I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…stop dieting! As I’ve explained in the past, actively dieting means restricting your caloric intake, depriving yourself of foods you love and more often than not, eating in a way that is unhealthy. Now, on the other hand, eating a healthy diet is different. It is actively choosing to eat healthier foods rather than unhealthy foods at least 85% of the time…focusing on your health instead of your weight..leading to natural weight loss. Ok, enough said. Why am I bringing this up, once again? Because, this time, I want you to stop dieting for the sake of your heart.
Although eating a healthy diet helps your heart, dieting, including yo-yo dieting, fad diets, crash dieting and extreme cleansing (such as the Master Cleanse) can put a tremendous amount of stress on your heart and can even lead to heart disease. Here’s why:
- Heart Function: Crash dieting can lead to conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, potassium and sodium deficiency as well as brittle bones due to calcium loss. Deficiencies in sodium and potassium are especially dangerous because they are necessary in stabilizing heart, nerve and muscle function. If you are especially deficient in these two nutrients, you could become at risk for a heart attack.
- The Disappearing Heart: Many diets limit carbohydrates and calories, which are essential to providing your body with energy. If your body doesn’t get enough energy through food sources, it will turn to muscle tissue as an energy source. If your calorie and carbohydrate intake becomes low enough, your body will even begin to burn the muscle tissue of vital organs…potentially causing damage to your kidney, liver, brain and your heart, ultimately resulting in liver failure, kidney failure, and yes, heart attack or stroke. Ensure you are getting a minimum of 1,200 calories a day with at least 40% – 60% of those calories from carbohydrates from whole fruit, whole vegetables and whole grains.
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race: A study by the University of Michigan Health System found an increased risk of heart disease in women who have been on a crash diet or engaged in yo-yo dieting at least five times in their lifetime. Further, the risk may increase beginning with menopause. Research also suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What’s more, many diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.
When it comes to safe weight loss and heart health, the best thing you can do is eat nutritious foods and weed out those that are unhealthy. Healthy foods that are whole, high in Omega3s, fiber and mono-unsaturated fats, help protect the heart. Also, don’t underestimate the power of staying active and getting enough sleep.
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