Strong brain, better life

By Kelly Jirsa

Strong brain, better life

The brain contains around 100 billion neurons, each connected to hundreds of others in a web of complex networks. How these connections correspond to the function of the central nervous system is still largely unknown, but science is getting closer to understanding.

The brain is an extremely powerful organ, “a kilogram and a half of soft tissue…, at its peak, leaves computers behind with its endless capacity for problem solving, innovation and invention.” Head of Neural Plasticity at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, explains.

We are reminded regularly of the devastating decline of quality of life for people with degenerative brain diseases, such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia or trauma such as a stroke. The more that we become aware of the effects of these diseases, the more we seek ways to reduce the risk.

Here are a few tips that are highly worthy, not to mention fairly easy, to incorporate into your lifestyle.

Avoid cognitive fatigue

Break time: Working at a single problem for too long without a break can put added stress on your brain. Take a 10 to 20 minute break between tasks to keep your brain refreshed. Switching to a different activity type improves cognitive function, so a walk around the block may be a good option for both your brain and your muscles if you sit for long periods.

Sleep: If you’re making a few more mistakes than usual, you’re feeling foggy or can’t concentrate, chances are you are not getting enough sleep. Maintaining good sleeping habits puts you in good stead for long-term brain health. As Dr Jenny Brockis points out “good quality uninterrupted sleep is essential for neuronal health, emotional regulation, the formation of long-term memory and getting the gist what we have learned.”

Feed your brain

No food, no think: Extensive studies into will power have shown that we are far more productive, and have the capacity to follow through with plans, when we are have sustained energy reserves. Complex carbohydrates or low GI foods such as wholegrains, many vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes, provide the body with a slow release source of energy.

Get your good fats: Good fats are essential for brain function, with some evidence suggesting that the DHA in omega-3 fatty acids, may help to prevent dementia by reducing plaques found in the brain, characteristic of the disease. Locally sourced oily fish, good quality olive oil and or a high-quality fish oil supplements, including the plant-based alternatives are a good alternative.

More on brain health from MiNDFOOD

Best for Brain

Brain Fitness: Five ways to get your brain fit (and why it matters)

Food For Thought

Gaining the health benefits of fish oil…sans fish


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