Ways To Improve Your Brain Function
Blue indicates link
Are you striving to optimize your health to measure and luxuriate in your best life? Then you’ll want to enhance your brain’s health and performance. Our focus here is to explore brain health, what it is, why it’s important, and what you can do to protect your brain and enhance your performance.
Importance Of Having A Healthy Brain
Your brain is the control center of your body and communicates with your heart and most other abdominal organs via your vagus nerve. Because of this, your brain is involved in movement, coordination, breathing, pulse, and your five senses. And if that isn’t enough, your brain also helps you learn, create, store memories, navigate the planet, and process external inputs. This is why that specialize in good brain health is so important to living your best life!
The old theory was that the brain ran on carbohydrate fuels only, but recent studies show that the brain may run even more efficiently when fueled by ketones resulting from fat metabolism. This state is called ketosis. One way to enhance your brain health is to make sure you’ve got metabolic flexibility, meaning your body will effortlessly switch back and forth between using carbs or ketones as fuel. We all know that brain cells die throughout our lives thanks to injury, aging, and various assaults like infections and toxins.
Only recently have we understood that we will grow new brain cells (neurogenesis) and make new neural connections in response to learning and knowledge (neuroplasticity) throughout our lives. These are two exciting and positive new discoveries that ought to inspire us and provide us hope for lifelong brain health. The good news is that there are many choices within your control that influence the production of BDNF. Exercise is the most powerful of those choices, but diet, lifestyle, and supplements like curcumin and omega3 fatty acids also are helpful to facilitate neurogenesis.
What Is Brain Health And Why You Should Care?
While we often think about failing cognition as a common symptom and consequence of aging, we now know that it does not have to be, and should not be, considered “normal.” As a matter of fact, there are a variety of factors other than aging that cause cell death or faulty connections between brain cells, which can impact your brain function. Most of these fall into two categories: lack of nutrients or attacks on your brain and body that result in brain inflammation.
Providing your brain with the right nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and hormones will support neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. But that is not enough. Minimizing inflammation is also critical. Your brain is protected by a bloodbrain barrier, but this barrier can be easily compromised allowing bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other inflammatory substances to get into your brain. If infectious organisms or other toxins reach your brain, they can activate special immune cells called microglia. When they are activated, they cause inflammation which leads to the production and accumulation of betaamyloid and tau protein.
The beta amyloid is a protein fragment that forms plaques between the nerve cells in an attempt to protect the cells from the organisms or toxins. But in the process, it can accumulate so much that it prevents nerve-to-nerve signaling. Tau proteins may accumulate inside the cells and prevent them from transporting nutrients and other molecules they need for survival. Both of these situations can lead to cell death. What defines Alzheimer’s disease and distinguishes it from other dementias is the presence of these betaamyloid plaques and tau (protein is predominantly found in brain cells) tangles in the brain.
People of any age can experience symptoms of brain fog, memory problems, lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, or inability to focus. These symptoms are often referred to as “cognitive decline” and can be an early indication that you are on the continuum heading toward poor brain health, which can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease, other dementias, or mental health issues. The brain changes that result in dementia often start two or three decades before the first symptoms. Not everyone on this path will experience brain fog or other obvious symptoms, so it is never too early to think about taking steps toward a healthier brain.
So, how do you know if you are moving on the path toward an unhealthy brain? Knowing your health status in areas like insulin sensitivity, inflammation, nutrient levels (Vitamin D, hormones), and potential toxins is a good place to start. In fact, expert neuroscientists and physicians recommend that everyone should get a baseline evaluation at midlife to understand their health status and risk of future disease.
Carrying the ApoE4 gene (The APOE gene provides instructions for making a protein) is a risk factor for cognitive decline that you cannot control. However, to improve your brain health, there are so many more risk factors that are under your control and may dampen the genetic influence. These include diet, exercise, brain training, response to stress, sleep, relationships, and supplements. It’s important to focus on these foundational issues that impact the overall health of your body.
PUT YOUR FOCUS ON FOUR AREAS:
• Stop any attacks on your brain that lead to inflammation
• Your brain needs nourishment to thrive
• Living in an environment where you can clear and detoxify your brain is essential
• Stimulate the growth of new neuronal connections
Improving Your Brain Health Through Diet
Your brain is made up of more than 50% fat, yet for years, you were told to avoid eating fat. Your body needs dietary fat to create phospholipids, which are important nutrients for brain functioning, especially learning and memory. Yes, it’s time to rethink eating fat! So, let’s dig a touch deeper and explore what to eat to make sure you get the fatty acids that your brain needs. Eating enough fat is vital, but the sort of fat you eat also matters.
