Having a healthy brain is simpler than you might think. Put the good in and keep the bad out. There are a few good things that your brain needs to function well, and there are a few bad things that your brain can’t handle very well.
When you put the good in and keep the bad out, you are well on your way to to knowing how to have a healthy brain and attaining optimal brain function.
How to Have a Healthy Brain – Put The Good In
A well-nourished, rested, and active brain with healthy human connection is a healthy brain.
Let’s look at nutrition first, and then we’ll tackle the rest/activity blend, and finish up with human connection.
Nutrition For Brain Health
Nourishing your brain isn’t all that complicated. A well-rounded whole-foods diet that is rich in antioxidants is the best “brain food” you can get.
There is no magic pill, no perfect food, no secret formula. Just common sense and eating real food. And I don’t know about you, but that’s good news to me.
I don’t need to be some guru, or spend hours in the kitchen every day, or spend a lot money on exotic superfruits. I simply need to eat real food, the way God made it. I can manage that.
That said, there are a few nutrients that are a little more important than others when it comes to brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, are all key to proper brain function.
Eating fatty fish, leafy greens, walnuts, and berries is a good way to get those essential compounds into your body. And don’t forget tea and coffee. (As a bonus, these are great fat burners as well). Here is a list of healthy foods to lose weight you may like.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, and healthy fats provide healthy nutrition for your brain, and of course for your whole body at the same time.
Do your shopping at the perimeter of the grocery store, and enjoy eating REAL food.
The Rest/Activity Blend
How much sleep do we need? The answer varies depending on your age. Babies need as much as 18 hours, while adults usually are fine with 7 to 9 hours per night.
Good sleep hygiene is crucial for getting enough sleep. Get up at the same time each day. Put away screens (including television) at least an hour before going to bed.
Avoid eating, exercising, or arguing immediately before going to bed. Keep your bedroom temperature cooler than would be comfortable for daytime use.
If you can, it’s a good idea to have your desk and other work equipment out of your bedroom. Remove the television from the bedroom too; having a television in the bedroom makes it too easy to continue watching the news or the latest Netflix show long after you should be asleep.
If you need white noise, use a fan or a soothing instrumental CD or you can use a white noise machine.
What kind of activity? How much? The official Department of Health and Human Services guidelines suggest that healthy adults aim for 150 minutes of moderately vigorous activity per week.
That comes out to just a little over 20 minutes a day. Taking a brisk walk at lunchtime, playing frisbee in the park, or joining a swim team are just a few of the many fun and relaxing ways to meet the exercise recommendations.
The benefits of regular vigorous exercise extend far beyond brain health, including improved mood, fewer cravings, easier weight loss, and better overall fitness.
Your Brain Needs Human Connection
The need for human connection was infamously demonstrated in experiments by Frederick the second, who wanted to find out which language children would speak if they had never heard anyone speak.
A number of babies were deprived of all language and had no more touch than was needed to care for physical needs, raised by nurses who were forbidden to be affectionate.
To the king’s dismay, his experiment failed before the babies were old enough to talk. They died for lack of touch and human connection. Human connection is more than just something that’s nice to have.
Human connection is essential for staying alive, and absolutely necessary for thriving. If the friends that you have now are causing more stress than joy, look for new friends.
Find people with similar interests. Join a book club, a gym, or get a season pass to the pool. Join a small group at church. Practice being a good friend (believe me, its much easier to find good people willing to be friends if you are a good friend to have).
How to Have a Healthy Brain – Keep The Bad Out
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What are the bad things that will prevent your brain from functioning well?
In no particular order, and very briefly, here are some suggestions for avoiding the worst toxins.
Stay away from synthetic scents, Styrofoam, and anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Limit processed foods. Wear cotton clothes instead of synthetic blends, especially for underwear and anything that touches your skin.
Cut out sugar, aspartame, alcohol (except for the occasional small glass of red wine), and fish that are high in mercury. Don’t drink out of plastic. Use essential oils for perfume and avoid synthetic scents.
Use unscented laundry soap. If you must use air fresheners, find one that’s made with essential oils. Gently but firmly remove toxic relationships from your life. Choose music with a positive message and avoid rock and heavy metal genres.
There’s more, but since focusing on fear and negativity is bad for your brain, I won’t spend more time on the bad stuff. Instead, focus on getting the good in, and getting the bad out will largely take care of itself.
When you do identify something toxic that needs to go, remember that you are doing this because you want something better. Framing removal positively is good for your brain.
How Many Ways Are There To Win?
I love to look for ways to combine multiple healthy actions into one activity.
Making a gorgeous etched glass water bottle with friends. This combines avoiding BPA and other plastic chemicals with drinking more water AND quality human connection.
- Attending a dance class. Exercise? Check. Human touch/connection? Check. Another winner.
- Picking berries at a pick-your-own patch. That’s physical activity, sunshine, and BERRIES! Can we say that’s a good idea?!
- Do a prayer walk with a friend or a group from church. Exercise and connection (with God AND with people!).
- Take your family or a good friend and go thrift shopping for good quality cotton clothes. That’s frugality, social fun, and nontoxic clothes, all in one fun activity.
- Drink a berry smoothie while relaxing after walk. Rest, activity and antioxidants is a sure winner!
How are you winning with brain health? Drop your comments, suggestions, and questions below on your thoughts about how to have a healthy brain.