The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that one in five adults suffers from at least mild sleep apnea. To add to that, sleep apnea affects more men than women. Making matters worse, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with obesity, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. 

Additionally, sleep deprivation that is caused by sleep apnea can lead to further obesity. This vicious cycle can lead to further complications, which is why it is important to seek treatment for sleep apnea and take these steps to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber, which is great for your heart health and overall well-being. By eating more fruits and vegetables, it may help you cut back on higher calorie foods such as meat, cheese and snack foods. 

Be physically active

Getting–and staying–active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great way to boost your mood and bust stress, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when anxiety is heightened. 

When being active, get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week. One way you can achieve this is by doing 30 minutes of activity five days a week. It is easy to fit it in where you can. 

Limit processed and prepackaged foods

It is important that you limit the amount of processed and prepackaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar and fat. Most foods are processed in some way–from minimally processed to ultra processed. 

Some processed foods have ingredients added, such as sweeteners, oils, colors and preservatives. If you eat a lot of highly processed foods, you risk getting too much sodium, added sugars and unhealthy fats. The best way to avoid this is to cook all your meals from scratch if you can.

Cut down on sugary beverages

It is also vital that you find ways to cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices. Instead, choose water or unsweetened juices. Take a minute to really think about what you drink throughout the day. Unless you are a true lover of water, you might be drinking extra unneeded calories with sweetened soft drinks, sodas, iced tea, coffee, juice and energy drinks. 

In fact, drinking sugary beverages is the leading cause of too much added sugar in your diet. Research even suggests that when you drink your calories instead of eating them, you are left unsatisfied. As a result, you might find that you are consuming more calories than you need. 

Quit smoking

The best thing for you is to not smoke. However, if you do smoke, then it is vital that you quit smoking. It has been shown that within two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced. That’s great! Quitting is the single best thing you can do for your heart health. 

Limit alcohol intake

Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines. The AHA and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend that men should have no more than two drinks per day. For women, that is no more than one drink per day. Excessive alcohol use is defined as drinking more than three drinks a day. 

It is important during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond to take care of your heart health and well-being. Protect your heart and prevent the development of sleep apnea as well. Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more.