February is a month dedicated to the heart, emotionally and physically speaking. Even though it is American Heart Month, and we receive a lot of useful information regarding heart health, I want to address the heart and head connection. Well, specifically, the heart’s special relationship with the brain.
According to the American Heart Association, the lifestyle choices we make to protect your heart are also beneficial for the brain. Your heart will thank you for choosing to quit smoking, exercise more and eat healthier. According to the scientific minds of the medical community, your brain will also appreciate your healthier choices.
Recent research has shown that as heart health declines, so does cognitive health, according to the AHA. If the heart does not function optimally, the blood vessels leading to the brain may not do their job of delivering the nutrients and energy. If this happens, the brain can become impaired. Memory loss, confusion, trouble focusing and sleep impairment are all cognitive issues that occur due to restricted blood flow to the brain. This blood flow comes from a strong and healthy pumping heart. One research case found that “stiffening of the arteries is linked to reduced blood flow to the brain.”
As you can see, helping the heart does indeed help your head.
One of the more interesting studies I found from Brain & Life suggests that the Mediterranean diet is as good for the brain as it is for the heart. This diet consists of lots of vegetables, fruits and beans, moderate nuts and fish and limited meat and dairy. The study revealed that the participants following this diet, as opposed to the others, were 46% less likely to have a decline in cognitive functions. While there are ongoing studies and research, the fact is, choosing a healthier lifestyle can only benefit you.
A great place to start is with a complete physical and a detailed blood panel. Discuss any health concerns with your doctor and together put a plan in place you both agree on.
Add in exercise, 30 minutes of movement a day is a good goal to strive for. Quit smoking. Limit your sugar intake, as sugar is believed by many experts to be the leading cause of obesity and many chronic diseases. Alleviate stress with methods such as meditation, massage and yoga. We have many incredible yoga studios right here in Center Moriches that are happy to help you including Yogaholic and Buddha Beach Hot Yoga.
Becoming proactive in taking care of yourself is a surefire way to decrease your chances of illness. Start taking better care of yourself today and enjoy a healthier tomorrow.