For this month’s Lifetonic, we’re turning our attention towards focusing on a part of our body that we often don’t realise needs a lot of care and attention…
…and that’s our brain!
We rely on our brains to help us do everything we can possibly do in a day, making decisions, moving our bodies, talking to ourselves positively, interacting with others, problem solving, communicating. Most of these things we do automatically and we can take our brain function hugely for granted, but our brains are an important part of our bodies to care for.
When we care for our brains regularly, we improve our chances of delaying or avoiding age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders. We can also improve our overall cognitive function.
But what does that mean for us?
Brain health is essential for long-term healthy living and daily function. While it’s important to start taking care of our brains early on, it becomes even more important the older we get.
That’s why this month’s Lifetonic is to focus on ways to boost our brain health!
Neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the brain, can happen over time, causing the brain to age or atrophy. Symptoms of neuroinflammation can include “brain fog,” slowed thinking, fatigue, and even depression.
While it’s necessary for our bodies to have some inflammation to fight illness, too much inflammation can lead to long-term diseases and declines in our overall health, including brain function.
Here are a few positive steps you can actively and mindfully take, to improve your brain’s overall health:
- Get enough quality sleep! By getting the right amount of restorative sleep, you can improve your memory, creativity, and focus.
- Reduce your refined sugar intake. I know, this can be hard, but there is no nutritional value in refined sugar and it can actually create more inflammation in the body. Sugar hides in just about everything that comes processed or pre-packaged so try and make a mindful swap or two on anything that you are maybe prone to popping in the shopping basket. For example, can you make your pesto instead of buying a jar? You can also aim to slowly increase your intake of colorful fruits, like citrus, berries, and apples, which are filled with flavonoids and are known to improve memory.
- Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. By doing this, you can actively increase the number of polyphenols—which help to counter neuroinflammation—and do something wonderful for your body, too!
- Add certain brain-power foods to your shopping list. Consider putting items like oily fish (organic salmon is a good option ), avocados and walnuts (healthy fats), and even moderate amounts of coffee, tea and good-quality dark chocolate on your grocery list. These foods have proven to have a positive effect on the brain because they contain antioxidants.
- Move your body! Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the entire body, including your brain, while helping to reduce “brain fog.” This leads to better memory and learning. In fact, exercise, like Pilates, which requires coordination, also increases the flow of blood and oxygen and has been shown to be exceptional for the brain!
- Nurture your relationships. Spending time with loved ones and making an effort to nurture positive relationships is also linked to improved brain health. So, be sure to schedule in time with those you love. Make more of an effort here if you are going to be continually homeworking post lockdown. We need to make sure we are still connecting with people; quality time and conversations are so good for your health.
- Exercise your brain, too. We don’t often think about how fun activities can be good for our brains but they are! The next time you’re trying to decide on a relaxing activity, consider these options: play a card game, try a jigsaw, read a new book, try a sudoku puzzle, listen to or play some music, learn a new skill (didn’t you always want to learn French?!) or even teach one to someone else!
- Relax your mind and get some fresh air. There are proven benefits to meditation and spending time in nature. Getting outdoors helps us to give the prefrontal cortex of our brains a rest, which increases our creativity and allows us to focus better.
- Avoid toxic habits whenever possible. Did you know that smoking and consuming too much alcohol can be detrimental to your overall brain health? If you smoke, consider joining a local support group to kick the habit once and for all. And while a little red wine once in a while can be good for heart health, remember to consume alcohol in moderation.
“Reducing inflammation is pretty much the most effective anti-aging strategy of all.” – Dave Asprey
As we get older, our bodies and brains change and adapt. That’s why it’s so important to take care of them as they go through this process.
Many people don’t notice the effects of their lifestyles until they get older. And while genetics do play a part in our overall health, we can make mindful choices to help us continue on the path to good physical and brain health.
I hope you’ll join me this month in caring for our brain health together. Taking intentional steps to care for your body and brain for long-term health benefits is truly empowering and helps keep us young!
Love Julie x
Download your August Mindtonic for daily inspiration:
Start to cultivate your fresh habits with your Weekly Planner Download