It is no surprise that obesity is has reached epidemic portions in the United States. We consume more calories than we ever have in the past. Plus, the quality of what we eat has declined dramatically with the introduction of highly processed foods and the higher costs associated with fresh and organic produce. The result is that approximately a third of all American adults are obese, and about 2/3 of American adults are overweight.
When we think about excess weight, our first thought goes to overeating. While this may be true, all too often, we are not eating enough…of the good stuff. Instead, we usually consume empty calories like refined sugars, simple carbs like white bread and rice, and saturated fats that don’t offer much nutrition.
The Effects on the Heart
Excess weight and malnutrition affect the heart separately, but both detrimentally. For most obese patients, this means a significantly greater likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. It may even mean a considerably shortened lifespan and almost certainly one that will involve disability to some degree or other.
What Can Be Done?
The most critical first step is visiting your primary care physician and cardiologist. Doing so can allow for the diagnosis of nutritional deficiencies and a plan for addressing the excess weight and all the detrimental effects that it causes.
First, your primary care physician will work with you to identify any cardiovascular risks through a routine physical, blood testing, and specific diagnostic tests like EKGs. Your cardiologist will use more advanced and focused diagnostic tools to understand if you’re at significantly higher risk of heart attack or stroke due to atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias or atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque on arterial walls, causing narrowing of the blood vessels.
Next, it is essential to remember that it didn’t take a short amount of time to reach where you are, so weight loss and disease improvement will not be immediate either. However, you can start by eliminating some of the worst offending foods such as sodas, added sugars, dessert, smoking, and alcohol. Instead, replace these foods with greens, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins. Almost immediately, your body will thank you as the nutrient-dense foods replenish your body even if you haven’t lost a significant amount of weight. From there, pairing a proven dietary program such as intermittent fasting and a Mediterranean diet with increased exercise can reverse many of the diseases associated with obesity while allowing you to lose weight and feel better.
Speaking to a professional therapist may be an excellent next step for some who have not come to terms with their excess weight. While you may not think anything is wrong, deep-seated and complex issues to manage such as family, work and stress can contribute to excess weight and ultimately cardiovascular disease. The help of a professional in addressing these concerns and the feelings associated with them is invaluable.
We look forward to helping you manage your risks of heart disease. We encourage you to visit our office and speak to your cardiologist about the best diet and exercise programs for your circumstance. Feel free to contact us to learn more.