A healthy brain is critical to an amazing life. Brain health is central to our happiness and success in every area of our life. To fully enjoy our days, filled with energy, vitality, focus and joy, we must nurture our mind and body.
Our brain requires a lot of energy to stay healthy and function properly. When eating a nutritious diet, you will find that your focus, memory and mood will improve. To boost your brain, it is important to consume a nutrient-rich diet filled with high-fiber whole foods and colorful fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats and lean protein are important for your brain health. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and walnuts. Be sure to avoid trans fats at all costs. High levels of trans fats adversely affect brain health, and have a negative impact on mood and memory. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, margarine and many processed and packaged foods contain trans fats.
Water is essential for your brain as well, since about 80 percent of our brain is water. To make sure that you are drinking enough pure water, aim for half your body weight in ounces every day. It is important to eliminate refined sugar from your diet. Many studies have shown that excess sugar is detrimental to brain health. It is also important to eliminate toxins and additives (often found in processed foods) for your brain to function optimally.
Research is showing that exercise is just as good for the brain as it is for the body. Brain benefits of exercise include improving brain structure, cognition, and mood. Regular exercise keeps blood vessels open, delivers oxygen to the brain and increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration and induces the growth of new brain cells and neurons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, or five 30-minute workouts every week. Incorporate strength training, aerobics, and burst training (this workout includes several surges of intense activity lasting 30 to 60 seconds, each followed by a few minutes of lower-intensity exertion for recovery). We all have 24 hours in every day. By committing to at least one-half hour of daily exercise, you will be improving your quality of life and increasing your healthy life span.
Chronic stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects many brain functions. Some brain-related stress symptoms that you experience may include brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, worry, and intensified emotions. Start some daily habits to improve your mood and break the worry cycle. How do you view life? This life is as beautiful or as stressful as you make it. Make time to do something you love that brings you joy. And don’t complain – it trains your brain to see the negative far too often. Start every day with a positive intention. Let your brain find ways to make this a great day. Make sure to focus on the positive aspects of life. Your brain can’t find solutions when it is entwined in the negative spiral of the problem. Breathe deeply and slowly, and imagine reliving one of your happiest experiences so that you connect with that joyful emotion. Take several long, slow, deep breaths in a mindful-state as often as possible. As a powerful daily practice, deep breathing will enhance your health and well-being.
Make sleep a priority
Get plenty of sleep. The brain works to consolidate memories, and repair and regenerate itself while you sleep. Without healthy sleep, toxins and waste products build up in your brain and it doesn’t have time to cleanse itself. This can result in brain fog, memory problems and lack of vitality and focus. Researchers suggest that we achieve seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night is associated with a greater risk of chronic diseases and depression. Make sleep a priority, and don’t feel like you are giving up precious time by committing to seven or eight hours of shut-eye. Your increased focus and productivity during your wake-hours will make up for this time commitment. Develop the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning.
Incorporate these healthy lifestyle habits to protect the health of your brain. Your brain health impacts everything you do, and every thought, word, action, behavior and feeling. Take care of your brain and it will take care of you.
-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT
Are you ready to start your wellness journey but are unsure of where to begin? As your health coach, I can help you create a personalized roadmap to your goals. Reach out today to see if our Lifestyle Coaching Program can help you create the foundation needed to achieve lasting health and happiness.
Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.
Dr. Geni Abraham, M.D., Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935
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