Protect your heart to preserve your mind

Protect your heart to preserve your mind

Many recent programs that have tried to improve the general health of the country by emphasizing a healthy heart and a sound mind. Specialists routinely recommend certain foods like omega-3 fatty acids to lower patients' risk of heart disease, while fish is often referred to as a "brain food." 

But what if the heart and mind were more strongly connected and keeping one healthy did the same for the other? Those are the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. Claudine Gauthier, assistant professor of physics and lead author of the study, discovered a link between individuals with high-functioning hearts and the preservation of cognitive abilities well into old age.

Battling cognitive decline
The decline of cognitive abilities poses major health threats to nearly 16 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency estimates that by 2050, this number may rise to as high as 40 million if proper preventive measures aren't taken. 

According to Gauthier and her colleagues, the best way to take care of the mind is to start with the heart. The researchers gathered 31 people between 18 and 30 years old, as well as 54 individuals between 55 and 75 years old. All participants had no current or prior history of mental illness, and the researchers tested their physical capabilities via a 30-second maximum oxygen intake exercise. Their cognitive abilities were evaluated with the Stroop task, a test where subjects must identify the color of ink the word of a different color is printed in ("red" is printed in blue ink). All tests were conducted within an fMRI machine, which monitored the activity of the subjects' brains and aortic valves, the primary pumping structure of the heart.

Gauthier found that older adults who demonstrated greater lung capacities and aortic activity also showed higher cognitive scores. She hypothesized that because a healthier heart prevents arteries from hardening, which reduces the amount of blood it can pump throughout the body, the brain receives less oxygen over time and its overall health diminishes.

Instead of chasing this or that healthy food of the week, Omax3's specialized omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your heart in top shape. Omega-3s have been linked to more elastic arteries, so your brain can keep working hard for years to come.