Every part of our lives is controlled by our brain activity.
From our seemingly automatic functions like breathing and our heartbeats to our emotions, how we move and how well we are able to think and process information – it all comes back to the brain.
This is why it is imperative that we take good care of our brains as well as the bodies that house them.
For some people, this is a literal instruction. People who have suffered from tumors, cancer, strokes, aneurysms, etc.
For people who suffer from these problems, treatment often only exacerbates the problem.
Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, a surgeon renowned by the Skull Base Institute, says that old school techniques that have been hard wired into doctors as “the only way to go” can prevent physicians and surgeons from treating patients in the best manner possible.
Of course, the best way to treat brain ailments is to do your best to keep them from happening in the first place (which, believe it or not, is sometimes something you can control) and that means keeping your brain as healthy as possible.
Here are some tips for how to do that:
Get up and get moving. Exercise is vitally important for both the physical health of your brain and for your emotional and mental health.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which encourages the release of endorphins, those handy little hormones that elevate our mood and help us maintain an emotionally healthy stasis throughout the day.
Studies have also shown that regular exercise improves memory and cognitive function.
Physically speaking, the increase in blood flow helps the brain grow new blood vessels and neural pathways. Brains are physically healthier when your body gets exercise.
Guess what: you really are what you eat. Scientists have discovered that the foods you eat have a direct impact on the physical health of your brain.
One example used by the NIH is that foods rich in Omega-3s help maintain the brain’s synaptic function and plasticity.
There are also foods, particularly those that contain artificial hormones and chemicals, that can induce the production of certain hormones that dramatically affect how our brain produces hormones like serotonin, etc.
If you want to keep your brain and your cognitive/emotional processes as healthy as possible, in addition to the previously mentioned Omega-3s, you should also make sure your diet includes blueberries, nuts and seeds, avocados, wild salmon, beans, pomegranate, whole grains and tea.
Dark chocolate, for people with a sweet tooth (if dark chocolate can be called sweet) is also great for your brain’s health.
In terms of physical health, it is important to keep your brain as protected as possible.
For example, wearing a helmet when biking, skateboarding, etc. is hugely important because it is often what will save your skull from a tremendous amount of damage if you fall or get hit.
Wearing head gear during certain sports like boxing, contact sports, etc is also vital to your brain’s health.
Beyond this, keeping an eye out for potential obstacles is seemingly common sense, but is definitely worth mentioning.
Finally, if you do bump your head, get checked out by a doctor! Sometimes even a small blow can cause serious damage.
As we mentioned in our introduction, injuries like these can lead to extensive and invasive surgeries, surgeries that can cause more problems than they solve.
This is why Dr. Hrayr Shahinian is fighting to develop and perform much less invasive techniques to rectify physical brain ailments.
The goal is to find a way to treat strokes, remove tumors, etc. in a way that won’t increase the likelihood of future complications.
We have already talked about how important physical exercise is for your brain’s physical, mental and emotional health.
It is also very important that you exercise your mind. Learning new knowledge, challenging your cognitive abilities, etc. these are all important to your overall ability to function properly.
By now everybody has heard that doing crosswords can reduce a person’s chances of developing Azheimers.
Playing other games–particularly strategy games and doing puzzles–is also important for staying sharp.
Going out and learning new things has also proven to improve the neural connections in your brain, no matter how old you are.
Mindfulness and Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep (the amount of sleep needed for proper brain health will vary slightly from person to person) is incredibly important for your brain’s physical and mental health.
Many experts believe that sleep is when the brain repairs itself after a long day.
Mindfulness is another important skill to acquire. The ability to allow your brain to roam and to give it a break when things get stressful is important for your cognitive and emotional health.
The point is: as much as your brain controls you, there are things you can do to control it as well. Use the tips listed here as a framework for making sure your brain is as healthy as possible.
How do you keep your brain healthy?
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