Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day & Men’s Health Concern #1: Heart Disease

It is almost too appropriate that on Father's day and the last day of Men's Health Week, the #1 concern is the Heart. On a day when we recognize our own - and other - fathers, learning about the heart - the strongest muscle, the source of life, and the proverbial source of emotion and love. They give us their hearts as we grow up, nurturing us with the strength of their heart. So as we and they get older, we need to make sure their heart is healthy so they can stay with us as long as possible. If you yourself are a father, it is all so important to your children that you make sure you are with them as long as possible.


When speaking of heart disease, or Cardiovacular disease, we mean various conditions that include:
  • Coronary artery disease (including heart attack)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms or arrythmias
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Pericardial disease
  • Aorta disease and Marfan syndrome
  • Vascular disease (blood vessel disease)
More details on each of these can be found here.

As with all the health concerns, the most important thing it to learn how to prevent heart disease, first because it is easier to address but of course none of us want to experience the concerns in ourselves or loved ones. In most cases minor changes can greatly decrease the chances of encountering the concern. most if which do not require medication unless you are already at risk for the condition and then it may be he best option. The same goes for heart disease. . With heart disease there are five non-medication strategies for prevention:
  • Don't smoke
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Eat a heart-health diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight (which comes from above)
  • Get regular screenings
We already learned with concern #4, respiratory disease, to not smoke and I am no expert on exercise or screenings. My personal and public approach to health and wellness for men - and all - is by diet so a few notes on a heart-healthy diet. By now most of us know that the main steps to a heart health diet are lowering fat, cholesterol, and salt but most find it hard to do that because those seem to be the flavor parts of foods. Who really likes fat in and of itself? Some can have salt craving (I myself grew up with and have loved salt for a long time) but really we usually use salt as a flavor enhancer. I call salt the '-er' seasoning as it is usually used to make the inherent taste of things stand out - it makes peanut butter peanutier, etc.

I have one - yes just one - tip to get around that. Use fresh herbs. As I said above - I used to love salt. I put it on everything and lots of it. As I started cooking more and more, and better and better, I began to use more dried herbs but I still found I needed to add salt to enhance the herbs. Then I began to buy fresh cut herbs at the grocery store and recently we added an herb garden in the back yard and I have removed salt in most cooking except those that need it for the cooking aspect - such as some baking - and rarely salt my own cooked food on the plate.

So for Father's Day, if you haven't gotten a gift yet - or even as an add-on - think about giving an herb such as a pot of rosemary, or even a larger pot with multiple herbs. Now, that may sound more like a Mother's Day gift - a plant - but what is more manly that helping make his strongest muscle stronger, for longer. If you cook for him, you can use some of the herbs and show him how the food can taste with less fat and salt with fresh herbs adding the flavor.

Happy Father's Day to my own father and all the fathers out there. My own father has been an inspiration for me - his big heart has instilled in me my sense of community service and that almost compulsion to come to the aid of family and friends - even strangers - when they are in need that me and I of my siblings suffer.

My dad is my example of the Well-Met Man.