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Top 6 Health Numbers To Know After Age 40

Top 6 Health Numbers To Know After Age 40

Our bodies are basically machines; the heart pumps blood through our veins, and our brains are like on-board computers, processing and storing information and monitoring our organs. So what happens as the machine ages?

Think about what happens when the hard drive of the computer you’ve had for seven years starts to make an alarming clunking noise or you’ve had to replace the brakes on your ten year-old car several times. The older the machinery gets, the more maintenance it requires.

Our bodies work much the same way. We often find ourselves obsessing a lot about age, making observations like “He’s pushing 40” or “she looks great for 75,” but age isn’t the only numeric indicator of health and longevity. HelloHeart, a company that manufactures a blood pressure monitoring app for smartphones, encourages everyone to learn about and keep an eye on key health-related numbers once you’ve passed 40, so whether you’re over the hill or puffing your way toward the crest of it, knowing these six numbers will help you to maintain your health.

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1. Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is the number one indicator of how well your heart is functioning. Blood pressure refers to the pressure in your arteries as blood flows through them. The measurement consists of two numbers. The first number, systolic blood pressure, refers to the amount of pressure present when your heart beats. The second number, your diastolic blood pressure, refers to the amount of pressure present when the heart muscle relaxes between beats.

When your blood pressure reads as “120 over 80,” for instance, the top number refers to systolic pressure, and the bottom number refers to diastolic pressure. According to the American Heart Association, while posture and activity level can affect blood pressure, the systolic pressure reading should typically be below 120 and the diastolic below 80; 115 over 75 would be ideal. The AHA also reports that approximately one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and it’s recommended that you contact your physician if your systolic pressure exceeds 140 or your diastolic pressure reaches 90.

2. Resting heart rate

Remember that your blood pressure can fluctuate depending on posture or level of activity, so when you’re relaxing, so should your heart. As the term indicates, your resting heart rate should be less rapid than when you’re active; a healthy resting heart rate is approximately 6 beats per minute. Keeping in mind the above points about blood pressure, a rapidly beating heart while at rest can indicate high blood pressure.

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3. Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol levels measure the amount of fat in your blood. Like everything else, we need a certain amount of fat in the blood, but not too much. According to Jenna Lindsey Channell, you should avoid trans-fats and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats, however, are an important part of your diet because they’re required for absorbing certain vitamins like A, E, B, and K.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is the “bad fat”—essentially plaque in your arteries. When it builds up, it creates blockages that prevent blood from flowing and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. HDL is the “good fat,” and it works to regulate LDL levels and keep your arteries clear. The fat that is stored in the body for energy after eating is called triglycerides.

Together, your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride numbers create what’s called your “lipid profile score.” Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), a unit of measurement that indicates the concentration of a substance in your blood. Desired levels will vary based on whether or not you’re at high risk for heart disease. The normal desired LDL level is below 100 if you’re not at risk for heart disease and below 70 if heart disease is a high health risk. If you have no risk factors like high blood pressure or heart disease, 100-129 is generally considered a healthy level; a number over 190 is considered high. While your LDL level shouldn’t get too high, your HDL level shouldn’t drop too low; remember that you need HDL, or “good” cholesterol in your blood to keep your arteries clean. 60 or above is usually a healthy HDL level. For men, an unhealthy level is below 40 and for women below 50. A triglyceride level of 150 is average; below 100 is ideal. Triglyceride levels over 200 are considered high.

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4. Blood sugar

Blood sugar measures the amount of glucose (a type of sugar found in carbohydrates) present in your blood. Glucose serves as the main source of your body’s energy. Blood sugar levels will usually fluctuate, increasing after you’ve eaten. If your glucose level rises and remains high over an extended period of time, it can damage your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

If you have high glucose levels, blood sugar tests can help to detect diabetes, and an A1C test will provide an index of your average blood sugar levels over the past three or four months, which will give a broader, more representative picture of glucose fluctuations than a “spot test.” The A1C test measures what percentage of hemoglobin (a protein in your blood that carries oxygen) contains glucose. A healthy glucose level from a fasting blood sugar test (FBS) should fall below 100 mg/dl and not lower than 40 mg/dl. . A healthy reading from an A1C test should be less than 7.0%.

5. C-Reactive Protein (CRP)

CRP levels in your blood indicate the amount of inflammation in your blood vessels. It’s important to keep an eye on this number because there are often no symptoms associated with high CRP and therefore it can be a “silent killer.” High CRP levels are often associated with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A blood draw and lab test can check your CRP levels. A normal, healthy CRP level should fall below 1.0 mg/dl; a number above 3.0 mg/dl can indicate risk for heart disease.

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6. Waist size

In addition to your weight and BMI (body mass index, which measures your weight relative to your height), your waist size can also indicate your overall health. Waist size is also the easiest to measure because you don’t need to go to a doctor or schedule any tests. You just need a tape-measure. For an accurate measurement, measure your waist size at bellybutton height. For women, a healthy waist size is less than 36 inches; for men, it’s less than 40. Numbers higher than these can increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

As we age, we become increasingly preoccupied about numbers, but instead of counting your gray hairs or the number of wrinkles that seem to have popped up overnight, keep an eye on these six numbers to help maintain a healthy heart!

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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