Cognitive Well-being: Here Are 10 Boosts for Better Brain Health by Team Sherzai
While most would peg genetics as the main factor determining a person’s brain health, the power to achieve optimal cognitive well-being is remarkably in your own hands. By repositioning your life to tap into important lifestyle medicine, you can positively impact your brain health.
How you approach your diet, activity level, social connectedness and relationships have a huge impact on your ability to ward off chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Even more amazing is the fact that these changes are not that difficult to incorporate into your life. To give you a place to start, here are 10 boosts for better brain health that you can begin implementing today:
- All carbohydrates are not bad: Despite the popular narrative where carbs are the villain and fat and protein are the heroes, you’re watching the wrong movie! Learn the glycemic index and know the difference between complex (good) and simple (avoid) carbs.
- Exercise (with strenuous points) throughout the day: If you workout for 20 minutes and then sit all day, studies show you lose the benefit of your workout. Incorporate exercise as part of daily life with a workout space in the living room, bedroom and office space. Don’t forget to involve friends and family!
- Mindfulness: Live with purpose and explore the “why” behind behaviors and habits and how they connect to your purpose.
- Plants, not pills: Get micro and macro-nutrients from plants instead of pills. These natural forms are recognized, absorbed, and used for health by our bodies. Instead of a magic pill or substance, explore a whole food, plant-based diet.
- Beans and greens: Beans and greens are the cornerstone of “Blue Zone” living (the healthiest places on earth), sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates and meat-free protein. Bacon and butter are not back, instead cook delicious recipes that combine greens and beans.
- Blood pressure: 120/80 is the threshold for high blood pressure. We are not against medicine, which can be helpful in short term, but any long term and fundamental change can only take place through lifestyle.
- Your partner’s risk: Diseases of the brain are not entirely genetic – sharing life with a partner means sharing both their good and bad lifestyle choices! Do as I do – and as I say! Set an example for family and friends and involve them in healthy habits.
- Connect your brain: How you challenge your brain determines the number of connections. Keep growing your brain with fun challenging activities.
- Sleep: Two important things take place during sleep: (1) Memory Consolidation, like cleaning off the desktop and putting files into folders and (2) Cleansing by “janitor cells,” taking off toxic buildup in the brain. (And note: too much sleep is bad, too!) Check your sleep hygiene (habits related to sleep) to see if you are optimizing your sleep.
- Plan, plan, plan: Plan micro-successes into your daily routine with achievable, time-bound and specific goals so that you build your neuro pathways and reinforce your brain health habits.
While it may seem daunting to transform your life immediately using all 10 of these steps, when broken down and adopted at a steady pace, you can begin to reap both immediate and long term benefits. Most of us want to live a long life, but we don’t think about what those late years will be like for us. We hope we will be sharp and healthy and without too much pain.
This is where most of us mistakenly assume that a long and healthy life is luck of the draw. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As you adopt these guidelines and you begin to understand and experience how your overall well-being and diet connect to brain health, you will wonder how you functioned under any other life guidelines. Optimal brain health is in your hands.
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