How To Take Better Care of Your Brain
There’s so much discussion about the brain these days, mostly about problems and conditions that affect the brain.
Many athletes are plagued with concussions that interrupt their careers and lead to degenerative nerve system disease. We all know of people who were hurt in auto accidents, for example, who sustained brain injuries that left them unable to walk or move, and others who had a stroke, which is what happens when a blood vessel in the brain is damaged or broken. And surely, you have been exposed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease. These are all examples of brain-centered conditions.
But there’s a whole other discussion we need to have about the brain, in addition to avoiding brain injury, damage and disease. We need to discuss how to take care of your brain, to make it as healthy as possible, so you get all the positive benefits of a healthy mind and body.
Why is the brain so important? Your brain is your central control center, your main computer that receives and interprets input from your world and creates appropriate responses. What would happen if the central control center of your phone or laptop wasn’t working properly? You can see how all the functions would be compromised. It would slow down and at some point, maybe not work at all. The same thing may happen in your brain’s hardware and software.
There are a few simple habits that make your brain healthier and work better. For example, one of the best things you can do for your brain is to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. This is essential because while you sleep, your brain does its house-keeping, ridding itself of waste products to “clean up” after a day’s work. That’s why losing sleep can be so harmful – your brain starts to wear down due to toxins accumulating from incomplete daily maintenance.
Your brain also needs the right nutritional support. Because your brain is 70% water, dehydration is detrimental to brain function – you should be drinking eight to twelve glasses of water every day. And, there has been a major shift in understanding brain nutrition – we used to think that fat was bad for you, and sugar was brain food. We now know that sugar is bad for you, and healthy fats are brain food.
What fats are healthy, and which are unhealthy? Fried, oily foods and potato chips are examples of unhealthy fats, which don’t nourish your brain and clog your system with gunk. Olive oil, avocado, walnuts and wild salmon are sources of healthy fats, which supply valuable nutrition for your brain and don’t clog up anything.
It’s easy to understand that your brain needs sleep, water, and good nutrition to stay healthy. But there are two other areas most people don’t yet consider when they want a healthier brain.
First, we all need to recognize the degree of emotional stress we deal with every day. Pressures at work or school, family or relationship issues, financial problems and health conditions stress us, and if we don’t do anything to eliminate that mental stress or learn to cope with it, it wears us down emotionally and eventually leads to physical conditions as well. Depression, obesity, heart conditions, digestive complaints, cancer, diabetes, all may be related through brain stress. You can reduce the impact of emotional stress with relaxing, stretching, yoga, meditation, exercise, massage, martial arts, walking in Nature, dancing, laughter and many other stress relaxation techniques.
Second, current research shows that healthy spinal movement is necessary for good brain function. 1981 Nobel Prize winner, neuroscientist Dr. Roger Sperry, said that “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain comes from spinal movement.” This means that a healthy spine is essential for a healthy brain, and this is supported by new research coming out of the New Zealand Chiropractic Research Centre, where Dr. Heidi Haavik is studying how chiropractic adjustments make the brain healthier. Anyone serious about brain health must pursue spine health, usually with your family chiropractor, among other spinal experts when needed. Something as simple as maintaining good posture can make a big difference.
So, to keep your brain healthy, get enough sleep, drink water, avoid sugar and unhealthy fats and eat healthy fats, develop a stress relaxation routine that balances you emotionally, and be sure to get a chiropractic checkup. Let your Doctor of Chiropractic help you develop better brain health habits – as your most trusted health and wellness advisor, your chiropractor can offer you and your family guidance on how to have a healthier brain, and therefore a healthier life.