5 Best Ways to Nurture your Brain with Love (and Some Sweat)
Your brain is the command center of your entire body. It allows you to think, feel and store memories, and it controls and coordinates your body’s actions and reactions. Despite the fact that it only accounts for 2 percent of your entire body weight, the brain consumes more than 20 percent of your daily energy intake. So you should give it some love!
The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors. While some factors such as your genes are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence. No matter your age, the more you abide by the below tips in your daily life, the healthier and stronger your brain will be. When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will be stronger…longer.
1. Balanced diet: Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs a nutritious diet to operate at its best. Because the brain demands such high amounts of energy, the foods we consume greatly affect brain function, including everything from learning and memory to emotions. Studies suggest the quality of the foods consumed over a lifetime affects the structure and function of the brain. For example, the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish provides structural material to maintain neurons. Studies also suggest omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the transmission of information between brain cells. In contrast, foods that are rich in sugars and saturated fats have been found to promote oxidative stress, which leads to damage of cell membranes. If healthy food does not look appealing to you, you will be glad to learn that you can train your brain to eat healthy.
2. Mental stimulation: Research shows that cognitive decline starts as early as in your 20s, but you can keep your brain running at peak performance and even make improvements at any age. Age-related cognitive decline means that when you age you naturally start losing connections between neurons – which are very important for your brain health – but you can create new neural pathways by training your brain. So, just like your body, you can “use it or lose it”. The brain fitness industry is a fast growing business, and new brain games appear every day. Make sure to include these 5 must-have features in your brain training program.
3. Physical activity: The neuroscientific community agrees that physical activity is one of the best medicines to maintain brain health throughout your lifespan. Studies found that aerobic fitness helps generate new brain cells, create new connections between neurons and even help depression. Exercising the body and the mind may prevent Alzheimer’s. Plus physical activity improves brain health and cognitive function at any age. Increased fitness may lift your mood and improve sleep patterns.
4. Stress management: Stress has such a powerful impact on your well being because it is a natural response that is activated in the brain. It can contribute to a number of mental and emotional disorders, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks. This emotional stress can make it difficult to focus, make decisions, think things through or remember things. Stress may also cause irritability, making you easily frustrated and impatient with others, and can even contribute to depression, anger, feelings of insecurity, and relationship conflicts. Managing your stress in your everyday life is vital for maintaining your overall health.
5. Sleep quality: Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Research shows that a good night’s sleep is essential for brain health. Sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. Studies also show that sleep after learning boosts memory. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.