Research shows that, beyond any shadow of doubt, brain health and heart health are directly linked. It goes without saying, but I’ll probably say it anyway, what’s good for your heart is good for your mind. There are many ways you can incorporate heart-healthy habits and lifestyle changes into each day. When you do so, your heart AND your brain will become healthier.
That may be the best two-for-one deal I’ve ever heard of!
- Studies have found that eating the king of all omega-3 fatty acid super foods, fish, is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline or dementia. Omega 3’s are also, of course, the cornerstone of all heart healthy diets.
- Eat to live, don’t live to eat. At the risk of being blunt, get your weight under control NOW. Study after study shows that people who are obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia.
- Get some sort of activity (such as walking) for 30 minutes each day.
- Reduce your intake of fat and cholesterol. Countless studies have shown that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries and is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Use mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, for example. Bake, steam, or grill your food instead of frying. Find alternative seasonings to help your taste buds adapt. An example: I LOVE fried fish – to absolute distraction. However, I’ve found that if I use a Blackened Fish seasoning, I honestly like it just as much grilled or baked. I’ve been grilling fish on my George Foreman grill and, honestly, can’t remember the last time I fried fish. I simply don’t miss it at all.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke… stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smoking interferes with blood flow and oxygen to the brain and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
From the Alzheimer’s Association:
Some of the strongest evidence about maintaining your brain links brain health to heart health. Even though you can’t feel your brain working, it’s one of the most active organs in your body. Your heart pumps about 20 percent of your blood to your brain, where billions of cells use about 20 percent of the blood’s oxygen and fuel.
If your heart isn’t pumping well — or if your brain’s blood vessels are damaged — your brain cells have trouble getting all the food and oxygen they need. Any condition that damages your heart or blood vessels can affect your brain’s blood supply.
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