A Healthy Heart Could Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

alz4Experts agree that Alzheimer’s disease probably develops as a result of complex interactions among multiple factors such as age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions.

We’ve known for a long time that high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. More recently, autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease also have cardiovascular disease. The studies also suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease.

While we can’t do anything about our genes or to stop the aging process, we can adopt certain lifestyle choices, such as physical activity and diet, to help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s.

Research supports the idea that if you eat right, exercise and take care of your heart, you may also be doing good things for your brain—probably because a heart-healthy lifestyle promotes good blood flow to the brain and healthy arteries.

Neurology researchers at the University of Miami Medical School assessed memory, thinking and brain processing speed in more than 1,000 New York City residents 72 years old on average. Participants were evaluated for seven factors that can contribute to better heart health, including:

  • never smoking or being an ex-smoker
  • healthy body weight
  • 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise
  • a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish with little salt and sugar
  • cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar in the ideal ranges

The more heart-healthy traits participants had at the beginning of the study, the better they scored on brain processing speed, or the ability to quickly perform tasks that require focused attention. The association was strongest for being a non-smoker, having normal blood sugar and an ideal weight.

Current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating may also help protect the brain. This means limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Two diets that are often recommended are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils; and limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.

If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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