High blood pressure not only damages the arteries in your heart, but also in your brain. It increases your risk for stroke and memory loss later in life along with many other diseases. Here’s how you can improve your brain, heart, and overall health.
Brain-Blood Pressure Link
Your brain is fed by one of the richest networks of blood vessels in your body. When blood vessels are damaged and circulation to the brain is reduced, it can lead to vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. (Alzheimer’s is the most common.) You can develop vascular dementia after a stroke when blood flow is blocked and your brain is deprived of oxygen.
Types of Strokes
87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, that is, the stroke is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. A clot or rupture in the blood vessel is usually the cause.
13% of all strokes are hemorrhagic strokes which can be more deadly. These kinds of strokes occur when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks. High blood pressureis typically the cause of this kind of stroke.
Link to Disease
High blood pressure is often at the root of many diseases as well as conditions, such as inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation plays a key role in chronic disease and pain, such as:
You eat healthy and exercise, but you have clogged arteries or worse yet, had a heart attack. You wonder how that could possibly be. Well, here’s one of the key (and most overlooked) reasons why… STRESS.
Are You Stressed Out?
Psychological stress can emerge when you’re unable to cope or respond to real-life demands (stressors), e.g., unemployment, caregiving for the the chronically ill, family dysfunction, poverty, and/or work, marital, or financial issues. According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2011), there are two types of stress:
Acute stress – short-term form of stress that stems from the demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future.
Chronic stress – long-term form of stress that derives from unending feelings of despair/hopelessness.
Coping with Stress
Coping skills are essential in stress management. How well do you manage your stress? Take this 20-minute Coping and Management Skills Testin Psychology Today and find out. Click here for the 38-question self test.
Various studies have shown that exposure to persistent stress can result in long-term or permanent changes in the way you respond:
Emotionally – e.g., increased likelihood of depression
Physiologically – e.g., decreased ability to regulate inflammatory responses due to decreased tissue sensitivity to cortisol (your primary stress hormone and regulator of inflammation)
Behaviorally – e.g., increased smoking, decreased exercise and sleep, poor medical compliance
If you’re looking for a natural nut butter to spread on your favorite PB&J, here’s one I’m absolutely crazy about: Nuttzo™ Seven Nut & Seed Butter ‘Power Fuel’. It’s not only yummy, but offers the benefits of seven different nuts and seeds. You can get it either crunchy or smooth. Spread it on sliced bananas and apples too for a healthy snack with staying power.
NOTE: Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage, prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol. See ♥ Daily Dose | What’s Your Nut I.Q.?.
Nut oils tend to separate from the solids in natural nut butters like NuttZo™ since they aren’t made with unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oils which prevent separation. My longstanding tip to make mixing easier has been to place the jar upside down until ready to open and stir. Nuttzo already has that figured out and is sold upside down!
Ingredients: organic cashews, organic almonds, organic brazil nuts, organic flax seeds, organic hazelnuts, organic chia seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, sea salt. No added sugar or oil.
One serving (2 Tbsp) contains a whopping 975 mg of omega-3fatty acids (alpha linolenic). You want to try to get in 1,000 to 1,600 mg of omega-3’s per day.
“Eat more fish.” How many times have you heard those three words? Well, what if you don’t like fish? Or you’re a vegetarian? No worries. There is a fish-free omega-3 alternative, so you can leave the fish to those who love it.
A third type of omega-3 is found in plant oils and is known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The body partially converts ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), that is, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
It’s not known if vegetable and fish omega-3’s are equally beneficial, but nevertheless, these fatty acids are essential for good health and most Americans don’t get enough of either type. Aim for at least one rich source of omega-3’s every day. Recommended amount: at least 7 to 11 grams of omega-3’s per week which equates to 1 to 1.6 gramsper day. Continue reading “Inflammation | Fish-Free Omega-3’s”→
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and consist of three types: EPA, DHA and ALA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are primarily found in certain kinds of fish. Another type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in plants.
Certain types of fish are rich in EPA and DHA. These essential polyunsaturated fats reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in your body. A six-month study demonstrated that consuming 960 mg/day of EPA and 600 mg/day of DHA lowered CRP.¹
To lower your risk of mercury exposure from eating fish, be sure to choose the right fish*.
*Avoid larger, longer-living fish, such as shark and swordfish, as they tend to accumulate more mercury than the smaller fish like sardines, sole, and trout.
Salmon, wild and Alaskan (about 2.1 gm of omega-3’s per 4-oz. serving)
How much: At least 3 to 4 ounces of fish, twice a week
Fit Tip: If you don’t eat fish, you can actually drink it in the form of orange juice! Tropicana® Orange Juice Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice is fortified with actual fish (tilapia, sardine and anchovy). Also, grass-fed beef is often higher in omega-3 fatty acids than conventional beef due to their diet of grass and foraged foods versus grains, such as corn.