From The Top Down – Brain Health

From the Top Down

The Brain is arguably the most important organ in the human body. A healthy brain can remember, process, concentrate and maintain cognitive vigour. Your mind coordinates actions and reactions, allows us to think and feel, and enables us to have memories and feelings. All the things that make us human stem from the top. Your brain is your most valuable health asset.

Being brain healthy is important at any age. Scientific research suggests that leading a brain healthy life may reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia later in life. Brain Initiatives help you make the most of your brain and reduce risks to it as you age.

The Alzheimer’s Association provided startling facts regarding the state of brain health in the United States. Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 145%. During that same time period deaths from heart disease (the number one cause of death), actually decreased 11%. The increased mortality rate of Alzheimer’s has multiple potential factors. It can be somewhat attributed to the aging boomer population. It could also be a result of more practitioners reporting the disease as a cause of death. However, these are only partial explanations for this emerging health trend.

Exercise and Unwind for Maximum Growth

The benefits of making uncomplicated lifestyle changes are limitless and can slow down brain degeneration. Using simple brain Initiative’s such and mind games or brain training games will help to improve cognition.  Slowing down doesn’t mean stop!  Your brain needs purpose-driven challenge, without it, the brain goes down significantly in size.  Each neuron can make a couple or as many as 30,000 connections. As we get older they fry away, which is why you need to challenge your brain.

But first, you need to assess your diet, mindfulness, exercise routine, and sleep routine. Different exercise trends are greatly beneficial to boosting your overall health. However, exercise serves a greater purpose than just altering our physical appearances.

Consider how exercise impacts your mind. Yoga and meditation are common practices to assist with establishing mindfulness and ridding yourself of bad stress. Remember the brain influences both voluntary and involuntary actions. Mood, focus, creativity, and confidence are all products of our brain. Physical activity increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean back-to-back digital HIIT classes in your living room; research has found that simply walking reduces the risk of dementia. One 25-minute brisk walk increases the very structure of the brain and blood supply.   Ideally, try to do some form of moderate exercise like walking for at least 30 minutes, five times per week—and supplement that by getting up and moving throughout the day.

Stress plays a big part in our brain’s health, and whilst some stress is good for you, the wrong kind of stress or too much stress can create a metabolic storm.  Chronic stress affects the body more than we can imagine.

It’s important to identify the persistent, negative stressors in your life (like a job that you hate or a toxic personal relationship), then delegate, reduce, or eliminate them.  I know it’s easier said than then, but small changes to the big stress will help to chip away until you can find a place of balance and manageable stress.

Mindfulness, meditation, and even simple one-minute breathing exercises can make a difference in how you manage the anxiety and ultimately how your blood flow to the brain is supplied.

Balanced Nutrition for Peak Performance

Your brain is a high performing organ, and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the body’s energy demands.  In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as to adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

 

The ideal diet is rich in whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods that serve your body well. There are plenty of foods that you can introduce into your diet to encourage rude health. Plant-based options added to your daily diet can improve brain and overall health. For example:

Legumes/lentils are versatile and a great source of protein.

Kale the vitamin-rich cabbage (and all dark leafy greens), may help slow cognitive decline with aging.

Avocados make a delicious addition to many recipes giving your brain a supply of healthy fats. Your brain is mostly comprised of fat so healthy fats are important.

Broccoli contains one of the finest antioxidants, Glutathione. This is responsible for the cellular detoxification of reactive oxygen species like free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals.

 

Restorative Sleep for Optimal Health

Sleep is an important part of your daily routine; you spend about one-third of your time doing it. Quality sleep, and getting enough of it at the right times, is just as essential for optimal health. Restful sleep is crucial for forming or maintaining pathways in your brain. Specifically, the pathways that allow you to learn, create new memories, concentrate and respond quickly.

Restorative sleep is important to numerous brain functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. Your brain and body stay surprisingly active while you sleep. Recent research suggests that sleep plays a vital role in removing toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.

The effects that sleep has on the body are remarkable. Studies indicate that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Sleep is a complex and dynamic process that affects how you function. To get the most out of your night, try a few of these simple tips.

Set a schedule. Plan on going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. In order to keep to your schedule, avoid caffeinated products or exercising late in the day as well as alcoholic drinks before bed.

Test out different night-time self-care routines. Try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing practice.

Create a space for sleep. Avoid bright lights and loud sounds. Keep the space at a comfortable temperature, and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom. Don’t idly lie in bed awake. If you can’t fall asleep, try something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired.

From the top down – the brain is a very important organ and looking after brain health starts from the day you are born, either to develop it to make it smarter, bigger and stronger and then to maintain that position.  As they say, if you don’t use it you lose it and this is definitely the case for good brain health.

 

Written by Kumud Gandhi founder of The Cooking Academy & Food Scientist

If you would like more information please contact Kumud Gandhi or you may wish to visit attend our nutritional cookery class.

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