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Nutrition News: Heart and Brain Connection

Charlyn Fargo on

Remember the song "The Skeleton Dance" from your childhood? Here's how it went: "The toe bone's connected to the foot bone, the foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the leg bone."

Researchers have found the same thing applies to our heart and brain -- they're connected. It seems all our body is connected, from our bones to our heart to our brain.

When one is healthy, it helps the other. Researchers have found the same factors that raise the risk for heart disease also impact brain disease, including stroke, Alzheimer's disease and other dementia. And for the first time, the American Heart Association's 2022 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics annual report includes a chapter on brain health. Simply put, the heart pumps blood through the vascular system to every part of the body. Problems with the heart or vascular system can impact the brain.

So, what can you do to keep your heart and brain healthy?

No. 1: Choose a healthy diet, emphasizing plant foods, seafood and dairy products. Try to limit highly processed foods (cakes and sweets with refined grains, added sugars and sodium). Choose unsaturated fats from olive and canola oils over saturated fats. Choose more fish, nuts and seeds.

No. 2: Move more. Any movement counts. It's especially important to stand often rather than sitting for long periods.

 

No. 3: Get plenty of sleep. The latest research suggests seven hours of sleep a night.

No. 4: Avoid tobacco products including e-cigarettes, vaping and secondhand smoke.

No. 5: Know your numbers. Excess weight, high blood pressure, high glucose and high blood cholesterol all increase the risk for vascular disease. Get regular bloodwork to see if medication is needed.

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