‘I’m a Cardiologist, and These Are the 5 Things I Do Every Day for Heart Health and Longevity—Plus What I’ll Never Do’
From the chia water internal shower recipe (steeped in toxic diet culture) to the (extremely dangerous) Benadryl challenge that caused one death, TikTok trends can certainly be something to be wary of.
Recently, however, one health-focused TikTok trend has surfaced that does have some solid potential. These videos offer sage advice from experts in various fields sharing what they'd never do given their depth of knowledge they've gained from their years of experience. While most have featured folks with specializations in medicine, it's not uncommon to find useful tips from fire safety experts, chefs, couples therapists, financial advisors, and so on. While every internet trend needs to be considered with a discerning lens—yes, even one with experts—this most recent trend has been a highlight.
One such area of advice I have been hoping to stumble across on my FYP was a cardiologist with their tips for what to do and not do in the name of heart health, but unfortunately, even in my late night scrolling, I have come up short. So, I went ahead and asked a cardiologist to share what rules he follows in his own life—including what he'd never do—in order to maintain optimal heart health and boost his longevity.
3 things a cardiologist never does
For Kaustubh Dabhadkar, MD, MPH, MBA, FACC, a North Carolina-based cardiologist with a specialization in preventative care, the top three no-no's in his personal life are smoking, recreational drugs like cocaine, and excessive alcohol. As a cardiologist, his perspective on these things emphasizes their impact on the heart.
"Smoking is directly associated with a number of health conditions—stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer—without any significant benefits," says Dr. Dabhadkar. "And drugs like cocaine increase short-term as well as long-term risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death."
As for alcohol, the word "excessive" is important. For Dr. Dabhadkar, his key concern here is about alcohol's risk of increasing your LDL (the "bad" form of) cholesterol and triglycerides, so he avoids consuming it in excess.
5 things that a cardiologist does daily
When you think of heart health physicians and what their advice might be, one might be quick to assume that they practice intense fitness regimens, follow a super stringent diet, and stress the importance of taking a cocktail of supplements. However, for Dr. Dabhadkar, you will notice that his own lifestyle practices are neither extreme nor restrictive—instead, they focus on maintaining strong connections with others, prioritizing mindfulness and movement throughout the day, and practicing a well-balanced lifestyle.
Funnily enough, all of the above are common habits throughout the Blue Zones regions of the world, where people tend to live the longest. Coincidence? I'd think not.
1. Take the stairs
"Even a few minutes of exercise each day reduces the future risk of heart disease," says Dr. Dabhadkar. This is a helpful mindset to consider: It's important to remember that you don't have to set aside hours to exercise or go really hard at the gym to boost your heart health. Physical activity looks different for everyone, and while sometimes it might mean taking a spin class or sweating it out at yoga, you can also stay active by going for a short walk, doing housework, or (indeed) taking the stairs.
2. Eat breakfast
"This is the most important meal of the day and keeps me going," says Dr. Dabhadkar. Breakfast is super important for maintaining energy levels throughout the day, and studies have shown that those who skip breakfast tend to miss out on super heart-healthy ingredients like fiber and antioxidants.
"Stress plays a vital role in heart and metabolic diseases," says Dr. Dabhadkar. "Meditation helps with stress management, so doing this every day can be beneficial for managing stress levels."
4. Participate in sports
"Tennis helps me socialize while getting enough exercise," says Dr. Dabhadkar. Believe it or not, socializing is another very important for your heart health. For example, numerous studies have shown that social isolation and literal loneliness can increase one's risk for heart disease.
5. Spend quality time with family
Speaking of the importance of maintaining close relationships. "Spending quality time with my family helps me with stress management, and it's also a wonderful way to remind oneself of what's truly important in life," says Dr. Dabhadkar. Indeed, to drive his previous point home further, it's very significant that two out of the top five tips from this cardiologist are about spending time with other people.