For optimal brain health, your body needs the correct balance of omega3 ALA, EPA, and DHA as well as omega6 linoleic acid. Your body can’t produce ALA or omega6 fatty acids and isn’t efficient at making EPA and DHA, so search for food or supplement sources of those essential fatty acids. These nutrients are especially important for brain formation and optimal brain functioning because they support
neuroplasticity and assist you in avoiding dementia.
Focus on adding more omega3 fatty acids to your diet may be helpful. You may also need to add a high-quality supplement to meet your needs for these important nutrients. (Note that some omega6 fatty acids like GLA are often antiinflammatory. (These could also be found in borage oil or herb oil.) So, embrace eating enough good quality fats to offer your brain the nutrients and essential fatty acids it needs to function well.
What are good quality fats?
Some examples include olives and vegetable oil, avocados and avocado oil, salmon, nuts, and seeds.
Fatty fish ( also known as brain food) is one of the simplest dietary sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids, contains high quality protein, and is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. Focus on accessing at least two servings of fatty fish per week. Make sure to pick wildcaught over farm-raised options since they typically have a more favorable carboxylic acid profile and should contain fewer toxins from the feed.
Choose mainly from cold water fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring, because they need a shorter lifespan and less time to accumulate mercury which has been linked to memory loss and other health issues. Higher concentrations of mercury are found in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
If you choose to eat meat, choose 100% grass-fed for a better fatty acid profile (higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which may be less inflammatory). Meat from animals fed exclusively grass contains two to 5 times more polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids than meat from feedlot animals.
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts like walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and contain many other phytochemicals important for minimizing inflammation. They contain good-quality fats, fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients. If you’re following a ketogenic diet and trying to scale back your carbohydrate intake, macadamia nuts or sacha inchi seeds are optimal choices as they’re low in carbs.
Flax seeds are a really rich wholefood source of the omega3 carboxylic acid ALA. You can get the advantages from the seeds themselves or from flax oil. If you eat the seeds, make certain to grind or mill them to permit better digestion and absorption of the nutrients. Chia seeds are also rich in omega3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Proteins are one of the building blocks of neurotransmitters that improve mood and brain functioning.
Plant foods are rich in phytonutrients such as polyphenols and have powerful antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects that support your brain. What is contained in these plant foods plays an important role in reducing ailments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Many phytonutrients give plant foods their colors. To make sure you’re eating these brainprotective compounds, choose a spread of plant foods in several colors to extend your intake of protective polyphenols and other phytonutrients in your diet.
Leafy green vegetables and berries are always a healthy choice:
Spinach, Kale, Pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, Summer squash.
Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries.
When you add these vegetables and fruits to your diet you are giving yourself a fighting chance against diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Mushrooms are a vital source of brain health (please read my article on mushrooms). They are full of powerful antioxidants like glutathione.
EAT TO REDUCE TOXINS
We mentioned earlier how important it is to get rid of toxins from the body to enhance brain health. Eat vegetables from the Brassica family to assist you in detox: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Be sure to eat them chopped and raw or lightly steamed to release the foremost sulforaphane—a potent antioxidant that helps the liver remove toxins.
Consider Adding The Following To Your Diet: (Organic)
Also, supplements such as milk thistle and glutathione will give your body the support and ability to detox itself.
Eggs are brainhealthy food. Try to purchase your eggs from chickens that are pasturefed. Eggs are high in vitamins and contain high levels of choline, which is a neurotransmitter that is critical for learning and memory. They also help you sleep better. And remember, eggs aren’t only for breakfast—enjoy them all day long. Note that since eggs are one of the highest allergens, you ought to be mindful of any symptoms like runny nose, congestion, headaches, or cramps within 72 hours of eating eggs.
Hydrate With The Proper Beverages
The beverages you drink are often even as important because of the foods you eat when it involves your brain health. Drink a full glass of filtered water once you awaken to replenish the fluids in your brain that you have lost overnight. Drink clean filtered water frequently as a lack of it may compromise your memory and your cognitive functions and the ability of your body to detox itself.
Include antioxidantrich green tea, coffee (just a little, and not too late in the day), or mushroominfused beverages that give you a boost in focus and cognition. Tart cherry juice and beet juice can help reduce your vital signs and increase blood flow to your brain. There are many ways to drink yourself for brain health!
Provide Your Brain With The Hormones It Needs
Optimal hormone levels are critical for maintaining cognitive abilities like memory, thinking, problemsolving, spatial ability, and even emotion for both men and ladies. Studies have found that hormonal fluctuations are one of the key factors that cause defects in cognitive function.
