This is your brain on love -

This is your brain on love

Love is something that's near and dear to everyone's heart. But when you say "I love you with all my heart," what you really mean is, "I love you with all my brain."

It's not nearly as poetic, but recent neuroscience studies are proving just how powerful an effect love can have on us. In fact, it triggers the same parts of the brain as cocaine.

Dr. Daniel Amen of Amen Clinics sees a profound connection between the health of our brain and our love life.

"When our brains work right, you become more thoughtful. You become more loving. And you become easier to love," he explains. "When your brain is not right, your relationships are just harder, because you're worried or you're anxious, or you're depressed. And those things all interfere with intimacy."

Dr. Amen says intimacy, including regular sexual activity, is essential to good health.

"There's one study that says three times a week, for men, is associated with decreased risk of heart attack and stroke by 50 percent. So we have no medicine that can do it," he says. "I like to joke that if your wife is withholding sex from you, you could sue her for attempted murder!"

What's interesting about women, he says, is that it's not the frequency of sexual activity that's associated with longevity,but how much they like sex.

"So if your husband's not pleasing you, you could sue him back," Dr. Amen laughs.

Whether married or single, Dr. Amen insists the starting point to improve your love life is located between your ears.

"The healthier a person's brain is, the more likely they are to be compatible with more people. The more unhealthy it is, the more trouble they're going to have. People say, 'I have a broken heart.' It's like, no, you have a broken brain," he explains.

Here's Dr. Amen's prescription to keep your brain in top shape:

  • Give it the hi-octane fuel it needs by eating lean protein and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Limit your intake of brain toxins like alcohol, drugs and nicotine.
  • Increase blood flow to your brain through regular exercise and seven or more hours of sleep every night.

Follow these tips, and your brain and heart will both be ready to fall in love!

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