Without a doubt, smart nutrition can—and does—make a very real difference to your brain’s health. But without robust microcirculation, your cognition will still suffer the consequences.
So, you have to protect the blood vessels that supply your brain with oxygen and nutrients. Because as research shows, the damage will catch up with you down the line if you don’t… and your white matter will pay the price.
MRI reveals a lethal link
As part of a study recently published in the European Heart Journal, researchers analyzed data from more than 37,000 older subjects enrolled in the U.K. Biobank.
They set out to look for brain abnormalities called “white matter hyperintensities” (WMH) in particular. (These areas show up on MRIs as bright spots, and they indicate damage to the tiny blood vessels in your brain.)
As you might imagine, the more WMH you have, the higher your risk of stroke, dementia, depression, and general cognitive decline. And sadly, more than half of people over the age of 65 have WMH—with the most severe damage showing up among patients with high blood pressure.
These researchers linked higher amounts of WMH to subjects’ current systolic blood pressure (the top number). But the strongest association was between WMH and past high diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number)—and specifically, high diastolic blood pressure before the age of 50.
Ultimately, any increase in blood pressure (even when it was still below the usual hypertension threshold of 140/90 mm Hg) had links to higher loads of WMH. And this was especially true for people on medication for hypertension.
In fact, among subjects with the highest loads of WMH, nearly 25 percent of these hyperintensities were attributable to a systolic blood pressure over 120 mm Hg. Which means that even slight increases in blood pressure today could lead to a damaged brain decades down the line.
Of course, there is some good news here. As I shared just last month, something as delicious as cocoa flavanols—yes, we’re talking about chocolate again!—can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, naturally.
Forget meds—try flavanols instead
This study showed that subjects with the lowest flavanol intake had blood pressure as much as 4 mmHg higher than subjects with the highest flavanol intake. And the difference was most pronounced in patients with existing hypertension.
That’s a clinically meaningful change. And as the researchers pointed out, it’s comparable with what you would see after adopting the healthy Mediterranean diet (similar to my A-List Diet) or (the ridiculous) Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
So it’s really no surprise that these same cocoa flavanols work wonders for your brain health, too.
Of course, there are many different classes of flavanols. That’s why I always recommend a variety of different foods and to make your meals as colorful as possible… to help ensure you are getting as many different types of these healthy compounds as possible.
You can also learn about additional natural ways to help prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers—including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke—in my Ultimate Heart Protection Protocol. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“High blood pressure in midlife is linked to increased brain damage in later life.” Science Daily, 11/25/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201125190737.htm)