American scientist Carl Sagan once stated: “The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good.” He’s absolutely right that keeping your brain in regular use will improve your brain health. But there are other things we can do. Whether you are interested in maintaining a healthy brain for life or fighting a previously-diagnosed brain disease, here are some simple principles you can implement.
1. Cut Back on Red Meat and Dairy Products.
The saturated fat found in meat and dairy can encourage cholesterol production and increase your body’s production of beta amyloid plaques.
2. Watch Your Use of Medications Linked to Brain Disease.
In a study published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology researchers found that drugs known as anticholinergics are linked to an increased risk of dementia, in addition to brain shrinkage and dysfunction. Anticholinergics are a large group of drugs used in the treatment of hypertension, heart disease, lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease–COPD), insomnia, and some other conditions. Some of these drugs include: Paxil, Benadryl, Demerol and Dimetapp.
3. Eat a Diet High in Brain-Building Nutrients.
You’ll need sufficient amino acids from protein foods, healthy complex carbohydrates for energy, and sufficient healthy fats like Omega 3s to replenish your brain. All tissues in the body need amino acids from good quality, non-inflammatory protein foods such as: chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, avocado, coconut, almond milk, hemp seed milk, and coconut milk, to name a few plant-based options. Good carbs for brain fuel include: whole grains and legumes. Excellent sources of anti-inflammatory Omega 3s include: flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, and raw walnuts.
4. Eat Regular Meals and Snacks Every Day.
Your brain needs a steady supply of fuel to function properly. That means you need to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The best way to do that is to eat something with protein or fiber every two to three hours.
5. Cut Out Trans Fats and Foods that Contain Them.
Trans fats are chemically-altered fats that are common in margarine and many processed and prepared foods. They have been linked to an increased stroke risk and are best avoided. Read package labels to find out the amount of trans fats, but remember that no amount of trans fats has ever been determined to be safe.
6. Get 30 Minutes of Brisk Exercise 5 Days a Week.
Your brain needs oxygenated blood to function at its best. Exercising regularly is the best way to supply oxygen-rich blood. It doesn’t matter whether you walk, snowshoe, cross-country ski, dance, or find another preferred method of activity as long as you move those muscles.
7. Cut Back on Sugar Consumption.
Sugar is linked to many different health problems. That’s because it is well-known to cause inflammation in the body—inflammation that can be a precursor to brain disease. Simply choose fruit over other sweets.