10 Habits That Will Improve Your Brain Health And Function

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Small Things You Do Daily Can Positively Affect Your Brain's Health. Be Mindful Of What You Choose To Do!

Want to improve your brain's health? I don't think there would be anyone saying no to this question.

We all want a better, healthy brain. Our brain controls our body and makes things done.

Your brain helping you read this article right now, and when you are finished, it will help you retain the important information.

The better the brain health, the better you would be your problem-solving skills, memory and learning skills.

And not only in your working age, a healthy brain would reward you with a healthier old age.

So, maybe you want to reconsider your answer if you said no or were not sure what to say, to my question.

All you need is these simple daily habits that will boost your brain's performance to a great extent. From helping to learn better to preventing brain degenerating diseases like dementia; these simple habits will greatly benefit your brain.

Let's see what science suggest you do.


1. Exercise, Keep It Moving:


brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Add A 30-minutes Aerobic Workout In Your Schedule

Exercising is a great way to improve your brain health and boost your cognitive function.

According to a study conducted in the University of British Columbia, the part of the brain which is associated with learning and memory, i.e. the hippocampus, greatly benefits from exercise, as exercising causes generation of new neurons in the hippocampus, leading to an increase in the size of the hippocampus.

The hippocampus degenerates slowly as the natural process of aging progress, but the degeneration is accelerated in certain disease conditions like depression and Alzheimer's disease.

Regular aerobic exercises slow down this process.

People who exercise also have a greater volume of prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex-- translation: the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory.

Exercising increases the blood flow to your brain, that means a better supply of fuel for ample functioning, forms new blood vessels, removal of toxins and stimulation of the release of growth hormones-- which are very essential for the health and survival of the brain cells.

Exercising also improves your brain health indirectly by reducing the cholesterol build up in the blood vessel, which is a leading cause of stroke, and also by improving your sleep and mood, by stimulating the release of the feel-good-hormones. Exercise also reduces stress and reduces the hormone cortisol, which actually clouds our thinking and cognitive abilities.

We are not done yet!

Exercising also increases the production of BNP (brain natriuretic peptide), which a protein. BNP is proven to have a neuroprotective effect, as it increases the brain blood flow, and reduces inflammation.

Exercise increases brain volume, improves memory and thinking, as well as in reduces the risk of dementia.

Exercising is amazing for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Basically, it's one important factor for your overall personal wellness.

So, make sure you include half an hour of aerobic exercises in your workout routine since that is the type of workout that will increase the blood flow to your brain.

Keep your body moving, if you want a better brain!


2. Eat The Right Food:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Eat Diet Rich In Omega-3, Tryptophan, And Complex Carbohydrates


You are what you eat. This statement is so true!

Food has the power to heal, protect, and strengthen.

So, we know that food is important, but now the question is, what kind of food is good for your brain's health?

Go for natural products; the green vegetables and fruits. That is the general rule for a good health, there's no question about it. But there are certain foods that are particularly good for brain health.

You must have heard that omega-3 is good for your brain. That statement is true, and there's a reason for it. Our brain is 60% fat; the healthy fat i.e. omega 3. So, you can connect the dots and realize why omega-3 is important.

Omega-3 is deficient in people with depression, according to studies, and they are also proven to prevent schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. They also play an important role in the prevention of blood clot formation and stroke.

Some of the richest sources of omega-3 are fish (mackerel, salmon etc), walnut, flax-seed oil, and eggs.

People who consume more unsaturated fats (i.e omega-3) suffer from less decline in memory than those who consume less unsaturated fats.

3 servings of fish a week is enough to complete your omega-3 requirements.

Other foods that are proven to slow down cognitive decline are strawberries, blueberries, kale, spinach, broccoli.

Tryptophan is another factor that's important for brain health, since it is required for the synthesis of serotonin, one of the feel-good-hormones of our body. Food rich tryptophan is whole-wheat products, cashew, oats, wild rice, barley, beans, and soy.

Avoid simple sugar as they cause a sudden rise, followed by a sudden fall in blood sugar levels, giving you a sudden surge of energy, which soon wears off. Therefore, go for complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly and provides a stable supply of energy to your brain.

According to Harvard, Mediterranean diet, which mainly includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats from fish, nuts, and oils. The anti-oxidants found in the Mediterranean diet reduces inflammation in the brain and thus is neuroprotective.

Other than the healthy fatty acid and tryptophan, make sure to include all the vitamins and minerals to your diet, like selenium, vitamin B12, folic acid, iron etc. Taking multivitamin supplements are also proven to be beneficial, however, it's always better when you get your nutrients through natural sources.


