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The Heart Beat: Your guide to better brain health


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By Curtis Bovee

Staff Writer

Most would agree our brain is pretty important. Arguably, it is the most important organ in the human body.

How come we don’t maintain our brain like we do the rest of our body?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Currently, greater than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.

Fortunately, there are many everyday things we can do increase brain health and prevent its deterioration.

Certainly the easiest way to promote brain health is through diet. The following brain-boosters will help with brain function and health:

  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries and blueberries contain powerful antioxidants important for improving motor skills and enhancing memory. One cup per day will suffice in contributing to brain health and can substitute for a healthy dessert.

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables: green veggies including kale and spinach are full of B-Vitamins and aid in remembering old information and increasing cognitive function.

  • Nuts: basically all nuts are helpful in improving brain health. Full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as different vitamins, nuts are great for memory, cognitive function, and brain nourishment.

  • Dark chocolate: luckily, we can still eat sweet foods while reaping benefits (remember, moderation). Dark chocolate also yields high levels of antioxidants. In addition, it helps increase oxygen to your brain, increasing awareness and concentration. Just don’t eat too much of it. Consuming a few ounces a day is plenty.

In addition to diet, exercise helps to keep your brain sharp. The idea “you use it or lose it” is applicable to brain health as well as your muscles. Exercise of any kind will reap brain health benefits by increasing heart rate which will help deliver more oxygen to the brain. Exercise also helps to release a wide array of hormones in your body that contributes to cellular health and homeostatic balance.

Combining diet and exercise with minimal stress will significantly contribute to improvements in brain health. The brain is arguably the hardest hit organ when stress invades your body. A chronic overreaction to stress wreaks havoc on your brain, creating a battlefield. The result? An over-secretion of detrimental hormones, an increasing amount of sugar in your blood, an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure. These consequences will certainly decrease awareness and concentration, impair your memory, and contribute to declining cognitive function.

Bob Marley said it best, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Living a social lifestyle with others and just being happy has proven to not only increase brain health but longevity as well.

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