5 Brain-Health Tips
There are several, multi-billion dollar industries out there dedicated to burning fat and building muscle; cognitive health, on the other hand, has been largely overlooked.
Of course, any good health expert is quick to remind readers that it’s all connected. For example, what’s good for the heart will be, directly or indirectly, good for the brain.
September’s an appropriate time to talk brain health: its World Alzheimer’s Month, and it’s the beginning of football season. By now, we know that football players in the NFL, college and even high school suffer considerable head trauma, whether through big hits resulting in concussions or moderate, repeated blows.
It’s also soccer season in other parts of the world. Concern continues to mount about the neurological damage done to players from repeated headers, where the ball is hit by the head. The long-term effects, including depression and other mental-health problems, are similar to those suffered by American football players.
Sports can impart great habits to kids, including discipline, fellowship and an emphasis on strength and endurance. As our children return to school and sports, health-care providers, coaches and parents need to make it a top priority to protect our student-athletes’ brains.
Here are five tips to help everyone maintain brain health:
• Learn new skills. Just as with other health concerns, brain health should be rooted in the prevention of disease. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, the causes of which, and the cure, are unknown. However, it’s widely thought that brain stimulation and activity can delay the onset of the disease. The acquisition of a new skill – whether it’s learning to play an instrument or taking up waterskiing – exercises the brain “muscle.”
• Commit to actual exercise. Everyone knows that exercise helps protect the heart, but not everyone knows that physical activity is also good for the brain. The brain is not a muscle, but it can be worked as muscle is worked during exercise, which forges new neuron pathways.
Let’s face it, there is a component of learning in exercise. You cannot master the squat overnight; the brain has to change. Neuronal connections, or ‘synapses,’ are formed through very complex biophysical mechanisms. That takes time.
• Don’t sweat stress. There is such a thing as good stress, including the acute bodily stress involved in strength training. Of course, there’s the bad stress, such as psychological stress associated with work or interpersonal relationships, and environmental stress, derived from pesticide-laden food – toxins. As always, you have a choice. You don’t have to accept mental stress in your life. Reconsider toxic relationships. Rethink how you handle pressure at work. Perhaps adopt a lunchtime exercise routine.
• Fuel a better body and brain. Fit individuals were around for eons before the term diet existed. Make healthy lifestyle choices daily so they become habit.
Again, it’s all connected. A healthy balance of food and activity will inevitably be good for the entire body: the heart, skeleton, muscles, brain, etc. Proper nutrition is a natural mood enhancer, and good health will inevitably improve self-esteem.
• Feed your head with smart drugs. Some pharmaceuticals may help enhance cerebral blood flow and increase concentration, including Hydergine, Deprenyl and Prozac, to name a few. Ask your doctor about these. There are also over-the-counter smart drugs to consider. Piracetam is one of the oldest and has been shown to have a variety of positive effects in patients with cognitive disorders like dementia and epilepsy. Vinpocetine has potent anti-inflammatory effects, and inflammation is a key component in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and others. You may also want to check out gingko biloba and pregnenolone.
I have had relatives suffer from this disease and I am sure many of you have as well. We can follow these tips to help preserve our brain as much as possible, but regardless many will still suffer with this some day. Do you know someone with Alzheimer’s?
You had me right up until you started talking about drugs. “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” Hippocrates
If at all possible I would suggest avoiding any type of drug. If eating healthy and exercising isn’t working then maybe you’re not eating the right foods. Lots of fruits and vegetables, that’s all our bodies need. Since I’ve become vegan and begun exercising my diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, and insomnia have all been alleviated. I’m living proof that eating fruits and veggies and exercising can cure a lot of medical problems. Even when I ate low carb high fat my depression, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure never went away.
Obviously if there is a serious health problem that needs medical attention it’s wise to consult a physician and decide the best treatment options for you but eating healthy and exercising should always be a number one plan.
I agree Gina, although I still eat organic chicken, turkey & fresh oily fish or canned from steel cans, not aluminium, I cut out milk & drink oat milk instead, replaced butter with margarine that contains plant sterols to lower bad cholesterol, & eat Lo-Col cheese which is high in Vit E to lower bad cholesterol, I don’t use aluminium pans, tins or foil wrap for cooking. I found this website years ago which has been a huge help http://www.foodforthebrain.org My Mum has Alzheimers & took Diazepam/Valium for many years as a muscle relaxant, it’s now thought to be one of the causes of Alzheimers, along with aluminium, so I am also wary of taking drugs for anything unless it’s absolutely necessary, Mum didn’t exercise either & was overweight for many years, ending up with heart failure, so less oxygen getting to her brain which hasn’t helped. I also recommend having a food sensitivity test, (this can be bought online & done at home) as I had suicidal depression for 9 months until I found I had wheat sensitivity, (some fruit, veg & fish caused other problems) the depression started to lift after a few days without wheat, I had to dispose of my toaster & wash thoroughly any surfaces in the apartment that I had touched as traces of wheat flour & oil could be left on there, just inhaling the scent of baking & bread walking past the bakery section in supermarkets used to cause a flare up of depression for the rest of the day, after 6 years I was able to return to wheat, in moderation, but if I feel depressed again I will stop using it, & have another food sensitivity test.
Your Lighter Side says
Thank you so much for sharing!