Of late, reports of young professionals, in the age group of 30-35, suffering heart attacks in the Middle East, have increased a lot. Most professionals are leading busy lives with 14 to 16 hours of work days coupled with lack of sleep, excessive stress and smoking. Their lifestyle is quite typical – have lots of coffee during the day, smoke and work throughout and then party at night until late to unwind. It’s not surprising that it takes a toll on the body.
Every day I meet many patients from age group 30 to 38 suffering from high cholesterol and high triglycerides. Genetics also plays an important role but your lifestyle plays the biggest. And being busy and ambitious, you have plenty of excuses not to exercise! However, it must be said that many people travel on work and hence have to adjust to different time zones which further results in jet lag and other health problems.
THE EFFECT ON FOOD
Lack of time also means less preparation and planning towards meals. Coffee and smoke may have suppressed your appetite already. When you realise you are hungry, you settle for burgers and pizzas from fast food chains. Saturated fats from red meat, low quality ingredients and deep-fried meat, refined bread burgers and pizzas are surely meant to elevate cholesterol and triglycerides. The same holds true for french fries, fried foods and chips in general. They all raise your bad cholesterol and your triglycerides and lowers good cholesterol.
The other no-nos but ‘saviours’ that busy professionals turn to are deli meats, processed and cured meat, cold cuts full of saturated fats and sodium. Consuming excessive amounts of salt in the long run can be detrimental to your cardiovascular health.
Excess nitrates and nitrites from these cold cuts can be carcinogenic too.
Sugar is even a bigger culprit than saturated fat leading to weight gain, high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension. By sugar, I don't mean only sweets, chocolates and candies. Many young professionals are addicted to sodas, colas, sugar sweetened cocktails and fruit juices and beverages from the vending machine.
Rush hours in the morning could also mean refined processed sugary cereals as a quick fuss free breakfast. Consuming refined sugars in the morning can cause unnecessary spike and crash in insulin and produce inflammation in the body with more sugar cravings later in the day.
You will further have craving for the cookie or muffin during office hours and during break loading your body with sugars and trans fats.
Finally there are those who grab diet sodas when they eat. Diet sodas may be zero calories but are loaded with aspartame and other chemicals which alter gastrointestinal bacteria and make people crave more sugar sending wrong signals to your brain, makes your brain fuzzy and makes you more prone to gaining weight.
Check your blood sugar levels every six months to one year
HOW TO MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES
1. Sleep well. Get 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep at night.
2. Exercise daily even if for 15 mins in the morning before starting your busy day.
3. Mediate, exercise and listen to some calming music to relax in the evening. De- Stressing is crucial.
4. Plan, prepare and eat healthy. Stay away from processed and high calorie, high fat, high sugar and junk food.
5. Take some heart healthy omega 3 fish oils.
6. Eat Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackarel, sardines twice or thrice a week.
7. Avoid red meat and organ meats. Opt for skinless lean chicken breast or turkey breast and egg whites. Have avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, brazil nuts regularly.
8. Drink two to three cups green teas with lemon. Avoid Kadak chais and milky coffee with sugar.
9. Eat whole grains instead of anything refined. Plan your diet around beans, lentils, vegetables, fruits, whole grains like oats, brown rice, millet, quinoa, spelt, spices and condiments, nuts and seeds.
10. Load up on antioxidant rich dark greens and colorful leafy vegetables and fruits
Include natural fats into your diet
11. Have garlic, onions, ginger and turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties
12. Reduce intake of alcohol.
13. Avoid packaged chips and snacks.
14. Avoid processed and cured meats and cold cuts.
15. Give up smoking.
16. Give up on sugar.
17. Check your blood sugar and cholesterol and triglyceride levels every six months to one year.