The health of your brain impacts the health of your body. It is running the whole show, after all. The health of your brain will influence your memory, your ability to focus at work, your athletic performance, your pain symptoms, and your waistline.
The good news is there are ways you can improve the health and vitality of your brain, and by extension the rest of your body. Here are some tips that you can start implementing every day.
1. Take A Daily Walk
Studies have shown that walking for 20 minutes significantly increases brain activity. So the next time you have writers block or hit that afternoon lull, try taking a walk instead of reaching for that 3pm cup of coffee.
2. Prioritize Sleep
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a HUGE coffee fan. A morning cup of coffee has been shown to enhance brain function and protect against brain decline. However, more of a good thing is not always a good thing. Sleep is even more important to brain health and function. That afternoon cup of coffee could really interfere with your the restful, restorative phases of sleep. Quality sleep is undervalued in our hard charging , "I'll sleep when I'm dead" society. But AT LEAST 7 hours of restful sleep is critical for optimal brain performance and long term health.
3. Learn A New Skill
Here at BTY we are big proponents of lifelong learning and growth. It’s never too late to “teach an old dog new tricks”. A great reason to continue learning and challenging yourself is to improve your brain health. When you are in the process of learning something new your brain makes new connections and pathways to allow you to do that new skill more efficiently. It can even builds new brain cells!
There are many new skills that will benefit your brain health. You can learn to play in instrument, learn a new language, learn a new sport or activity, or even do something as simple as completing daily tasks with your non-dominant hand. These all challenge your brain in novel ways that improve health and function.
4. "When Your Body Moves, Your Brain Groves"
Movement and exercise are useful for much more than weight loss. Regular movement helps your brain think more clearly, increases your energy, improves your memory, and helps with your problem solving skills. Any movement is good, but a variety of movement is even better. Learning a challenging movement skill, like juggling, has actually been suggested to increase the white matter in your brain!
Everyone likes to do the exercises they are already good at, but it’s usually the ones you struggle with that will benefit you the most. We talk to our clients all the time about working on their "challenge areas" in order to reduce injury risk and improve physical performance. But these movements can also be great for improving brain health and performance. Moves that are challenging or new increase your central nervous system activity in a way that makes you stronger both mentally and physically.
5. Eat Intelligently
Like exercise, the food we eat impacts more than our waistline. What we eat has a big impact on our brain health, mental clarity, and energy.
Some foods you want to include are:
LOTS of vegetables
Anti-oxidant rich foods
Healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, free-range eggs)
Drink plenty of water
Foods that reduce systemic inflammation (turmeric, ginger, bone broth)
Some foods to limit:
Foods loaded with sugar
Foods with fake chemicals added
Foods with fake fats (fried foods, canola oil, etc)
Foods your body doesn’t respond well to
Soda and alcohol