To stay mentally sharp, you should focus on improving your heart health. The heart, of course, is responsible for pumping blood to various parts of your body. Aside from promoting circulation, though, there's new evidence suggesting that heart health affects cognitive function.
About the Study
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who have poor heart health are more likely to suffer from cognitive decline than their counterparts. Researchers found that people with risk factors for heart disease -- high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. -- had higher rates of dementia than heart-healthy people.
How does the health of your heart affect that of your brain exactly? Researchers say that poor heart health accelerates the process of cognitive decline. It doesn't necessarily cause dementia or other forms of cognitive decline. Rather, it speeds up the process.
"There are many specific cardiovascular risk factors, and each can either individually, or in combination, push the fast-forward button towards different aspects of cognitive decline," explained the study's lead researcher when talking about the findings.
How to Promote a Healthy Heart
To promote a healthy heart, you must make the necessary changes to both your diet and lifestyle. For starters, this means cutting out trans fats. Not to be confused with saturated fats, trans fats are the worst for your heart. They've been shown to raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. The combination of these effects wreaks havoc on the heart by contributing to hypertension and increasing the risk of heart disease.
Eating more leafy greens will promote a healthy heart. Leafy greens contain vitamins and nutrients that reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation, of course, is a risk factor of heart disease. If left unchecked, it will cause swelling in the arteries that restricts blood flow. By eating more leafy greens, you'll be better protected against heart disease and, therefore, cognitive decline.
You'll need to experience to maintain a healthy heart. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently found that only 23% of U.S. adults get enough exercise. If you're among the majority, you should consider increasing the amount of exercise you perform. Specifically, aerobic exercise is good for your heart because it forces your heart, as well as your lungs, to work harder.
Neglecting to follow a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle may lead to faster and more severe cognitive decline. So, make the appropriate dieting and lifestyle changes to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.