Expert provides some easy-to-follow tips for cardiac wellness.
COVID-19 and its affiliated safety measures have increasingly shifted activities related to work, exercise, and leisure from the great outdoors and public spaces to the home —spurring the development of some not-so-heart-healthy habits such as reduction of physical activity.
Yet implementing a few simple lifestyle changes can, over time, boost heart health despite quarantine’s challenges, according to Jason Hoff, an interventional cardiologist at Loma Linda University International Heart Institute in Loma Linda, California, United States.
Trends in the food industry since the virus’s outbreak testify to altered eating habits brought on by stay-at-home measures. Restaurants have adapted to in-person pickup and delivery options, and there has been a significant surge in food delivery services’ popularity nationwide. Individuals, couples, and families have resorted to rapid, convenient food delivery and ready-made meals.
There is a silver lining to be found in spending more time at home, says Hoff — more time and flexibility to make healthy meals. “This is the best time ever to take up a hobby of cooking.”
Hoff recommends aiming for a whole-plant-based diet — the best diet for the heart. The diet avoids meat, dairy, and highly processed foods in favor of grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Because many Americans are not raised eating whole-plant-based foods, making the dietary change can feel like a jarring leap, but Hoff advises taking baby steps over time to ensure long-term success.
“If you opt for a 100-percent diet and lifestyle change but have not created the structure and support to sustain that, it’s going to be very difficult, and you’ll be more prone to burn out,” he says.
As with any substantial life change, support from a spouse or buy-in from family members willing to make a change in diet is instrumental in sustained success, Hoff stresses.