Did you know that although the brain accounts for less than 2% of a person’s weight, it consumes 20% of the body’s energy? Something pretty important must be going on up top. Life’s stresses can sometimes go unchecked or ignored and through the natural ageing process, our brain can slowly become susceptible to various degenerative processes. These range from having a foggy head or lapses in memory to a severe reduction in brain power such as that seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep you on your mental toes well into those golden years:
Challenge It: What happens if you can’t be bothered cleaning under the sofa? Dust accumulates and other then the odd two-dollar coin or your keys, this isn’t something we want. In a sense, if you don’t push your brain, dust can settle and the cogs will slowly stop turning. The easy solution is to have a good crack at the crossword and Sudoko puzzles in the paper or download a “brain gym” application for your phone.
Exercise It: Regular physical activity is vital for bedding down memories and firing up your nerve system. We don’t all have to be out pounding the pavement for 30km every morning; it just has to be consistent movement everyday. Examples include walking, gardening and swimming. The activities that use both sides of your body will also nourish both sides of your brain.
Feed It: A brain without sound nutrition is running on an empty tank of gas. Think back to the last time you only had a coffee for breakfast or skipped the meal entirely. How well did your brain function that day? The outer layer of the brain requires a constant supply of fatty acids so try to include plenty of omega-3s in your diet, such as those found in cold water fish like salmon and flaxseed oil. Other foods such as eggs, broccoli, kale and wheat germ all provide essential building blocks for neurotransmitters. These special molecules act as the chemical messenger system for your nerve system and without them; doing up your shoes or shutting your eyes at night wouldn’t be possible. A good rule of thumb with your diet is: “Put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.”
Take care of your brain and it will take care of you.
Written By: Dr Matt Jacob