by Gerald Epling
What can I do for my brain? This is a question that comes to mind every day for people from all walks of life. Some people want a competitive advantage, others just want to know that they are doing all that they can to avoid dementia. Most people just want to find their optimum life trajectory. This is a good way to look at brain health – finding your optimum life course.
There are many things that we can do to support brain health. Reducing inflammation reduces the strain on your brain. Getting enough oxygen by remembering to breathe is another key. Walking helps promote muscle tone and circulation. Choosing beneficial foods, botanicals, and supplements helps too. Lastly, there are things that we can keep in mind about how the brain works to support the mind. Knowing something about the brain helps us make better decisions when new life choices arise.
Challenges and solutions
Inflammation is linked to brain disease. Fortunately, there are a lot of things that we can do to reduce inflammation by choosing what we eat. Functional foods can be chosen to reduce inflammation. Pineapple juice contains the inflammation fighting enzyme, “bromelain.” If you prefer capsules, you could seek out a bromalain supplement capsule. Why not try pineapple juice first? From India we have the spice turmeric, and a turmeric extract, “curcumin.” Curcumin is found in curry, which is a common ingredient in Indian food. For decades researchers have wondered if turmeric is responsible for the low incidence of Altzheimer’s dementia in India. Ginger in food and tea is also good for the body. It helps reduce inflammation and settle the stomach. Inflammation challenges the brain. Things which reduce inflammation support brain health.
Another challenge to brain health is circulation. Walking just thirty minutes a day for five or more days a week can improve overall health while reducing stress. Walking for an hour or more may lead to weight loss. Remember to breath when you walk or sit, or whenever it comes to mind. When you feel stressed, remember that purposeful breathing helps. Breathe in for three seconds and out for three seconds, the world will continue to turn, and you get to ride along!
Drinking an adequate amount of water helps keep your blood thin enough to circulate with ease. Life is in the blood, and water is an important part of the blood. The nutritional supplement Ginkgo biloba helps promote circulation, including circulation in the brain. Ginkgo biloba supports the brain by helping blood flow quickly to the areas of the brain that request support.
Much of the brain is composed of fats. The brain cells that immediately come to mind when thinking about thinking are neurons. These brain cells, neurons, communicate with electricity, magnetic fields, and chemical messengers. These chemical messengers are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are released from one brain cell and pass over a very small distance to the next brain cell. When the work of the neurotransmitter is done, it is changed to another chemical form or taken back into the adjacent neurons. We need our neurons to be functional and adaptive. We need lipids for this to take place. Support for brain fats can be found in the food that we eat: salmon, olive oil, avocados, and other fats support brain health.
For years there has been a war on fats in America, which is largely justified by a concern that the lipids known as LDL cholesterol. LDL can oxidize and attach to walls of our blood vessels. This is not good. We do not want things like cholesterol attaching to the interior of our circulatory systems. Here there may be an opportunity for antioxidants to help reduce the risk of plaque in the veins and arteries. However, we need cholesterol. If cholesterol is a problem for you consider avoiding some fats but certainly not all. Give up a sausage and have an avocado instead.
If LDL is part of the problem, then HDL is part of the solution. HDL provides important substances that support our mental activity. Our neurons are enclosed in a membrane composed of two thin layers of lipids. Support for this lipid bi-layer is found in the humble chicken egg and the nutritional supplement phosphatidylserine (PS). Eggs are good for the brain. HDL levels of 40 or better tend to be fine. When the HDL levels drop to 30 or lower, thinking may become fuzzy. It is a difficult thing to reduce the problematic LDL cholesterol while keeping HDL cholesterol levels above 30.
Engaging the brain with your mind
Getting out and meeting with like-minded people is a great way to engage the mind and support brain health. Playing games with a computer to increase brain health pales in comparison to getting outside or doing things with people.
Take time to call an old friend or go find something to do outdoors. Walk barefoot on the sand. As you walk along the sand, feel the grains move under your feet and take a moment to ponder the different things that your brain does. The front part of your brain is used to organize thoughts and make executive decisions in your life. If you saw a three layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing and resisted the impulse to take it home with you, it was because your frontal lobes are working well. If you had an impulse, stress or pressure to do something, then your amygdala was engaged. The amygdala is what we call two almond-shaped neural structures located deep inside the brain, on either side. If you were able to read this blog and remember anything about it, then your temporal lobes and some other areas on the upper sides of your brain were working well. Vision usually enters our world through the eyes and then travels to the back of the brain, where the sensations are organized and presented to the mind. If you are able to do all of these things then be grateful, because you have a marvelous brain to use to make a better life for yourself and others. The next time you see someone acting rudely or offensively, keep in mind that they may not have fully functional frontal lobes.
Now, you have a rudimentary mind map, that links to areas of the brain. The executive functions, emotional impulses, and memory functions all support one another. Through the cultivation of accurate thinking and peaceful thoughts, you can be part of an organized supportive world.
Finally, you can’t do your best, if you don’t get your rest. Whenever possible, get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep at night.
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