When it comes to neurological health, people often consider it in terms
of what to fix when things go wrong. From concussion to chronic pain conditions,
many still believe that brain health is only something that can be repaired
once its damaged and not something that can actually be enhanced. But
the truth my friends is that you CAN and should make enhanced brain health
a focus in your life. Not only to reduce the risk of certain diseases,
but also because research has continued to prove that caring for the brain
can lead to lasting health, quality of life and overall happiness. Three
tips below on where to start:
Sleep – As discussed in a previousblog, sleep isn’t something you should sacrifice if you want to enhance
your brain health. Study after study has shown that even an hour or two
less sleep each night for just a few consecutive nights can have effects
on the brain that last longer than those few days of disrupted rest. From
delayed reaction times that can put you in danger while driving or working
to fatigue and depression, “burning the midnight oil” can
have serious health and brain repercussions. Make brain health a priority
by making sleep a priority. Turn the television and your smart phone OFF
while trying to sleep, make sure your sleeping quarters are dark and at
a comfortable temperature (not too warm and not too cold) and aim for
the goal of waking up at the time you should each morning, eventually
without the need for an alarm clock.
Diet – The results of a
study recently published by the American Academy of Neurology indicates that
following a Mediterranean diet can have positive effects on the health
of our brains, especially as we age. The Mediterranean diet is a term
generally used in reference to diets that contain a larger amount of fruits,
vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains (such as rice and wheat).
Conversely, such diets contain moderate amounts of fish, dairy products
and wine and limited amounts of poultry and red meat. The subjects who
followed this diet were studied over time and those who followed it less
closely were shown to have a higher loss of brain volume. Brain volume
loss can affect learning and memory, especially as we get older. But the
components of the Mediterranean diet are shown to have protective benefits
for the brain.
Exercise – While there is plenty of information out there about “brain exercises”
to enhance neurological function and brain performance, many people may
not realize that actual physical exercise, especially those exercises
build lean muscle mass, can have a significant positive impact on a person’s quality of
life. Especially for those who suffer from chronic neurological conditions,
this type of exercise is being shown in emerging research to have lasting
benefits that can help manage pain in ways we’re only beginning
to realize. From the release of natural “feel good chemicals”
in the brain to improved overall health, exercise really is a magic elixir.
Healthy Body = Healthy Brain.
As you think about your overall wellness, from cancer prevention to weight
loss, don’t leave out your brain. It really is your body’s
hub – keeping it healthy and happy can have lasting positive effects
for a lifetime.