Brain Health: Why It Matters & How to Take Care of It

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Brain Health: Why It Matters & How to Take Care of It

Do you give a sh*t about your brain health?


No, seriously. When’s the last time you’ve sat down and considered how healthy your brain really is?


Chances are, you’re probably in the 83% of Americans who don’t think about their brain health on a day-to-day basis. 


Now, considering that over 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness at some point in their life because of poor brain health, you might want to keep reading… 


In this article, we’ll cover:


  • Why You Should Care About Your Brain Health
  • What is considered to be a healthy brain?
  • Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Brain

 

Why You Should Care About Your Brain Health

 

1. It’s the Driving Force of Your Body

People often forget that your brain is the main driving force for your body. Yet, as obvious as this is, most people don’t treat it that way. 


Your brain is heavily involved in many of your body’s functions. Because of this, your brain uses an estimated 20% of your body’s total energy. Research even found that your brain burns about 320 calories just to think. Because your brain is constantly processing information through electrical signals, this can make its energy in-take very high.



While your brain is what you could call “energy expensive,” it’s because it plays such a vital role in operating your body.


Think about it like this: If your body is the star athlete, then your brain is the head coach - determining the structure and strategies of your body’s everyday life. 


In that case, it only makes sense to be highly concerned with your brain health (There’s a reason NFL head coaches are compensated very well.)

 

 

2. It Directly Correlates to Your Mental Health

While brain health and mental health are different, their well-being happens to be directly correlated.

 

In other words, poor brain health = poor mental health. 

 

Research has found that one of the main causes of mental illnesses are from problems in communication between neurons. 

 

While poor mental health can be a result of many different facets of life, if your brain isn’t healthy enough to function properly, it can be harder to manage your mental health.

 

3. Combats Cognitive Decline

Diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia are becoming more and more common - and it’s becoming clear why.

 

 People are caring less and less about their brain health. With an increasing amount of 5 million Americans having Alzheimer's disease, the numbers are only rising.

 

The University of California published a study showing that keeping up with your brain health can lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer's in the future.



Your brain is an investment -  It’s important to do the daily maintenance on your brain now, so that it can continue to function well.

 

 

What is Considered to be a Healthy Brain?

 

Because the brain is so complex, there isn’t a baseline metric in determining how healthy it is. Therefore, the CDC defines brain health as “An ability to perform all the mental processes of cognition, including the ability to learn and judge, use language, and remember.”

 

In other words, a healthy brain is one that can carry out most normal processes at a functional level. Good memory, low stress, stable moods, and the ability to maintain focus are all signs of a healthy brain.

 

When you’re lashing out in emotion, forgetful, have trouble focusing, etc - these are all signs that your brain isn’t as healthy as it can be. Because of how common they are in the modern world, issues like these often get overlooked.

 

 Even though things like strong emotions and high stress are normal aspects of human nature, they can be improved and managed with a healthier brain.

 

Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Brain

 

1. Keep It Stimulated

At a time where average American attention-spans are at an all-time low, it’s now more important than ever to keep your mind stimulated. You have to understand, your brain is a muscle. Just as you work other muscles to keep them healthy, you have to do the same with your brain.


It doesn’t have to take a lot of energy to stimulate your brain. Some simple things you can do to keep your brain stimulated are:

  • Listening to music
  • Playing card games
  • Reading a book
  • Meditating

 

2.  Moderate Your Diet

Your diet affects your overall health much more than you realize. Many of the foods that are associated with good brain health are ones that aid your heart and blood vessels - particularly because these affect how much blood the brain gets. 


Diseases like stroke, aneurysms, and chronic migraine are all linked to poor blood flow to the brain. Because of this, it’s crucial you moderate your diet with healthy “brain foods.”


Foods like green vegetables, fatty meats, nuts, berries, and caffeinated drinks (especially coffee) could all be considered “brain foods”. Harvard Medical school also reports that “the most important strategy” is to simply follow a balanced diet that regularly contains these foods.

 

3. Regulate Your Sleep

I’ve talked before on the effects that sleep has on your overall health. That being said, it goes to show that sleep has a major effect on your brain health.


Research found that poor sleep can lead to dementia, slower thinking, and other cognitive issues - so try to get a good 7-9 hours. It’s also very important to be cautious of sleep medications because of the potential damages they can cause to your brain and sleep habits. 

 

 

If You Read Anything, Read This …

 

In a time where brain related diseases are at an all time high, it has never been more important to start taking care of your brain. 


Because your brain is so heavily involved in many of your body’s processes, it’s important you do the little things to take care of it. 


Eating right, getting on a sleep schedule, and keeping your brain stimulated are all things you can do today to start improving your brain health ( I’ve also mentioned a longer list of ways to keep your brain healthy in my BDNF article.


While it’s important to take all of this into account, the best way to get started is to simply just practice the little things - the day to day maintenance to keep your brain healthy.

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