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What’s Good for the Heart is Good for the Brain!

What’s Good for the Heart is Good for the Brain!

As we start off the New Year making resolutions like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, losing weight, or joining a gym, we cannot overlook improving our cognitive function.

Research shows that changing your diet and regular exercise can help you with heart disease, cancer, and other major diseases. These lifestyle choices could also help you maintain a healthy brain, by slowing or reducing your risk of cognitive decline, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association has studied the connection between heart health and brain health. The research conducted during this study demonstrated that activities which protect the heart, such as physical exercise, may also protect the brain. The report does not indicate which specific exercises are most effective at reducing health risks, however, it clearly displayed the benefits of daily exercise.

Consuming a heart-healthy diet may also be associated with reducing the risk of dementia. Whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, chicken, nuts, legumes, and healthy fats such as olive oil, all contain health benefits for your heart. Avoiding processed foods, red meat, and saturated fats is encouraged. Here are some examples of other items to avoid: sodas, breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips and frozen foods, like lasagna, pizza, or ice cream. Some other factors which could put your heart health at risk may include inadequate sleep or poor sleep quality, excessive alcohol use or depression.

Additional studies show that remaining socially and mentally active throughout life may support brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Getting out with friends, playing games, and completing puzzles can all help stimulate your brain health.

It is important to mention that “reducing the risk” of cognitive decline and dementia is not synonymous with preventing cognitive decline and dementia altogether. Taking steps to reduce risk factors early on in life may simply delay the process of developing dementia later down the road. At this time, there is no way to completely prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but there is much to be gained by adopting a healthy lifestyle and brain healthy habits that you enjoy. Cheers to a healthy and happy new you in 2023!

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