Sense to Solve - Keeping Your Brain Healthy

Keeping your brain healthy

Sense To Solve - Healthy Brain

Did you know: the heart has an electromagnetic field that is 60 times larger than the electromagnetic field of the brain. When you feel love and appreciation in your heart, your heartbeat stabilises and this energy enlivens and heals your entire body. So what?

  • Making a conscious and deliberate effort every day to appreciate something or someone (have gratitude) will have health benefits.
  • Since the brain and the heart work in rhythm and the rhythm is determined by the heart, your brain benefits when your hearts stabilises.

You don’t have the be super clever about what you appreciate (feel gratitude for), it doesn’t have to be grandiose or life changing, it can be small things such as: I appreciate feeling the water on my face; I am grateful for this delicious cup of coffee; I appreciate my ability to read; I am grateful to have special friends; etc.

What else can you do to keep your brain healthy and prevent/delay illnesses such as Alzheimers?

Five lifestyle choices you should pay attention to:

  1. Sleep
  2. Exercise
  3. Food
  4. Using your brain
  5. Bring nature into your daily world

 

  1.  Sleep

A total of approximately 7 to 8 hours are needed for optimum brain health.  Memory and learning are increased in all phases of sleep, but  mostly in deep sleep.

Sleep is essential for neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the process where new neurons and new synapses are created every day to increase learning and memory. Microglia cells in the brain eat many underperforming synapses each night. This pruning effect during sleep appears to be critical to not have a cluttered brain.

Did you know?  Lack of sleep increases the risk of false memories.

Did you know?  Not sleeping enough might be the reason you are gaining weight.

 

  1. Exercise

Want to improve your ability to solve complex problems, make better decisions, stay focused on a task, be more creative?  Include at least 4 x 30 min of exercise in your week.

The brain (2-3% of your body weight) needs constant energy (up to 20% of the glucose you consume and up to 25% of the oxygen you inhale) and constant activity to allow neuro-transmission, cytokine signaling, inhibition of cell death, maintenance of mitochondrial activity and genetic protein synthesis.

Exercise stimulates many critical brain factors, including BDNF and VEGF, GNF and neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

    • Complex motor activities (enhances circuitry in cerebellum & prefrontal cortex – NB for sophisticated cognitive functions.)
    • Repetitive motor activities (enhance rhythm centers)
    • Bursts of high intensity (growth factors & cognitive flexibility)

Did you know? Both strength and aerobic exercise reduce anxiety and depression.

Try and introduce more movement in your day – have standing/walking meetings, take the stairs instead of the lift/elevator, park far away, have a central printer/coffee station to walk to rather than a printer on your desk, have a rotational roster for everyone in your office to once a day play their favourite song and then make sure everybody gets up and dance to this song when played (it is better to do this in the afternoons as it will boost energy and productivity when brain energy starts to fade)

  • Measure your steps every day and increase them if you can
  • Set reminders on your computer/phone to get up and move

 

  1. Food

Your brain is the most energy intensive organ in your body and it is a ‘fussy eater’.  It is highly sensitive to the food you eat.

  • Drink 10-11 glasses of water a day (500ml for every 15 kg of bodey weight)
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables.  Introduce berries to your diet (full of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory which is what your brain needs as it gets inflamed just like your muscles do)
  • Supplement your diet with 70% of more cocoa chocolate
  • Proteins are important
  • Eat less more often to sustain brain energy throughout the day
  • Avoid processed foods as it waste brain energy and can trigger hormonal reactions that can harm the brain
  • Drink green tea
  • Drink rooibos tea
  • Consider supplementing your diet with vitamins B, Vit D3, zinc and magnesium

 

  1. Using your brain

“Use it or lose it” – just like the muscles in your body needs to have regular use and exercise to stay healthy and function optimally, your brain needs to stay active.

  • Read, study, debate – any intense intellectual work is good for you
  • Learn to play a musical instrument, sing, participate in a choir
  • Learn a new language
  • Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku
  • Make/create things
  • Participate in competitive activities

 

  1. Bring nature into your daily world

Ever felt like you had a month-long holiday after spending only 2-3 days in nature?

Many studies have shown the positive impact of exposure to nature (recommended reading and book if you are interested in an in-depth study on the topic of healing spaces,  http://www.esthersternberg.com/healingspaces.htm).

  • Try to go outside every day (if you can, combine exercising with being outside)
  • Spend time in the garden  – pulling out weeds can be relaxing and fun
  • Book weekends away in nature and see if you can switch of your devices to get maximum benefit
  • Have plants in your office and on your desk if possible (they don’t have to be big)
  • Have images/screensavers of nature on your computer/walls in office
  • If you can, sit at a window with a view of nature (if not, see if you can have wallpaper or large prints of nature to look at)

Did you know?  Even the smallest of animals suffer from mental illness when living in captivity vs. in natural surroundings

 

None of these activities are rocket science and might sound to simple to be effective, but the research has proven again and again that these are indeed the minimal basic things you need to do to keep your brain healthy.  Start with small steps and soon you will be in the habit of doing these without even thinking about it.