Decrease Your Blood Pressure, Increase Your Brain Power
Until just a few years ago, most doctors believed that the brain stopped ‘growing’ when people attained full physical growth in their early twenties. Most recent research however, says the brain continues to evolve all through life provided you make conscious efforts to keep it ticking!
Yet another landmark finding is the close link between blood pressure and brain power. Maintaining a healthy pressure, especially as you age, can boost your brain power.
The Great Connect: How Blood Pressure And Brain Power Are Interlinked
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people with high blood pressure made more errors on their mental status tests than those with normal pressure.
Another study in Hypertension proved that on average, people with high blood pressure performed 10% slower on mental tests and were less capable of remembering words, facts or numbers.
High blood pressure can also cause white matter lesions that affect the brain’s ability to transmit information.
Clearly, high blood pressure means reduced mental and cognitive skills – all the more reason to ensure your blood pressure levels remain under control.
Tips to Control Blood Pressure Without Medication:
- Watch your weight. Blood pressure often increases as the kilos pile up. In particular, carrying too much weight around your waist can significantly increase your chances of hypertension.
- Limit sodium intake and boost your potassium intake. In fact, increasing potassium in your diet can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
- Give in to your chocolate cravings! Flavonol in dark chocolate can improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. But do exercise restraint...too much of a good thing is eventually bad for you!
- Limit alcohol consumption. Moderate consumption of alcohol can keep heart diseases at bay; it can also bring down your blood pressure by 2.5 to 4 mm Hg. However, overindulgence can drastically increase your pressure. So what is the right amount? Doctors suggest one drink a day for women and two for men.
- Avoid tobacco products. Even an hour after your last smoke, nicotine can raise your blood pressure by more than 10 mm Hg or more. Puffing all through the day means that your blood pressure remains high as well. Tobacco also damages arteries, causes fluid retention, and interferes with the efficacy of blood pressure medications.
- Reduce stress. A lifestyle of constant stress can increase your chances of high blood pressure. If you lead a stressful life, take conscious efforts to de-stress through deep-breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, meditation or counselling.
Tips for Keeping the Mind Alert
Follow these proven techniques to keep your mind healthy:
Studies prove that physical exercise keeps the mind alert. In fact, researchers say that the areas of the brain most influenced by exercise are precisely those that are associated with learning and memory.
Exercise boosts your brain power by encouraging the growth of newer brain cells (neurons). It also strengthens the connection between these cells. Besides, exercise can lower your BP, which in turn improves memory and concentration.
As the saying goes, use it or lose it! The best way to keep your mind shipshape is through consistent mental stimulation, either through books, Sudoku, word games or even learning to cook a new dish.
Pick up a new hobby, a new language or skill. The idea is to challenge your brain and give it opportunities to stretch and grow.
There’s a wealth of truth in the proverbial wisdom of “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!” The healing power of sleep comes from the fact that a good night’s rest can stimulate neurogenesis, the formation of new brain cells.
Time spent with friends and family is far from being time wasted. When you’re in a social situation, there are unexpected turns in conversation, an exchange of ideas and a sense of relaxation, all of which are beneficial to the brain.
It’s true, laughter is the best medicine! Medical science too now acknowledges the health benefits induced by laughter .Apparently, humour stimulates the areas of your brain that use dopamine, a "feel good" chemical. It also improves the memory by reducing stress, relaxing your muscles and increasing the flow of blood to your brain.
Good eating habits play an important role in boosting brain power and improving cognitive functions.
- eat breakfast daily as this can keep you alert all day.
- incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet; you could even consider - taking Omega-3 supplements.
- consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
- take too much caffeine as this can make you mentally dull over the years and elevate blood pressure. A safe limit would be about 200 mg.
- binge on junk food as the empty calories only make you physically and mentally sluggish. Moreover, the saturated fat and cholesterol present in junk food can increase blood pressure.
- avoid vegetables and greens since they are a rich source of folic acid, B6 and B12 vitamins as well as vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights cell damaging chemicals produced by the body.
Blood pressure and brain power are so closely associated (both acronyms read BP, too!) that it is hard to take care of one while ignoring the other. So, go ahead and get ‘BP’ conscious!