The Heart-Brain Connection

Your heart and brain are more than just hard-working, neighboring organs. These two arms of the body have a close connection that directly influences one another – and studies show that what’s good for your heart, is good for your brain too (and vice versa!).

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The connection between the heart and the brain is more than just physical, it's essential for our overall well-being.

  • The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the brain, providing it with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. This steady flow is crucial for clear thinking and emotional stability.
  • The autonomic nervous system regulates both your heart rate and cognitive function. There are two branches of the ANS – the sympathetic nervous system, which alarms the body’s ‘fight-or-flight' state, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us relax and recover. These two systems of the ANS work together, influencing both the heart and the brain and impacting your overall health.
  • Your emotions can influence your heart rate and therefore your heart rate variability (HRV), and changes in HRV can reflect shifts in cognitive states.
  • Your emotions can influence a physiological reaction, such as heart palpitations or sweating in response to what’s happening in your external environment. In reverse, any changes in HRV can indicate changes in cognitive function and long-term emotional regulation.

The intricate interplay between these two arms of the body can give us crucial insights into our health and longevity.

Factors to Watch

When it comes to heart health and cognitive function, there's an overlap in the factors that can impact our well-being.

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the blood flow to the brain.
  • High cholesterol can also restrict the flow of blood to the brain and impair cognitive function as a result.
  • Oxidative stress is another important factor that can impact the function of the blood vessels and brain if left unchecked.

Lifestyle Strategies for Heart and Brain Health

Follow a Mediterranean style diet

Rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats like liver oil – the Mediterranean diet has become one of the most widely studied diets to support cardiovascular health and cognitive function. Promoting an abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds from whole food sources, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to protect both the heart and brain from oxidative stress. Fatty fish is also a staple in the diet, providing plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to support the brain and cardiovascular system.

By reducing processed foods and adding more whole foods and healthy fats to your plate, you’ll be on your way to providing your cardiovascular system and your brain with the building blocks required to function optimally.

Address stress

Unwanted stress can have a profound effect on both the heart and the brain. When the body is under stress, it releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which increase both heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, these physiological changes can contribute to the development of cardiovascular complications.

In the brain, ongoing elevated stress can shrink the hippocampus – a part of the brain involved in memory and learning, while simultaneously contributing a hyperactive amygdala – a part of the brain that responds to fear and stress. This may contribute to impaired cognitive function, poor memory, concentration and decision-making.

Managing stress is an effective tool to maintain the health of both the brain and the heart to support your overall well-being. From introducing relaxation practices like deep breathing or meditation, to engaging in regular exercise and setting lifestyle boundaries to promote a sense of work-life balance. Self-care tools that support your mental and emotional well-being will ultimately help to improve the way your body functions at a physiological level.

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Everyday stress relief

MitoQ Adrenal +Balance combines the mitochondrial superpowers of MitoQ with proven actives that offer emotional stress-management support, for a truly unique approach to targeting stress at a cellular level.

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Sleep Quality

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for heart health and cognitive function. The body undergoes crucial processes during sleep, including the repair of tissues, regulation of hormones and so much more. Research shows that disrupted sleep may lead to heart health complications, and that poor sleep may increase the risk of cardiovascular complications including high blood pressure – which has been shown to contribute to cognitive decline.

Creating a consistent sleep schedule and unwinding with a relaxing bedtime routine can help signal to your body that it’s time to turn in. Some easy ways to influence your circadian rhythm and help your body adjust to a new bedtime routine is to exposure yourself to sunlight when you first wake up in the morning and avoid screen time thirty minutes to an hour before bed. Try to wait at least one hour after waking before having your first cup of coffee. This will make sure the caffeine doesn’t interfere with your cortisol signaling and you get the biggest bang for your buck energy-wise. Sleep expert from UC Berkeley Dr. Matthew Walker recommends avoiding caffeine 12-14 hours before sleep, but everybody is different. Having your last cup of coffee for the day around 8-10 hours before you plan on sleeping sounds like a reasonable compromise for the average adult.

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