“Take care of your mind and your body will thank you. Take care of your body and your mind will thank you.” – Debbie Hampton. As rightly pointed above, a healthy mind and body go hand in hand. Doesn’t matter what your life goals are, doesn’t matter how much success you achieve, doesn’t matter if you have that perfectly chiseled body; without a healthy and active brain, everything is futile. With increasing longevity, being healthy has now definitely become a goal in our lives but people rarely think of having a healthy brain as a part of being healthy. While we are taught what to prioritise almost every single stage of our lives, its high time we were also taught how to keep our brains healthy for this lifetime because ultimately “it’s all about having a healthy brain!” Dr. Shradha Maheshwari, MBBS, DNB Neurosurgery has listed some habits that can help us in keeping our brain healthy.
Here we talk about some habits which will help in having a healthy brain.
Food For Brain
Have you ever kept a half-cut apple in the open air? After some time the apple turns brown. Similarly, lifestyle stresses and environmental factors expose the brain to a process called oxidation which damages the brain cells. Research has shown that eating foods high in saturated fats like red meat, butter and dairy products are associated with the development of degenerative brain diseases.
You are what you eat and so a healthy diet helps in maintaining brain health. While fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for nonvegetarians, vegetarians can opt for whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, nuts like walnuts, flax seeds or soya beans instead. Similarly, berries and spices are an excellent source of antioxidants. For desserts, dark chocolate contains strong antioxidants and is protective for the brain. Just cooking and eating fresh food is not enough, one should savour the taste and enjoy the meals with family and friends. This further helps in reducing the oxidative stress over the brain.
Stop The Abuse & Get Adequate Rest
We all know that excessive use of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol is harmful to our health and the brain is no exception to it. Similarly, overworking and skipping that goodnight's sleep is equally harmful to our brain. There’s a reason why we have day and night. While we toil and exert during the day, it is quintessential that we catch good sleep at night to release the fatigue of the day. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates our mind and body both and repairs the day’s stresses. That’s why there are a few things in life that feel better than a good night’s sleep. Good quality sleep sets the mood right, sharpens our brains and prepares us to handle the stressors of the next day.
Get That Body Moving
The benefits of physical activity are multifaceted. Exercise can add years to your life by helping you lose weight, improve your sleep, reduce the risk of heart diseases, and keep your bones and brain healthy. Studies have shown that regular endurance exercises like running, swimming and riding a bicycle help in growing new brain cells and preserve the existing brain cells.
Exercise improves blood flow, enhances memory, stimulates chemical changes in the brain that improves learning. It also stimulates good mood and thinking. Even people who have suffered from neurological diseases causing physical weakness show best improvement with constant physical therapy. So the smart thing to do is to keep physically active and fit.
Stimulate The Mind
Our body has been designed in such a way that every organ needs its own exercise. Like muscles need that physical exercise to be fit, the mind also needs its exercise. Science has shown that children have stronger brains than adults. It’s because children continuously learn new activities, and develop new skills and interests. A child’s brain is more adaptive to stressors and actively repairs damages as it is constantly stimulated. As the famous saying goes you are never too old to learn.
So it is essential to keep educating yourself through life and learn new things. Similarly keep doing what you love like pursuing hobbies, enhancing skills, or even playing games traditional or online activates the brain to develop new cellular connections and strengthen the existing ones. Mental stimulation is the key to a lifelong healthy brain.
With increasing lifestyle stresses, memory loss has become one of the major causes of disturbance, even in the younger population. Studies have shown that the slowest rate of memory decline is seen in people with the strongest social interactions. A rich social network has shown a significant protective effect against age-related cognitive impairment.
Social interaction reduces stress, combats depression, provides a source of support and enhances mental stimulation. Healthy long term relationships and having a purpose in life have shown significant protective effects on the brain. Getting involved in a sport or cultural activities, volunteering to join clubs, meeting like-minded people through various shared hobby groups is an excellent way to keep your mind healthy. Not just people, but having pets is also a source of a loving relationship. Animals help us calm down, improve our health, keep us moving, enhances our social life; thus act as a source of mental happiness.
Getting Healthy Is Getting Wealthy
Most of the medical conditions are strongly linked to our brains. Medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure can cause structural damages in the brain which can later develop into major health issues. An unhealthy body will lead to an unhealthy mind. Hence if one has developed these diseases it is of utmost importance to take the medicines regularly and keep these diseases under control.
This will not only increase the vitality but also improve the quality of life as one enters the golden years of their lives. For those who don’t have these diseases should actively try to control the risk factors and try to keep these diseases away.
Ageing is inevitable and like every other organ, our brain also ages. We work very hard to keep the physical ageing away, let’s pledge that we will definitely follow some habits for a life long healthy brain! Stay tuned to HerZindagi to know what else you can do for a healthy you.