Whether you are an athlete, senior or and individual recovering from brain injury your cognitive health plays a critical role in your quality of life. Your brain is responsible for many functions to live a healthy, happy and meaningful life. These include planning and organization of information, impulse-control, problem-solving and the ability to remain focused on a task for a sustained period of time. Taking control of you brain health means having a plan to address each of the elements shared in this article.
1. Physical Exercise
The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Not only does exercise improve blood flow, memory and focus enhancing learning, mood and problem solving, it is associated with lower risk of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. A study from Duke University found that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Develop a consistent exercise routine to remain mentally sharp.
2. Stress Management
Related to sleep, how well you deal with your day to day stressors is critical for your brain health. Prolonged stress continually activates the fight or flight response releasing toxic hormones into your blood stream such as cortisol. Prolonged exposure to these hormones is associated with reduced brain size. Take the time to do the things you love, relax with a good book or an old friend and take a vacation to reset your mind and body.
3. Medical Health
Physical illness such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, head trauma, higher cholesterol, and smoking all increase the risk of dementia. Take care of these risk factors to promote a healthy brain. Proactively engage in healthy lifestyle activities to improve your overall physical health.
20 - 25% of the carbohydrates from the food you eat go to your brain. Unhealthy foods not only affect your body but they impact your brains ability to think clearly, remain calm under stress and retain information. Toxins such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs negatively impact your brain health. They should be avoided at all cost. Natural food such as fruits and vegetables promote brain health by limiting the harmful effects of oxidation on the brain.
5. Positive Relationships
No, facebook does not count. Spend time with people who make you feel good and engage you in stimulating conversation. Volunteer or take up a new community activity to meet different people. Research shows people with the most social interaction in their community have the slowest rate of memory decline.
Unlike the body which has an effective
way of removing toxins throughout the day, your brain removes toxins when you are asleep. Sleep also plays an important role in consolidation of memory allowing you to better remember information the next day. Sleep has been found to improve mood and immune system function while reducing the build up of beta-amyloid protein which is associated with Alzheimer's disease. A consistent sleep schedule keeps the mind sharp and focused.
7. Mental fitness
We work out our bodies, so why don't we do the same for our brains? Mental exercise improves your brain's functioning by promoting new brain cell growth, maintaining current synaptic connections and decreasing the likelihood of dementia. Learn a new skill, read a book or training with a brain training program such as Cognilit to stay mentally fit. Cognilit can be downloads for APPLE or ANDROID for free.
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