How your lifestyle impacts on your brain’s health is crucially important – and right now is the time to make positive changes.
Easy natural ways to boost your brain power.
WHEN IT COMES TO maintaining your health, you might think about your body and what you need to do to keep it in shape. However, there’s one part of you that’s equally, if not more, important to care for – and that’s your brain.
Thanks to medical advances and scientific research, we now understand far more about the brain’s function than was known in our grandparents’ day. This is tremendous news, as we are aware of the lifestyle tweaks to make to enhance the brain’s performance.
It’s easy to remember: without your brain, nothing happens!
Neuropsychologist Dr Nicola Gates PhD, author of A Brain For Life, believes many of us still don’t fully appreciate what our brain does. She says this is especially true if you’re in your 20s, 30s and 40s, when thoughts of brain decline or serious illnesses such as dementia are not generally top of mind.
TIME FOR ACTION
One of the key messages Dr Gates says she wants to convey is that it’s the 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds who need to be giving more thought now to the future health of their brain.
“Often they say, ‘later, later’ [when it comes to improving health]. It’s not
later, it’s today,” Dr Gates says. “We profoundly take our brain for granted.”
She points out in her book that it’s the members of Generation X (born between 1966 and 1976), who are carrying “more weight, have a greater number of ‘lifestyle’ related chronic medical conditions, exercise less and have a higher incidence of mental illness… than previous generations”.
Dr Gates says younger people need to think about factors like whether they smoke and drink lots of alcohol, eat a diet high in processed foods and indulge in recreational drug use.
YOUR FUTURE SELF
“It’s very easy for 20-year-olds to feel omnipotent and fantastic, which of course they should, but the idea is not to squander that,” Dr Gates says. “Cultivate an attitude of optimal
health to appreciate what Mother Nature has given you.” And understand that what we do in our younger years “carries forward” to our older years.
“What legacy are you setting up for your future self?” she asks. What we do from “around 30 onwards” is important to provide a future buffer against illness, for example, clinical dementia.
“From my perspective, recreational drug use has become normalised and it’s quite concerning in relation to a person’s future health. So chronic abuse of ecstasy, for example, can result in Parkinson-like dementia,” Dr Gates says. “All excessive recreational drug use ultimately fries the brain.”
Walk, ride, run Regular aerobic exercise can help to improve brain function.