“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around” – Thomas Edison
Our mental health de-compasses emotional functioning and the ability to think, reason and remember. All of these functions depend on a healthy brain.
Our brain is the most important and the most complex organ of our body. it works 24/7. It is always busy, even when you are sleeping, dreaming, thinking, or moving, tiny chemicals and electric signals start circulating between neurons.
Since the brain is an amazing organ that creates thoughts, drives emotions, stores memories and controls our movement and behavior, it ought to be guarded with immense importance.
A healthy lifestyle can support you to keep your brain healthy. You can control and design your lifestyle by preferring the options that apposite for a healthy body and a healthy brain. The following material can help you well in drawing a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 8 proven ways to keep your brain healthy:
Exercise not only keeps your body fit but also adds in brain health. Advocated by The Harvard Medical School, research proves that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Exercise stimulates the growth of chemicals in the brain that affects the health of brain cells growth of new blood vessels and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Science has proved that exercise not only stimulates neurogenesis, but physical activity also has a positive effect on neurotransmitters too.
“The only way you can hurt your body is if you don’t use it” – Jack Lalanne
Experts recommend exercising using a combination of aerobics, strengths, flexibility, and balance.
2. Eat Smart
Researches show that if you are hunting for the category of diet that can help you to maintain brain health a Mediterranean-style diet is an answer. This diet consists of whole grains, fish, olives, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT—so, a healthy diet contributes a lot in maintaining a healthy brain function. As we grow older our brain bears more and more stress caused by our lifestyles, which results in oxidation. Food rich in antioxidants can help to fend off the harmful effects of oxidation.
For maintaining a healthy body and brain your diet must contain
- Fruits and vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and all leafy green vegetables. Green vegetables carry lots of brain loving nutrients. Fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants that slow the aging of the brain.
- Don’t forget fish.
- Eat plenty of whole grains
- Eat eggs in moderation.
- Enjoy dark chocolates and a cup of coffee too.
- Spice up your life with herbs.
3. Sleep Tight
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together” – Thomas Dekker
Resting well energizes your brain improves your mood and your immune system. Most importantly it hinders and minimizes the upsurge of beta-amyloid plaque, an abnormal protein, in the brain.
To maintain a healthy brain function, one must need to sleep for 7-8 hours per night. A good night’s sleep is critical for a healthy brain. Sleep is essential to keep the brain healthy because it helps the brain in cleaning out those toxins that are built naturally during the day time.
Two types of brain cells perform their duties during our sleep. The microglial cells remove the toxic proteins and the astrocytes prune away unnecessary synapses and repair the brain’s neural wiring.
4. Stress management
Stress management is crucial for keeping our brain healthy and sharp. We are among the few animals that create stress in our own thoughts. These stresses damage the brain’s health silently. Physical exercises play a powerful role to mitigate stress but mindfulness is the best prescription.
“Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” – Jon Kabat Zinn
We have discussed in detail about how to practice mindfulness meditation in previous articles.
Mindfulness helps the brain’s health by
- Increasing the gray matter in the hippocampus, posterior, cingulate cortex, temporo-parietal junction, and cerebellum.
- Reducing stress and anxiety.
- Improving attention and self-regulation.
5. Remain Cognitively Active
Researchers believe that just like our muscles our brain atrophy too. Following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing targeted-brain exercises keep you cognitively active and maintain a healthy brain.
Apart from physical exercises, there are numeral ways for the brain’s work-out. Despite the presence of many brain training software, experts recommend sticking to cognitive activities that involve real-world practice.
David Eagleman, Ph.D., neuroscientist said that— brain training could be done in any way similar to any silly suggestion like” drive home in a different route”. The brain exercises practiced normally can be
- Testing your memory
- Do math in your head
- Learning something new
- Create a word picture
- Refining hand-eye abilities by doing a drawing, painting, etc.
6. Social Interaction
Socializing is a great workout for your brain and a good strategy to maintain a healthy brain. Meeting friends, joining clubs and building new relationships are beneficial for keeping your brain vital. Similar to the mental and physical exercise, social stimulation encourages the brain to be active and build more connections.
According to studies, socializing trains our brain improves memory formatting and recall, and it also protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases. Staying connected with family and friends is good to keep your brain healthy and sharp.
A study also found that maintaining close friendships later in life could help to prevent mental decline.
7. Keep tracking your medical health
Your physical health is strongly linked with maintaining a healthy brain function. You have to keep track of your blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, anxiety, obesity, etc.
The following guide will help you in maintaining a medical record to control your health conditions necessary to keep your brain healthy.
High blood pressure causes structural damage to the brain. So, check your blood pressure regularly, cut salt if you find any upward records.
Diabetes develops more in over-weight people and is not good for the brain. For prevention, eat more fiber, control portion size, and exercise.
Do maintain a healthy level of cholesterol.
8. Say “No” to Tobacco and Alcohol
Smoking tobacco is not only a risk to physical health but researches show that smoking also affects people’s mental health. Regular doses of nicotine lead to change in the brain, which then leads to nicotine withdrawal symptoms when the supply of nicotine decreases—- quit smoking or reduce it with the intention of quitting, seek medical help.
The same is with alcohol. Excessive consumption can have long-lasting effects on neurotransmitters by decreasing their effectiveness or even mimicking them.
Here is the quick recap of 8 Proven Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy:
- Eat Smart
- Sleep Tight
- Stress management
- Remain Cognitively Active
- Social Interaction
- Keep tracking your medical health
- Say “No” to Tobacco and Alcohol