Our brain is an amazingly complex organ that even neuroscientists have not been able to decode completely. We put a lot of effort and focus on our physical self but not so much on the mental hub of all activity—the brain. Just like any other organ, our brain too has a shelf life and as we age, there is a gradual decline in cognitive functions. However, this decline is never overnight. It is a gradual process that takes place over years. Let’s look at the top four lifestyle habits that could make a marked difference in the power and health of your brain.
Fix your sleep habits: Chronic sleep deprivation is observed in most individuals with poor brain health. Working hard to make a living is fine but it is not an excuse to not get enough sleep. If you are the kind who thinks you don’t have the time to sleep, re-access your priorities. Take the help of a sleep coach, if necessary, who can help you with time management. Sleep is your brain’s way of detoxifying. When you are in a deep state of sleep, your brain shrinks to create an environment for this process to take place properly. You then wake up fresh to take on the new day.
Add anti-inflammatory foods and good fats to your diet: Your brain is the fattiest organ in the body, and good fats are energy for the brain. Good fats like ghee and coconut oil, turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory foods are all good for the brain and must be a part of your diet. Also, these are important to maintain proper gut health. Good gut health will ensure good brain function as they are intricately connected. Stay away from fat-free fad diets as they eliminate certain important food groups (here, fat) and may result in deficiencies in the body. This can be detrimental to brain health in the long term.
Keep your brain active: You lose what you don’t use. Many people who retire in their 60s, or even later for that matter, end up with a cognitive decline over time. This is why keeping your brain stimulated plays a huge role in preventing it from degenerating. And even if you have to retire, make sure you have a routine wherein you engage in constructive brain activities. Keep your mind busy, undertake activities that make you think hard, challenge you, and make you work extra. Some of these are reading, doing crossword puzzles, sodoku and others. Even the simple act of making sensible conversation will help.
A healthy lifestyle is known to help reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or even dementia. A huge part of this is taking care of your brain’s health.
The author is a Holistic Lifestyle Coach- Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine