Dr. Christopher Quirk

BA Oxon, MA, MBBS Hons, MRCP, FRACP, DDU

Diet PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 November 2009 07:22

The dietary requirements for cardiac health remain complex and there are multiple diets advertised throughout the world.  It is important to distinguish what one is trying to achieve with the diet.  For example, a diabetic diet will be very different to a weight reducing diet which will be very different to a cardiac diet.  For example, a healthy cardiac diet maybe very high in calories and will lead to weight gain rather than weight loss. 

With regards to cardiac risk, I would promote a pure weight reducing diet until the weight is normalized.  Is this achievable? Most people find it hard and say ‘No’. It is a very simple fact that if you put in more calories to your body than are burnt off, you will gain weight, and if you burn off more calories than are put in you will loose weight. This fact is undisputable and relates to one of the oldest laws of Physics, which is the law of conservation of energy.  Most patients I speak to do not accept this on the basis that they say they stick to a diet but do not loose weight.  Unfortunately, the fact is that the body is a very efficient piece of equipment, and if you reduce your calorie intake your metabolic rate will reduce in parallel with this until you get down to approximately 900 calories intake per day, which is the minimum the body can operate at.  (Does it surprise you that many over the counter weight reduction schemes talk about 900 calories a day!) Therefore, it is important to keep the metabolic rate high and this can only be achieved by regular exercise. Although during exercise itself you actually burn up quite a small amount of calories, with appropriate exercise you can maintain a higher metabolic rate for the next 24 hours, till you next exercise. Also, I do feel it is important to get proper dietary advice about food components to ensure that you really are in fact on a low calorie diet. 

Now, here’s an important point. You do not need to ruin your life by dieting and miss out on quality of life. Once you have reached your target weight, the by CONTINUING to EXERCISE, you may be able to eat whatever you like, or certainly be more relaxed with your diet. The 6 to 12 months of strict dieting is a small investment for the future. 

Having normalized weight, which itself has probably got the biggest impact in reducing cardiac risk, I would then focus on a healthy cardiac diet.  Personally, I do not think this needs to be a complex issue requiring a dietician input.  Whilst it is important to avoid certain food stuffs, a healthy heart diet more importantly should involve increasing certain substances.  Put very simply, we should be reducing our saturated fat intake and dairy products, we should aim to continue eating meat but make it lean meat, and of particular importance we should be increasing our fruit, vegetables, fibre, legumes and of course fish.  Arguably it is the increase in fibre, vegetables and fish that has the most benefit.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2009 11:02
 
 
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