How To Keep Your Brain Healthy
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit..." B. K. S. Iyengar
Often we think of the mind and body as being separate, focussing too much on one or the other. But, did you know that most of the good things you can do for your physical health can actually boost your brain health too? Read on for 5 ways to keep your brain healthy.
1) Tend to your heart health
Did you know that cardiovascular disease can develop because of reduced blood flow to the brain? When artery walls harden, it's harder to get blood to the brain, so staying on top of your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking can contribute to keeping your blood moving easily through your heart and blood vessels and to good brain health.
2) Catch Those Zzz's
Giving yourself 7-9 hours of sleep a night is one of the best ways to rest the brain. Not only does the brain clear out toxins that lead to Alzheimer's and dementia during sleep, but it also helps you to balance out and regulate your emotions and, of course, to be more physically energised throughout the day.
3) Get Moving!
Knowing we should exercise will get us to start exercising but knowing the 'why' behind it is what will keep us exercising. Exercise supports the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between cells in the brain. Why does this matter? Well, it makes your brain more efficient, flexible, and adaptive which can help you to function at your optimal cognitive level in daily life and reduce mental stress. As for your body, it lowers your blood pressure, improves your cholesterol levels, and, of course, keeps you fit. What a win-win, huh?
4) Choose Brainy Food
Did you know that people who eat a Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and unsaturated oils are less likely to develop cognitive ailments? Trying to incorporate as many of these into your diet can have so many benefits on your mind, body, and even your complexion.
5) Caffeinate! (And also don't)
I love coffee and lots of it. I can't help it. So, if you're anything like me, you'll be happy to know that coffee in the right dose can actually prevent cognitive decline. But then an excessive amount of caffeine - i.e. more than two cups - can disrupt your sleep and have harmful effects. Having a couple of cups in the morning and then switching to decaf in the afternoon is said to be the best thing to do. (Though I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my post-lunch jolt just yet!)
So those are just some of the ways you can help to keep both your brain and your body happy. For ways to tend to your emotional and spiritual wellbeing too, check out my articles on the science of journalling and its benefits and how meditation can keep your brain flexible and young.