Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Hurts and What Helps The Brain

Many things hurt the brain and make it harder for you to get and keep the body you’ve always wanted. Many things help the brain and make it easier to get and keep a body you love. You may be surprised to find out that common, everyday activities and behaviors are often the source of brain drain, which makes it more of a challenge to have a body you love. Here are some common things that can hurt your brain and body.

Things that can hurt your brain

Physical trauma – severe injuries, concussions or even mild trauma.

Drugs – Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines, inhalants, and heroin seriously decrease brain function. Abusing prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Xanax, can also hurt the brain.

Alcohol – you don’t have to be a heavy drinker to hurt your brain. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect brain functions.

Obesity – Fat stores toxic materials. The more fat you have on your body, the worse for your brain. Obesity doubles the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and has been associated with decreased brain tissue.

Hormonal abnormalities - Abnormalities with your thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, or cortisol have all been implicated in brain and body problems.

Malnutrition – Junk food diet = Junk food brain. Your body renews all the cells in your body every few months. These new cells draw on all the foods you consume, so you literally are what you eat and digest. Low levels of vitamins, especially Vitamin D, minerals and omega – 3 fatty acids are also harmful to brain tissue and your body.

Chronic inflammation in the body – Chronic inflammation constricts blood flow to the brain and heart and is now thought to be at the center of many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. Correct this with a diet rich in Omega – 3 fatty acids (Omega 3 rich meal ideas to follow in later blogs)

Chronic stress – high stress leads to high cortisol which increases your appetite for sugar, making you fat, bumps up your skins oil production, making you more prone to pimples, increases muscle tension and chronic pain, increases blood pressure, and raises your risk for many serious health conditions.

Sleep deprivation – getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night lowers overall brain function.

Smoking – smoking constricts blood flow to the brain and all the organs in your body, including your skin. Most people can tell if a person is a smoker because their skin looks older than they are. Their brains looks this way on scans as well. Smoking is linked with many serious brain and health problems.

Too much caffeine – drinking too much caffeinated coffee, tea, soda, or energy beverages restricts blood flow to the brain, dehydrates the brain, body and skin and fools the brain into thinking it does not need to sleep, which are all bad things for your brain and body.

Too much TV – Excessive TV can be harmful to your brain and body. Excessive TV watching has been associated with ADD in children and Alzheimer’s in adults. Watching more that 2 hours of TV per day also significantly increases your risk for obesity.

Dehydration – your body consists of 70 percent water, and your brain is 80 percent water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you reduce brain function. You can also expect to see thinner skin and more fine lines and wrinkles.

Lack of exercise – When you don’t exercise you decrease blood flow to your brain, your body and your genitals.

Negative thinking – Studies show that focusing on the things you don’t like lowers brain activity, causes your heart to beat faster, increases blood pressure, and negatively affects many systems in your body.

Here are some tips to help you protect and optimize your brain.

Protect You Brain – Be conscious of how precious it is to you and your loved ones

Eat a good diet – getting good nutrition is essential to good brain function and to a better body. A healthy diet include lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy fats like olive oil. Studies show that you brain works better if you eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Take daily vitamins, minerals and fish oil – most of us do not get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. It is recommended that everybody take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Also, people should take a daily fish oil supplement, which can decrease inflammation and boost blood flow to the brain and can help to combat depression, which has been associated with being obese as well as many other health conditions.

Exercise – exercise is like the brains fountain of youth. It boosts blood flow, increases the brains use of oxygen and improves your brains response to stress. It is the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy and is one of the best ways to change your shape, improve your mood, energy level and overall health.

Get Enough Sleep – Getting at least seven hours of sleep at night has been shown to help keep your brain functioning at optimal levels, keeps your appetite in check and helps your skin look younger.

Meditate – meditation activates the most thoughtful part of the brain so you can make better and more intelligent decisions.

Relax – learning how to counteract stress and calm your body helps your brain work better, puts you in a better mood, reduces high blood pressure, and protects you from disease.

Practice gratitude – When you focus on what you love, your brain works better, you are more coordinated, and you feel better. Write down 5 things that you are grateful for every day.

Remember that your brain is involved in everything that you do, every decision you make, every bite of food you take, every cigarette you smoke, every worrisome thought you have, every workout you skip, every alcoholic beverage you drink and more. A healthy brain makes it so much easier for you to have your best body possible. When your brain is working at optimal levels, you are more likely to stick to a diet, follow an exercise routine and adopt health lifestyle behaviors. On the other hand, a troubled brain often leads to trouble with your body. Which leads to extra pounds, wrinkles, chronic pain, and health conditions can be linked to the way your brain functions. Making poor food choices, blowing off the gym, and engaging in unhealthy behaviors are more common when your brain isnt working at its best.

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