3. Making Efforts To Reduce Stress:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Don't Forget To Destress, Get Rid Of The Excessive Cortisol Levels

Stress is a natural response of our body to any kind of demand. It's natural and necessary. But when the stress levels are high and persistent, it can cause physical as well as mental harm to us.

The major criminal here is the stress hormone, cortisol.

Stress causes an increase in the levels of cortisol. It's necessary in small amounts, but when persistently present in a higher amount, it leads to shrinkage of the hypothalamus, thus contributing to poor memory and learning.

High levels of cortisol also disrupt the synapse regulation which results in both emotional and cognitive impairment. Emotional impairment leads to avoidance of social interaction. This could explain why in mental illnesses like depression and anxiety people stop socializing, even though that's the last thing they should be doing.

So, we know stress is detrimental. And if you are making some efforts to reduce it, you are on the right track!

How to destress?

Harvard University suggests exercising like brisk walking is very beneficial. Apart from the physical activities, you can also opt for other ways like deep abdominal breathing, focusing on soothing words like peace or calm, visualization of calm and peaceful scenes, yoga, and tai chi.

Apart from that, socializing with the loved ones is also a great idea for destressing. Laughing out loud helps too.

One important thing is that you speak up about the things that bother you, rather than burying your feelings deep down, which will only result in stress build up. Be respectful of your feelings. Avoid negative people and negative environment.


4. Sleep Tight:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
 Give Your Brain The Much Deserved Sleep

Our brain never really sleeps, even when we are sleeping.

Your body heals during the sleep. All the stress you went through the day, all the new things you learned, and all the toxins that were produced during the day; your body deals with all that during your sleep.

I'm sure you know that on an average we should sleep about 6-8 hours a night.

I'm sure you've heard this suggestion before. But do you actually follow it?

According to a sleep-brain health survey conducted by AARP, it was found that 53% of adults have difficulty staying asleep.; meaning they wake up early and then they can't go back to sleep. And 44% said they can't sleep through the night. These individuals, when tested, had a lower average mental well-being score.

Now, here's the thing- it's a myth that adults need less sleep as they grow old, and it's not normal to have poor quality sleep even if you are 90. It's true that older people suffer from sleep disturbances, but that is something manageable with some good sleeping habits since an early age.

Sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night is linked with impaired reasoning, problem-solving skills, memory loss, impaired cognition, as well as, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

When you sleep your brain clears all the toxins to build up throughout the day. One such toxin protein is the amyloid plaque, which is something that you typically see in the brain of an Alzheimer's patient- the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. So, although, I'm not saying that sleep deprivation causes Alzheimer's directly, it can sure be a contributing factor.

The damage lack of sleep causes to the brain cells is irreversible, as confirmed by a study.

Sleep is extremely necessary to create new memories. The new information is processed/revised by our brain, and the new information is thus converted to memory; all this happens when we are deep asleep.

If you think that you are adapted to perform well with just 4-5 hrs of sleep (believe me at least that's what I used to think), well, I would suggest you take a memory test. That will make everything clear!

Or just try to remember and compare your ability to retain things now, to before when you used to get good sleep. Getting less sleep is a habit we develop as we grow old, so I'm pretty sure there was a time when you used to sleep well and enough.


5. Write On Paper:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Handwriting Is Great For Your Brain, On The Other Hand Typing Doesn't  Really Helps You Remember Things

Well, I don't know about you, but I love writing on paper. Both in school and college, I loved making handwritten notes in the classroom. I never used a laptop in class to take notes. And I remember that it was always easier to revise those notes before a test, and I understood the concepts better, and I remembered it for a long time.

On the other hand, a while back I tried making notes on my laptop and guess what, I don't even remember what all things I included in the notes, even though I made it myself, after grasping the concept well.

So this definitely makes it clear that handwriting has a positive impact on your memory. I can tell by personal experience. I love writing on a paper and I use pen and paper to make notes even for my blog posts. Yep.

Writing with hand definitely makes you smarter.

Okay, don't trust on my experience. Let's see what researchers have to say on this.

According to a paper published in the Association of Psychological Sciences, handwriting does help you understand things better.

And as per a study conducted in Princeton typing leads to a shallower kind of cognitive processing.

Handwriting stimulates cognitive development, and helps in retention and stimulate ideas.

Did you know that cursive writing could be a route to treat dyslexia? That's true, as per a study.

