Life goes at a pace, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with all the ways in which we need to be healthy and all the parts of our bodies we need to look after. Do you ever think of how much TLC our brains might need? Given the brain is the engine room of ourselves it is important we keep this vital organ in top condition. Here are a few ways you can do just that!
There’s a lot to be said for being around other like-minded people and your family members. Being lonely can have a negative physical impact on your brain in that your neuro systems will begin to shut down after long periods of social isolation. So, make an effort to accept invitations for dinner, invite people over regular or join in with local coffee mornings. Taking up a new hobby can also be a great way to meet new friends.
At the end of the day we are beings who thrive strongly in a natural environment. A walk outside can have an immediate positive effect if you’re feeling a bit down and bored, especially in an open park or down by a river. Take in plenty of deep breaths and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature buzzing around you. The brain operates on 20% of your body’s oxygen so the more you can take in the better you will function.
Train your brain
If you complete visual, number, word and jigsaw puzzles on a regular basis it can keep your intelligence and concentration levels up. It has also been said that it can prevent the onset of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Setting time limits and completing puzzles at higher levels than you’re used to is a way to challenge your normal brain function.
Dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin are a quartet of happy hormones that all work in slightly different ways. Dopamine creates a feel good experience when you win or achieve something. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone which allows you to create strong relationships or trust in people. Serotonin can be released when you eat banana, spend time in the sunshine or get a good night’s sleep. And finally endorphins are generated by humour and laughter.
Eat well, drink plenty
Brains are busy organs which thrive on energy, they use one-fifth of blood pumped by the heart so eating and drinking the right things is important. Complex carbohydrates such a wholegrains release energy slowly which is good. The brain also likes fatty acids which the body can’t make so gaining them through oily fish, nuts and seeds can help, Consuming plenty of milk and oats, which contain amino acids, are important and vitamins and minerals in fresh fruit and vegetables provide essential fuel for your mind to operate effectively. The brain is 80% water so it’s also important to keep topped up with lots of fluid – about 6-8 glasses per day.
There has been research done into toxins found in everyday life, mostly food, that have been linked to cognitive disorders such as dementia. AGEs, also known as glycotoxins, MSGs (monosodium glutamate), a preservative and flavour enhancer, and artificial flavourings and sweeteners such as aspartame should all be avoided. Smoking and consuming alcohol also have a negative effect on how well your brain can function so give up or keep these bad habits to a minimum!
Being constantly worried or losing your temper will cause the brain to release a stress hormone called cortisol which can cause long term damage. To help your brain function positively take regular exercise and try meditation, both of which help lower cortisol.
Being asleep is essential for the brain to shut down and rejuvenate. Getting plenty of rest has a profound impact on how much information the brain can take on and therefore improves learning and memory functions.
Check your health
Other organs in your body can affect how well your brain operates so it’s important to stay on top of your general health and get checked out regularly so you can fix things at an early stage – get your eyes tested and protect your heart for example and your brain will remain happy and healthy!