by Sherry Steinman
This article is inspired by an article I recently read in USA Today, as well as by a few conversations I have had with healthcare professionals over the years.
Number One: Sleep
One of the most overlooked lifelines to good health is sleep. When the brain is in sleep mode, the brain’s cleaning tools are activated. Sleep is required to clear toxins from the brain. Did you know that if you tried to live without any sleep at all, the toxins would build up and kill you after about 200 hours? In the case of limited sleep, the toxins kill you more slowly, over time. Every night counts, so make it a healthy habit — at least seven hours per night for most adults.
Number Two: Walk More, Run Less
Our brains were wired to conserve energy. Why? Back in homo sapiens’ early days, food was hard to find, and a lot of energy was expended to do so. Now that we don’t have to work very hard to find our food – and physically perform nearly no physical effort to do so – we need other ways to remain active and fit. Consistent, low-impact aerobic exercise like vigorous walking is your best bet to keep your brain, heart, and joints healthy. High impact activity will, over time, take its toll on the body and brain, sometimes eclipsing the benefits.
Number Three: Just Say No to ‘Dieting’
Food lab researchers have discovered many ways to make us crave a food item. Chemical flavorings and colors play a part in food’s appeal to consumers. Processed foods (most anything in jars, boxes or cans) should be a distant second choice to fresh foods. And, foods that have not been loaded with chemicals and sauces are healthier choices. Be sure you wash all produce under cool running water, and pat dry. That goes for melons, too. You don’t want to drag pesticides or dirt inside and through the fruit with your knife. The best advice is to forget about ‘dieting’ – just choose healthy foods, and use common sense about how much you consume.
Number Four: Stress Response
Our bodies treat stressful situations by focusing all of our attention and resources on the stressor – maybe it was a wooly mammoth long ago, and now, maybe it’s a crabby boss! Modern human beings see many things as stressful, and therefore our brains respond the same way as if we are facing growling lions. Various internal chemicals then flood the blood stream and will make us develop ulcers, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Do everything you can to remove stress from your life! That includes something as simple as deep breathing.
Number Five: The Role of Happiness
If you don’t feel happy, many physicians and psychiatrists have recommended at least smiling whenever you can. Yes! It seems that the effort made (by your face) in this direction is picked up in the brain – physiologically and psychologically, and sends happy vibes your way. Of course, if you feel down and unhappy all the time, seek professional help. The Licking County area has many resources to help you in that way.
So, there we have it! Sleep, walking, healthful eating, stress reduction and management, and a happy attitude are five ways that your brain can help to keep you alive and well.
Did you know that if you tried to live without any sleep at all, the toxins would build up and kill you after about 200 hours?