Boost Your Mood, Boost Your Health
One of the most feared consequences of ageing is mental decline. And while there are some factors out of our control such as the aging process and genetics, mental impairment is not inevitable and we should strive to take care of our brains just like we do the rest of our bodies. And remember our organs are all intertwined. So if you are taking care of your body, you are likely doing things to promote a healthy brain. But I do have some specific evidence based tips to keep your brain healthy and functioning optimally.
Stay Mentally Active. Learning a new word every day and utilizing your nondominant hand are two simple and easy ways to strengthen your neural connections.
Exercise Regularly. Even just a brisk 10 min daily walk helps keep our blood vessels healthy and increases endorphins that improve mood and relieve stress. Stress reduction is the key to a healthy gut, beautiful skin and optimum brain function and health.
Eat Healthy. Generally we want to eat for a healthy gut and to minimize body wide inflammation which means focusing on nourishing our gut microbiome with fiber, live cultures and fermented foods and avoiding inflammatory foods like animal products, dairy and sugar. Studies have shown that a plant based diet improves and can even reverse type 2 diabetes which is a significant risk factor for dementia. Eating 1 cup of antioxidant loaded blueberries or strawberries at least twice per week has been shown to help prevent brain cell death along with all the other body wide benefits of antioxidants! And saving the best for last, a small square of dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao) daily contains flavonoids that help preserve our brain cells and aid memory. And don’t worry the higher cacao chocolates do not contain much sugar.
Get Good Sleep. Important for our overall health and often neglected, adequate sleep is a not negotiable. Without adequate sleep, our brains produce excessive cortisol which causes havoc on our bodies. This cortisol negatively affects our gut and skin microbiomes which leads to body wide inflammation that negatively affects our brain contributing to anxiety, depression and dementia. During sleep, we process our experiences, anything we learned, and work through emotions from from day in a healthy way. Sleep is also when our brain has the chance to clear damaged proteins and cells that contribute to brain ageing.
Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Blood Sugar. We must keep these in a healthy range for optimal brain and body health. I touched on some of these above. Remember, regular exercise supports healthy blood pressure and has a positive effect on our cholesterol too. Eating green leafy vegetables throughout the day actually helps our blood vessels relax to support a healthy blood pressure. And we need to maintain healthy blood sugar levels for many reasons but one is that excessive sugar directly damages our blood vessels which has negative effects on our brain health.
Manage Stress. It is all about minimizing that excessive cortisol. I already mentioned the relationship between sleep and cortisol. But it is important to minimize mental stress by maintaining positive relationships and doing things that feel relaxing to you. Consider spending time in nature, exercise, meditation, yoga, practicing gratitude and positive visualization.
Sit Up Straight. Seems simple but good posture supports good blood flow body wide and ensures optimal cerebral spinal fluid circulation which is the fluid that bathes and helps provide nutrients to our brain.