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The Infamous Trio
You definitely don’t want to cross paths with these three when it comes to your health!
When it comes to sustaining good health as we get older, there are THREE HIGHS that we will all want to avoid and keep away from.
#1 High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can endanger our health through the accumulation of LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol which can lead to a build-up of plaque deposit in our arteries - causing our arteries to harden, narrow and become constricted. In cases where arteries become completely blocked over time, the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes and even death greatly increases.
The plaque build-up within the arteries also means that our heart has to work overtime, pumping extra vigorously to get blood to flow through the constricted arteries in order to provide oxygen and vital nutrients to the various parts of our body.
#2 High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is defined as a condition when the force of your blood pushing against the wall of your blood vessels is consistently too high.
Over time, high blood pressure can result in tears and other damage to our arteries and blood vessels. Further excess cholesterol can accumulate where the tears occur, which can lead to more plaque deposits and further narrowing of the arteries. Operating as a vicious cycle, the stress then goes back to the heart which has to work even harder to pump blood through the constricted arteries.
Working hand-in-hand to wreak havoc on our heart and arteries, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can result in life-threatening heart conditions. Over time, poor blood flow and circulation can also result in damage to our eyes, kidneys and other organs.
Studies found that patients with high cholesterol have a higher likelihood of developing/having high blood pressure.
#3 High Blood Sugar
High levels of blood sugar can lead to a hardening of the blood vessels and erodes the ability of the pancreas to make insulin, resulting in the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.1
THE THREE HIGHS OFTEN GO UNDETECTED
This troublesome TRIO is highly skilled at operating under the radar. They offer no obvious symptoms which might ignite medical inspection and attention. As a result, these conditions often go undetected until the onset of debilitating diseases such as heart attacks, organ damage and loss of sight etc.
Given the Trio’s “stealth mode modus operandi”, this makes it especially crucial and helpful for us to be disciplined and proactive when it comes to making time for our annual health screening checks.
Assessing the RISK FACTORS
A common question that most might ask is, am I at risk? What is my risk level when it comes to the Three Highs?
The truth is, the three highs will probably try to waylay anyone who happens to be in their path. They are not choosy when it comes to “selecting” their targets and will insidiously pave a way to the unsuspecting person through the lure of poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Our risk of suffering from one or more of the three highs increases with our age. For patients suffering from high blood sugar, the risk of type II diabetes increases above the age of 45.2
If you have close/immediate family members who have the three highs, you are more likely to be at risk of the three highs yourself, due to the genetics that you share. Genetics aside, immediate family members are also likely to share similar dietary and lifestyle habits, including environmental risk factors.
Our lifestyle also plays a critical role in mitigating the risks of developing the three highs. People who subscribe to a high calorie and high fat diet with a sedentary and stressful lifestyle are more likely to accumulate excess nutrients and store more fats in their bellies.3
Apart from the damage caused to lungs and our respiratory system; smoking also causes discomfort and accelerates the injury to our blood vessels.
Lessen your risks of becoming the Three Highs next prey
Tip #1: Monitor
We can’t emphasize this enough. Be disciplined in going for your health screening every year. Keeping track of your BMI to ensure it stays within the healthy range and measuring your blood pressure regularly can also help you keep track of your health’s goal post.
Tip #2: Stay active
The Three Highs like sedentary prey. They generally do not like sprinting and chasing after their prey. Thus, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can help reduce your risk by a fair mile. If you do not particularly enjoy long and strenuous exercise sessions – run a marathon etc., no worries, work on shorter, more manageable workout sessions – basically the rule of the thumb is just “keep moving”. Any form of exercise as long as it is consistent will add to your overall health and fitness (and keep the three highs at a respectable distance). Aim for 10,000 steps a day or 30 mins of moderate physical activity daily such as brisk walking, cycling or dancing.
Tip #3: Watch what you eat
The Three Highs are masters when it comes to laying out the food traps. Sweets, sugary desserts, unhealthy high fat, deep fried foods, processed and preserved foods, high sodium (well flavored foods) are their weapons of choice.
Being disciplined when it comes to cutting down on highly processed foods, sugar-laden foods and beverages can lessen the three highs’ hold over your health. Focus on eating well and consuming a healthy balanced diet. A good visualization for a healthy plate should be along the lines of: ½ plate consisting fresh fruits and vegetables, ¼ plate whole grain and ¼ plate lean protein (based on a reasonable size plate of course).
And here are the foods that you’d want to avoid…
Avoid unhealthy fat aka trans fat
Not all fats are the same. Avoid trans fat that is commonly found in foods such as cakes, pastries, donuts and other fried food. Instead, include healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) in your meals such as avocado, chia seeds, flaxseed and fatty fish to get the fat your body needs.4
Cut down on sugar
Keep tabs on your sugar intake by swopping out those sugar-laden food and drinks and replacing it with healthier options like fruits and water. Limit your intake of sugar to no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day.5 For more ways to curb those sugar cravings read here >
Reduce salt intake
Reducing sodium intake starts from avoiding packaged and processed food such as instant noodles, smoked, salted and canned meat, fish and poultry etc. Preparing your own meals instead of constantly eating out can also help you limit the amount of salt and MSG that you consume. The recommended intake of salt is less than 1 teaspoon a day.
Increase your fibre intake
Dietary fibre intake not only keeps your digestive system healthy but also contributes to stabilising glucose and cholesterol levels.6 Eat more fruits and vegetable to add more fibre into your meals and consider switching to whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta. To learn more about the benefits of vegetables and the importance of consuming sufficient greens read here >
Limit alcoholic beverages
Alcohol contains calories that may contribute to unwanted weight gain which is a risk factor for high blood pressure as well as other health concerns. Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
Don’t allow yourself to be Three Highs’ next prey. Take the proactive stance to safeguard your health through good lifestyle and dietary habits, as well as nutrition supplements that can alleviate your risk factors in relation to the Three Highs.