The consumption of blueberries and strawberries is associated with delayed cognitive aging by as much as 2.5 years, thought to be because of brain-localizing anthocyanin phytonutrients, as shown on functional MRI scans.
MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH- EAT WELL FOR A HEALTHY BRAIN!
With the growing baby boomer population, it is no surprise dementia is on the rise. Dementia is a broad term encompassing declined ability in cognition (thinking) leading to the inability to complete normal daily activities. The leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million Americans currently suffer from and every 68 seconds, another American is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (http://m.alz.org/facts-and-figures.asp).
To care for the brain, lifestyle is very important. A healthy lifestyle supporting optimal brain health includes exercise leading to a healthy weight; a well balanced diet; social interaction; and mental stimulation by learning new things. Obesity in middle age has been shown to double the risk of dementia in later life (https://www.alz.org/we_can_help_adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp). Specific brain healthy foods include - dark leafy green vegetables, nuts high in Vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids in fish.
The article Brain Foods: the Effect of Nutrients on Brain Function by Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, discusses how nutrition is critical in maintaining brain health at the cellular level. The brain cells are lined by fat; about 30% of that fat is composed of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is not made well in our bodies. We obtain it through diet, specifically fish. DHA also affects activation of genes important for cognition and neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change with new experiences. Not only does DHA have positive effects on brain function, a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to increase the risk of dementia and mental disorders such as depression and ADD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/).
In summary, eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, and Vitamin E, low in saturated fats and cholesterol for a healthy brain. It would seem that we really are what we eat.
FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH: MORE FACTS
This is a great synopsis about heart failure, another common type of heart disease.
FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH: THE FACTS
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm:
- About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
- Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
- Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
There are several types of heart disease. They are: coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies (heart muscle disease), pericardial disease, and vascular disease (blood vessel disorders). In this post, let’s highlight the most common of these disorders: coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction.
Coronary artery disease occurs when the heart’s blood vessels (coronary arteries) become narrowed by cholesterol plaques. Plaque formation occurs slowly, over years. As we age, the plaques may build up, creating narrow and stiff arteries. The plaques become points of attraction for blood clot formation. If the coronary arteries become too narrow leading to loss of blood flow to that area of the heart, ischemia results. The area of the heart supplied by that coronary artery is starved of nutrients and oxygen. The resulting symptoms are chest pain, sweating, dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, or no symptoms at all. Risk factors for CAD are: diabetes, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and alcohol abuse.
If the ischemia is transient, this is known as angina – a warning at the cusp of a heart attack. If the ischemia is sustained, this is a heart attack. It all depends on how narrow the artery is and what kind of stress the heart is under. If the artery is not completely occluded, symptoms of angina occur when the heart is stressed during exercise or excitement, since the heart cannot keep up with extra demand for blood flow. If the stress ceases in time, a heart attack is narrowly avoided. However, if the stress is sustained and/or the artery is almost or totally occluded, a heart attack occurs.
Stay tuned for the next post addressing more facts about heart disease.