Guest Post, Sally Marchini, Dietitian
We know that people with diabetes are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke) than those who do not have diabetes. In addition, around 75% of all people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. So it’s definitely an issue worth paying attention to!
My blog today will take a look at what the Australian Heart Foundation suggests we consider about our heart health. I will also be reviewing some previous blogs of mine that relate to this topic to help you to gain a better understanding of how diet and lifestyle can help you protect your own heart health.
Modifiable Risk Factors
Knowing our risk (or risk factors) is the first step we can take to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. The Australian Heart Foundation highlights risk factors for heart disease that you have the ability to change as:
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Being overweight
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
The Heart Foundation wisely advises that we should visit our doctor for a heart health check, and talk with our doctor about risk factors and how best to prevent having a heart attack or stroke. Seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian for personalised advice about your eating habits and an Exercise Physiologist to find activities that suit you is also something you should discuss with your doctor.
You can also read this Heart Foundation warning signs fact sheet that will help you to recognise if you’re having a heart attack, remembering that the sooner you are treated, the more chance you have of survival.
Review of past relevant blogs
I encourage you to have a re-read of some of my favourite blogs which discuss the evidence behind limiting or increasing or exchanging certain foods, thereby improving your cardiovascular risk. They include:
Guideline 3 – this one takes a closer look at the Australian Dietary Guidelines third guideline which in itself is a great summary for this blog: “Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol”.
Salt – As salt, or sodium chloride, is strongly associated with heart disease, this blog offers some great tips on how you can reduce your sodium intake.
Fats and Sugars – also strongly associated with heart disease, this blog reinforces the importance of eating a balanced diet.
The Glycemic Index – talks through the evidence of a low-GI diet helping with cardiovascular health.
Dairy – quoting from evidence in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, this blog talks about how many serves you need each day to guard against coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension.
Wholegrains – again discusses evidence from the Australian Dietary Guidelines and gives you some great ideas!
Legumes – must be close to the perfect food, with lots of evidence of their positive effects on reducing cardiovascular disease. We should be eating these most days of the week.
Eggs – which brings home that the ‘usual’ rules for heart disease should be stepped up a little when diabetes is in the mix, with evidence indicating no more than 3 eggs a week is prudent advice for people with diabetes.
Nuts – these tick so many of our healthy eating boxes with diabetes. Lots to learn in this one too!
I’ll leave you with a few extra tips from The Heart Foundation. They’ve put together a Recipe Finder that will help you to choose heart healthy recipes, as well as a link to some hard copy cook books that you can order online. Don’t forget to see your doctor to assess your own heart health risk.
Thanks for taking the effort to improve your heart health – we love you for it!
Sally is owner of her private practice (Marchini Nutrition), and has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too.