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When choosing foods, activities, and healthy habits for your brain’s health, look no further than the information you know about heart health. If you know the foods and activities that promote good heart health, then you know the food and activities that promote good brain health. Research shows that the two are even more connected than we thought. Apparently, what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.
New research showed that people with the highest cardiac output for their body size (known as their cardiac index), meaning those with the greatest blood flow from their heart, tended to have more brain volume, which generally indicates a healthier brain.
Furthermore, researchers found that people with the lowest cardiac output showed nearly two more years of brain aging than did those with the highest cardiac output.
“Those with the lowest cardiac index and the middle group both had smaller brain volumes than those with the highest cardiac index,” said the study’s lead author, Angela Jefferson, an associate professor of neurology at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Boston University School of Medicine.
“Our results definitely suggest that cardiac health is related to brain health,” she noted.
Results of the study are published in the Aug. 2 online edition of Circulation.
The health of the heart and circulatory system are increasingly being linked to the health of the brain. Poor heart health has been linked to neuropsychological impairments and dementia, according to background information in the study.
Clearly, there is a strong connection between heart health and brain health. The things that affect the heart can affect brain health. The most important thing we should take away from this is the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle. When we do the following, we not only protect our heart’s health, we protect our brain’s health as well:
- Exercise regularly. Having a sedate lifestyle isn’t good for any part of our body or any corner of our life.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts a strain on your heart and your respiratory system. Both are needed for optimum brain functioning.
- Don’t smoke. Again, the heart and respiratory system are greatly affected by smoking and each play incredibly key roles in our brain’s health.
- Manage high blood pressure and cholesterol. You should know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and, if they are high, you should be under a doctor’s care.
- Practice proper relaxation techniques. Know, firsthand, what things relax you and restore calm to your body, spirit, and mind. Practice your relaxation techniques regularly – never let a day go by without surrendering to complete and total relaxation for at least 20 minutes, more during particularly stressful times.
- Get enough sleep. You know how much sleep you require to feel your best. Do your best to make sure you get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Cut WAY back on greasy foods, fried foods, sweets, and salt.
A lot of the things we should do and shouldn’t do for healthy hearts and healthy brains fall under the category “Good old fashioned common sense.” Basically, we know what habits are healthy habits and we know the ones that are unhealthy. It’s just a matter of committing ourselves to sticking with the good and throwing out the bad.
Maybe the fact that our hearts AND brains depend upon it will help us make healthy choices. If not, what in the world would it take?
Make each moment count double,