How toned is our minds? How do we measure its condition when it is not a muscle? According to experts, in order to function at full capacity in everyday life, the brain needs to coordinate three basic tasks: Executive functionsI.e., simplification of thinking and thinking skills; over there Social perception, That is, the mental activity in which we interact with others; And the Emotional regulationThe ability to perceive one’s feelings, positive or negative, and to regulate them – the pursuit of a sense of well-being.
In tough times like the ones we go through, these three pillars are not always durable. However, the good news is that our lifestyle can greatly contribute to brain health, slow cognitive decline and improve our emotional state. As an article on new worldIt is never too early or too late to start taking care of our nerve cells: recent studies have shown that the human brain can persist. To produce nerve cells even in old age.
So here’s some scientifically proven advice, with an essential premise: No miracle diet, or one simple solution, can make the difference. Rather, the combination of all of these things, plus the ability to seek help when needed, is what matters.
1. The gut bacteria grow. We are talking about the brain, not the gut! Someone might complain. However, it has come to prominence in recent years There is a link between gut bacteria and mood disorders, anxiety and depression. Exactly unless this relationship is understood yet, but just thinking that most of the hormone SerotoninThe mood stabilizer is produced in the intestine, and only 10% in the brain. Moreover, there is suspicion of an association between imbalances in the gut microbiota And some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease And Alzheimer’s disease.
What upsets the balance in the intestinal bacterial community are above all wrong eating habits, high body mass index, excessive stress, dehydration, poor mental hygiene, irregular sleep and wake rhythms, jet lag, as well as frequent changes to the sexual partner (with a deep kiss) 10 seconds 80 million bacteria are exchanged!). A diet rich in plant foods helps nourish and keep our unseen and essential intestinal hosts healthy.
2. Pay attention to the diet. In this case, both the quantity and the quality of the food are important. The human brain lived most of its development in historical times when food was periodically scarce. In fasting conditions, when little food is available, it is normal to switch from burning energy in the form of sugar (glucose) to extracting energy from fat stores in the body. It is suspected that this metabolic step, now rare due to the abundance of food available, helps the formation of new brain cells (that is, it favors neurogenesis processes). For this reason, some neuroscientists are trying to understand whether intermittent fasting can slow cognitive decline.
Today 75% of the food that humanity eats comes from 12 plants and 5 animal species: We settled our diet on a small set of nutrients (Choosing among other things dangerous to food safety But that’s another story.) The Western diet has exacerbated the intake of omega-6, polyunsaturated fatty acids of plant origin that can enhance inflammatory processes, at the expense of omega-3, its antagonists, which have a protective function for the brain and are abundant in foods such as fish and oily nuts.
3. Plastic! If we had to choose one of all the tips, it might be: Make regular physical activity a lifestyle. Not only does exercise slow down cognitive decline, but in some cases it reverses it (as well as acting very positively in the mood). A helpful mechanism is to reduce inflammation, which is a process that can prevent the growth of new brain cells. Movement facilitates neurogenesis by enhancing the release of an important protein, neurotrophic factor in the brain, or BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
To increase your level, you need at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day such as walking or cycling. To get a stronger effect, you should choose more intense activities, such as running or high-intensity workouts. But this is not enough: it is necessary Pay attention to a sedentary lifestyleAvoid sitting for long hours or getting up from your chair for at least 10 minutes every hour. 13% of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide It would be really tied Physical inactivity.
4. Call back, interested, call. Maintaining social relationships is more difficult in an era of forced distances, but once this is done safely, it will be important to start over. Loneliness, understood as the absence of a network of social contacts, is related At a higher risk of early deathIt is one of the consequences of behaviors that harm health and relationships. Physiologically, isolation increases the risk of systemic inflammation, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, all of which affect brain health – because they affect circulation.
Fortunately, cultivate social relationships He can counteract these negative effects It gives direct benefits to brain health, as it improves memory formation and retrieval, keeps thinking and reasoning skills active, and keeps stress away. There is no need for pharaonic receptions and wild parties: it is enough to start a short conversation with people who meet daily, show interest in their lives, and participate in activities, even remotely, that also involve other people.
5. Learn something new. We are not referring to activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, but to amusement which in addition to stimulating thinking skills instantly, is stimulated from a cognitive point of view, because it requires focus and frequent exercise: Learn a new languageEngaging in a form of dance, learning to play an instrument or becoming very strong in a card game, practicing tai chi or juggling are some examples of hobbies that require training, perseverance, cognitive presence, and testing learning and memory. Thus they can make a difference in brain health.
Recently, a study compare Cognitive benefits of a range of 60-70 years of dance, walking, and gentle gymnastics. The first activity only produced structural improvements in a region closely related to the hippocampus, which is an important brain structure for memory.
6. Sleep on it. Temperature, pressure and metabolism are closely related to an activity that is often underestimated: sleep. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night for a long time can have negative effects on overall health, memory, mood, attention, and decision-making. Chronic sleep deprivation is a risk factor for dementia, cognitive decline, and for several psychiatric conditions: ritmi biological clock It can impede the production of key neurotransmitters and alter brain energy consumption. It is not true that we need fewer hours of sleep as we get older: rather, Change the way you sleep Because sleep gets lighter and takes longer to fall asleep. But you can make up for the shortcomings at night with an afternoon nap.
7. Do the things that make you happy. Emotional well-being is very important to brain health, as it has a direct impact on the decisions we make all the time, which are aimed at seeking positive experiences and avoiding negative ones. How can it be reached? There is no single answer. Recent studies claim that in addition to maintaining social relationships and engaging in physical activity, She has a purpose in life It can make a difference, as it reduces the biological markers of inflammation and improves cognitive function. Finding a goal isn’t always easy, but there are some activities that can help, such as caring for loved ones, engaging in emotional pastimes, and giving your best in your work. You can start here.
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