This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association / American Stroke Association. All opinions are 100% mine.
As I get older, I think more about avoiding regrets in my life.
One regret I most want to avoid is not taking care of my health.
It isn't always easy. When you have three kids and a business, life can be beyond hectic. Sometimes I grab food – usually something I don’t even like – because I’m too tired to make a different decision.
I don’t always make the time I should to exercise.
This scares me and needs to change.
Both of my Mom’s parents lives were irreversibly damaged by strokes.
My Grandfather, whom I loved dearly, was in a nursing home for years, not able to speak or care for himself. I have such vivid memories of visiting him as a teen, of crying every time we left. I remember the smells and stagnant feel of the nursing home, and the longing to have him back the way he used to be.
It would be years later before a stroke took my Grandmother from us. Years before I held her hand as she left this earth.
It was sudden, and completely unexpected.
Her mother had lived to 102, in excellent health until the very end.
We all expected my Grandmother to do the same. Though she was in her mid-80’s, she was still living a full life.
I still dream of her almost twenty years later.
I wonder if there were things that I could have done to encourage her to take better care of herself. Could I have helped her make healthy living choices that would have allowed her to stay with us as long has her mother had? Was it genetic or were there preventable habits she could have taken?
The reality is that simple actions that we take can make a big impact on brain health as we age. Surprisingly, I just found out that 80% of all strokes in adults can be prevented. Think about it, that’s 8 in 10 strokes. Yikes! A healthy lifestyle now can keep your brain healthy and prevent problems like memory loss, loss of brain processing, dementia and stroke.
The Key is to Focus on Life’s Simple 7
Simple Healthy Behaviors
1. Eat Better
2. Be Physically Active
3. Don’t Smoke
4. Lose Weight
Monitor & Control 3 Health Measures
5. Manage Blood Pressure
6. Control Cholesterol
7. Reduce Blood Sugar I think it is close to impossible to live a life with zero regrets, but I don’t want my brain health to be something I regret…and I don’t think you should let it be one of yours either.
The same behaviors that prevent heart disease can also help to improve your brain health, prevent stroke, and keep your mind sharp as you age.
A healthy brain as defined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is one that is free from disease, receiving normal blood flow and oxygen levels and functioning at its best.
Blood and oxygen flow can be slowed or diminished by high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, heart disease and stroke. Normal blood flow transports oxygen to the brain. When this is disrupted due to low blow flow or blockage the brain can become damaged. When cells die, and brain damage occurs, they can never be repaired. This is why my Grandfather was in a nursing home. Like many who suffer from a stroke, he had trouble with memory, speaking, walking and eating.
At times, brain damage can be less obvious and go unrecognized. Confusion, difficulty organizing thoughts and memory loss often go unseen. It turns out that physical activity isn’t just good for how we look. It can also improve our brain health and help us avoid issues like stroke, dementia, confusion and memory loss.
Of course, we can all get forgetful. But good Brain Health can help keep these issues in the “normal” range rather than getting into the “problem” range. In addition to being physically active, getting good sleep, eating well and exercising, our mind can be important as we age. Social activity can also play a role!
When we are young, we don’t often think about our brain health, but it matters at every decade of life. Making healthy choices in your 20s’ and beyond can help you live independently well into your senior years. Let's all take simple steps now for long term brain health.
Are You Giving Your Brain What it Needs?