Did you play contact sports? Have you ever been in a car accident? Were you ever exposed to mold? Are you over weight? Do you eat a poor diet? What about your kiddos or family members? These are just a few questions we ask clients when sitting down with them to discuss brain health because all of these things impact how your brain ages.
The best trait that our brain has is it’s ability to transform. Your brain can be molded into the brain you want, but first it is important to acknowledge the brain you have, your brain’s history, and what you can do to mold your brain.
Let‘s focus on the brain from a wellness perspective. Stay tuned for another post on mindset and how we can use neuroplasticity to shift the reprograming in our brain and our way of thinking.... but first we need to start with a healthy brain - so let’s dive in....
Did you know your behavior can accelerate brain aging? I hope you answered, “Yes.”
Your brain is involved in everything you do. Sometimes this is your conscious brain and other times your subconscious brain. I bet you would agree with the fact that when our brains are not functioning well - you are not functioning well. Our brains are the most complicated thing in the universe. We have over 100 million brain cells. Did you know your brain is only 2% of your total body weight and yet it uses 20 to 30% of the calories you eat on a daily basis? Our brain also use about 20% of our oxygen intake and blood flow each day. So our brain is a hungry-energy using machine.
Three things to ensure your brain can function well today:
1. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water. Even being 1% dehydrated has shown to decrease brain function.
2. Get your heart rate up to increase blood flow to the brain. if you are sitting at your desk and start to feel sleepy - stand up and move for 1-2 minutes. This will wake up the brain and body by increasing oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Remember, your brain gets 20% of our blood flow and low blood flow is the root of brain disfunction. This is another reason why exercising is so important. Get that heart rate up to get your brain function up!
3. Get your sleep! Sleeping 7-8 hours each night is important to restore brain function and proper rest allows the brain retain important information.
Here are some warning signs your brain is in trouble:
1. Memory > Than 10 years ago
2. Low energy
3. Low mood
5. Increased stress, anxiety, worry
6. Short attention span
7. Brain fog
8. Impulsive, bad decisions
10. Have hit your head one or more times in the past
11. High blood pressure
12. High blood sugar
13. Weight issues
14. Sexual dysfunction
15. Non-compliant for heath
Do you have any or all of these going on?
Here are some additional tips from the Amen Clinics to slow down your aging brain!
1. If you have sleep apnea… Take care of this and wear your mask if you can’t get rid of it. Oxygen deprivation damages the brain!
2. Get your hormones checked and working right for you
3. Limit environmental toxins. Do you have mold at your home or at work? If it smells musty get a mold checked.
4. Take your Omega-3 fats and check your DHEA levels. Good DHEA levels will help reduce cortisol levels and help with memory.
5. Limit chronic stress: Get a life coach to help you. High levels of stress have been shown to shrink the hippocampus in the brain, which is the major memory structure in the brain, again another reason to have good DHEA levels.
6. Avoid bad things to protect your brain
Did you know?
1. Did you know traumatic brain injuries affect the front of the brain, prefrontal cortex, 91% of the time? Dr. Amen said this was what he found from looking at over 1600 studies from people with brain injuries. 30% of your brain is your prefrontal cortex!
2. Damage or problems with your prefrontal cortex can be a Short attention span, impulsive, procrastination, disorganization, poor judgment, lack of empathy and insight, brutal honesty.
3. When you have had any type of brain injury you may have problems with Focus, forethought, impulse control, organization, planning, judgment, empathy, and insight and learning from mistakes.
4. Brain injuries can be the cause of anxiety, depression, and other mental/focus problems.
5. Injuries from childhood may come up later in life more recognizable... In your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s!
6. PTSD, untreated depression, untreated ADD, bad decisions and an unhealthy social group have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's, says Dr. Amen.
7. “The scary thing that most people do not know is the wrong interventions can hurt people. Almost all psychiatrists medicines have black box warnings,” Said Dr. Amen. We are no better off with psychiatric drugs and interventions than we were in the 1950s. Find a brain health expert to help you.
Questions to ask yourself?
1. Have you ever hit your head hard
2. Would you put a developing brain (a child below 25 years old) in a helmet to play contact sports that support knocking around one's head?
3. Do you drink every day? A study by John Hopkins showed that people who drink every day have smaller brains and women are more susceptible. Yes, that one glass of wine a day is not good for your brain, although the alcohol industry would like us to think it is.
4. Do you have pattern thinking, depression, anxiety, ADD, PTSD, or any other challenge that is limiting your brain from functioning properly? Get some help!
What else can help your brain?
1. Do mental workouts: crossword puzzles, play board games, try sudoku
2. Move your body, eat greens, berries, and avoid sugar
3. Keep a healthy weight
4. Take brain supporting supplements: D3, Omega 3’s, DHEA, Magnesium, Multi-Vitamins
5. Have a positive social group
6. Get a life coach with a brain focused practice (some at HappyWholeYou.com)
7. Try light therapy, neurofeedback, and rTMS treatments
8. Skip the alcohol, smoking, and excess caffeine
9. Practice deep breathing and stress management
10. Set goals and work with someone that will hold you accountable
11. Get a SPEC scan at a dr. Amen clinic
12. Visit a Happy Whole You Wellness center for more brain supporting options.
Take some time to think about your brain health. What can you do to improve your brain health? You are NOT stuck with the brain you have. We can make it better. Remember, our brain can be molded. This is the power of neuroplasticity.
“You don't have to lose consciousness to have a brain injury,” says Dr. Amen.
Reference: From lesson 1 Brain Health Coaching Certification Course @Amen University