Caring for your brain means you must stop damaging it. This means taking active steps to avoid habits that are not beneficial to your brain and are actually damaging your brain. There are a lot of actions we take each day that are more destructive to our brains than we realize.
Top 4 Habits That are Bad for Your Brain
Eating poorly. Diet is everything. Food is fuel and our brains need food for energy. Recent studies have shown that our brain requires 20% of our metabolic consumption (energy). So, what does this mean for the foods we eat? If you eat poorly, you feel poorly. Eating highly processed foods or foods with little nutritional value are not supplying our brains with the energy they need to function. Testing performed at Harvard Medical School produced reliable evidence that a routine Mediterranean style diet and vitamin supplementation (specifically vitamin E) support a healthy brain. Bring on the farmer’s markets and health food stores!
Not getting enough rest. Let’s face it, we must sleep to function. Sure, we can sleep when we’re dead, but we’re still alive! Not only is sleep necessary, sleep is desirable. Who doesn’t love a good nap or to sleep in on a Saturday morning. The amount of sleep we get is crucial for brain health—our memory and mental productivity depend on it. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should sleep a good 7-9 hours each night.
Over-stressing. Stressing makes us feel bad both mentally and physically. Anytime we stress, our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) kicks in and an overproduction of our stress hormone, cortisol, is released. In a series of groundbreaking tests, Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology, along with her colleagues, discovered that chronic stress has been shown to kill brain cells found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that regulates emotions and memory. Thinking positive thoughts allows your brain to release all those good, blissful endorphins we all know and love. Positive mind, positive life.
Not Enough Exercise Being active helps us stay mentally sharp. Exercise is also one of the best ways to improve mental health. Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and energy levels. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts our moods. Additionally, medical studies have shown that exercise is linked to cognitive health. Harvard Medical School researchers gave a series of cognitive tests to 2,800 women over the age of 65 who had conditions putting them at higher risk of mental decline. The women who were most physically active showed significantly lower rates of mental decline than women who were more sedentary.
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