As humans, we do everything humanly possible to counteract the passing of time. Serums, medicines, and so-called “miracle cures”—we try anything we can to combat aging and its effects on our bodies. But there’s a form of aging that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as physical aging—and that’s cognitive aging.
Keeping a healthy mind as we age is crucial because if you are aging, so is your brain. Even a healthy adult can lose 5% of their brain volume per decade after age 40, with that loss increasing exponentially after age 70 . But there is hope. There are many different ways we can set ourselves up for brain health success and ensure that we’re staying as mentally sharp and healthy as possible no matter our age.
Everything begins and ends with blood flow
It turns out blood flow can impact you in healthy—and unhealthy—ways. Take blood pressure, for example–one in three Americans have high blood pressure, and decades of studies have shown that having high blood pressure between your 40s and 60s can lead to cognitive decline . While you may be wondering how the two link together, think of it this way—blood pressure is associated with the heart. The brain and the heart both happen to be vascular organs, meaning both have a complex network of blood vessels pumping blood in and out. The brain receives 20% of the body’s blood supply despite making up 2% of the body’s weight , so supporting this crucial organ is vital.
How do you do that and ensure that your brain performs at its most optimal, vascular self? By combating high blood pressure with proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits.
If blood flow to your brain is blocked or the blood’s force becomes too high, you’re at a much higher risk for blood vessels to scar, narrow, and become more primed for significant issues. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” for a reason—and can affect overall cognition and memory.
Treating high blood pressure can be a game-changer in your overall cognitive health. Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt, getting regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming less alcohol are lifestyle changes that can lead to healthy blood pressure levels.
Mind your mind
It’s not too late. Whether you’re 25 or 75, there are simple steps you can take to not only have a healthier lifestyle and body but ensure you have a healthy mind as well. So take that blood pressure test, go for that long walk, and put a few more greens on that plate—your mind will thank you, now and in the future.