind wander to the "coulda, shoulda, gotta" list?

Rest is a term we often use in our vocabulary; however, it is seldom in our repertoire of behaviors. Why?

The American culture is accomplishment-oriented, everything is fast (food, speed limit, divorces), and gauges of success are items, numbers and comparisons. The recent interest in Mind, Body, and Spirit well-being is not just a fad; it is an essential part of continued survival. Estimates vary, but a conservative estimate is that greater than 75% of all illnesses are caused by stress-related behaviors. What are we doing to foster a sense of well-being for ourselves, and how are we role modeling for our children, friends, and colleagues the value of self, harmony and balance?

Following are some "cues" to help you toward fulfilling moments, experiencing the present as it occurs and recognizing what your priorities are.

Pretend you are introducing someone to yourself. How would you describe you? Why would someone like to know and spend time with you? What are your holy gifts (compassion, gentleness, discernment, ability to convey ideas), and what are you doing with them? What will your most important memories consist of? What would you recommend be changed in your life so that you can look back with a sense of fulfillment?

If life is a marathon, are you behaving as if it is a sprint? Are you taking care of yourself so that when you're 90 you'll be able to have a quality life? Are you taking care of relationships so that at age 90 others will want to be with you? Are you taking care of your environment so that it can support you and your loved ones in the future?

Consider the word HALT, which stands for "hungry, angry, lonely and tired." When we are in a state of hunger, anger, loneliness or tiredness, we make poor choices, we are in a physiological state of stress, and we interact in self-defeating/alienating ways.

The antidote to HALT is to simply be aware…eat when you have an appetite to avoid overeating/drinking/smoking because you're hungry.

When you are angry, recognize it for what it is. Dissect the anger to determine if you have valid cause or if you have blown things out of proportion in your own mind. Diffuse the energy that always accompanies anger (sometimes expressed as anxiety, restlessness, verbal outbursts and rage). Walk, run, write, talk to yourself…whatever you have to do to get the anger energy to a place where the anger itself can be expressed constructively (without harm to others or negative consequences to yourself).

The antidote to loneliness is to interact with a living person, pet, or plant. Pick up the phone, walk the dog, go to the park…just don't isolate yourself.
The antidote to tiredness is rest. Not the falling in bed, can't keep your eyes open kind of rest. But taking a break, pulling away from the computer, the laundry, the kids - even for as brief as ten minutes. Focus on the present and what is good in the moment. Does a stretch feel good? Is the sun shining? Is your child nestled against you?

Last, but certainly not least, define for yourself. What is fulfilling? What will harmony look like in your life?Know that putting your authentic self first is a way of being able to give more to others, especially the others you love.

For more information on the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women program, click here.



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