Brain Health Shmrain Health: Keys to Healthy Brain Living

When you think about health what comes to mind? Nutrition, fitness, maybe even stress-relieving activities? What about brain health? Cognitive decline is a scary concept, but what can we do about it? Studies have shown that embracing healthy lifestyle habits not only improves one’s overall health but can also slow and even halt cognitive decline. It’s never too late to actively protect your brain. From teenage years into elderly living, the brain continually rewires and adapts. Start protecting your brain by adopting a lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise, a nutritious diet and staying cognitively and socially active. Read on to learn how these easy changes can keep your brain mentally sharp.

Exercise
Staying physically fit is the number one way to stay mentally fit. Similar to car care, brain tune-ups will not only increase performance but longevity as well. Sedative lifestyles without physical fitness negatively impacts brain function. The number one cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia is the building up of plaque in the brain. Decreased blood flow from lack of cardiovascular activities allows unchecked plaque growth, increasing the chances of, amongst other factors, cognitive decline. It’s never too late to start. Join the local gym, take exercise classes and start running, jogging, or walking. Start improving your brain and body health today.

Nutrition
Like mom used to say, always eat your veggies! Vegetables and fruit should be consumed everyday. Alzheimer’s Association research has indicated that low-saturated and low-fat diets reduce chances of heart disease and cognitive decline. Decrease your intake of fats, red meats, sweets and sugared beverages and sodium. Focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Instead of butter, try healthy fats such as olive oil. Instead of salt, try incorporating herbs and spices. Many diseases of the body are linked to diet and consumption. Choose a healthier diet to protect your heart and mind.

Mental Sharpness
Challenging yourself is a sure way to improve mental fitness. Learning a new skill, developing a hobby and reading more are just a few examples of positive mental activities. Start playing table tennis. Table tennis is the best activity for your brain, and is one of the few physical activities considered a ‘brain sport’. Table tennis improves motor skills, strategy, memory and is a great social activity. Stay mentally sharp, use it or lose it!

Socially Active
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, social engagement is associated with reduced rates of disability and may also reduce the risk of depression. Instead of messaging someone online, talk to them in person or call them on the phone. Strike up conversations with others and listen to what they have to say. Social engagement is a fundamental element for self-sustainability and preservation. Protect your noggin and get social.

Start protecting your brain today. Body builders did not become chiseled by exercising every now and again. Dedication to their craft got them to their goal. You too can reach your goals by setting small objectives to reach, building up confidence and genuine fulfillment. Make plans to set aside time for your brain. Make notes and keep track of activities. Log your achievements and work towards bettering your mind and body. Brain health should be a serious concern. Living a healthy lifestyle has permeable effects on your life and those around you. Stay active, eat healthy and socialize. Challenge yourself along the way and promote healthy living in everything you do.

Advertisements

Mental Health Awareness

Mental illnesses affect people all around the world. For such a common condition they are often misunderstood and ignored, leaving many victims to suffer in silence.

But, there is hope. Advances in medical and psychological technology are giving us a better understanding of the causes of mental illnesses and closer to finding the cures. More people are getting involved to help raise money and awareness. In our “Movember” blog from last month , we discussed a couple of charities that are fighting to change this narrative (Movember and No Shave November). But what is mental health, and how do we better educate ourselves to help those affected?

Mental illness refers to a wide range of medical conditions that affect ones mood, thinking and behavior. Some of the more common illnesses include: depression, anxiety, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating), substance abuse and dependency, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Like many diseases, mental illnesses often come and go with symptoms varying in length and severity. Illnesses like these effect one in four people worldwide.

There are numerous ways in which individuals can develop mental illnesses but we can narrow it down to two primary categories: internal (biological, biochemical) and external causes (traumatic events, stress, environment).

  • Biological factors: Individuals who are related to those suffering from mental illnesses are often more likely to develop those illnesses.
  • Traumatic situations. People that go through traumatic events in their life often develop mental illnesses.
  • Brain Chemistry: Biochemical changes in our brains have been linked to different aspects of mental health. Hormonal changes can affect mental health as well.

No two mental illnesses are alike, but many of the victims exhibit will suffer from some of the more common symptoms (Mayo Clinic):

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Excessive fears or worries, feelings of extreme guilt
  • Extreme mood changes from high to lows
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

Evidence suggests that psychological treatments are by far the most effective method in treating mental illness. These psychological treatments target many of the behavioral, cognitive, social, emotional or environmental factors to improve mental or physical health and the treatment most people see. This can include joining support groups or talking with a psychologist, and in many cases prescription drugs may be prescribed.

The most important thing to remember in regards to mental health is to get help. Many individuals living with mental health disorders feel alone in their struggle. But as we have discussed, mental health is something individuals all around the world suffer from. You are not alone.

If you are worried about a loved one going through trouble with mental health, reach out to them. MentalHealth.gov has an excellent article on how to talk to friends and family going through problems with mental illness. Here are a few of the talking points:

  • Learning about mental health can help in improved recognition of problems, getting earlier treatment, and greater understanding and compassion for those suffering.
  • How to best address problems you see in friends. Be understanding and caring. “I’ve been worried about you, can we talk about what you are experiencing, if not who are you comfortable talking to?”
  • Knowing where to go for help, or connecting others to make sure they are getting the help they need.

Mental health is a problem effecting people all around the world, with one in four people experiencing complications in their lifetime, this is a problem that is not getting the attention it is deserved. It is up to us to get help for ourselves and our loved ones.