Dr. Don Colbert – Today, you will make choices that affect your brain health. You can choose to establish good habits for brain health, or ones that degrade it.
What are the habits? Which will you choose?
We have a list of ten: 5 Best and 5 Worst Habits for Brain Health.
How are you going to treat your brain today?
5 Best Habits for Brain Health
1. KETO ZONE® KETONES
When you enter the Keto Zone® and take the sugars and most carbs out of your diet, your brain will begin to burn ketones instead of carbs as fuel.
Astonishingly, ketones have been used to support healthy neurological function for decades. In fact, a ketogenic diet is one key recommendations used to help children with epilepsy vastly reduce seizures (without medications) (1).
Now, there is promising research on ketosis and degenerative brain conditions (2).
What’s more, many people in ketosis report greater brain clarity, focus, and function than before.
2. OMEGA-3 FATS DAILY
Adding omega-3 fats is a crucial step in reducing inflammation and maintaining healthy brain function. To truly make a difference, it takes two steps: reducing inflammatory foods while increasing anti-inflammatory ones.
One of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods is omega-3 fats from seafood, and to a lesser extent, plant foods. Add fatty fish as much as possible plus hempseeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and nuts daily.
Then, vastly reduced processed foods. Focus specifically on removing all soybean oil from you diet which is a very common ingredient commercial foods (see more about this below).
Studies show that inflammation biomarkers improve as the relationship of omega-3s to omega-6s improves (3).
3. ANTIOXIDATIVE AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SPICES AND VEGETABLES AT EVERY MEAL
Brains age and become impaired with increased oxidative stress. And, while this has been long-accepted with the development of degenerative diseases, now researchers believe oxidative stress may play a role with a host of brain issues and low moods (4).
Oxidative stress is the accumulation and damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are created by many biochemical reactions in our bodies. They occur from daily living, processed foods, alcohol, nicotine, and more.
They are “quenched,” or neutralized by antioxidants made by our cells (such as glutathione) and from foods. Foods and drinks that are high in antioxidant include bright and deeply colored vegetables, spices, raw cacao, green tea, nuts, seeds, and more.
These brain-helpers work at the cellular level. Their antioxidants are so potent at the cellular level they go beyond the normal reduction in oxidative stress to promote longevity and health in the body. What’s more, ginger and turmeric are also strong anti-inflammatory foods that reduce joint and muscle pain (5).
4. GOOD HYDRATION
Your brain is affected by your long-term and short-term hydration status.
In fact, mood, fatigue, and alertness are all impaired with dehydration (5).
Hydration also affects your digestive tract, skin, kidney function, and more (all tissues depend on it).
What should you drink?
- Water: Purified water is your best choice for hydration. It offers all the benefits without any extra ingredients to bog the body down.
- Green and Black Tea: Green and black tea are youthful drinks! They can reduce age-expediting stress and cortisol, have antibacterial properties for oral health, support eye health contain brain-boosting compounds, and can even promote healthy weights (6).
- What about coffee? Coffee is a healthful drink, and a great way to start the day. But its high caffeine level can act as a gentle diuretic, so don’t count it towards your hydration totals.
How Much? Aim for a minimum of 48-64 oz. fluid per day for most women, and 64-80 oz. per day for most men. But, many people feel great on more. Also, add more hydration if you exercise. Try to get in all fluids before 7 pm or so, so that it doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
On the other hand, avoid over-consuming alcohol for your best brain health!
5. INTERMITTENT FASTING
Many people fast for spiritual reasons, and this is great. But fasting also has benefits that manifest physically and mentally.
In fact, there are numerous scientific studies that show its benefits. It can increase insulin sensitivity, promote a healthy weight, decrease inflammation, increase mental clarity, normalize levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, support brain function and mitochondria health and even regenerate the immune system (12). All of this is good for the body and brain.
To add an easy intermittent fasting schedule, either choose to fast one 24-hour period per week, or try fasting 15-16 hours per day, from 7 pm to 10 am. You can drink water, tea, and coffee during the fast.
5 Worst Habits for Brain Health
1. SITTING INDOORS ALL DAY
If you sit indoors all of your day, or even the majority of your day, it’s time to make some changes for the sake of your brain.
You don’t have to run a marathon. But, there are many benefits to getting outside, sitting less, and improving flexibility!
Here’s how each helps:
- Get Outside for Activity: Cortisol levels naturally decrease when we spend time outdoors. What’s more, getting natural sunlight in the morning helps our bodies stay on track with wake/sleep hormones, promoting better sleep. All of this is good for the brain.
