It's important to stay healthy but most of us just focus on our bodies. But our brains are just as important. There are lots of things you can do to make sure you have a healthy brain. Here are few tips for improving your brain's health.
1. Eat unprocessed foods. This is a great tip because it's important for your body as well. Try to eat foods like seafood, red meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, and fruits. It's best to avoid or at least limit foods that are high in grain like corn, wheat, rice, etc. because these foods are low in nutrients and can have negative effects on not just your brain's health but your overall health as well.
2. Drink lots of water. Plain water is best but if you must have some flavor you can put some lemon slices in it. Your body and brain both run better when they are completely hydrated. Making sure you drink plenty of water will help keep you from getting that foggy feeling and you'll be able to concentrate better too.
3. Avoid refined or simpled carbohydrates. If you're going to eat something that is carbohydrate based, try to make sure it's made of whole grain and that it doesn't have any extra sugar added to it. It can be hard to avoid excess sugar these days, especially since so many companies add unneeded sugar to their products. But simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down into pure sugar which causes high spikes in your blood sugar levels and insulin levels. This can cause problems in your brain's chemistry.
4. Eat plenty of protein. Protein is important because it's the building blocks of our bodies. Protein is also harder to digest which helps keep you feeling full longer so you avoid unnecessary spikes in your blood sugar. If you're vegetarian or vegan it can be hard to make sure you get enough protein but there are plants with plenty of protein like quinoa.
6. Limit your caffeine consumption. Caffeine can make it difficult to get good quality sleep which can lead to mood disturbances and issues with staying awake and concentrating. It can also make anxiety worse.
7. Get checked for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies. Your brain needs it for making neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are responsible for everything from happiness to sleep and relaxation. Without proper amounts of neurotransmitters, you can develop depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental health problems.
8. Get checked for vitamin B12 deficiency. While this isn't as common as iron deficiency, it can lead to problems with psychosis, depression, memory, and even changes in personality. If you have a deficiency you can eat foods like red meat, organ meats, and shellfish. But if your deficiency is severe you may have to take supplements.
9. Exercise. It's so important to find a fun way to exercise. This is good for your body and your mind. It can help relieve stress and prevent insulin resistance. Try to do it three times a week. Strength training seems to be more useful for maintaining a healthy brain than aerobic exercise, but both are important. If you hate exercising alone try inviting a friend to join you or try joining a workout class. Sometimes making exercise a social activity can help you stay on track and have fun.
10. Remove unnecessary stress. I know this is so much easier said than done, but it will help so much. Some stress is obviously unavoidable but if there is anything stressful that you can honestly cut out of your life then you should. It'll help you relax easier and you'll also benefit from the self-esteem boost that comes from taking action to take care of yourself. Stress can lead to high levels of cortisol which can cause your body to hold on to weight. Being overweight can lead to inflammation throughout the body and brain.
If you still aren't sure any of this would make a difference, I challenge you to make these changes for a solid month. If you don't feel better both mentally and physically by then you'll only have wasted 30 days of your life. That's nothing in the long run.
References: DiagnosisDiet.com. Grains, Beans, Nuts, and Seeds. Accessed at http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/food/grains-beans-nuts-and-seeds on April 15, 2018.
PsychologyToday.com. Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease May Be Easier Than You Think. Accessed at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/diagnosis-diet/201609/preventing-alzheimer-s-disease-may-be-easier-you-think on April 15, 2018.