Today in our busy lives we might focus on our physical health but totally neglect our brain fitness. Our brain is responsible for not only undertaking our mental tasks but also helps us carry out physical functions and for that a healthy brain is a prerequisite. Approximately there are 1.1 trillion cells and 100 billion neurons in an average human brain. The slowest information processing speed of a brain is 260 mph.
A brain thinks 70,000 thoughts in a day out of which most of them are repeated over and over again, so when the next time you think something take some time to think about your brain as well. Researchers today suggest a healthy lifestyle that benefits in maintaining effective and vibrant brains. Following is the list of ten essential habits necessary for a healthy brain, let’s review them and try to apply them in our daily lives.
1. Learn about your brain and use it
Each of us should have an understanding of what are brains made up of and what are the elements involved in its functionality. This will help us to appreciate the beauty of our brain and would enhance its working ability. The brain comprises of 3 main sub-systems, Neocortex, Limbic System and Cerebellum. Neocortex performs high level thinking and helps undertake integrative tasks such as conceptualizing, planning and controls movements and senses. The limbic system is in charge of emotions and memory. Cerebellum regulates breathing, heartbeat and maintains motor coordination. When we use our brains the neurons interact with each other which results in maintaining an active brain. The more we will put our brains to work the more efficient it will get, as they say “Use it or lose it”.
2. Healthy Diet means Healthy Brain
Yet another amazing fact is that the brain weighs only 3lbs but consumes 20%-25% of the body’s energy supplies. Brain requires a lot of glucose and it is evident that the major cause of dementia is the lack of brains ability to consume glucose efficiently.
Stuff your brain with some fats, we mean the good fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, these fat aid the flexibility of neurons.
The antioxidant foods are also beneficial for the brain as it is prone to oxidative damage. Antioxidant foods include spinach, potatoes, nuts, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
The trick is to have a healthy diet in order to maintain a healthy brain. Choose natural source of these food rather than taking supplements. Dr. Larry Mc Cleary recommends fatty fish, vegetables, fruits like berries and nuts as a part of the daily diet.
3. Fitter bodies will get you fitter brains
Recent studies have helped to conclude that regular physical exercise may result in developing fitter brains. A study by Kramer and colleagues in 2010 revealed that children who had high levels of physical activities were more mentally efficient. It was also analyzed that such children had a larger hippocampus that is responsible for developing new memories. The research is also applicable to adults and it has been proved that physically fit adults have higher cognitive performance. Aerobic exercise for 30-60 minutes three times a week is also very beneficial for enhancing memory and improving brain health.
4. Be Optimistic
Ever wondered how dangerous stress and anxiety could be for your brain? It can damage the neurons in the brain and prevents building up of new ones as well. The key to a healthy brain is to develop future-oriented, positive thoughts. Guide your brain towards positive thinking and make it your habit for a life time. Meditation and yoga can be very helpful to develop positivity.
5. Challenge your Brain
Once neurons are developed in our brain, for how long will they survive depends on the way we make use of them. Mental challenges such as new activities and brain games enhance cognitive fitness. Computer based programs, puzzle games, meditation or music notes, each one of them act as a tool that may improve a specific cognitive function. Researches show that a simple game like Sudoku can help improve brain functionality.
6. Don’t let your brain retire
There are no age limits involved as far as learning is concerned. The brain development never stops no matter how old you grow, so it doesn’t mean that if you have graduated from college it’s your time to say goodbye to learning. A study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives proved that people taking early retirements reflected a quick decline in their memory. A working environment comes with multiple cognitive challenges thus resulting in healthier and sharper brains. Therefore, it is better to “retire the word retirement”.
7. Travel and Explore
Traveling would enable your brain to adapt to new environment, experience unknown challenges and make explorations. Undertaking daily routine work does not help develop the brain. To increase brain activity new experiences and learning environment is a must and traveling can provide such opportunities to the brain.
8. Avoid taking suggestions
Don’t let anyone spoon feed your brain, solve your problems yourself. You might find your friends and neighbors very smart but when it comes to decision making let your brain do its own work. When you outsource your brain you are actually depriving it from developing its problem solving skills.
9. Socialization- a healthy brain developing tool
Man is a “social animal” and this aspect has also been proven to be beneficial for maintaining a well developed brain. Though physical and mental exercises are important but if these activities involve social interactions they can prove to be more fruitful. Therefore, pondering over a problem by yourself may result in brain exercise but discussing it with a group would further boost brain activity. Why social interactions are more helpful in brain development? The reason is that when we are involved in a group activity our brain focuses on memory, control and attention processes and help us develop our problem solving skills.
10. Laughter is the best medicine even for the Brain
A good humor helps brain in two ways, one it manages stress level and two it boosts the immune system. Studies reveal that people who laugh quiet often do not get ill. So whenever you feel low call up one of your friends with whom you enjoy a good laugh, it will work miracles for your brain.
Remember, this article is only helpful if you try to introduce these habits to your daily life until they become your mind’s default set up. You can pick each habit one at a time, bring it to practice and then see for yourself what wonders it can do for you.