The Biggest Step You Can Take to Protect Your Brain Health

The brain is, without a doubt, our most valuable asset. It houses our personality, defines who we are and allows us to navigate the world. We want to preserve as much of it as possible, but we may also have multiple hurdles working against us. Genetic issues and neurodegenerative diseases can significantly affect our mental functioning.

We still have more power than we may realize, though, and some of us could even dodge the dementia or Alzheimer's bullets with the right approach. We can do brain games and play crossword puzzles all day, but it might not save us from the underlying cause of many dementia cases. And this one major step could be the most important we take to keep our brains in their best possible shape.

The Heart-Brain Connection

We can try a few different avenues to help our brains stay sharp, but not every effort we make is equally effective. The American Heart Association recently revealed findings showing many of us are taking approaches that aren’t as helpful as we think. Experts have found that spending time playing brain games and crossword puzzles can only get us so far; we need proper blood circulation to feed all that living tissue. Even minor cardiovascular issues could lead to diminished brain health later down the line.

The connection is so strong that the health choices we make even in our young adult years could hurt our brains for decades to come. Studies have shown people between 18 and 30 with poorly controlled blood pressure, high cholesterol or poorly controlled blood sugar levels (all factors that severely affect cardiovascular health) had notable differences in brain acuity test scores by middle age.

Protecting Brain Health

Taking charge of our heart health might feel like one massive step, but we can break it down into a number of smaller actions. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task; just choose one or two components to overcome at a time:

Every little move we make to keep our cardiovascular systems healthy could make all of the difference. It’s easy to take for granted how delicate our bodies are; the more mindful we can be about the choices we make, starting at a young age, the better off our brains may be.

Experts are just beginning to understand the complex relationships between the different parts of the body. The link between cardiovascular health and mental acuity is a big one, though, and any effort we can make to keep blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in check is likely to benefit both systems. By taking charge sooner rather than later, and teaching kids while they're young, we optimize our chances of reaping the greatest rewards for ourselves and the younger people who depend on us.

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12/29/2021 6:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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