From Sleep to Vitamin D: Five Tips on
How to Protect Our Brains
Our brain is a complex organ that commands and controls our thoughts, movements, memory, and other body functions. As we age, we start losing our sense of direction, and have trouble making decisions and remembering things. Some experts claim that normal cognitive decline usually begins from the age of 45. Rapid cognitive decline, however, leads to dementia or Alzheimer.
Here we have some five simple tips to protect our brains against aging and to slow down memory decline. You should follow these tips in order to keep your brain healthy and young.
Never compromise on your sleep
Sleep is a need. A good quality sleep affects your overall health in ways you cannot imagine. While we sleep, our neural connections are strengthened and our brain gets rid of toxins called beta-amyloids which are linked with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia rapidly. Sleep also helps in suppressing negative memories as well as solidifies our memory. Studies show that most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Hence lack of sleep can adversely affect our cognitive capacities and our ability to get multiple work done simultaneously. Sleep deprivation can also negatively affect cognitive functions involving attention and short-term memory. Research shows that depression and PTSD are interlinked with sleep loss. It is mainly because of disruption in the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) that is governed by our brain.
Thus, it is very important for you to have a comfortable sleep throughout the night to prevent your brain health from declining as you age and to improve your day time function. Moreover, for an undisturbed sleep, a good mattress is necessary. Visit www.mattressesguide.com.au to see which mattress is most suitable for you.
Make exercising your priority
We often hear people talk about the importance of exercise. But, how does exercising affect our brain and keep it healthy?
When we exercise, our heart rate increases which results in more oxygen being pumped to our brain. It releases hormones which provide a healthy environment for aiding the growth of brain cells. Aerobics, especially, increases the function of main brain regions like the hippocampus which is responsible for learning and memory. Exercising improves cognitive functions and helps reduce anxiety, depression, and other negative thoughts.
The benefits of exercise are unlimited and extremely beneficial for both your mental and physical health. Exercising minimizes inflammation and insulin resistance and increases oxidative stress resistance. It stimulates growth of new blood vessels, brain cells, and connections. Recent research shows that when you work your leg muscles, the brain gets signals to make new cells. So keep in mind that the less you move your body, the more you are going to feel stressed out and lost.
Our brain is the control center of our body. Our diet plays a key role in improving our brain health and slows down the process of cognitive decline. Our brain functions best when we eat a nutritious diet. Below are some of the food items which prove to be very healthy for our brain;
- Broccoli: Broccoli contains antioxidants which prevent oxidative stress to brain cells and vitamin K that significantly improves episodic memory. It also has anti-inflammatory effects which helps the brain against injuries.
- Fatty Fish: These are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and include salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines. The omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in improving and sharpening the memory. They help build new brain and nerve cells and repair the damaged ones which are essential for learning.
Studies show that people who tend to eat fatty fish on a daily basis have a higher amount of gray matter in their brains which contains cells that are responsible for memory, emotion, and decision making.
- Nuts: Nuts are rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Some studies have shown that vitamin E has benefited the memory in older people. It also helps reduce oxidative stress and minimizes the risk of cognitive decline in adults.
- Eggs: Eggs are rich sources of nutrients such as vitamins B12 and B6, choline, and folate. Vitamin B6 helps in making serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin is responsible for your mood and norepinephrine helps in coping with stress.
Researchers suggest that cognitive decline and dementia can be linked with vitamin B6 deficiency. B12 helps prevent brain atrophy (loss of neurons in the brain).
Choline improves memory since it has a key role in neurotransmitter function. Folate, on the other hand, can minimize mental decline which is age-related.
- Dark Chocolate: It contains brain-boosting compounds like flavonoids and caffeine. Flavonoids protect neurons against damage induced by toxins. These are plant-derived compounds and may reverse age-related memory and learning decline. They have also shown beneficial effects on brain vascular function.
Caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter’s receptors and improves your mood. Consumption of caffeine can increase alertness, help in focusing, and boost memory.
Do NOT forget to meditate. People often think that meditation is limited to self-awareness and feelings of serenity and peace, but that is not the case.
Our mind wanders when we are unhappy or worried about something. Since constantly moving from one thought to another exhausts the mind, people try their best to minimize the wandering. The quieting effect of mediation is the best solution for this problem.
Studies have shown that meditation helps reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. It may increase the volume of gray matter in the brain resulting in psychological well-being. Additionally, it can also reduce the volume of amygdala which controls fear and anxiety in the brain.
If you are having trouble focusing or concentrating on an activity or work, try meditating and you will for sure see that it is worthwhile.
Vitamin D – Brain Development
Vitamin D plays a key role in brain development. It belongs to the family of ligands which signals through nuclear receptors. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risks of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, dementia, autism, and depression.
Its deficiency plays a significant role in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain dysfunction which occurs when the brain doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen or blood-flow for some time. Eating a vitamin D rich diet has improved cognitive function in older adults.
So don’t forget your vitamins.
It’s a fact that your brain and its cognitive capacities will change as you age. But as it is said that prevention is better than cure, do what you can in order to slow down the process of mental decline. Contact your health advisor from time to time, keep in check your vitamin levels, be social, and meditate. Put your health above anything else.
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