Tag: heart health

What’s Good for Your Heart, Is Good for Your Brain

by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.

“The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

The heart and the head are not always on the same page. But one thing is certain, when it comes to nourishing these two essential parts of you, what’s good for one is also good for the other.

You probably already know that you can support the health of your heart with lifestyle changes. Even if you are genetically susceptible, the lifestyle choices you make can turn on or off those genes, raising or lowering your inherent risk for heart disease. In short, even family history can be rewritten depending on how you choose to eat, move and live. (64-66)

What’s the Connection?

Everything known to be unhealthy for blood vessels and the heart is also linked to poor brain health. The culprits that raise heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, stiff arteries, inflammation and obesity, may also impact brain function. (61,62)

In contrast, every habit you adopt to lower the risk of heart disease helps to support positive brain health. For example, a study from the University of Miami compared cardiovascular health with cognitive function in more than 1,000 people. Results showed that those who had the highest scores on measures of heart health did the best on mental tests. They scored highest on processing information, memory and the ability to organize, manage time and control impulses, a set of skills known as “executive function.” (1)

A Hearty Diet for the Mind

To protect your brain, adopt a heart-healthy diet, preferably one that resembles the Mediterranean diet rich in fatty fish, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and nuts. This diet supports healthy arteries that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to both the brain and heart, and helps clear fatty deposits from arteries to help keep blood pressure in check. (58-60,63)

  1. Think Fish
    One of the mainstays of this diet is the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA found in fatty fish, such as salmon and herring. The health benefits of consuming at least two servings a week of fatty fish has been known for decades. (17-21,38) The body cannot make these fats at optimal levels, so it holds true that as intake decreases, levels in the brain of these omega-3s also decrease. (2-15,56,57) The benefits of DHA and EPA to mood, cognition and learning are noted around the world in both men and women and throughout life, from infancy through the senior years. (22-37)
  2. Eat the Rainbow
    The heart pumps one-fifth of its blood to the brain, where billions of brain cells use 20 percent of the blood’s oxygen and fuel. Along with that oxygen comes oxygen fragments, called oxidants or free radicals. Left unchecked, the oxidative damage caused by this onslaught damages cells. The antioxidants in foods, such as vitamins C and E, protect both the arteries and the brain from damage. (39,40-42) For example, preliminary evidence suggests that vitamin E helps lower the risk for both heart disease and dementia. (43-47,56,57) Load at least half of every plate with a variety of antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables, and include vitamin E-rich nuts in the weekly diet.
  3. Supplement Responsibly
    On the days when you don’t eat perfectly, supplement. Make sure your multi-vitamin contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Supplement your multi-vitamin with DHA and EPA omega-3s. Rest assured that supplemental sources of these fats are just as effective at protecting your heart and brain as are the same fats found in fatty fish. (48-52)
  4. Stay Lean
    Humans are not meant to be overweight. Excess body fat is associated with most aspects of aging and health conditions. For example, being overweight in the middle years significantly increases the risk for dementia down the road. The good news – the very diet that protects your brain and heart also helps to slim your waistline! (53-55)

Live It Up!

One cannot live by diet alone. To protect your heart and head, include exercise in the daily routine. Move at a level that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat, and you’ll stimulate growth of the hippocampus, the memory and learning center in your brain. You’ll also reduce many of the risk factors for heart disease. Then, sleep well, lower stress, and of course, don’t smoke! Adopt those habits and your brain and heart will repay you a thousand-fold!

References

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The Role of Nutrition in Heart Health (Infographic)

83 Million Americans are living with heart disease or the after-effects of stroke. The numbers are scary, but we can do our part to help improve them by making simple lifestyle changes and focusing on heart-healthy nutrition – specifically omega-3 fatty acids, oat beta-glucan and vitamin D.

Click on the infographic below to expand it and read more about heart health and nutrition. For more information, visit www.vitaminsinmotion.com

Heart Health Info Graphic_FINAL

A Heart-Healthy Message from Santa and Mrs. Claus

Two of the most beloved holiday icons are leveraging their celebrity this season to bring attention to heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Mrs. Claus is inviting American families to join her in making the same, heart-healthy lifestyle changes she and Santa are taking on this year to raise awareness for nutrition’s role in heart health.

Find out more and hear Mrs. Claus’ important message from her and Santa here: www.clausnutrition.comee59ef9a-1242-4a04-af2b-8b9ecf947716.HR

Tips for a healthy heart

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control?

It is important to maintain good cardiovascular health. Check out these tips:

  • Get a pet. A recent study from the American Heart Association found owning a pet, particularly a dog, may reduce your risk for heart disease
  • Support healthy blood flow. Taking a supplement like the newly available OptiFlow with Fruitflow may support blood flow by helping to maintain healthy platelet function
  • Cut back on sodium and saturated fat. Limit your salt and saturated fat intake as part of an overall healthy diet
  • Consume more omega-3s. Research from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto found omega-3s, when used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle may help reduce risk for heart disease
  • Eat a diet rich in good-for-you foods. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber
  • Exercise. Plan to be active every day and ask a friend to join your activities to make them more fun and engaging

Protecting the Heart of the One You Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We talk a lot about brain health on this blog, and we’ve learned that oftentimes, what’s good for the brain is also good for the heart!

This year, honor the hearts of your loved ones by adopting simple steps to keep your family members’ hearts healthy.

  1. Improve your overall level of physical fitness with daily activities like walking, stretching or biking. Maintain a reasonable body weight.
  2. Eat a balanced diet rich in omega-3s, vegetables and fiber. Cut down on carbs, salt and alcohol.
  3. Check your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood flow. Swanson Fruitflow Circulatory Health Formula is a heart health supplement that features Fruitflow® a tomato-based extract to help maintain healthy blood flow by keeping platelets smooth.
  4. Avoid smoking and other risky behaviors that can damage your heart.

Also make it a priority to warm your heart this Valentine’s Day by spending quality time with friends and family!

How are you protecting the hearts of your loved ones this year?

Omega-3s vs. omega-6s

Good fats, or, essential fatty acids, cannot be produced by the human body, but the body needs them to help support heart health, lower triglycerides, and support brain health. There are two kinds of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6, and it’s important to understand the difference and incorporate them into your diet.

Omega-6s

These essential fatty acids are important for the body, however the body cannot make these omega-6 fatty acids on its own. Most sources of omega-6 fatty acids are found in food you eat, such as lettuce, nuts, vegetable oils and poultry. Omega-6 fatty acids aid in reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and high blood pressure.

Omega-3s

Studies show these essential fatty acids support brain health. There are three major omega-3 fatty acids each with distinct health benefits:

  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a structural fat, making up approximately 30 percent of the structural fats in the gray matter of the brain and 97 percent of the omega-3s in the brain. Studies have shown DHA plays a role in infant mental development, brain and nervous system development and function, and supporting the mental function of children and adults throughout life.
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) is a long chain omega-3 fatty acid, and is important for human health. However, unlike DHA, EPA is not stored in significant levels in the brain and retina and is not considered a significant structural part of the body.
  • Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA), is a shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a source of energy. It is also a precursor for EPA and DHA and is needed for skin health.