Brain Awareness Week is an opportunity to increase awareness of the many benefits of brain research and our 7 keys to brain health to improve our brains. Brain research and health is important, because maintaining a healthy brain is essential to living a long and full life.
We are bombarded with ways, ideas, and products to take care of our hair, teeth, skin, and other parts of the body. But what about our brain? After all, it is one of the most important parts of our body, and controls all of the functions we need to survive.
Most people think of the brain in relation to intelligence, yet the brain is much more than that. The brain is a complex, marvelous, unique connection of nerves, blood vessels and tissues. Its texture is similar to custard in a bowl – soft, pliable and slippery. It controls the way movement, speech, digestion, breathing, our senses, thought and reasoning, emotion, and our actions. It sends, receives, and processes messages to every cell in the body
Understanding your Brain may help you better understand yourself. Brain Awareness Week is a great time to learn about the amazing brain and all of the jobs it does for you! It’s also a great time to learn about what steps you can take to protect your brain and keep it healthy! Understanding Your Brain
7 Keys to Brain Health
1. Nourish your noggin
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Get plenty of these in your diet:
- Vitamin E from vegetable oil, seeds, avocado, nuts, and whole grains.
- Antioxidants including vitamin A, C, D, E, K found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits.
- Fish containing omega-3 fatty acid, and other foods rich in Omega 3s.
- Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and greens containing folate and vitamin E.
- Food containing minerals, such as potassium and calcium are vital for a healthy nervous system.
- Eliminate sugar!
- Drink plenty of water! Short term memory and decision making can be impaired when our bodies and brains are dehydrated.
2. Catch some Zzz’s:
Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking. We need restorative sleep for optimal brain function.
3. Protect your brain:
Wear a helmet when you ride your bike or play other sports that require head protection. Wear a seatbelt. Take precautions to avoid falls and accidents as best you can
4. Take care of your mental health:
Studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress. Stress can cause forgetfulness and disorganization. Chronic or long-term stress may actually change the way your brain works and can affect memory.
5. Exercise regularly:
Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Physical activity can boost energy, reduce stress, improve balance, improve mood, and help delay or prevent health conditions.
6. Stimulate your brain:
Do brain challenging activities, such as puzzles, reading, playing music, or anything else that gives your brain a workout. Challenging your mind may have short- and long-term benefits for your brain.
7. Buddy up:
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
Brain Fitness for better Brain Health
When most people think about health, wellness and fitness, they usually think about physical health, diet and exercise.
However, at each stage of our life we should not only focus on improving and maintaining physical health, but we should also be working on cognitive or brain health.
To stay physically fit, you would go to a gym and learn specific exercises to strengthen your muscles. Like other muscles in the body, the brain can repair itself, also known as neuroplasticity. Similarly, to strengthen the brain there is Brain Fitness. It can be as simple as memory games, such as Sudoku, and crossword puzzles. These types of brain fitness activities can be very effective; however, they are not personalized to meet your specific needs.
Brain Fitness Training with Dr. Diane®
More than just memory games Dr. Diane®, a neuropsychologist and board-certified health psychologist, and her integrative team of brain health experts offer a complete, concise, and personalized program of brain health based on Dr. Diane®’s 5 Prong Approach. This approach to Brain Fitness provides you with customized brain training for your individual needs and areas that may need strengthening.
Brain research helps scientists and doctors learn more about neurological disorders and disease such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, dyslexia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke), epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy are needed to help slow or prevent disease. There are also many other types of brain disorders associated with trauma, infection, cancer, and brain injuries, including concussion.
Through research, scientists and medical professionals will be able to better understand these problems and find a way to treat, prevent or cure. Join me in spreading awareness during this Brian Health Awareness week!