Sure, we all want to shut off our brains for a while with a couple of glasses of wine, a few extra hours of sleep, or some relaxing TV watching. But certain lifestyle choices can cause damage in our brains significantly, even when the connection isn’t obvious.
Habits that deny our brains important nutrients or r kill our brain cells put us at the risk of mental disorders like depression, anxiety, as well physical ailments like Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy, and even sometimes cancer.
It’s easy to forget that even if your mind is resting, your physical brain could still be suffering. And while mental disorders are a result of genetics, diet, and lifestyle that has a huge part in how regulated and calm your brain activity can be.
1. Skipping Breakfast
There is a good reason that breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Skipping it can cause low blood sugar levels, which is very damaging to the brain, especially if it happens a lot. Your brain uses more energy than any other organ that exists in the body and takes up to 20% of the total available glucose in your system each day.
About 2/3 of the brain’s “energy budget” is used to help neurons fire off signals to the rest of the body. 1/3 is designated for cellular maintenance and care. Regularly not offering your brain enough nourishment can cause a deficit in that energy budget, and you’ll find that your brain becomes less responsive. Unbeknownst to you, your brain cells also will miss the critical care they have to be healthy.
2. Sleep Deprivation
It’s probably not a surprise to you that not getting enough sleep will make you feel tired and forgetful the next day. The reason is that insufficient sleep stops your neurons from the ability to function properly. That leads to mental broke down that can affect your work and also relationships. But more than that, your senses and reflexes are damaged, it makes it more likely that you’re having a dangerous accident.
Chronic sleep deprivation can make these effects permanent. So the next time you feel that you are too busy to get enough sleep, remember that until your prioritize your slumber, you won’t be performing at your best. Take your time to sleep properly and you’ll get more done in less time the next day.
Studies reveal a strong connection between obesity and dementia. The reasons are mysterious, but researchers suspect that obesity occurs when the food we eat is not nutrition, leading to the desire to overeat in order to meet the body’s need for vitamins and minerals. So albeit you eat tons, you’ll still be starving your brain.
Observationally, we can see that by 2015, the number of patients diagnosed with dementia hit 45 million, a number that has doubled since 1990. At that same time, national obesity rates in the U.S. went from 11.1% to 30.6%. More studies are needed to unravel the connection, but it is clear that there is one.
Plenty of research has been done on the damaging effects of smoking, so we understand this connection pretty well. Smoking clearly damages your cell membranes and neural viability in the areas of the brain that manage the balance, coordination, and both fine and gross motor skill. It also minimizes the cortex, where processes including language, memory, and perception occur.
Quitting now is important for your overall health, and it can help your brain as well. However, a certain amount of damage is already done. Researchers have found that smoking cessation can restore some of the cortex’s lost thickness, but even heavy ex-smokers who haven’t puffed for more than 25 years have a thinner cortex than those who never smoked.
Our bodies contain about 70% of water, so it is critical to every body function, including brain function. The effect on your brain of dehydration happens fast, with researchers determining that even just two hours of extreme exercise without water can cause cognitive decline. In studies, it was found that dehydration impacted your brain health like coordination, and attention.
You don’t have to stress about drinking a certain amount every single day, but pay attention to your thirst as it is an excellent indicator of the lack of water in your body. Try to drink regularly throughout the day to keep levels steady and your brain happy.
6. Too Much Sugar
Our bodies and our brains need sugar in order to function, but our modern diets include a lot of it. When you eat too much sugar on a regular basis, your cells, including the brain cells, are in danger of chronic inflammation.
That impacts the ability to absorb important nutrients from food and begins to starve the brain of what he needs. Ultimately, you will have have a high risk of dementia and a smaller hippocampus, the region in the brain that manages memory.
And finally, chronic stress can have a negative effect all over your body. Situational stress is actually a good thing that prepares the body to fight the danger, but when your lifestyle includes chronic stress, the hormone cortisol builds up in the brain and causes less damage.
Not only it can kill brain cells, it actually causes the brain to shrink. When this shrinking effect hits the prefrontal cortex, your ability to learn and remember becomes less than before. It is imperative that you find a way to relax.
We hope that this information has not scared you but rather left you feeling empowered to make some changes for your health especially your brain. It is not only okay, it is necessary to get as much as you can of sleep, eat your breakfast, and relieve the stress.
You can say no to requests that overwhelm you. Placing a value on your health also makes it easier to kick the bad habits like smoking. In the end, your boss, family, and friends will enjoy a happier, healthier you once you draw some boundaries around your basic needs.