Embrace Your Heart – Embrace Your Brain

Here’s yet another reason to “know your numbers!” Recently the Center for Disease Control and the American Heart Association reported evidence of a strong link between the risk factors for heart disease and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

We all know we should have our blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar tested. We all should maintain a healthy body weight and eat foods low in fat and high in fiber. But most of us don’t.

Yet, people in their 40’s and 50’s have the opportunity to impact not only their heart health but also prevent or delay developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Younger people have an even better opportunity. People in their 60’s can significantly delay the onset of symptoms. Even those who are already experiencing cognitive decline can receive some relief and even delay more problems by treating heart disease related conditions.

Here are some tips to take charge of your health and start creating a brighter future today:

Make an appointment to discuss your risk factors with your doctor. Controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar will reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Move more. Be more active in your daily life. Walk the dog, do chores around the house, turn on an exercise program or video. Being active doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym. Using tools like a pedometer and taking 10,000 steps during your day can help to increase your activity level, make you feel better and help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in line.

Make good choices at meal time. At breakfast include some good quality fiber like oatmeal or whole grain bread. At lunch avoid trans-fats in fried and prepackaged items and choose a plate filled with color. Having a salad, soup or stir fry is a much better choice than the burger and fries. At dinner limit your serving of meat to the side of a deck of cards and fill the rest of your plate (and belly) with whole grain rice or pasta, vegetables and fruits.

Take a break. One of the leading risk factors for all disease is stress, and it is often the most difficult to control. Each day take a moment to sit quietly, breath in and out and remind yourself of the good things in your life. Focusing on the people you love, the things that make you laugh and the smiles you share can brighten your day and lighten the load.

Avoid smoke. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death. If you smoke the best thing you can do for your future is to quit. Living or working with a smoker and breathing in their smoke doubles your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and a host of other ailments.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick just one thing to do today for your health. By focusing on the good choices you make and not beating yourself up when you slip, you will build your own health lifestyle.