Your heart and brain talk to each other. Experts say if your heart is unhappy and unhealthy, this could negatively affect your mood by telling your brain to feel blue.
“We’ve known since the 1950’s that there is crosstalk between the heart and the brain using electrical signals,” Dr. Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., a psychonutritionist and brain health researcher, tells Newsmax. “Now we are finding evidence that when we improve the heart’s efficiency, we can also improve our emotions and become more resilient to stress.”
Talbott adds: “We know that heart disease patients are at a higher risk of developing depression, and that people who suffer from depression are at a higher risk for heart disease. Healthcare professionals used to dismiss these connections, but now we are finding they are worth investigating.”
Talbott, who holds a Master of Science degree in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from Rutgers University, is an elite-level athlete and has always been intrigued by the mind-body connection.
An article published in the European Journal of Heart Failure showed scientific evidence on how taking care of the heart prevented cognitive decline. The researchers found that, on the other hand, adopting positive lifestyle changes that ensured brain health prevented heart failure. The Swedish researchers called the connection “a new piece of the puzzle” in keeping the body healthy.
Talbott says that a few simple dietary fixes can keep your heart and brain happier.
“Americans are eating too many processed foods,” he says. “Those are high in sugar and low in fiber. Eating processed foods causes inflammation in the body, which hurts the heart. Chronic inflammation increases your risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
“What you want to do is consume more foods and supplements that are anti-inflammatory and help manage oxidation. Eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, avocados, and fatty fish. Also try swapping pro-inflammatory cooking oils such as corn and canola with more heart-healthy options such as Malaysian sustainable palm oil.”
And while many people believe that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease, Talbott says that a 12-month study of 577 healthy adults conducted in 2019 found that while a diet high in carbohydrates as associated with increased heart disease risk factors, fat intake did not move the needle either way.
“This was very revealing because the type of fat most of the people in the study consumed was Malaysian palm oil, which is 50% saturated fat,” notes Talbott. “This supports a number of studies over the last decade that have vindicated fat—including saturated fats--as the primary culprit in heart disease and other illnesses.”
Talbott says that knowing the critical connection between heart and brain health may propel Americans to take between care of their ticker.
“Now, when you read all those articles about heart health, you should be even more driven to follow the advice because these strategies may also help you experience a substantial improvement in anxiety and overall mood,” he says.
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