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6 Ways to Boost Brain Health

healthy brain by enlite.me

 

The importance of brain health isn’t all in your head. Find out how to boost cognitive abilities and stay sharp with simple food and lifestyle changes. 

 

Food for thought: 6 ways to boost brain health

Cerebral matter matters. Just ask a starfish. Charming as it is, it's not exactly the life of the party. Luckily for us humans, we are endowed with the world's most advanced nervous system, and at its core stands the brain. But instead of nurturing this incredibly sophisticated organ, we humans take it for granted.

Governments and public health services across the world warn that healthy life expectancy is in decline. This essentially means that people live longer but in poorer physical and mental health. So, it should come as no surprise that our modern lifestyle, with food, necessities, and information handed to us on a platter, affects the performance of our most complex organ - the brain - negatively.

Proponents of the 'Flynn effect' support this idea. As this recent study suggests, mental acuity and IQ have been falling steadily due to environmental changes. Poor nutrition, lack of access to education, being online more, and reading less lead to premature cognitive ageing, experts claim.

Reversing the process is easier said than done. But if this article by the Harvard Medical School is to be believed, there are ways to slow it down. Below we've outlined some of the most important and effective solutions, along with the most important threats to our cognitive abilities:

 

brain health by enlite.me1. Mind Your Head

You need to keep your wits about you, literally. Head injuries can lead to cognitive impairment. Even a moderate, undiagnosed concussion can affect your everyday life, never mind your grey matter. So, the first step to not having a mind like a sieve in your old age is to protect it from physical harm. 

2. Respect Your Body

Show your body the respect and the attention it deserves by steering clear of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and addictive substances. Excessive drinking is a risk factor for dementia, but there's also such a thing as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) to contend with. Also, get this: there's a study that claims cocaine makes brain cells eat themselves. Yikes! So, say pass to that. But ultimately, remember that even something as innocuous as a cup of coffee or tea can affect your mood, your sleep patterns, and your metabolism too, if taken daily. 

 

mental exercise by entlie.me3. Steady Your Nerves

Mental illness, such as anxiety, eating disorders, addictive behaviours, and depression can affect your well-being, self-esteem, performance, mood, behaviour, and even your memory. Good mental health may not always be attainable but acknowledging and addressing your condition is a worth-while challenge. Your brain and - by extension - your mind - stand only to gain from self-awareness and self-control. It's a no-brainer. 

 

healthy brain by enlite.me4. Take Up Mental Gymnastics

There's research to suggest that challenging mental activities may help the brain generate neurons, building up a reserve for you to use in your old age. So, if you want more brain power, keep the brain engaged and don't ever stop learning.

Of course, puzzles, mazes, sudoku, and math problems aren't everyone's cup of tea. You don't just pick up the skills overnight. But there's no reason not to take up courses, read for pleasure, or at least listen to audio books throughout life. So, drop the soaps, say no to brain candy, and opt for fun brain-twisting activities instead, like flavour identifying challenges.

If musical instruments and foreign languages aren't your forte, don't despair. Focus on activities that enhance manual dexterity and fine motor skills. Arts and crafts are a good example, and anything from origami to steel sculpting will do.

 

move a muscle by enlite.me5. Move a Muscle

It's not just mental gymnastics that's good for you; so too is physical exercise. It helps the heart pump more oxygen-rich blood to the brain faster. There's also some indication that exercise plays a part in the development of new neurons (neurogenesis), as this study suggests. Exercise, it claims, cleans up the 'debris' that causes inflammation in the brain, which eventually improves cognition in Alzheimer's disease.

 

food for thought by enlite.me6. Eat Better

Do you have food on the brain? You should, because what you eat shows how healthy your brain is. The brain may be the command centre of the nervous system, but the other ten systems in your body also affect and are affected by it. Nutrition, in turn, affects all these systems, from the circulatory to the endocrine. So, combined with exercise, weight management, and savvy countermeasures, nutrition is the most effective way to boost brain health in the long run by improving overall health.

The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) claims a heart-healthy diet is also brain-healthy. Think of it this way: nearly a quarter of the blood in your body is pumped to the brain in a single heartbeat, so exercising and weight control will help bring the right nutrients to the brain faster and more efficiently.

Cardiovascular health is reliant on nutrients, and the effects of healthy diets are immediate. You lower your blood pressure when you mind that salt, you reduce blood sugar levels in diabetes by limiting your intake of sucrose, and you bring cholesterol levels down by switching to olive oil.

Going forward, you should also try to give into sugar cravings less, and opt for nutrient-rich foods, like enlite.me shakes and soups. Top scientists may not always agree on recommended intake for specific food products. But the consensus is that a healthy diet is a varied diet with roughly the following quantities per type of food:

  • at least two servings of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours and textures with every main meal
  • one or two servings of bread, pasta, rice or couscous with every meal
  • one or two servings of olives, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, onion, and garlic per day
  • preferably two servings of dairy products per day, including yogurt and cheese
  • two servings of fish, eggs and legumes (like beans) per week
  • less than two servings of red meat and potatoes
  • refined starch and sugar in minimal amounts.

 

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