Your brain is the seat of control for your bodily functions and is the source for imagination, creativity and innovation. When it works well, you can have more control, stable moods, inspiration, motivation, focus, productivity, learn and grow, have fun and get a sense of fulfillment and purpose which are key to longevity. Treating your brain with the tender loving care it deserves can reap great rewards. Start with these simple strategies to change your brain and change your life.
- Eat for your brain. Low glycemic, anti-inflammatory foods keep the brain healthy. The brain is mostly fat and inflammatory fats will enhance inflammation. Anti-inflammatory fats will diminish it. Eat more fish, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and any of their oils and reduce meat, dairy, saturated and trans fats. Avoid processed foods, sugar, and grains that promote blood sugar spikes which also accelerates oxidation and inflammation. Eat more whole, fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow for their antioxidant effects.
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements. A good multivitamin will have antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and selenium whereas fish oil and curcumin are excellent anti-inflammatory supplements. Choose a good fish oil that is free from heavy metals and has a high content of EPA and DHA. For extra protection consider Alpha lipoic acid and/or glutathione or NAC. They are antioxidants and recycle the other antioxidants in your body.
Exercising your mind and body keeps your brain evolving, learning, building new synapsis and improving circulation.
- Learn something new and challenge your brain with things you have never done before such as playing an instrument, dancing, learning a new language, developing new skills, and/or practicing activities that require coordination and balance which are things that deteriorate as you age.
- Aerobic physical exercise will have your heart pumping nutrient rich blood to the brain to feed it and keep your brain circulation going. This will keep arteries open and feed your brain as well as remove waste through maintaining good circulation.
There is a lot of truth to the adage “You are what you think.” Your thoughts produce feelings, and those feelings are translated into physical signs and symptoms as well as action or inaction. Your brain can be trained to work for you and to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Keep a gratitude journal to shift your focus to positive things in your life. Sometimes it may feel like a stretch, but any little thing counts. What you focus on grows.
- Choose and affirm positive thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, look at things from the perspective of what you do want and focus on repeating and affirming what you want. Science has shown that affirmations work.
- Surround yourself with positive people. The people you spend the most time with can shape your life. Find time to spend with people who are loving, kind, supportive and make you feel good. Your brain and body will thank you.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you find a new way of thinking which can change your behavior and results. It is generally short term and very different from traditional therapy.
Your brain is a very sensitive organ and is vulnerable to toxins, trauma, stress and sleep deprivation. Some things that can help you protect it are:
- Protect it from injury by wearing a helmet when participating in contact sports, bicycle or motorcycle riding, wearing a seat belt, practicing safe driving, and do your best to avoid head injuries.
- Avoid toxins by breathing clean air, eating clean food and drinking clean water. Filter your water, choose organic food, when possible, limit alcohol, avoid drugs and avoid air and other exposures to chemical pollutants. Chemical pollutants are in clothing, cleaning products, furniture, personal care products, carpeting, fabrics, rugs and since they are just about everywhere, you may want to consider an air filter and looking for cleaner, safer products.
- Stress less since stress will impair memory cells from rejuvenating. Practice calming techniques such as deep belly breathing, Heartmath, visualizations, meditation or prayer. Supplements such as phosphatidylserine can lower cortisol, adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, rhodiola, eleuthero, magnolia officinalis and others can make your cells more resilient toward stress and cognitive behavioral therapy can reframe your stressors and help you to diminish your reaction to stress.
- Sleep soundly may be easier said than done. Keep your room cool, dark and quiet, don’t watch, do or eat anything too stimulating before bedtime. Practice calming techniques and try supplements such as magnesium, melatonin and L theanine. You can add neurotransmitters such as 5HTP, L tryptophan, Pharma GABA but with caution if you are on medications and avoid them if on SSRI’s. When all else fails, hypnosis, acupuncture or acupressure can calm your mind and body. Get tested for sleep apnea if you have pauses in your breathing, loud snoring and gasping episodes. Other reasons for disturbed sleep could be restless leg syndrome, pain, periodic limb movement, prostate enlargement, medication, and other disorders. Sleep is so important for our brain and overall health. During sleep the spinal fluid in our brain pulsates and cleans out debris that is associated with Alzheimer’s. Lack of sleep may make you more vulnerable. Get a checkup to determine if you have any underlying causes for interrupted or inability to fall and stay asleep.
Small changes can make a big difference. While there are many other things that can affect your brain such as heavy metal or other toxicity, mold exposure, infections or hormone imbalances, this is a good start. If you don’t feel like your brain or body are optimal, get an evaluation from a functional medicine doctor. Fill out an application for a free, no obligation clarity call to see if we are a good fit.