As we get older, we often ponder on the question of how can we keep ourselves healthy, vital and looking young. We begin to carefully think about our physical activity, prioritizing more time for exercise and attempt to improve the quality of our sleep, knowing that it causes an enormous impact on our daily functioning. We stay out of the sun to avoid those not-so pretty wrinkles, hence reminding ourselves to wear sunscreen daily. We try to avoid situations that generate anxiety or negativity and make better choices to eat healthier food and to avoid junk. All for the sake of aging slower!
But did you know that your brain health is just as important as your physical health, if not even more significant?
I knew – when it was my birthday two months ago and a new decade (yikes!) – that it was time for me, to not only prioritize my physical health, but, to place my brain health at the top of the ‘new improved me’ list.
So why is brain health so important?
Your brain is your control center; it controls your body’s functions and assists you in transmitting and understanding the world around you. Maintaining a healthy brain means you’re able to think, act and live well. You’re also able to digest information with much more clarity, create meaningful and healthy interactions, handle difficult situations. A healthy brain reduces the risk of cognitive illnesses and chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, two factors that can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Not to mention that maintaining a healthy brain helps you fight off depression, anxiety and stress.
Brain Exercises: Pick Your Own Brain
Yes I’m talking about mental exercises or ‘mental gymnastics’ as some like to call it, such as playing an instrument, doing word puzzles, math problems, designing, writing, drawing, painting etc.
Scientists, according to Harvard Health Publishing, conducted some neuro-scientific research and concluded the following:
“Through research with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological plasticity”
The point is to pick an activity that you enjoy and can both stimulate and engage your brain.
Brain Food: load up on your Omega-3
Aim for foods that offer a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is a major building block of the brain. Fish is the number one source for the essential nutrients, very fatty fish in particular.
We’re talking about salmon, trout and sardines which are all very rich in omega-3. Omega-3 helps to boost memory, mood and protect your brain from deficiency and all sorts of brain related health problems. Fish lovers, rejoice!
Other foods that are beneficial or contain antioxidants and help protect your brain from damage are: eggs, avocado, beans, oranges, dark chocolate, all kinds of nuts and coffee! Yum yum.
Get Active: break a sweat, do 20-30 minutes of physical exercise daily
You don’t need to sign up for a marathon run – simply schedule a 10-20 minute walk everyday and then 20 more minutes of exercise at home (no need for a fancy gym membership, use youtube ..it’s free!)
Socialize: you’re a social creature by nature, don’t be fooled!
Humans are wired to be social. With all the technology in the world today, people are more tempted to lock themselves up and are content living in their own digital worlds through their phones or screens. What they think is real interaction is just virtual interaction. Sadly, Isolation has more harm on us than ever in this digital age!
Do yourself a favour and get out there and make new real interactions!
According to an article published on medicalnewstoday.com, psychologist Susan Pinker explains that direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system to release a set of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating our response to stress and anxiety. This means that face to face communication helps people become less prone to stress and anxiety. Those neurotransmitters released also include dopamine, the “feel good” hormone.
Sleep time is sacred time
In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need to recharge efficiently and that means taking your sleep seriously!
Sleep is the best time for the brain to heal and repair itself. Sleep keeps the brain healthy by clearing out toxins that naturally build up throughout the day.
Create a healthy sleeping environment by not allowing your phone into your bedroom or any other device that can alter the patterns of your sleep. Set a regular sleeping routine — this helps your body know it’s time to sleep. Shut the blinds, make sure you’re comfortable and allow yourself to relax and recharge before another day begins!
I hope that I’ve shun light on the significance of brain health and that will cause you to make minor changes to your lifestyle to start taking care of your brain today.
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