Handwriting is a very good way of practicing and strengthening sensory-motor skills.

So, handwriting may be a slower way to write, but it definitely is the better way to write.


6. Stimulate Your Brain Cells:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Tease Your Brain With The Brain Teasers Of Your Choice

Here's the thing: if you won't use your brain, your brain will lose its function slowly. You'll have difficulty in remembering things, and your ability to think will also reduce. The more tricky jobs your brain does, the better it is for the brain as it stimulates the brain cells and keeps them active.

Why exercising your brain is important?

The answer to that question is: to improve and maintain your cognitive reserve.

Cognitive reserve basically means the ability of your brain to resist any damage. If there's a damage, you'll still have some kind of backup to help you function.

This means: if someone gets dementia, that person may not even have the symptoms of dementia as long as he lives, because of the fact that his/her brain knows a way to deal with the damage caused by the disease, and provides an alternative solution to get things done, despite the damage in the brain.

Cognitive reserve is like a backup drive of our brain.

A greater cognitive reserve has been linked with reduced risk of degenerating brain diseases, and a better-thinking ability.

And the good news is that you can improve your cognitive reserve with simple brain exercises!

You can increase your cognitive reserve by engaging your brain in learning activities, like learning new languages, dance, word games like scrabbles, reading, learning a new skill etc. All these activities will increase your cognitive reserve and force your brain to adapt.

You need to keep those brain cells charged.

Exercising your brain cells is the best way to improve and preserve your brain health.


7. Get Social:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
A Great Way Of Socializing And Making Connections Is Doing Your Workouts With A Buddy

Besides the better-known benefits of socializing that it prevents mental illnesses, like depression, and improves the feeling of personal wellness, socializing is also linked to reduced risk of dementia, according to recent researches.

In a study, it was found that older women who socialized well had 26% reduced risk of dementia, and those who interacted with their social contacts on a daily basis had 50% reduced risk.

Also, people who socialize perform better at the memory and cognitive tests, as suggested by a finding.

In fact, only a 10-minute conversation with someone can boost your performance in cognitive tasks.

Simple engagements like book clubs, working out with friends, or a normal chat with close friends can boost your brain health.

It is not known yet what changes socializing causes in the brain internally, but the positive effects of socializing are proven.

Well, people who socialize have higher self-esteem, take better care of themselves, and as it turns out, is also great for the brain's health.

So why would you not, at least, try to socialize?


8. Take Some Time Out and Meditate:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Meditate For 25-minutes A Day, Your Memory, Concentration, And Cognition Will Skyrocket!

Meditation is a great way to start your day. Not just because it helps you calm down, but evidently, it's something that your brain will get benefited greatly.

Meditation affects all parts of your brain. It literally causes structural changes in the brain that is important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.

Meditation also slows down the aging process in the brain.

A 25-minutes of mindful meditation every day will improve the executive function of your brain, induce goal-directed behaviour, control the emotional response, and bring about "think before say/do" habit, that is, on top of improving your mood.

Another interesting thing is that, meditation switches off the parts of the brain that controls the default-mode network. Does your mind wanders, which quite often leaves you sad?

The "default-mode" of humans is basically "mind-wandering". And unfortunately, it mostly correlates with unhappiness. Meditation stops this "mind-wandering", according to a study conducted by PNAS.

So, take some time out in the morning, and do what's best for your body!


9. Avoid Multitasking:

What we choose to do affects our brain. Our diet, exercise, stress, and our daily routine, all can positively and negatively affect our brain health.  Get your omega-3, and jump a little to get your heart pumping.  Don't forget to laugh out loud, and occasional spas could be beneficial.  Meet up with your loved ones and play scrabbles with them.  Be still for some time, focus on one thing at a time and seek new experiences.  All this is going to give you a great brain; which will not only help you excel in your working age, but also protect your brain from degenerative diseases, hence giving you a healthier old-age, and since that is the inevitable destination of all of us, why not prepare for it?  You got to work today for your healthy future.
Focus On One Thing At A Time, Don't Exhaust Your Brain

Are eating and writing an email at the same time?

Do you feel proud when you multitask and finish the work early?

Do you think you are good at multitasking? At expert levels?

Let me break it to you: you are deluded if you think that multitasking is saving you a lot of time. Because according to a study, multitasking actually reduces productivity by 40%!

When you multitask, the chances of error increases. Multitaskers also face difficulty in tuning out the distractions. It will also increase the stress, and thereby increase the cortisol levels in the body.