In postmenopausal women, there’s significant evidence that supports the beneficial effects of transdermal estradiol on cognition and therefore the protective effects regarding Alzheimer’s disease. In men, preliminary evidence suggests that testosterone loss could also be a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia in elderly men.
Vitamin D, produced by the skin under UV stimulation or ingested from food, is really a hormone, essential for human health. More and more evidence indicates that low levels of vitamin D could also be related to an increased risk of developing agerelated cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D plays a task in neurotransmission, reducing betaamyloid and Tau accumulation, and taming inflammation, all of which are related to Alzheimer’s.
Our brains need adequate oxygen to function properly. Studies indicate that folks with sleep apnea—pauses in breathing or reduced oxygen levels during sleep—are more likely to develop cognitive impairment in later years, especially affecting attention and executive functions. Your daytime oxygen levels should be between 96100%, and when you sleep they should be very on the brink of your normal daytime levels. If you find that your oxygen levels drop more than 12% at night, explore causes and solutions with your doctor. Your oxygen levels can be checked with an inexpensive device such as a Fitbit watch.
More and more evidence links hidden or chronic infections to the onset and development of poor brain function, including brain fog, poor memory, and Alzheimer’s disease. Specific infections you might want to explore and address include sinus infections, viral infections like herpes simplex, Candida, Lyme, and coinfections, and oral infections like gingivitis. Work with your healthcare team to determine which infections might be relevant for you given your history, lifestyle, and symptoms, and then work to clear them.
To minimize toxins, buy organic food as often as possible (consult the Environmental Working Group), drink clean, filtered water, use air purifiers reception, transition to less toxic cleaning and personal care products, use stainless steel cookware, avoid eating larger fish like swordfish and tuna to avoid high mercury intake, work with a biological dentist to safely remove your mercury dental amalgams if you have high mercury levels, check for mold if you have had water damage in your home, and try to minimize incidents of general anesthesia as it can impact your brain function.
Stay hydrated to flush toxins out of your body, increase sweat by exercising or using an infrared sauna, and be sure to wash up with castile soap to prevent reabsorbing toxins through your skin. Make sure you’ve got enough fiber in your diet to facilitate regular bowel movements and add foods and herbs that support detox pathways.
I think we all know that smoking is bad for our health. It certainly has a negative impact on our lungs and deprives us of necessary oxygen production. However, did you recognize that it also negatively impacts your brain health? Nicotine in cigarettes has been related to many diseases. They increase oxidative stress within the brain and impact cardiovascular health and hypertension.
Keep your heart and arteries healthy if you want to reduce your risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Studies indicate that people with better heart health and lower blood pressure have a lower risk for cognitive decline. One study showed that high cardiovascular fitness was associated with a 9.5year delayed onset of dementia relative to those with lower cardiovascular fitness.
How can you improve the blood flow to your brain?
In addition to the diet and exercise recommendations, you may want to decrease inflammation, manage your stress, and optimize your blood pressure. Nitric oxide supports cerebral blood flow, so try adding arugula, beetroot, or tart cherry juice to your diet. There are other foods that can lower your blood pressure. Consider adding celery, garlic, and dark chocolate.
Yes, chocolate! High levels of flavonols in dark chocolate allow it to act as a vasodilator that can reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain. So, enjoy a bit of dark chocolate daily. Just be sure that it is at least 70% cacao, low in sugar, and dairyfree. The most effective chocolates are bitter in taste and are high in cacao so learn to savor the bitter notes.
One of the foremost important ways to guard your brain against deterioration is to urge enough goodquality sleep! The recommended amount of sleep for the typical adult is between seven to eight hours. Lack of quality sleep has been associated with cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Why is sleep so important?
Your brain processes the knowledge collected during the day and consolidates it to make your memories. Your brain conducts a cleansing during quality sleep getting rid of toxins. It is especially efficient during deep sleep and once you sleep on your side.
Try to have regular sleep habits. These include going to sleep at certain times and waking up at regular times. If you suffer from sleep apnea it is a good idea to consult with a doctor to resolve this issue. Tips that can help include: Limit the amount of caffeine you have in the afternoon and evening, keep your bedroom dark and cool (65 degrees F recommended), engage in activities that promote stress reduction and relaxation within the evening to organize yourself for a restful night – perhaps take a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium within the salts aid sleep) and lavender oil (which may assist you to relax), meditate or hear relaxing music.
Reduce exposure to blue light after dark because it impacts the assembly of melatonin, a necessary hormone to permanently quality sleep – so put away your electronic devices or wear bluelightblocking glasses. If you are experiencing sleep problems you may want to take a supplement like melatonin. I do have an article that covers sleep problems and remedies.
These are the basics of the importance of brain health. I hope you have found some of this information helpful.
Thank you for reading,
Comments are welcome