Your Brain: Easy ways to look after your greatest asset

November 2018

We all have a brain, but we rarely give a second thought about what we should be doing to look after this valuable and indispensable part of our body. Our brain, just like our heart, lungs, liver and kidneys need to be taken care of because without a healthy brain we cannot be truly healthy. Your brain is king of your body… it rules. This alone should give you enough reason as to why you should be doing all you can to maintain the optimal level of functioning and health of your brain.

Brain health is a crucial yet, unfortunately, a neglected dimension of true wellness.

Today, when people refer to the concept of “wellness”, the implication is one of the integration of both psychological and physical health. So, with this in mind, wellness of the brain needs to include that fusion, a balance between nutrition, exercise both physical and mental, as well as psychological health. Brain health is a crucial yet, unfortunately, a neglected dimension of true wellness.

Recent research has shown that the brain is continuously changing and being remodelled or rewired. Neuroplasticity is now not a myth but a proven fact. Science has shown that our daily routines and habits, be they good or bad, are influencing how our brains work. With this in mind, we realise that we have the power and the choice to influence how well our brain works and how healthy it remains. You are not at the hands of your DNA. Your DNA is not your destiny. You can control your genes by what you decide to do every day. Epigenetics has shown us that there is more to just genes!

What can you do to keep your brain healthy? Some easy ways include:

Doodle: if you think it’s a time-wasting distraction think again. Neuroscientists believe that doodling may actually improve memory and learning. So, spend a little time every day “expressing your brain”.

Exercise Your Brain: Whether it’s in the garden or walking, exercise offers a wealth of brain benefits. Studies suggest gardening can reduce stress and lift mood. Don’t have a garden? No problem. Just getting out in nature has the same effect. Exercise doesn’t have to be pounding the pavement to the max. Movement of any form is good. Choose the kind of movement that suits your body, and your mood on the day.

Feed Your Brain: When we feed our body healthy foods we see the benefits and the brain is no different. Your brain is like a motor vehicle. You wouldn’t put the wrong fuel in it, would you? Your brain requires a constant supply of fuel that comes from the foods you eat. What you eat directly affects the structure and the function of the brain, and ultimately, it affects your mood too. Reducing sugar can be the first gift you give your most precious organ.

Recharge Your Brain: Your brain needs time out just like the rest of your body. In fact, meditation and even daydreaming can be beneficial for improved mood, cognitive function, sleep and memory. Research has shown that meditation can shrink the amygdala, the area of your brain primarily associated with fear and initiating your body’s response to stress.

Just breathe: Reset the body’s natural “rest and digest” mechanism. Your body has its own inner calming system called the Parasympathetic Nervous System. When the brain is overwhelmed and stressed, you limit your focus and concentration. By calming the nervous system and the brain you can return to homeostasis allowing the brain to return to its optimal functioning.

Your brain is the control centre of your body. Without it, life would not exist. You can take simple, day to day steps to improve your brain health and so to improve your overall wellbeing.