Maybe you haven’t heard, but your brain is pretty darn important. It helps you do all the essential stuff like think, talk, feel, see, hear, walk, recall information and more. Oh, and breathing! Do you like breathing? If so, thank your brain for that one, too.
It’s pretty obvious that our brains — large masses of supportive tissue and nerves that are connected to our spinal cords — do a whole lot for us. It’s only fair that we do what we can to help them in return.
In this article, we’re going to cover everything from using CBD products to the importance of a good night’s sleep as we run through six ways you can protect your brain. This way, you can live a longer, happier and more aware life.
Whenever one of these lists comes around, you almost always find exercise and physical activity on it somewhere. And here it is again! So how exactly does exercise positively benefit our brains and protect them?
Well, as long as you’re not playing sports or doing activities that leave you prone to severe head injuries, you’ll be doing your brain a favor by being more active. Specifically, being active can help protect you from neurodegenerative disorders.
One study examined the release of a hormone called irisin, produced by the muscles during exercise and then carried throughout the body by your bloodstream. It was found that people with Alzheimer’s have noticeably lower levels of this hormone.
Additional research urged the inclusion of lifestyle interventions, specifically the addition of physical activity, as a way to delay the onset of cognitive decline and dementia.
You’re really playing the long game here when it comes to indulging in the recommended 30 minutes per day of daily exercise, and your brain will thank you for it.
Better Heart Health
Your brain health and heart health are deeply connected. According to the CDC, by keeping your heart healthy, you lower your risk for brain problems such as stroke and dementia. This is because your heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body, including into and through your brain. When it sends damaged blood vessels north, you’re in trouble.
In fact, according to one study, poor heart health can actually be linked to a decline in cognitive function.
How do you ensure better heart health? Here are a few natural ways:
- Limit or quit drinking alcohol.
- Don’t just limit, but all-out quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats and rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and omega-3 sources like fatty fish and nuts.
- If you have diabetes, make sure you manage your condition closely.
- Monitor and control blood pressure with the help of a healthcare professional.
- And, yes… exercise.
Unfortunately, not nearly enough of us know that some of the medications out there can affect our brains. Some have short-term while others are longer lasting. Some have this effect when taken alone and others when taken along with certain other medications. And as we age, the number of comorbidities we have tends to grow, so there is a continued increased risk of medications interfering with each other.
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According to the Action Guide for Individuals and Families issued as part of the National Academy of Medicine’s report on Cognitive Aging, managing medications is the third most important step in protecting your brain as you age.
Some medications to ask your healthcare professionals about include:
- Non-benzodiazepine prescription sedatives
- Antipsychotics and mood stabilizers
Note that you should never suddenly stop any medications as this could put you at serious risk. Always consult your doctor before discontinuing any medications for any reason.
Manage Your Stress and Get More Sleep
By effectively managing your stress, you’re going to reduce brain-related health issues such as cognitive problems and your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to Harvard Health. This is because increased stress has numerous negative implications for our brain, including inflammation, affecting our heart health. And, yes, we just learned that our brain and heart are deeply connected, so it’s good to pay attention to this.
Fortunately, some of the tips we’ve given you here will help with stress management along with protecting your brain. But if you’re still having trouble with stress and anxiety, you can look into seeking natural remedies to give you a helping hand.
Natural supplements and essential oils are a great way to add a little stress relief to your life. Using a product infused with cannabidiol, such as CBD gummies, has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve sleep scores in patients observed. As well, adding valerian, lavender or jatamansi essential oils to your diffuser or evening bath can also promote relaxation and better sleep.
In a review of lifestyle choices that affect brain health, researchers found solid research that suggests a possible impact of social engagement in brain health. In this examination, they described the goal of social engagement as relating to others in positive ways through a variety of ways.
Family units, peer groups, spousal relationships and even the relationships that people have with their pets were considered potential areas for positive impact on individuals and their brain health. Generally, the more hours of engagement, the greater the benefit.
Just as we have to exercise our bodies, we also have to exercise our minds. A study that examined lifelong learning institutes found that such places offer older adults places for enhancing cognitive functions that are important for protecting their brains.
In the same report, they say that we have to “use it or lose it” and that “learning can improve cognition and cause physical changes in the brain.” This is good news for anyone looking to brush up on their world history, learn a new skill or simply deep dive into an area of interest they never had the chance to examine before.
Be Kind to Your Brain — You Only Get One
At the end of the day, you need to be kind to your brain and treat it with the respect that a fleshy supercomputer deserves. You’ll only ever have one in your lifetime, and if you mess this up, there’s no reset button.