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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and we’re sharing a few ideas that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, so you and your loved ones can lead independent productive lives for much longer. Although it is a disease with no known cure, there are ways to protect yourself and those you love, and hopefully not be the 1 of 3 who will ultimately die from Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Researchers have known for some time that the essence of degenerative conditions, including brain disorders is inflammation. Brain inflammation is an immune system response to environmental irritants, toxins, and infection, which lead to the deterioration of your brain.
Something we want to mention is BDNF; brain-derived neurotropic factor, which has been called “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” It is a protein found in the brain and spinal cord which promotes the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses and supports the survival of existing neurons. Higher levels of BDNF are associated with increased intelligence, mood, productivity, and memory along with decreased risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s. There are a few ways you can increase your levels, included in the suggestions which follow.
One of the simplest and best things you can do for your brain is to make dietary changes. Consider eating more healthy fats such as avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil and organic grass-fed butter. Don’t use fats that can cause inflammation, including corn, soy, and safflower oil.
Another suggested change is to steer your meat consumption toward organic, pasture raised meats and poultry, which offers more beneficial nutrients. It is better to stay away in from grain-fed and grain-finished meats and poultry. Wild-caught fish is another good choice. Organic, free range eggs are also a great source of protein and are relatively inexpensive for the benefits they can provide.
Produce is always a superb dietary choice, particularly leafy greens and colorful vegetables, avocados, and fresh low-sugar fruits. Nuts and seeds and gluten-free grains such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat are also excellent picks.
Polyphenols are antioxidants that stimulate BDNF and protect the brain from stress. Coffee, green tea, dark chocolate, blueberries, and colorful veggies all have outstanding antioxidant value.
If your diet is primarily focused on the sorts of nutritional choices mentioned above, you will go a long way toward providing your brain with much more protection. You’ve probably heard that it is healthier to shop the perimeter of your grocery store, and avoid the center aisles, where most processed foods are found. You want to avoid those processed foods, as well as sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
Finally, try to cook for yourself as much as possible, and avoid take out foods that are obviously not the healthiest choices.
We can all benefit from a reduction in stress levels. It is best to do this as naturally as possible, using things such as music, meditation and exercise. You can curate your own playlists, for the sort of music that lifts your mood, energizes, or calms you, or helps you sleep. Or better yet ABT has scientifically designed 10 Sound Health music albums that are perfect background music to relax, focus, and be more productive.
Sleep is also very important for our brain health. When we sleep 8-9 hours a night, we reboot our brain and body. When we sleep less, or have poor, disrupted sleep it wreaks havoc on us. A restful night’s sleep lets the glymphatic system take over with brain washing cerebral spinal fluid throughout the brain, cleansing it, disposing of waste, and preventing amyloid accumulation.
If you are not sleeping well, make a concerted effort to change that. Develop a good sleep routine. Try to go to bed and awaken at the same times each day. Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Make your bedroom a restful sanctuary, dark and quiet and dedicated to sleeping.
If you are still having problems getting a good night’s sleep, consider music. The right sounds can improve brain rhythms, making it easier to go to sleep and stay asleep. We’ve created a sound sleep system called Sleep Genius which can help.
We mentioned exercise earlier. What is recommended is a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise. Try to do a variety of activities, such as high intensity interval training, which is excellent for exercise induced BDNF release. We’d also suggest getting outdoors for at least part of your day when the weather cooperates.
How is your hearing? Hearing health is an important contributor to our brain health for a variety of reasons. If you or a loved one is having trouble hearing, it is important that your hearing be checked as soon as possible and that you get some sort of hearing help. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have done multiple studies that show a relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline. It is not the actual cause, but consider for instance, how much harder our brains must work if we have trouble hearing a conversation and must expend energy attempting to decipher what is being said?
If you can hear well, your brain can focus on the meaning of a conversation instead. When it’s hard to hear, it becomes more difficult to maintain social connection. This can lead to feeling apart and experiencing the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness, which can have some very serious effects on both your physical and mental health.
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