The brain is the most complex organ in the body and is always working, taking care of your breathing, heartbeat, digestion etc, even while you’re asleep. That’s why keeping it healthy is critical—especially as you get older. keeping your brain healthy
So I want to share the 5 key areas that you need to focus on to keep your brain working optimally.
5 Ways To Keep Your Brain Healthy.
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1) Exercise Regularly
The link between the benefits of exercise on your brain, has been known for many years. In fact, compelling evidence shows that physical exercise helps build a brain that can function better through the process known as neurogenesis, i.e. your brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, regardless of your age.
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
By late middle age, most of us have begun developing age-related holes or lesions in our brains white matter, which is the material that connects and passes messages between different brain regions.
These lesions usually show up on brain scans before the person notices changes to his or her memory or thinking skills. Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, found that lifting weight at least twice a week can have a positive impact on brain function.
The key is to maintain a consistent regular exercise schedule as you age.
2) Eat a Balanced Seasonal Diet
The cells of your brain rely on energy from food just like any other cell in the body. Without the adequate supply of nutrients, both your neural function and brain chemistry can be negatively impacted. This has a knock on effect that effects all of the bodily functions that the brain is involved in, including memory, sleep patterns, mood and your physical motor skills.
Studies have compared “traditional” seasonal diets like the Mediterranean diet and Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional seasonal diet.
Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to have a high variety of seasonal vegetables, fruits, fish, and only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” dietary pattern.
3) Drink plenty of Water
Research by Harris Lieberman, Ph.D., a scientist with the U.S. Army who has studied the effects of this type of dehydration on the brains of women found was that going 4-8 Hours without water, women experience a significant drop-off in energy and mood.
Basically, they feel tired and lousy about life, Lieberman says. “Also, women were more likely to have headaches and report difficulty concentrating,” he adds. Why? “The brain is extremely sensitive to even small changes in the amounts of ions like sodium and potassium found in your body’s fluids”.
Men experienced some of these effects, but not to the same extent as women. He says that probably has to do with body composition differences.
Lieberman says that roughly 24 hours without water will intensify the brain problems. “Also, you’re going to see substantial changes in your ability to perform cognitively,” he explains. “Learning and memory and alertness will all suffer with severe dehydration.”
Along with those mood and energy deficits, your dehydrated brain also has to use a lot more energy to accomplish the same tasks, shows a study from King’s College London.
4) Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The first known study about the negative effects of sleeplessness was published in 1896. Since then, hundreds of studies have established that sleep loss impairs a plethora of cognitive functions, including behaviour, attention, cognitive speed, memory, emotional intelligence, and decision making.
Research from the University of California found that a single night of poor sleep showed that your brain has issues picking out important or relevant information from all the insignificant information you brain is absorbing from the world around you.
Furthermore, a team from the University of Washington studied more than 1,700 twins, and found those who regularly slept less than five hours a night were at twice the risk for depression.
Because individual sleep needs vary, the best way to gauge whether you’re getting enough sleep is by how you feel. If feel sleepy when you wake up, or energy levels are low or inconsistent throughout the day, then it’s a good indication that your sleep habits need to change.
5) Think Positively
According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, humans are evolutionarily wired with a negativity bias. Our minds naturally focus on the bad and discard the good. It was much more important for our ancestors to avoid threats than to collect rewards.
Hanson says “Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intense (e.g., loud, bright) positive ones”. He also says “negative stimuli are also perceived more easily and quickly. For example, people in studies can identify angry faces faster than happy ones; even if they are shown these images so quickly (just a tenth of a second or so) that they cannot have any conscious recognition of them, the ancient fight-or-flight limbic system of the brain will still get activated by the angry faces.”
By using techniques such as meditation and journaling, helps our brain focus its attention and become more resilient to dealing with the stressess of life. So keep your brain healthy!
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