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Taking Care of Your Brain

Taking Care of Your Brain

The brain is considered to be one of the most important organs in our body.  However, many factors can contribute to how well it functions for how long.  If we do not use our brain properly or if it gets abused continuously, our brain may go before we are ready.  Factors that may make our brain deteriorate faster than what is considered ‘normal’ are as follows:

  • Free radicals – studies have shown that accumulation of free radicals correlates with brain deterioration, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Vascular disease – blood vessels are like a hose that bring nutrients to the brain. If there is a clot, then the brain may not get enough nutrients, thereby contributing to degeneration.
  • Malnutrition – the most important nutrients for the brain are vitamins B1, B12 and folic acid.  People who consume alcohol regularly and those who are strict vegetarians are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Comorbidity –  some diseases that affect other systems, such as liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases, may lead to brain degeneration, if left untreated.
  • Brain trauma – people who play contact sports or sports that cause head injuries are at much higher risk.
  • Toxicity – prolonged use of certain drugs, such as sleep aid medication and antidepressants, may accumulate in the body over time and impact brain function.

Do’s for Brain Health

  • Exercise regularly, especially cardio (run, swim, bike)
  • Fill your body with antioxidants, especially fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, which are considered great brain food.
  • Socialize, meeting new people is also brain exercise.
  • Keep a diary.  Thinking and writing are equivalent to weightlifting for the brain.  It can help slow down degeneration.
  • Learn something new, such as a second or third language, dancing or learn to play a musical instrument.  Think of these things as updating your smartphone to a newer version.  Keep the brain fresh and up-to-date.
  • Meditate daily to give your brain a rest; it can improve your memory.

Dont’s for Brain Health

  • Don’t let your blood pressure or blood cholesterol get higher than it should be.  These two things can be main culprits in damaging your blood vessels and can cause a clot or a stroke that blocks nutrients to the brain.
  • Don’t play contact sports that may lead to head trauma; your brain is too fragile for boxing or rugby.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.  Studies have shown that alcoholics have smaller brain volume due to atrophy.
  • Don’t stress out.  Lack of sleep and stress can destroy your brain.  Stress hormones, called cortisol, are released in high amounts during stressful times and when we lack sleep.  These hormones directly affect the hippocampus or the part of your brain that stores memory.
  • Don’t vegetate for too long. Think of a car that has been parked for a long time.  If you are retired, find stimulating things to do to help your brain, your body and your social abilities.  Staying active in all facets of your life will keep your moving and your life fulfilling.
  • Don’t consume or breathe in toxins that directly affect your brain, such as paint thinners, glue, recreational drugs, pesticides, mercury, etc.

In reality, we can help achieve and maintain our best health by changing our habits and lifestyle in healthy ways!

Photo Credit: racheocity via Compfight cc

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