What factors should you be monitoring to support brain health? Find out how the heart and the head may be more closely linked than we thought in this week’s Nutrition News.

The main factors that shape brain health

As the global population gets older, cognitive health is increasingly becoming more of a focus. This article by Medical News Today covers some of the factors that shape brain health and affect the support of cognitive abilities.

The article explains how there is a strong link between heart health and brain health. For example, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, high blood sugar, a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, a high body mass index (BMI), and smoking are all factors that could lead to poor heart health, which in turn, could have a negative impact on cognitive ability. The American Heart Association lists these seven factors as key indicators to look out for in terms of cardiovascular health. On top of these seven factors, the article references a scientific statement, whose authors believe there are an additional six crucial factors when it comes to cognitive health, which can impact cognitive ability over time. These are depression, social isolation, alcohol use, sleep disorders, insufficient education, and hearing loss.

The scientific authors cite these factors as reassuring as there are elements that are within our control, such as those related to diet and nutrition, meaning that we can influence our cognitive health as we age. Research in this area is ongoing and something that is sure to be expanded on in the coming years.

Does a plant based diet affect bone health?

The plant based diet has been hailed for its association with healthy living but is it all it’s thought to be?

This article by NutraIngredients praises the plant based diet for its impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and other conditions but have warned that it can also result in some negative health outcomes if they’re not monitored.

As a vegan, plant based diet is one without dairy, it is thought that many vegans may be at risk of calcium deficiency, which could have serious implications for bone health. The article references a study that involved 36 people who followed a vegan diet and 36 people who followed a mixed diet and assessed their bone health through an ultrasound of their heel bone. The study found that, on average, the vegan group had lower ultrasound values compared to the mixed food group, which indicates poorer bone health.

While the ultrasound method is not as accurate a measurement as fracture risk, for example, it is a clear indicator that highlights the importance of monitoring calcium intake on a plant based diet.

Supplements that may support normal cholesterol

Controlling cholesterol is crucial in order to keep healthy. Most people manage this through leading a healthy and active lifestyle. This article by Medical News Today looks at some dietary options for managing cholesterol levels and whether they are effective.

It is important to note that medical advice should always be sought in regards to medication and conditions such as high levels of cholesterol. The article references supplements that have effects on cholesterol in reducing total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides as well as increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol.

Two of the dietary supplements suggested by the article are omega 3 fatty acids and niacin. Some people use fatty acid supplements to manage their cholesterol and are sometimes recommended for people with very high triglycerides. Niacin, on the other hand, is sometimes used in raising HDL cholesterol.

It is very important to note that food supplements are designed only for supporting a normal healthy lifestyle and do not act as medication, however, there are some food supplements that can help support normal cholesterol levels.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.