Help your heart – boost your brain
More than half a million Australians live with dementia and that number is expected to double in the next 40 years.
The good news is up to 40% of dementia cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting some healthy habits that are good for your heart, according to a group of Adelaide scientists.
Dementia and cardiovascular diseases share key risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity and smoking. Inflammation and oxidative stress damage blood vessels, in turn leading to reduced blood flow to the brain. Without sufficient oxygen, brain cells die and the brain is vulnerable to the formation of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
The scientists from UniSA say five simple lifestyle changes can help your heart and your brain.
1. Eat oily fish such as salmon and sardines. 2-3 serves a week provide essential anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, helping reduce blood pressure and support brain cells.
2. Eat plant foods. Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients such as polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamins such as C and E, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
3. Reduce processed food intake. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, saturated fats, and red and processed meats can trigger inflammation and are linked to hypertension, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eating more processed foods also means missing out on healthier options.
4. Enjoy physical activity. Being active can reduce blood pressure and inflammation and help deliver more oxygen to the brain. Find an activity you enjoy that gets your heart rate up, and do it every day. Start small and build up gradually.
5. Don’t smoke. Smokers have a 60% greater risk of developing dementia, thanks to the damage done to blood vessels through inflammation and oxidative stress. Quitting smoking reduces the risk.
It’s never too late, or too early, to make lifestyle changes that will help your heart and your brain.
At PIM we have a particular interest in the role of diet and nutrition in our health and wellbeing. Contact us to learn more.