If you’re like me, you probably worry about whether or not you’re doing enough for your brain health. After all, most of us have known someone whose family has been devastated by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
That’s why many of us take supplements to keep our brain functioning optimally, play memory games, do crossword puzzles, and in general, spend a lot of time concentrating on the organ between our ears.
However, taking care of our brains actually starts with caring for a completely different organ – your heart.
Good Heart Health Equals Good Brain Health
Because cardiovascular health factors are modifiable, prevention of cardiovascular risk factors and promotion of a healthy lifestyle should help you achieve the best results for promoting not only cardiovascular health but also superior cognitive health.
In other words, improving your heart health is not only doable, but it can also be easy, which in turn makes improving your brain health easy too.
Modifiable Risk Factors
The American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health using seven modifiable risk factors. These include:
- Blood sugar
- Serum cholesterol
- Blood pressure
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Physical activity
- Cigarette smoking
If you take a look at that list, controlling the last three alone can have an enormous impact on the other four, meaning that if you eat better, exercise more and stop smoking, you could actually:
- Lose weight and improve your BMI
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Improve your blood sugar
So, it all comes down to this — if you want a healthy heart and the healthy brain that comes with it, get active, watch your diet, and ditch the cigarettes for good.
Supplements And Foods That Benefit Both The Heart And The Brain.
Foods like wild-caught fish, nuts, greens, and dark chocolate benefit not only the heart but also the brain. If you don’t like fish, you can get your Omega 3’s in a supplement form. Make sure that your Omega 3 supplement has a high content of DHA because 25% of your brain’s gray matter is composed of DHA.
Make sure you include beets and beetroot juice in your diet. Researchers from Wake Forest University found that combining beetroot juice and exercise improves your brain connectivity and makes your brain behave years younger. Most importantly, beetroot juice and exercise together are more effective at boosting brain health than doing exercise alone.
All study participants took a 50-minute walk on a treadmill three times per week for six weeks. But half of the participants received a beetroot supplement drink, and the other half received a placebo. At the end of the six weeks, the participants who took the beetroot supplement had better brain connectivity than those who didn’t.
Basically, that means the different parts of their brain were communicating better with one another. Their brains were also operating more efficiently, and their brain activity more closely resembled that of someone years younger.
According to researchers, beetroot juice contains a lot of dietary nitrates, which your body converts to nitrite and, eventually, nitric oxide. Nitric oxide improves blood flow throughout your body (which is why beets can improve exercise performance), and you’re the health of your brain (which is why it may help with brain connectivity).
True Or False?
After the age of 25, your brain stops making new brain cells.
That statement is false.
Regardless of what you’ve been told, your brain will continue to make new brain cells no matter what your age. However, your lifestyle plays a big part in how many brain cells you are losing or regenerating. If you want to encourage brain cell regeneration rather than loss, you should follow a few healthy habits like:
- Daily exercise. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Physiology found that moderate-intense exercise causes the brain to produce more brain cells in the hippocampus. So, start your day, power walking, dancing, swimming, bike riding, lifting weights, or doing anything that gets your heart pumping. Something as simple as walking has been shown to keep your brain from shrinking.
- Reduce stress. Any activity that relieves stress promotes new brain cells.
- Indulge in daily neurobic exercise. There’s evidence that brain exercises (known as neurobics) can stimulate brain cell regeneration too. Try simple things like performing your daily habits (brushing teeth, hair, etc.) with your non-dominant hand. Or play games like chess, sudoku, crossword puzzles, or any other memory games you enjoy.
I would also recommend including these brain-healthy supplements:
CDP Choline, Choline plays an essential part in many processes in your body, including:
- Cell structure: It is needed to make fats that support the structural integrity of cell membranes.
- Cell messaging: It is involved in the production of compounds that act as cell messengers.
- Fat transport and metabolism: It is essential for making a substance required for removing cholesterol from your liver. Inadequate choline may result in fat and cholesterol buildup in your liver.
- DNA synthesis: Choline and other vitamins, such as B12 and folate, help with a process that’s important for DNA synthesis.
- A healthy nervous system: This nutrient is required to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. It’s involved in memory, muscle movement, regulating heartbeat, and other essential functions.
- Aids in the production of ATP, energy for the brain
For brain health, I would also recommend Memory Core.
Memory Core supports healthy neurological function and memory, and contains the following ingredients:
Phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a fatty acid that affects the neurotransmitters that affect memory, is a component of the cell’s membrane, and is a major phospholipid in the brain and nervous system. It supports nerve cells, releases neurotransmitters (acetylcholine and dopamine) in the brain to support cognition and memory. PS has a positive impact on behavior and is needed for proper metabolism of fatty acids and to maintain a healthy immune system.
Chocamine®, which is a branded cocoa extract, acts to support focus, reaction time, and short-term memory.
Bacopa supports the health of neurons by balancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, and synaptic activity.
Curcumin and Acetyl-L-Carnitine. In certain brain areas, neurons can multiply and increase in number. The growth hormone, known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF, is a primary component of that process. Decreased levels of BDNF have been linked to common brain disorders, like depression and Alzheimer’s. Both Curcumin and Acetyl-L-Carnitine supports healthy levels of BDNF in the brain.
To find out more about what you can do to optimize the health and function of your brain, call Doctor’s Nutrition today at 1-800-824-0194
- Can you grow new brain cells? — Harvard Health Publishing
- Beetroot: Health benefits and nutritional information. Medical News Today. Retrieved April 20, 2017.