The brain is a very complex and sophisticated organ. Mental well-being is often neglected, and it is important for your physical health and overall functioning.
Scientists were originally of the thought that the brain stopped growing after childhood. Research, however, shows that even the adult brain can rewire through a process called neuroplasticity. This is an exciting and important concept as it means there is potential for growth in terms of memory and learning. The “use it or lose it” principle applies here: learn a new skill, become ambidextrous and be creative. Varying your routine and stepping outside of your comfort zone promotes brain growth.
Be social and learn to manage your stress levels effectively. Stress is toxic to the brain and body.
Cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol increase your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Get regularly screened for these conditions.
Eat a balanced diet rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. Fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and berries are very good for the brain. Science shows a strong link between the gut and the brain by means of a healthy gut microbiome. Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol intake and be sure to keep well hydrated.
Exercise is crucial in increasing blood flow to the brain and releasing feel-good hormones. Even 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 times a week is a step in the right direction. Find something you enjoy doing.
Meditation, mindfulness and BodyTalk are powerful brain boosters. Breathe deeply. Take up yoga.
Ensure you get an adequate amount of quality and restorative sleep: 7-8 hours is ideal!
Spend more time in nature. Relax. Have fun. And don’t forget to laugh. Laughter reduces cortisol in the bloodstream and ignites Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins which promote learning, motivation and attention.
Written by Dr Diana Griffiths, General practitioner at Intercare Blaauwberg