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Religion Makes A Brain Better, According to America’s Brain Health Index

( [email protected] ) Mar 17, 2014 12:36 AM EDT
Just released national health initiative study ranks brain health state-by-state
Beautiful Minds

A religious brain is a healthier brain, according to a new national health and educational initiative called Beautiful Minds. They released their findings last week in their "America's Brain Health Index".   

The campaign is designed to empower Americans to develop and maintain healthy, beautiful minds, according to the website.

America's Brain Health Index, a state-by-state measure of the nation's brain health, evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on 21 factors including diet, physical health, mental health and social well-being.

For the first time, Georgia ranked among the top 10 states in the nation. Residents make brain health a priority by consuming DHA-fortified foods and supplements in Georgia, according to the website. However, they need more mental stimulation through reading and game playing.  High levels of religious activity also helped push Georgia into the 10 spot.  

California, with the fewest number of smokers in the nation, moved to 13 on the list, while Mississippi was in last place and in order to move out of last place, Mississippians need to pay closer attention to diet, physical fitness and mental health, the website instructs.

According to the study, people in Maryland have the healthiest brains, in the country. A decrease in Alzheimer's disease-related deaths in Maryland, and  residents increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables and foods and supplements rich in DHA, are big reasons for the top ranking.

The goal of the project is to explore brain health and to provide a platform of discussion and debate that will encourage positive changes for better brain health.

Brain Health Graphics

According to the website, Major sources of data for the Index include the Centers for Disease Control (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System), the Alzheimer's Association (2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures), the Corporation for National and Community Service (Civic Life Index), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (American Time Use Survey) and CQ Press (Education State Rankings) among others.

Conducted over a five year period in 2009, 2011 and 2014, America's Brain Health Index evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on 21 categories of brain health measures and outcomes in the areas of diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being. The categories included a range of determinants from consumption of DHA-fortified foods, supplements and fish high in DHA, breast-feeding rates and amount of sleep, to smoking rates, Alzheimer's disease prevalence, education state rankings, and religious, spiritual and community involvement.

The top 10 brain-healthy states are (see interactive map here):

  1. Maryland

  2. Washington

  3. Colorado

  4. Connecticut

  5. Alaska

  6. District of Columbia

  7. Vermont

  8. New York

  9. New Hampshire

  10. Georgia

The 10 least brain-healthy states are:

41. West Virginia

42. Kentucky

43. Tennessee

44. Oklahoma

45. Indiana

46. Iowa

47. Arkansas

48. Louisiana

49. North Dakota

50. Alabama

51. Mississippi