As you age, your brain ages with you. However, mental decline is quite feared as it is one of the consequences of aging. Brain deterioration, Alzheimer’s, and dementia are commonplace and this makes it essential for us to build, preserve, and protect our good mental health. Fret not for we will take you to an in-depth route to understanding the best brain health tips to keep you all hale and hearty! Check out these tips to maintain your brain function.
- Brain And Nervous System Research And Studies Home
- How To Get Good Brain Health?
- More Tips for Better Brain Health
- Dark Chocolate Loaded With Nutrients That Can Positively Affect Your Health
- Where Can I Learn More About Good Mental Health?
- How To Have Good Brain Health
Brain And Nervous System Research And Studies Home
Our nervous system is divided into two major parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The central system is our primary command system that comprises the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system is made up of nerve cells that take information through the senses of the body and allow us to interact with our environment and control our body functions. The brain is our most complex organ and it uses 20% of all the oxygen our body takes in. The cerebral cortex has an estimated amount of 15 to 33 billion neurons and it is the largest part of the brain.
Brain & Nervous System Home
There are around 100 billion neurons and 1000 billion support cells that make up our brain and the brain is a central control module that coordinates activity. To carry out the functions like secretion of hormones and creation of memories, sections of the brain have dedicated roles. The spinal cord then carries all the information between the brain and the body and it is connected to the peripheral nervous system that runs from the skin, muscles, and joints. The spinal cord has circuits to control our reflexive responses and they can also generate our movements. Our brain starts and stops the movements or makes changes. For example, it makes us stop when an object appears in front of us.
How To Get Good Brain Health?
A healthy brain will always guide you through your life, from birth to childhood and through adulthood as well. Even though well-being can mean different things to different people, having a common sense of purpose, feeling good, and having control over your life are common in everybody. To achieve all of the goals you set for yourself, you need to have a healthy brain. Here are some of the best brain health tips that will help you achieve the best mental health care.
1. Plenty of Quality Sleep
It is no secret that poor or inadequate sleep is associated with a host of lifestyle diseases like blood pressure and worsening cardiovascular health. These diseases can also lead to high blood pressure and weight gain, not to forget, poor brain health leading to memory loss. The brain requires the daily rest of 8 hours to clean up the neurons and synapses that help it make memories. Lack of quality sleep can significantly impact the brain and physical health. It is essential to get 8 hours of consecutive sleep per night which gives the brain time to consolidate and store all the memories effectively. Sleep apnea can harm brain wave activity and could be one of the main reasons why you are not getting consecutive hours of sleep.
Research has proven that poor sleep has negative effects on good mental health. If you wish to optimize your brain function, here are the best sleep tips to help you sleep better at night.
2. Natural Sunlight exposure
The body has a clock which is known as the circadian rhythm which affects the brain, body, and hormones. Regular exposure to natural sunlight during the day keeps the circadian rhythm healthy and this improves your overall energy as well as helping you sleep during the time. Daytime bright light exposure has proven to improve sleep quality and duration in people suffering from insomnia as well. You can also invest in an artificial bright light if you are unable to get any sun.
3. Caffeine Consumption
Even though caffeine has numerous benefits, consumption of caffeine late in the day stimulates the nervous system and does not help your body relax during sleep. A study proved that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime significantly worsened the quality of sleep. If you love your daily dose of coffee, consume it during the morning or in the noon.
4. Optimized Bedroom Environment
One of the key factors in getting a good night’s sleep lies in the bedroom environment. Your bedroom environment refers to temperature, external noise from traffic, pillows, and mattresses that can impact your sleep. Just by removing the external noise, you can significantly improve your sleep pattern. You need to make sure that your bedroom environment is quiet, relaxing, clean, and enjoyable.
5. Move Your Body
Physical exercise boosts the flow of blood into your brain and the mental health benefits out of simply working out are huge. You need to set a daily target of moving your body for a few stipulated minutes. Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes or go for a jog if you have not exercised in a long time. A study found that sedentary people who made it a habit to just go for a walk every day for a year showed significant improvements in their memory function. If you want to take your exercise up a notch, you can go for aerobic exercise coupled with strength training at least two times a week. Physical activity is the key to great mental health benefits. Here are some tips to help you get moving every day.
