Your brain and central nervous system are the most essential systems in your body. While we would like to assume that everything will be fine and our nervous system will stay nice and healthy until we get old, this isn’t always the case. That is why it’s crucial to develop good habits that promote brain and nervous system health as well as minimize your risk of injury or neurologic disease.
Here are 15 good habits that can help you keep your brain and body happy and healthy
1 – Keep a Healthy Diet
While it might not be the first thing to come to mind when discussing neurologic health, diet is just as crucial for your brain as it is for the rest of your body. Ensuring your body gets the right balance of nutrients promotes overall body health, with different nutrients fueling different parts of the body.
Similarly to how a lack of protein can interfere with muscle function, having too little glucose can severely hinder your brain’s function, causing difficulties in concentration, brain fog, and even headaches. These conditions happen because the brain runs almost entirely on glucose for fuel. Glucose isn’t the only nutrient helpful to the mind, though, as it can also make good use of:
Some of these nutrients are so effective for the brain, as noted in a recent study that choline can help reduce edema and the destruction of the blood-brain barrier in large enough doses. A healthy diet is also essential since it can prevent other health issues that might affect the nervous system. For example, eating nothing but fatty foods and salts, eating nothing but fast food, or a high cholesterol diet can increase your risk for blood clots.
Having a clot in the arteries leading to your brain could end up causing a stroke, which could lead to severe neurologic damage. Having a healthy diet help lower your risk of clotting and high blood pressure, in turn reducing your risk of having a stroke.
2 – Keep Your Brain Engaged
Just like any other part of your body, your brain will start to taper off and dull with time, the longer you go without challenging it. Keeping your mind engaged and challenged will give you more mental energy and make you feel sharper and more alert.
Quiet time engaged in reading, doing puzzles, or playing word games benefit your wellness.
Additionally, it can also have the long term effect of reducing your risk of developing neurologic issues later on in life. You’ll find many habits are key to keeping your brain healthy overall as well, all with their benefits.
3 – Wear Protective Gear
We are not saying to wear a helmet wherever you go to protect your head, but wear the proper protective gear when appropriate. If you go bike riding or drive a motorcycle, always use a helmet. If you participate in high contact sports, use headgear and padded gloves when sparring or doing massive contact drills.
While a physical impact on the brain can cause brain damage, the direct blow the head isn’t always what causes the most damage. The brain has a bit of buffer between itself and the cranial wall, allowing for some slight movement in the surrounding fluid.
With a hard enough hit, the brain can shift with enough force to strike against the inner bone of the cranial cavity, and if the head moves or whips back rapidly, this could cause even more damage. This motion is also why whiplash in a car accident can lead to head injuries. Mild to severe brain trauma can have lasting effects, seeing a decrease in healthy brain matter years after the injury.
4 – Get Some Sleep
Sleep is essential for our bodies. Without it, our bodies can not recharge, and there is a slew of health problems that come with it. Without the rest it needs, the brain can often operate more slowly, leading to brain fog, a lack of concentration, and headaches. Try to get between 6-8 hours of sleep each night to ensure optimal brain function.
5 – Keep Active
While a sedentary lifestyle isn’t necessarily healthy in the first place, it might have detrimental effects on the brain as well. Even with some minor exercise, being inactive can affect memory and concentration, as well as critical thinking and information processing. Physical activity isn’t just necessary for your neurologic health, but also a variety of other body systems.
6 – Keep a Journal
Reading and writing are two of the best activities that can promote brain health, and journaling can be a great way to improve your mental health from an emotional standpoint, so why not combine them all into one package. Keeping a journal can also help from a more practical perspective by letting you plan out your week or cope with things weighing heavily on your mind on your terms.
7 – Avoid Excessive Drinking
While the occasional glass of wine with dinner isn’t likely going to harm you, excessive and repeated drinking can have severe adverse effects on your body as a whole, and this includes your brain. Binge drinking is especially dangerous, as it can lead to a rapid spike in levels of alcohol in the blood in a very short time. This habit could trigger ketosis and alcohol poisoning, leading to a variety of health problems, including brain damage.
8 – Keep Connected
We, as humans, are social creatures, thriving and growing best when surrounded by community. This social aspect isn’t just something that’s because of today’s society either but is hard-wired into us. A lack of socialization and secluding yourself can harm your overall mental health, and keeping your mind engaged is easier when you involve others. This is why study groups work so well.
9 – Relax
We must take the time to destress and wind down. Prolonged stress can have a variety of adverse health effects on the body. Stress was initially a trigger for our fight or flight response, keeping our bodies and minds on high alert if our lives were in danger. Now stress is caused by less endangering issues, and while it can be a driving motivator, prolonged stress can have a severe negative impact on your brain health.
10 – Don’t Smoke Cigarettes
The health risks of smoking are as numerous as they are devastating. This is increasingly true for their effects on the brain. Cigarette smoking can lead to a much higher risk of developing neurologic issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia later on in life. Thanks to recent studies and research, vapes aren’t much better when it comes to health risks either, so it’s essential to kick the habit as soon as possible if you do smoke.
11 – Cigarettes Hinder Neurologic Health
This one might not be something you can control, but air pollution is a big problem, especially in more congested areas. If you live near a major highway or interstate, it’s possible that the contamination could be having an effect on your overall health. While you might not be able to get up and just move away, it’s essential to try to get some fresh air from time to time. Get out to a local park or beach away from the smog and exhaust from time to time if you can. Not only will you feel better from the change of pace, but the improved air quality will help too.
12 – Care for Your Heart
Your heart and your brain are surprisingly more interconnected than you might think. Your aorta branches off directly into the arteries that lead to the Circle of Willis, a series of blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and surrounding areas.
While the Circle of Willis should circumvent potential clotting if the aorta or vessels leading to the area become blocked, or if not enough blood is flowing to the brain in general, this can have a drastic effect on the brain, causing it to age more rapidly as it doesn’t receive the nutrients it needs.
13 – Keep Learning
Your brain responds well to engagement. Sitting in front of the TV or doing something mindless to relax can be excellent for your body, but there is a bit of truism to the adage that TV will rot your brain. Learning will help your brain continue to grow and keep your critical thinking skills sharp, helping to curb the risks of developing neurologic disorders later on in life.
14 – Avoid Eating Junk Food
While this one ties into the healthy diet habit, it’s also essential to avoid overeating junk food. Having at least some leafy greens or vegetables in your diet can help give your brain the nutrients it needs to function. Blueberries are especially useful for promoting brain health as well.
15 – Start Early
Keeping your neurologic health in mind is something you shouldn’t wait to do until it becomes an issue. The earlier you start promoting a healthy brain through good habits, the better your chances of reaching old age without developing some other kind of neurologic disorder.
Final Thoughts on Avoiding Neurologic Disease by Healthy Habits
Following all of these habits early will keep your brain happy and healthy for longer into your life. Do you have any good practices that work for you? Share them with us over on Facebook!