Keeping our brain healthy plays a critical part in every aspect of our life. It affects our ability to think, plan, feel, remember, work, play and has a profound impact on the quality of our sleep itself. Scientific studies show we can control the health of our brain and that doing so considerably decreases our risk for mental health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Physical and Mental Activity
Our brain contains around 100 billion neurons. Each linking to others in a network encompassing trillions of connections. This makes the human brain the most complicated entity in the universe. Like the rest of our body, our brain, if neglected, will gradually lose agility, flexibility and begin deteriorating. In order to remain sharp and well functioning, both the body and the brain need regular exercise. Physical activity ensures better blood flow to our vital organs, including the brain. It encourages the production of new brain cells, lowers stress and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Mentally stimulating activities, such as studying, learning new skills or languages, playing an instrument and other forms of intellectual stimulation also strengthen brain cells, reinforcing the electrical activity between existing cells and prompting the production of new cells. The repetition of learned tasks is what enables specific neural connections to become active and operational. In other words, the more we continue learning, the smarter we continue being.
Cigarettes, Drugs & Alcohol
The casual use of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol in itself has physical implications that severely damage every single organ in the body. We all know smoking causes permanent lung damage and drinking irreversible liver damage. What is less understood is that regular alcohol and drug use prompts irreversible brain damage. The chronic and potentially life-threatening deterioration of the brain and body due to alcohol and drug intake can start with symptoms as simple as changes in sleep patterns, loss of quality or quantity of sleep, shortened attention span or decrease in coordination. Symptoms can gradually worsen and lead to severe cognitive disruptions and serious mental health conditions. Chemical substances alter the chemistry of the brain responsible for coordinating our motor skills, motivation and emotions. Prolonged use causes permanent damage to the areas of the brain responsible for our psychological and emotional well being.
Nutrition plays an essential part in the health of our brain. A healthy diet rich in dark vegetables, fruits and antioxidants enhances the functioning the brain. High intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is known to clog arteries and contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. Studies show people who are overweight are twice as likely to develop dementia later in life. Those suffering from high cholesterol and high blood pressure are six times more likely to experience brain function degeneration.
Maximizing Brain Health
To sum up, a healthy nutrition combined with physical and mental activity, social interaction and overall fitness is the best way to keep our brain healthy and our neurons sharp.