When you’re thinking about brain fitness, it’s easy to get preoccupied with things like computer training programs and exotic dietary supplements. It’s just as important, and probably more important, to remember the basics of brain fitness.
What are the basics? I think they start with essential health care that will make sure your brain is in a health body. Maybe the single most important basic is to take care of your blood pressure. Besides being a risk factor for heart attack, high blood pressure is a risk for stroke. Studies have suggested that high blood pressure is a risk factor memory problems. You should know your blood pressure, and if it’s high, you should discuss it with your doctor. A number of effective treatments are available for high blood pressure. You can find out more about high blood pressure on the web site of the American Heart Association by clicking here.
One risk for memory problems that seems to be more and more common is the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a group of characteristics that includes abdominal obesity (fat around the waist), problems with blood lipids (the special substances in the blood that carry fats around the blood stream), insulin resistance (your body doesn’t take care of sugar very well), and increases in the substances in your blood that cause blood clots. People with the metabolic syndrome may be at higher risk for diabetes and heart attacks. The American Heart Association also has a good page on metabolic syndrome here. It may be possible to reduce the effects of the metabolic syndrome by maintaining a health weight, getting regular exercise, and following a healthy diet.
We know that the basics include a lot of things we’ve been hearing for years. What has become more clear over the past few years is that there are clear reasons for the links among obesity, low physical activity, and several diseases. One of the most intriguing links is the fact that all these conditions are associated with markers of inflammation in the blood. Inflammatory markers have complicated names like cytokines and interleukins. You don’t have to know all the specific names to know that high levels of these markers go along with memory problems. More and more, then, there’s a clear link between your basic health and your brain’s fitness.