The Heart and Brain – What’s Good for One is Good for the Other February is Heart Month. Why am I highlighting Heart Month when this blog is about Alzheimer’s? Because the things we do for a healthy heart also contribute to brain health.
The similarities struck me this past Sunday when I read a page of “Tips for Heart Health” in the Boston Globe Magazine by doctors at the Cardiovascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Here is what the doctors said (with lots of editorializing from me!)
Get Up and Move – “Walking is a great way for almost everyone to prevent weight gain and keep the heart strong.” Guess what? Walking is also great for your brain. Recent research suggest that people who exercise frequently have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Have you had a walk today?
Eat Your Fish – “The omega-three fatty acids in fish will increase your good cholesterol and help with circulation, brain function, memory, depression, and more.” The doctor said it perfectly. See how she specifically mentioned brain function and memory? It is now completely accepted within medical circles that omega-threes improve brain health. You can also take fish-oil capsules to get your omega-threes. They have improved in taste in recent years so give them another try.
Avoid Trans Fats – “In general, oil from nuts, seeds, plants and fish is ok in moderation. Avoid artery-clogging trans fats in fast foods like French fries, commercial baked goods like donuts and many candy bars.” We agree – the trans fats are horrible in every way, especially for your brain. Think of them as gunking up your arteries, heart and brain. BUT a brain healthy diet does include the healthy fats, such as a handful of nuts daily and the higher fat fruits and vegetables like avocados are ok. Even eggs are now considered brain healthy even though they are high in cholesterol. Our guest blogger, Nancy Emerson Lombardo, PhD, Creator of the Memory Preservation Nutrition®Program will be blogging about nuts and eggs and lots of other nutritional topics this year so be sure to check back often.
Cut Down on Salt – “Excess salt causes you to retain excess water, placing pressure on your blood vessels and heart. Read food labels, avoid processed and fast foods, and just say no to dill pickles!” Salt is also really bad for the brain. Here’s a way to cut down on salt – use more herbs and spices in your cooking. Researchers are paying more attention to the positive effects of spices on the brain – some have actually been shown to help prevent cognitive decline! Spices have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are both brain and heart healthy. Our guest blogger, Nancy Emerson Lombardo, PhD, Creator of the Memory Preservation Nutrition®Program just did a great piece on spices – check it out!