We tend to think of our heart and brain as two very different organs in our bodies, but the fact is they're very closely related. Both of these organs depend on good vascular health and circulation, and now a new study shows just how protective a healthy heart is against cognitive decline and memory loss.
For a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami analyzed data collected on 1,033 adults from the Northern Manhattan Study. The average age of all participants was 72, and 65% were Hispanic, 19% were black, and 16% were white.
The researchers gave each of the participants a baseline analysis for brain processing speed, cognition, and memory at the beginning of the study. Plus, they measured their adherence to the American Heart Association's "Life's Simple 7" for heart health: diet, weight management, physical exercise, blood sugar control, healthy cholesterol, healthy blood pressure, and tobacco avoidance. They repeated the cognitive testing for 722 of the participants six years later, and found that those who had the most measures on the "Simple 7" had less decline in memory, executive functioning, and brain processing speed than those who had less of those cardiovascular health factors.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Heart and Brain Healthy?
There's no question that the same lifestyle factors that help to keep your heart healthy can protect your brain. But I would make a few changes to the American Heart Association's recommendations.
For better heart and brain health, I recommend:
- Following the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean Diet, and including "brain foods" like wild salmon, DHA fortified eggs, nuts, and seeds.
- Keeping your weight in the healthy range.
- Getting regular exercise, such as brisk walking, dancing, and strength training.
- Keeping your blood sugar in the healthy range of less than 90 mg/dL.
- Keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range of less than 120 over 80 mmHg.
- Avoiding tobacco products.
Plus, when it comes to cholesterol I don't recommend driving LDL cholesterol lower (especially with statin drugs) since your brain needs LDL cholesterol for proper functioning. The most important cholesterol ratio to focus on for your heart and overall health is your triglyceride/HDL ratio. Ideally, you want to achieve no more than a two-to-one ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. For example, if your triglycerides are 100 mg/dl, you want your HDL cholesterol to be 50 mg/dl.
Plus, Here Are My Top-Recommended Supplements for Brain Health
- Alpha lipoic acid (50-150 mg daily)
- N-acetylcysteine (200-600 mg daily)
- Coenzyme Q10 (50-100 mg daily)
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (1-2 g daily)
- Resveratrol (25-50 mg daily)
- Turmeric (100-300 mg daily)
- Melatonin (1-5 mg daily at night)
- Vitamin B-complex (800 mcg folic acid, 20 mg of B6, 20 mcg of B12)
- Acetyl-L-carnitine (500 mg daily)
- Blueberry powder (25 mg daily) and vitamin C (10 mg daily)
- Ashwagandha (200 mg daily)
- Phosphatidylserine (400 mg)
- DMAE (20 mg daily)
- CDP-choline (100 mg daily)
- Phosphatidylcholine (75 mg daily)