When you do one thing at a time, you give your 100% to it. You focus, and so the results are good, and the stress is less. You already know why controlling stress is great to your brain.

Our brain is not made to multitask. It can't multitask. It is built to perform only one task at a time with full concentration. And therefore, when you multitask, your performance decreases as your brain can't focus properly.

Going back and forth between tasks results in decreased memory, concentration, increased stress and is literally very tiring for the brain. So you will end up exhausted quicker.

The effect is even worse if you are a media multitasker, who check their emails while studying/working. They apparently develop a lowered brain densities in the area of the brain which is responsible for empathy and cognition, over time. But those notification rings are the worst! Can you resist when you hear your phone ping?

And people who multitask, according to a study conducted in London, shows drop in IQ similar to those who are sleep deprived and smoke marijuana.

So, what's the solution?

Simple. Do one thing at a time, with 100% focus. Plan ahead; what you are going to do and when. Categorize according to urgency. Set a schedule for checking your emails and social media, and commit to checking them only during the scheduled hours. Keep the notifications off the other time, so that you don't get lured into looking at them.

Still think you are doing yourself any favours by being a multi-tasker?


10. Break the Routine:

brain health, cognitive function, memory, learning, degenerative disease prevention
Take A New Route To  New Experiences; Your Brain Hates Routine!

What is your routine for the day?

You get up in the morning, get ready, eat your cereal, go to the office, check your emails, take the same route back to home, relax, eat dinner and sleep. Does this sound familiar? Maybe, maybe not. But we all have some kind of routine that we follow, knowingly or unknowingly.

But, a routine is not good for your brain.

When you see and do the same things every day, your brain doesn't have to work. It has seen those problems before and solved it. Hence, no work needed to be done. The same circuits work when you follow a routine.

But when you go through a new experience, your brain pays attention, it has to.

According to the National Institute of Health, when you go through new experiences, your brain assumes that it is important and retains the information received/learned. It will stimulate creativity.

Such new, novel experiences activate your long-term and short-term memories, and thus you can see a boost in retention following such activities.

Something as simple as changing your route to home, or changing your workout would do the job. So start by ordering a different food, try new a workout, and take a little longer routine to home from work.

Adventure may be risky, but routine is a killer!




Conclusion:

What we choose to do affects our brain. Our diet, exercise, stress, and our daily routine, all can positively and negatively affect our brain health.

Get your omega-3, and jump a little to get your heart pumping.

Don't forget to laugh out loud, and occasional spas could be beneficial.







Meet up with your loved ones and play scrabbles with them.

Be still for some time, focus on one thing at a time and seek new experiences.

All this is going to give you a great brain; which will not only help you excel in your working age, but also protect your brain from degenerative diseases, hence giving you a healthier old-age, and since that is the inevitable destination of all of us, why not prepare for it?

You got to work today for your healthy future.




If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't.








© Quirky Writes 2018



13 comments:

  1. These are definitely some bits I need to think about! Exercise is so helpful for me, my classes are some of my favourite parts of the week! I really need to focus on eating better and taking some time out for me, definitely food for thought!

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  2. I didn't know that when you sleep your brain clears all the toxins to build up throughout the day! And multi-tasking - or trying to multi-task - is definitely something I'm hugely guilty of doing. This was a really interesting read, thank you!

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

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  3. Some amazing information & so much detail! Thanks for sharing!!

    www.yoursfaithfullykaty.co.uk

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  4. i didn't just enjoy reading this, I've learned so much. cheers!

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    1. Reading this brought a smile on my face. You made my day! Thank you so much! I'm really glad that this post served its purpose. :)

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  5. Definitely agree with the exercise one. When I can’t concentrate or have too much in my head getting a sweat on really works. And writing this down completely clears my head of work and worries

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  6. Absolutely loved reading this, makes perfect sense to me. I wish I could get enough sleep but am still raising young children so will have to put that on the back burner for a few more years. Genuinely enjoyed reading this :)

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  7. I'm killing my brain! I swear I do nothing on this list. I am going to try to meditate at least once a week though, and I feel like I get a pretty good amount of sleep for a new mom.

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    Replies
    1. haha! Well, it's never too late! :) You can start now. :) Just a 15 min meditation everday is more than enough. It really clears your mind. :)

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  8. These tips are not just good for your brain, but they are also important and key to your overall health.

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    1. They indeed are! Thank you for stopping by. :)

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  9. No multi-tasking yikes! Great info.

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    Replies
    1. Yep! Multitasking really affect our efficacy. :) I know, we all are guilty of doing that regardless.

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