We live in a world of “now” and instant gratification. We often only think about the future from a year out or less. It’s time to change that because a new study reports that being healthy in your 20s helps your brain in your 40s.
We know that being healthy in the present is essential. Future goals for health are a good idea, but working towards those goals is how they come to fruition in the future.
The researchers reviewed data on over 500 people that participated in a long-term heart health study. The participants, now roughly 51 years old, was followed for 30 years.
The patients had follow-up exams every 2-5 years and had brain scans 25 years after beginning the study. The researchers gave scored between 0-2 for each of Life’s Simple 7 recommendation, meaning the maximum score was 14.
Researchers compared those scores to the brain scans taken in their middle age in order to find if having healthy habits at a younger age played a role in later years.
The study found that people who followed the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Life’s Simple 7 health guidelines had brains that looked more than a decade younger in their middle age than people who didn’t follow the guidelines.
Dr. Micahel Bancks, a postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Chicago and lead researcher for the study, said, “We found that individuals who maintained better cardiovascular health in young adulthood had higher brain volume in later adulthood.”
He added that brain volume shrinkage has shown correlations to Alzheimer’s and dementia. That means it’s potentially possible to prevent these diseases by being active and healthy in your younger years.
Life’s Simple 7 is an overall health recommendation that focuses on blood pressure, cholesterol, exercising, eating better, not smoking, blood sugar, and losing weight. Younger people may not feel the need to follow these recommendations because they’ve got time before they need to truly worry about their health.
Dr. Selva Baltan from the Cleveland Clinic says that this is the first study to show that it’s not just possible to reduce the risk of dementia in a person’s old age. It shows that a young person’s health choices can have effects down the years that can be positive or negative on brain health.
They also found that for each 1-point improvement in a younger person’s score was “essentially the same as one year less in brain aging,” Bancks remarked. “As the score increases, you see a better result for brain structure.”
Not all of the points in Life’s Simple 7 are weighted the same though, according to the findings. For example, smoking had a much stronger correlation with brain volume shrinkage than the other points.
“The brain is supplied by this rich network of blood vessels, which provides the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood it needs to function normally. A healthy heart helps ensure enough blood is pumped through these blood vessels, and healthy blood vessels help ensure that network is intact to supply the entire brain with nutrients and oxygen,” Bancks stated.
The finding that being healthy in your 20s helps your brain in your 40s shows that it’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle because it doesn’t just affect the now–it will affect your future and how healthy you are down the line.
If you want to be heart healthy, begin taking L-Arginine Plus each day to ensure that your blood flow is uninhibited and you’re feeling as energetic as you’d like to.