Your heart and brain are talking with each other. And if your heart is unhappy, it may be telling your brain to feel blue. “We’ve known since the 1950s that there is cross talk between the heart and brain using electrical signals,” confirms psychonutritionist and brain health researcher Shawn Talbott, PhD. “Now we’re finding evidence that when we improve the heart’s efficiency, we can also improve emotions and become more resilient to stress.”
This news should help you feel more motivated to take better care of your heart. “Historically, one of the problems with heart health is that, for the most part, you can’t easily feel or see any improvements. This is a Heart Month game changer because being in a better mood because your heart is performing better is much more tangible,” Talbott elaborates.
He adds, “We know that heart disease patients are at a higher risk of developing depression, and that people who suffer from depression are at a higher risk for heart disease. Healthcare professionals used to dismiss these connections. But they are worth investigating.”
These foods can cause heartache
A few simple dietary fixes may help keep your heart and brain happier. “Americans are eating too many processed foods. Those are high in sugar and low in fiber. That causes inflammation in the body, which hurts the heart. Chronic inflammation increases your risk of plaque build up in the arteries.
“What you want to do is consume more foods and supplements that are anti-inflammatory and help to manage oxidation. Limit how much sugar, processed foods and alcohol you consume. Eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, avocados and fatty fish. Also try swapping pro-inflammatory cooking oils such as corn and canola with more heart-healthy options such as Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil.”
While many use Heart Month as a reason to remind people to avoid saturated fats, Talbott says this really is not a concern. “A 12-month study of 577 healthy adults found that while a high-carb diet was associated with increased heart disease risk factors, fat intake didn’t move the needle one way or the other.
“This is very revealing because the type of fat most of the people in this study consumed was Malaysian palm oil, which is 50% saturated fat. This supports a number of studies over the last decade that have vindicated dietary fat – including saturated fats – as the primary culprit in heart disease and other chronic illnesses.”
A new antioxidant to improve your heart’s efficiency
Talbott says the newest antioxidant available to the public is also one of the most exciting. “It’s called Palm Fruit Bioactive Complex, or PFBc. It is made by capturing nutrients from the oil palm production water stream. “Research indicates that PFBc activates a wide range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways. It has already been shown to promote cardiac function, support exercise recovery by maintaining a healthy non-inflammatory state, help to maintain heart rate variability, and support antioxidative stress reserves/capacity to help preserve mental health.”
Thankfully, Talbott says we’re going to see more natural nutritional products coming to market to help people nourish their hearts and brains. “One of the first is Amare Global’s MentaHeart made with PFBc and other natural nutrients shown in clinical studies to help optimize heart health, which will help with improved mental wellness.”
For a more upbeat mood, follow your heart
You’re probably not going to turn down an opportunity to feel cheerier. “Now, when you read all those articles about heart health, you should be even more driven to follow the advice because those strategies may also help you experience a substantial improvement in anxiety and overall mood,” Talbott concludes.
A veteran of numerous Iron Man Triathlons and Ultramarathons, Doc Talbott is intrigued by how our mental wellness impacts our physical wellbeing.
He holds a MS in Exercise Science from the University of Massachusetts and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers. He also holds advanced certificates in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from MIT. He is a Fellow of both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Nutrition. As a Diplomate of the International Olympic Committee’s Sports Nutrition program, he has educated elite-level athletes in a variety of sports including at the United States Olympic Training Centers.
He is the author of hundreds of articles and more than a dozen books on nutrition and fitness. His work has been featured in media outlets around the world, including a variety of segments on The Dr. Oz Show, as well as at the White House as part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity.
Keep learning about the gut/brain axis by visiting www.bestfutureyou.com.
The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.