- Go outside and take a walk, bike, run, skip, or swim for at least 30 minutes in a day.
- Set your watch and do 10 repetitions of 10 high-intensity exercises.
- Take a walk around the room while you are attending a call.
- Get into an impromptu dance whenever you are listening to music.
- Challenge yourself to a new activity every day.
- Practice mind relaxation with Yoga.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift wherever possible
6. Try New Things
If you are someone who has set a routine, it is time to break away from it. When you move away from the routine you are used to, your brain becomes active and starts to adjust itself to the new environment which increases brain wave activity. It is essential to perform tasks you have never performed before. Take a little time and remain cognitively active through social activities. Not only will these new activities improve your brain but can also you deal with mental stress or depression. Here are some of the best brain health tips for you.
Yoga: Yoga is a tool for reducing mental stress and anxiety. Yoga modulates the stress response systems and helps to reduce anxiety and depression. While some postures of yoga can be strenuous, you can opt for easier postures to stimulate brain wave activity and increase flexibility
Get a Pet: If you are someone who loves animals, there is no bigger gift than a pet. Therapy dogs act as medicine to improve your mental health. Pet animals can provide emotional support through their companionship to individuals.
Gardening: This is a hobby that many people partake in to calm their minds. In addition to giving you an avenue for physical exercise, gardening will also increase your exposure to fresh air and sunlight that can provide you the best mental health care.
Reading: The act of reading to relieve mental health difficulties is known as bibliotherapy. Even though it sounds silly, reading has been found to decrease the symptoms of depression. Regular reading can relax your mind, decrease blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and also increase your level of interpersonal understanding. If you find yourself unable to concentrate due to reduced brain capacity, a good book can get you back on track.
More Tips for Better Brain Health
The Canadian mental health association promotes and supports the resilience and recovery of people suffering from mental illnesses through public education and community-based research. A lot of evidence points to the fact that people can reduce the cognitive decline of their brain function by adopting key lifestyle habits. The combination of these healthy habits can provide maximum mental health benefits. It is never too late to start taking care of your brain and through this, you can actually delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is necessary to increase awareness about the benefits of brain health and analyze how our habits might be affecting all that grey matter. Here are the 10 best brain health tips to help you get a better and healthier brain.
7. Take care of your body
With an increase in obesity levels around the world, you must be getting a lot of educational information about working your body. But physical exercise is not just good for keeping you fit, it can stimulate your brain function as well. A study conducted with women aged between 70 to 81 found that exercise can lead to better cognitive performance as compared to women who don’t exercise. The women who exercised had a 20% lower risk of cognitive impairment. Even if you are not able to give some time to exercise, you can find ways to improve. Take a brisk walk around the house or take the stairs instead of a lift. Any kind of exercise will boost the flow of blood into your brain and improve your memory and brain health.
8. Practice healthy thinking
Positive thinking or an optimistic attitude can have a huge impact on physical and mental health. Positive thinking does not necessarily mean ignoring all the problems, it just means that you approach the good and bad things happening in your life with an optimistic outlook and with the expectation that everything will go well. There are no downsides to staying upbeat and many studies have found the role of healthy thinking in mental health. Some other benefits of an optimistic outlook are:
- Longer life span and better physical health.
- Lower chances of a heart attack.
- Greater resistance to common flu and fever.
- Lower blood pressure and low blood sugar levels.
- Better stress management.
Through optimistic thinking, you can vastly improve your brain health, and some of the benefits of good mental health can be:
- Creative outlook and greater problem-solving skills.
- Clear thoughts and a better mood
- Lower depression and anxiety levels.
- Better coping skills.
9. Good Diet
Dementia mental health association in Australia recommends a diet rich in unsaturated fats that are found in fish and olive oil along with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and legumes. In addition to these foods, you need to avoid the bad fats found in processed foods, sugary pastries, cakes, and fried foods. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and walnuts are known to promote the growth of brain cells and supports learning and memory. Antioxidants found in berries, tomatoes, kidney beans, and oranges can improve brain cell communication and act against inflammation as well. A good diet goes a long way along with physical activity as these are instruments of brain health and you can consult your health care provider to get a diet made for you.
10. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is linked to negative brain wave activity and quitting this habit improves brain health. A study of brain scans conducted with 500 smokers revealed that smokers have a thinner cortex. Cortex is the part of the brain responsible for memory, language, and perception and smoking accelerates the thinning process of the cortex which should happen gradually with age. However, quitting smoking can actually restore the thickness of the cortex which in turn can restore your good mental health.
11. Learn how to deal with stress:
Chronic stress can lead to overproduction of myelin which is the insulating layer around the nerves. It can also lead to overproduction of the cortisol hormone which can change your brain structure and trigger your stem cells to malfunction. In this fast-paced world, it is becoming incredibly difficult to avoid stressful situations, however, it is extremely vital to learn how to manage and reduce stress levels. There are numerous ways through which you can manage your stress levels and lead a balanced life.
- Yoga and physical exercise.
- Relaxation spas and vacations once in a while.
- Learn to say no.
- Keep a stress diary to track your stress levels.
- Learn to maintain a work-life balance.
A study conducted in 2017 states that high blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure greater than 130/90. You need to check your blood pressure at least once every six months to know whether you are at risk or not. High blood pressure can negatively impact your hypothalamus brain stem which can lead to early onset of Alzheimer’s. If you are younger than the age of 30 years, you are at risk of having lifelong blood pressure if you do not control it.
13. Set realistic goals:
If you are starting out on a new health journey to improve your brain function, then it is advised to consult mental health providers so you know exactly what to do. Always set realistic goals and do not set out to do 2 hours of exercise daily to improve your health. You can severely harm yourself trying to fulfill the goals. If you are set on pursuing a healthy lifestyle, it is best to take it slow or consult mental health care providers so that they can set a routine for you.
14. Break up the monotony:
Mentally stimulating activities like a crossword puzzle can help your brain build new cells and when you are doing something challenging, the blood rush to your brain can help your brain achieve optimal functionality. Along with these activities, social activities are also associated with a lower risk of dementia and if you are an introvert, joining a book club will also work for you. When you keep learning and engaging in new activities, you are signaling your brain to stay active as well. Research has found that learning new skills sets off neuron receptors that keep your brain cells active. It is also linked to theta rhythms (learning-related brain rhythms) that encode new memories. Surprise your brain every once in a while by taking a new route.
15. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:
Alcohol can impact sleep hormones and it is known to cause sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. Alcohol can also impact your melatonin production which is linked to your body’s circadian rhythm. It is best to avoid alcohol if you are looking to improve your sleep. Drinking is also found to have severe effects on our bodies as we age and it is advised to drink one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. Even certain drugs can negatively affect the brain and it is best to talk to your mental health providers to know the dangerous effects of the medications on your brain.
16. Get help when you need it:
If you think that your mental health condition is degrading, it is advised to use mental health services and consult your mental health providers to get help. Do not consume or take any medication without any consultation as it will lead to more harm than good.
Dark Chocolate Loaded With Nutrients That Can Positively Affect Your Health
If you are a chocolate lover, then here is good news for you. Dark chocolate can improve brain function as proven by a study conducted on healthy volunteers. The study showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved the blood flow to the brain and cocoa has also been found to significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people. Cocoa also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. These compounds are known to improve brain function for a short period of time. Additionally, dark chocolate can improve verbal fluency and reduce the risk of several diseases like mental impairment, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can increase cerebral blood flow and promotes the formation of synapses between neurons. A study by Harvard Medical school found that even by drinking 2 cups of cocoa, you can significantly improve your good mental health.
Where Can I Learn More About Good Mental Health?
You can always find a good mental health association to learn more about good mental health as they conduct various awareness programs and studies related to it. Additionally, you can talk to your mental health providers to learn about A study conducted in 2017
How To Have Good Brain Health
By following these simple steps, you are allowing your brain to achieve optimal functionality. However, if you are feeling anxious or depressed, it is advised to remember that there are many mental health services that can offer you help and support. The most important thing to remember is that your mind is an important tool so keeping it fully functional is very essential to living an active life.