This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association / American Stroke Association for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
When I was younger, I took my health for granted. I had always been thin, so I never bothered exercising. I got away with that kind of thinking for a while…but you know what happened, of course. I got older, had three kids and slowly those pounds crept up on me. I couldn’t eat anything I wanted without consequences anymore and even worse, my choices had started to negatively affect my health. Finally, I decided to start taking my health and healthy living more seriously. I joined a gym, started watching what I ate and incorporating good habits into everything I did. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m better than I was!
The American Heart Association says that having a physically active body and mind can improve Brain Health, and help you avoid brain problems like stroke, dementia, confusion, or memory loss. So, you’ve got to do things that keep your brain active too. I’ve recently joined groups that work to give back to the community by feeding the hungry and creating quilts for those who are ill. Not only does that make me feel good about what I’m doing, I have to opportunity to interact with others and learn new skills. I’ve never quilted before, so that’s sharpening my brain!
To keep your brain thinking sharp you should have a brain-healthy lifestyle: Eat well, sleep well, be physically and socially active.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association defines a healthy brain as a brain that is functioning at its best, free from disease, receiving normal blood flow and oxygen levels. Normal blood flow and oxygen in the brain may be impacted by high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, heart disease (such as heart failure) and stroke. That’s why you’ve got to get up and move! Yep, that means me too!
When normal blood flow (which transports oxygen to the brain) is disrupted due to low blood flow or a blockage, the brain can become damaged. Once the brain is damaged (brain cells die), it can never be repaired. Damage to the brain may cause trouble with functions such as how quickly you process information, memory, speaking, walking, and eating, among others.
If you’ve had a friend or family member with memory loss, you know what a terrible thing it is.
Damage to the brain is often unseen or may not be recognized. Memory loss, trouble organizing thoughts, and confusion can be invisible.
Of course, everyone has times when they are a little confused or forgetful, but with good brain health you can keep those moments in the “normal” range instead of “problem” range.
Brain health matters at every decade of life. Having a healthy brain and independent living well into your senior years starts with healthy choices in your 20s’. So, I’ve encouraged my kids to get active and social too! No matter your age, it’s important to get started making healthy changes. Strokes are 80% preventable in adults through simple healthy lifestyle choices. Here are ways you can live healthy with Life’s Simple 7 from the American Heart Association.
Life’s Simple 7
- Manage Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer. Learn how to manage your blood pressure.
- Control Cholesterol – High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Learn how to control your cholesterol.
- Reduce Blood Sugar – Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Learn how to reduce your blood sugar.
- Get Active Living – An active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. Learn how to get active.
- Eat Better – A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life! Learn how to eat better.
- Lose Weight – When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too. Learn how to lose weight.
- Stop Smoking – Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
- Brain Health Tips – Sleep well, eat well, exercise body & mind for optimal brain function as you age.