- Stay Active: A brisk walk, hike, or other activity that increase your heart rate is brain-healthy! The more you do to increase blood flow to the brain, the better for brain health.
- Work on Flexibility: Every year we age, our bodies become less flexible at the spine and trunk…unless you do something about it. Use stretching, yoga, or other flexibility exercises each day. Believe it or not, your trunk flexibility is directly correlated with blood pressure, and healthy blood pressure levels are good for the brain!
2. ULTRA-PROCESSED DIETS AND INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Chronic inflammation is one of our brains’ biggest enemies.
And, the fuel that enemy? Modern, processed foods.
Most of the packaged foods in our supermarkets are full of ingredients that promote inflammation in our bodies. These ingredients are cheap fats like soybean oil that compete with anti-inflammatory fats and hormones in the body. Some of the worst offenders include:
- Commercial Dressings and Condiments with Soybean Oil
- TV Dinners with unhealthy fats
- Sugary Energy Drinks
- Fast-Food Deep-Fried Options
Many experts who have studied our current intake of inflammatory fats vs. anti-inflammatory ones are convinced that this dietary promotion of inflammation is a central cause to most of our chronic ailments.
These conditions include degenerative brain issues. During the last decade, a new cause of neurodegeneration has been identified: sustained immune reactions in the brain caused by chronic inflammation (7).
To reduce the risk of this disease and the deterioration of our brains, we must reduce inflammation.
3. BUSY BEE LIFE & STRESS
There’s little doubt that chronic, mental stress is unhealthy for your brain.
In fact, according to a 2018 study, researchers found that increased blood cortisol levels are correlated with impaired memory and lower brain volume in mid-life (8). What’s more, after studying 2231 human participants, they found the effects were more pronounced in women participants than men.
Much of our modern-day stress is caused by our over-scheduled busy bee lives.
But, there’s good news. You can take steps to reduce some stress and choose a slower life. Try to:
- Clear Out Your Schedule. Start by simply looking at your calendar. Are there any activities you could do without? Are there any you could streamline? Do what you can to simplify your schedule. If you can’t remove anything, commit to not adding anything new that is not edifying or vital to your wellbeing!
- Make time for laughter every day. First, identify your most stressful time. Is it the morning? The commute? The first hour back home? If you’re able, work in laughter during these times. Listen to comedy on the commute. Make time for a friend. Enjoy a funny book. Laughter has the opposite hormonal effect of stress.
- Pray and practice gratitude. At the end of each day, take time to practice gratitude and pray. Put down the screens and write 3-5 specific things for which you are grateful. Even when you don’t feel like it. Believe it or not, studies show lower cortisol circulation immediately when subjects focus on things for which they are grateful.
- Eat foods and drinks that may reduce cortisol naturally (see above). Try fatty fish like salmon, dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa), fruits and vegetables, or superfood fruit and vegetable powders. You can also drink cortisol-busting green tea and black tea to lower cortisol levels. Great for hot summer days!
- For more ways to cut cortisol naturally, read our full list here.
4. TOO LITTLE SLEEP
For a sharp, youthful, healthy brain, aim to consistently get at least 7-8 hours of good sleep per night. It’s truly one of the most potent brain healers.
In fact, lack of sleep is associated with increased anxiety, slow brain performance, increased blood sugars, hormone disturbances, metabolic issues, memory impairment, knowledge retention, and more (9, 10, 11).
If you suffer from snoring, sleep apnea, or anything else that disturbs sleep, it’s worthwhile to speak with your doctor and explore treatments.
5. IGNORING GUT HEALTH
If you want a healthy brain, you cannot ignore gut health. In fact, your digestive health has direct implications for your brain health. Amazingly, it’s now known that (13):
- Gut inflammation promotes brain inflammation and declining function
- An unhealthy digestive tract promotes illness in other parts of the body
- Healing your gut can reduce brain fog, increase alertness, support youthful memory, and energize the body and brain
- Immune function is dependent on a healthy digestive tract
Healthy digestion is first responsible for nourishing your body, from your hair to your toes. Beyond the nourishment, there is an incredible gut-brain connection that impacts your brain health directly.
Our habits matter. Each day, you can choose to support your brain health, or you can choose to tear it down. This is actually very encouraging, because the choice for your daily habits is yours. Decide which make most sense for you. Then, start to form great habits for your great brain health today!
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