I get that at a certain point, you might not care as much about weight gain and heart health as you used to. This may be even truer if you’re on heart medication—for some, it serves as a type of safety net that says “eat what you want and don’t exercise.” But let’s look beyond heart health and weight for a moment: are you willing to live with poor memory, worsened decision-making, awareness, and a higher risk for dementia?
Heart health is closely linked with brain health and dementia risk, and a new study is showing that the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “Simple 7 Steps” can do a lot more than promote a healthy heart.
The study, published in BMJ, indicate that the more closely a person adhered to the simple seven, the less likely they were to develop dementia. Over a 25-year period, they saw that people who were least likely to adhere to the steps were nearly 2.5 times more likely to get dementia than those who followed it most closely. Those who followed it closely at age 50 were also more likely to have a higher brain volume and more grey matter at age 70 than those that did not. It is important to note that the study did not prove causation, but association.
It seems that if brain health is important to you, following the Simple 7 Steps for your heart may be a big help. The AHA has outlined the steps as:
1. Manage blood pressure
2. Manage cholesterol
3. Lower blood sugar
4. Stay (or become) physically active
5. Follow a healthful diet (fruits and veg, nuts and legumes, lean protein, whole grains)
6. Lose weight
7. Don’t smoke (or quit smoking)
If you can’t get excited about eating healthy for weight loss or heart health, do it for your brain!