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Top Reasons Why Owning a Pet is Good for Your Health

Top Reasons Why Owning a Pet is Good for Your Health

If you are a pet owner, you probably already know about the joys that come with owning a pet, whether it’s a cat or dog or something more exotic like birds or fish.

But did you know that there are also proven health benefits that come from living with a furry or feathered friend? It’s true — owning a pet can actually make you healthier in many important ways, including the ones below.

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You’ll Get — and Stay — in Better Shape

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 minutes of exercise is needed to stay in shape and help prevent chronic diseases — but most Americans do not get anywhere near that amount of activity. One of the best things about owning a pet — especially a dog — is that is can help you to get and stay in shape. One study found that dog owners were less likely than non-dog owners to be overweight or obese.

The great thing is that you have a whole array of choices when it comes to exercising with your dog: you can go running, jogging or walking with it before or after work. Hiking with your dog on the weekend is also a good option and it gets you out into the fresh air and sunshine. You can even get creative with classes like Doga (yoga exercises you can do with your dog!).

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You’ll Do Your Heart a Huge Favor

Heart disease is still the number one killer in America — but the good news is that there are a lot of healthy lifestyle choices you can make to lower your chances of developing this problem. Apart from eating well and exercising regularly, having a pet in your life can also help your heart health.

According to the National Institute of Health, several clinical trials have been run which show that pet owners have lower blood pressure rates and lower cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart attacks. The weight management and physical activity benefits listed above also can help your heart stay strong.

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You’ll Help Your Child’s Allergies

Okay, when you think about pet ownership, helping your child’s allergies isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. As a matter of fact, many American families have to go through the heartache of giving up a pet due to their child being allergic to it. However, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have done studies that show having a pet in the home can actually reduce a child’s chances of developing allergies to begin with.

In this study, which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, scientists stated they believe that these benefits stem from the fact that being around a pet on a daily basis can make a child’s immune system stronger. Unfortunately, this study does not apply to children who already have allergies to begin with.

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You’ll Reduce Your Depression Risk

Trying to keep the blues away naturally? Having or getting a pet can be an important part of keeping depression at bay. There are a number of reasons why several studies have uncovered a link between pet ownership and reduced levels of depression. Firstly, pets can fill your life with a sense of love and purpose. They can increase your socialization and help you make new friends (for instance, at a dog-walking park or an obedience school) and just by themselves can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. They also help to fulfill the human need to be touched. That is why Pet Assisted Therapy or Animal Assisted Therapy has become so popular in places like hospital or nursing homes across the country.

So if you have always suspected that your pet is an important part of your life — you are right! The animals in your life not only bring you a lot of happiness and joy, they can help you live a longer and better life.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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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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