The way you live your life either contributes to brain health or causes a decline in brain functions such as memory, cognitive ability and focus.
There are five lifestyle factors that can hurt your brain by diminishing its function. To make matters worse, these factors typically become a bigger problem as you age.
The good news is that they are all things over which you have either complete or partial control – and can manage to some degree.
So pay attention . . .
Factors that Can Hurt Your Brain
Poor Eating Habits
You know – I know – everyone knows that poor eating habits will cause you to gain weight. But, even more important is the fact that poor eating habits rob you of the nutrients your brain needs to fight free radicals that cause inflammation and deterioration of brain functions.
A healthy diet is critical to brain health. Indulging in a consistently poor diet is asking for trouble!
You are at a much greater risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s when you struggle with obesity, diabetes, and other health issues that result from a poor diet.
Eating healthy foods keeps the oxygen flowing freely through the brain and provides the nutrients needed to sustain its functions.
Finding a healthy diet that keeps your food intake as close to nature as possible is a step on the road to a heathier brain and better life
Lack of exercise
A sedentary lifestyle (couch potato) puts you at risk for a decline in your general health and a decline in brain function.
The fact is – health is a package deal! When your body rarely moves, your brain also suffers because of a lack of stimulation that produces healthy endorphins.
Research shows that physical activity is directly connected to mental alertness because it creates a healthy flow of blood through the entire circulatory system, including the brain. Without it, the opposite happens.
Lack of sleep
As you age, getting enough sleep can become a problem.
Sleep deprivation seriously affects your brain function. It creates irritability, fatigue, the inability to focus and concentrate, and memory loss.
Lack of sleep can be caused by a number of things:
- Responsibilities to your job and family that keep you up late and physically exhaust you
- Stress created by life events (loss of job, divorce, moving, financial worries, etc.)
- Poor physical health
- Mental and/or emotional distress.
You may not have full control over some of the above factors, but it is important to control them to the degree possible and find ways to control your response to them.
It is critical that you develop behaviors that will support better sleep habits. Seek help from your doctor or mental health specialists, if necessary. It is worth it.
Lack of socialization and feelings of isolation
These are two lifestyle factors that go hand-in-hand.
If you isolate yourself, you will not be socializing with friends and family members.
It is fairly easy for this to happen as you age, if you are not careful.
Factors that contribute to isolation:
- Family members move away or drift away
- Death takes friends and loved ones
- Personal health issues
Regardless of the cause, isolation will cause the brain to deteriorate.
Even though it may be very challenging, the health of your brain (and body) depends on regular interaction with others. Find a way to socialize on a regular basis starting today!
Stress is part of life. It comes in many forms and cannot be avoided. BUT, if it lasts too long, is continual, or extremely severe, it can cause both physical and mental problems.
Be honest with yourself. Take a close look at your life and the stressors that are weighing you down.
Do whatever is necessary to alter your lifestyle in order to eliminate some of the stress in your life – and do it now.
A good first step is to make time to get away from it all – to allow your brain to rest and rejuvenate itself.
You will find that your concentration and cognitive powers improve significantly – and your brain will have the sustainable energy to function as it should.
Two More . . .
Those are the big five . . . but, there are two other lifestyle factors that also contribute to declining brain function: smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
If either of those are part of your lifestyle, all I can say is STOP! No good has ever come from either habit. The havoc those habits wreak on your body is horrible and comes slowly, but surely.
Don’t Let This Happen to You
What can you do today to change the 5 lifestyle factors that can hurt your brain (and overall health)?
Take care of yourself – live well – be happier and healthier!