The brain is considered by many to be the most important organ in the human body,
There are valid reasons for this belief as it controls and coordinates actions and reactions, allows us to think and feel, and enables us to have memories and emotions as well as personality and consciousness – all the things that make us human.
The brain exerts executive control over the rest of the body, coordinating billions of neurons to control movement and muscle function by sending vitally important messages to the body through 45 miles of nerves
The brain is not a solid organ, but rather a highly complex organ made up of many parts, and it contains approximately one hundred billion neurons. Hence, the brain is encased and protected by bone, the skull and vertebrae of the spine, because it is so valuable and delicate.
A brain that doesn’t change is a no-brainer
Until relatively recently, it was believed that the brain was static and fully established after the initial phase of neural development. However, modern advances in neuroscience have shown that the brain is not “fixed” but rater flexible, constantly growing and changing as it responds to new information, experiences and circumstances, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity.
Therefore, maintaining brain health is important for overall well-being.
In addition to the obvious precautions such as, wearing a seat belt or helmet and taking steps to prevent falls in order to physically protect the skull from injuries, there are several strategies we can adopt and/or implement to keep our brain healthy.
Let’s look at those brain damaging behaviors first.
Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for many health problems, including cognitive decline and dementia. It has been scientifically demonstrated that it causes structural and chemical changes, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Therefore, quitting smoking can help protect your brain health.
Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking can damage the brain and increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. These are due to neurotransmitter blockage, brain shrinkage and impaired cognitive functions. Thus, avoiding alcohol consumption is beneficial to the brain’s wellness.
Rewarding healthy habits:
Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity is known for its multiple benefits, and among these are the gains for the brains. Indeed, physical active people are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
These benefits result from increased blood flow to the brain during exercise. It also helps to reverse some of the natural reduction in brain connections due to ageing,.
Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is necessary for brain health. It allows the brain to rest and recharge, and it also helps consolidate memories and learning. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive decline.
Eat a healthy diet: Our diet plays a crucial role in our brain health. Consuming more
- plant-based foods,
- whole grains, and
- healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts and seeds
is the trick to introduce antioxidants and all the essential nutrients that help repair damage and decrease inflammation in brain cells, restore balance of neurotransmitters and lower the risk of cognitive decline.
It is also recommend to consume less red meat and salt than a typical Western diet, as these cause inflammation, neurovascular and cognitive dysfunction.
For some of the best sources of the most abundant nutrient concentrated in the brain, namely lutein, and also omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins or other nutrients, feel free to refer to the previous blog posts.
Engage in mental stimulation: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as
- doing puzzles, or
- learning a new skill or language,
can help keep your brain active and healthy. These activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and even help the brain generate new cells, developing the neurological “plasticity” aforementioned and preventing future cell loss.
Stay socially engaged: Maintaining social engagement benefits brain health.
- Engage in social activities that are meaningful to you;
- find ways to be part of your community or volunteer for organizations you care about.
Interpersonal ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia.
Manage stress: Specific “positive” (and short) stress can be beneficial for the entire body, such as cold water showers, fasting and intensive cardio exercises. However, chronic stress has negative effects on the brain, including impairing memory and increasing the risk of developing neurodegeneratve diseases. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through
- yoga, or
- deep breathing exercises,
can help protect your brain health.
Control blood pressure and cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol can damage blood vessels in the brain, leading to cognitive decline and an increased risk of neurodegeneration. Managing these conditions through lifestyle changes and medication, if necessary, can help protect your brain health.
All in all, by adopting these lifestyle habits, we can help keep our body and brain healthy, while potentially reducing our risk of cognitive decline and dementia
Challange yourself to embrace one new practice for a month and feel the benefits. Your brain will surely be grateful to you!
As we wrap up this post, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible power of the brain. From the neurons firing in our heads to the complex thoughts and emotions they produce, the brain is truly a marvel of nature. So let’s keep exploring and learning, and never stop pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve with this incredible organ. Thank you ever so much for joining me on this journey of discovery!
Signing off for to some brainy activities to keep it sharp and active.
For more tips and tricks on how to keep the brain healthy, book your FREE initial consultation here