Brain health is an often overlooked aspect of wellness but has a major impact on your body’s well-being. Many times brain health is only addressed once there are known issues. Fortunately, many of the healthy steps we recommend for the body will also support healthy brain function.
The following tips will support brain health while improving overall wellness.
Never stop learning. Keep your brain sharp by challenging it on a daily basis. Simple things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or trying a new activity that makes you think on your feet like a dance class, or simply reading a book on an unfamiliar topic are all great tools for keeping the brain active. These types of activities should make you think, learn, and use the brain while embracing the new challenges.
Exercise. We all know that consistent exercise is recommended to keep your body going strong, but these benefits will support brain health as well. High-intensity cardio and strength training will help produce a beneficial form of nitric oxide that promotes brain function and vascular health while reducing inflammation. Short bouts of extra high-intensity exercise have the greatest impact on these nitric oxide levels, so think interval style training rather than steady state.
Improve your sleep quality. Of course we’d all like to get more sleep, but if you find it challenging to get seven to eight hours a night, start focusing on the quality of your sleep. Maintaining a consistent blood sugar throughout the night will help you sleep straight through or for longer periods before waking unintentionally. You can help maintain overnight blood sugar levels by avoiding high carbohydrate foods later in the day or before bedtime. Consuming fibrous carbs instead and getting a quality fat and protein source will help keep levels more stable throughout the night.
Eat clean and nourish. Systemic inflammation from poor dietary choices and food intolerances can deplete brain health as well. The brain communicates directly with the digestive system through the vagus nerve. Poor brain function can impair this communication and lead to digestive issues which will in turn lead to continued brain impairment from lack of nutrient absorption. By limiting inflammatory foods and controlling insulin levels, you are improving your brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.
Support brain oxygenation. If the brain is not getting an ample supply of oxygen, it may be struggling and performing poorly. Stress can cause shallow breathing and overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system and suppress the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that the “fight or flight” response is turned up and the “rest and digest” response is turned down and it becomes a vicious cycle. Proper diaphragmatic breathing will help balance out this issue while keeping your brain cells oxygenated.
So treat your brain well and you’ll notice an improvement in your overall health!