How you can achieve a healthier mind in 7 simple stages?
Physicians as far back as the ancient Greeks have understood the important link between our mental health and our physical health, and vice versa, but how much time do we actually spend thinking about our brain health versus how toned our thighs are?
Your brain is the most valuable asset that you will ever possess, and our increasing understanding of the importance of a ‘sound mind in a sound body’ is pushing mental health to the top of the government’s public health agenda as they recognise that more must be done to promote mental wellbeing. But why wait around for their advice when emerging research shows that by making small lifestyle changes you can help to maintain your brain for longer
Food for thought
1 - The brain is very hungry, and as it uses over a fifth of all the blood pumped to your heart, it’s important to ensure that your blood is full of the nutrients required to keep it in tip top working order. Your brain uses glucose for fuel, which it gets from carbohydrates in your diet. Eat complex carbs rather than refined ones as they release glucose more steadily for the brain to use more effectively.
2 - Your brain is 80% water, so it’s important to keep it that way. Interestingly, one of the first signs of mild dehydration is deterioration in mood and concentration. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to keep your brain function optimal. Tea and coffee is fine, but not if it’s your sole source of hydration!
3 - If you take out the water, your brain is around 60% fat, and much of that is made from essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6. Ensure you eat some sources of essential fatty acids every day. Good sources are oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, seeds and nuts.
4 - The brain uses vitamins and minerals to perform certain vital tasks, and even a slight deficiency can affect your mood as well as other brain functions. Eat more green leafy veg and berries like blueberries. Use olive oil, eat nuts and seeds and plenty of lean protein including oily fish. Eat small amounts of dark chocolate, tea, and the good news, the occasional glass of red wine.
5 - Overall physical health is closely linked to brain health, making a healthy body key to healthy brain, and exercise is a great stress reliever too. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. If you can fit in more, great.
6 - Your brain reorganises itself when you sleep, sleeping less than 7 hours has been linked to cognitive decline and memory loss. Don’t skimp on the zzz’s – get a minimum of 7 hours a night.
Feed your brain
7 – All of us are learning and growing on a daily basis, and the more knowledge we can feed the brain, the more information we can process to make better and informed decisions. Try to read at least 15 pages a day; whether it's your favourite book that lets you drift off into another world, or to something to improve your life with self help or by learning something new and exciting.