Brain Health 101

Yesterday I was listening to a TED talk by Dr Amens on brain health.  There were some very interesting findings that will give you some pause.  Dr Amens is a specialist known for his treatment of ADD.  From his perspective, there are actually 7 different kinds of ADD requiring different approaches to each.  But many people who are not completely well suffer from cognitive issues as well, so this topic bears discussion.

For instance Obesity.  In the studies they did and reviewed, they discovered that Obesity is associated with smaller brain size.  The fatter we get, the more our brains shrink in size.  There is a relationship with the amount of fat in our diets and obesity and how the brain works.  Eating healthy and being fit is more than just vanity, it’s actually essential for the health of our brain.   He strongly advises to avoid sugar and gluten, as this will correct both situations from his studies.

Avoid brain toxins.  We’re exposed to lots of toxins every day, but there are those we don’t seem to pay much attention to and alcohol is a big one.  Red wine might be good for your heart, but it is extremely toxic to your brain.  The recommendation is complete avoidance.  The average person loses 85,000 brain cells daily.  We don’t want to excellerate that in any way!  Smoking – of course needs to be avoided too.

Sleep.  Did you realize that a full nights sleep is required for your brain to repair itself every night?  Without adequate sleep, cognition in the brain is impaired.  The brain rebuilding doesn’t occur.  This leads to a vicious cycle of negative thinking, and cognitive problems, and poor decision making leads to more life problems.  There is little more important you can do for your overall health than make the time and priority to develop good sleep hygiene and put aside the time to do so every day.   Did you know even cutting an hour from the sleep you need every night results in an increase in suicidal thoughts, negative thinking, and weight gain?

There are also positive things you can do that will actually grow the size of your brain.  Continue to learn.  Learning stimulates and grows the brain.  Use it or lose it applies.  The brain begins to shrink when new learning doesn’t occur.  Stay socially connected to others.   We are social creatures and we need the companionship of others in order to feel useful and happy.  Exercise also improves physical and brain health.   So does Meditation and Gratitude practice.  The happier you are, the healthier you and your brain are.    We have covered in earlier posts about the importance of daily practices that help to keep your brain happy and healthy.  Practicing mindfulness (many videos to guide this on YouTube) daily for 15 minutes grows the size of your brain.  A wandering brain thinks more negatively than a focused brain.  The worst thing you can do when you feel bad or upset is to dwell on what’s upsetting you.  The more you change your thoughts which is easier done changing the space around you – even though the idea of doing that is a challenge- the faster you recover.  The healthier your brain, the better decisions you make which leads to overall health and the reason all these things improve your life over time.

ADD or Attention Deficit disorder is a known cognitive condition. But depression out of control also distorts the ability to think clearly.  Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia are now known to cause cognitive changes over time.  It’s vitally important if you have any of these conditions to take extra special care of your brain.  The ways to do it are a few things you already know of and a few more I’ve hopefully added above.  Making changes is hard so pick just one area we’ve discussed here and ask yourself if there is one of these areas you could start making some improvement in today.  Watch the TED talk by Dr Amen yourself if you still need more inspiration!



Brain Health 101

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