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A healthy heart can help also protect your brain.

A healthy heart can help also protect your brain.

When we think of dementia we tend to be worried about losing of control. The good news is about 40% of all dementias can be averted or delayed by changing our habits of health.

About half one million Australians suffer from dementia. With no cure, the number could reach 1.1 million in 2058.

Dementia is a risk factor that shares that are associated with cardiovascular (of the blood vessels and the heart) diseases, which include high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels, smoking and being overweight. Inflammation and an oxidative stress (where antioxidants protecting us from damage are losing battle to harmful free radicals) occur. This causes blood vessels to become damaged and slows the flow oxygen and blood for the brain.

Without sufficient oxygen to the cells of your brain don’t perform their jobs effectively and then cease to function and eventually die. The reduced blood flow leaves the brain susceptible to plaques and tangles that are seen in the forms of dementia.

However, by altering our lifestyles and lifestyles, we can boost heart health and decrease the risk of developing dementia. Below are 5 lifestyle modifications we can implement today …

Consume 2-3 servings of oily fish per week

Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and sardines are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3’s can reduce inflammation and have been found to dramatically reduce blood pressure.

Omega-3s also help aid in the function and structure of brain cells. They also serve as “essential nutrients”. That means that we must obtain them through our diet. This is particularly true when we get older, as the intake of omega-3 has been associated with health rates of cognitive decline.

Consume plant-based foods at every meal

The plant foods, such as leafy greens, olive oil extra virgin blueberries, nuts, and pulses – have many minerals and vitamins, such as flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids Vitamin C, vitamin E. These micronutrients are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect and improve blood vessel function.

Plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean diet have been proven to increase the regulation of glucose levels, blood pressure, and body composition. They are linked to lower levels in cognitive decline as well as higher indicators of brain health, and a lower risk of developing dementia.

Get real food and drink, with many plant-based options throughout the day. AAP Image/James Ross

Consume less processed foods

On the other hand saturated fats as well as refined carbohydrates, processed and red meats are thought to trigger inflammation pathways. Additionally, highly processed foods are connected to hypertension as well as type 2 diabetes and overweight.

Consuming more of these food items can mean that we not reap the health benefits of other foods. All-grains (like whole grains like oats, buckwheat and barley) contain fiber as well as vitamin B E, magnesium, and phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Grains that are refined (like white bread rice, pasta and rice) are extremely processed which means that a lot of these essential nutrients are eliminated.

Make it physical and enjoyable

Physical exercise can help reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and improve blood vessel function. This assists the body in delivering greater oxygenation to brain cells, which improves memory, as well as other cognitive functions that are affected by dementia.

The guidelines suggest that adults engage in some form of physical activity most days, break lengthy periods without activity (like watching television) and add certain exercises for resistance.

The best way to develop habitual exercise over time is selecting the activities you love and gradually implementing small changes in your activities. Anything that increases the heart rate is categorized as physical exercise, such as walking, gardening and even household chores.

Stop smoking

Smokers are 60 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than those who do not smoke. This is due to smoking increasing inflammation and oxidative stress which affect the structure and function of blood vessels.

Stopping smoking cigarettes can start to reverse the negative effects. Indeed, people who have smoked before are significantly less at chance of developing dementia and cognitive decline as compared to smokers who are currently smoking which is similar to those who have not ever smoked.

Former smokers lower their risk of developing dementia by a significant amount. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Do you think it’s too late?

It’s never too early or too late to start making these modifications.

High blood pressure and obesity at midlife are the most significant indicators of the risk of developing dementia as are physical inactivity, diabetes and smoking are more reliable indicators later in life. Regular exercise earlier in life may lower blood pressure, and also reduce the chance of developing diabetes. As with quitting smoking cigarettes, any change in any age can decrease inflammation and increase your risk of developing dementia.

PET scans of the brain reveal changes that are seen in Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most prevalent form of dementia. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Little by little

It’s not easy to make a complete change in your diet, embark on an exercise routine and stop smoking at all at once. However, even tiny changes can lead to substantial improvements in your health. Start by making changes that are manageable such as:

Use Extra virgin olive oil substitute for margarine, butter as well as other cooking oils.

substitute one serving of processed food items, such as white bread, chips, or biscuits from commercial sources swap one serving of processed food for one handful of nuts

Swap one serving of meat every week for one serving of oily fish

Swap five minutes of sitting to five minutes walking, and gradually increase the amount each day.


Physical fitness will add years to your lifespan and can improve your overall quality of living. Cardiorespiratory (lung as well as heart) fitness is also linked with fewer respiratory illnesses and higher survival rates from these illnesses.

How do you become fit? Make time for the minimum amount of walking, and more vigorous exercise whenever possible, throughout the day. Ideally, you should go outside and connect with your significant others. The more you can do, so long as you’re not putting too much effort into your personal fitness level.


Stress affects our immunity. It can disrupt the the cortisol reaction, which may inhibit immunity. Chronic stress can reduce the lymphocyte count in your body (white lymphocytes that fight infections). The lower the number of lymphocytes is the higher the risk of getting the virus.

How can we reduce stress? Yoga, meditation mindfulness, cognitive-behavior therapy, meditation as well as optimizing our sleep and eating right can all aid in reducing the negative effects from stress in our daily lives. Additionally, taking nutrients like B vitamins, B vitamins, as well as the whole spectrum of minerals, such as magnesium zinc and iron, when you are stressed can have an impact positive on stress levels.

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