Your Personal Habits Influence Your Brain Performance
The things that you do every day, or even on occasion, can have a dramatic impact on the health of your brain. If you checked yes to any of these questions, your personal habits ( Here is a list of good habits )may be putting your brain at risk.
According to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 47 million Americans are routinely sleep deprived, that is, they regularly do not get the optimal 7–8 hours sleep a night, and often get by on much less. Missing even one night of sleep can have an immediate effect on your physical and cognitive function. Sleep-deprived people are typically tired and confused and do not score as well on mental acuity tests. They also suffer from important biochemical changes that can be detrimental to health, including a surge in stress hormones that can damage brain cells in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain.
There are 170 million cell phone users in the United States. I have one myself, but I use it rarely. I’m not anti–cell phones, but I am worried about the long-term health effects on the brain of constant cell phone use. Every time you use a cell phone, you are sending radio waves into your brain. Depending on how close the cell phone antenna is to the head, your brain could be absorbing a significant amount of electromagnetic energy.No one knows whether this will prove to be harmful or not, but there is evidence that constant bombardment of the brain with electromagnetic radiation may damage brain cell DNA and increase the risk of brain cancer and brain degeneration. Newer models of cell phones with earphones that minimize the contact with your head are safer.Nevertheless, the consequences of long-term use of cell phones, particularly for people who use them as their primary phone, are still unknown. I use mine only for emergencies, and I am particularly alarmed at the high use of cell phones among children and teenagers.
Lack of Exercise
Ever notice how after spending the day hunched over a computer or sitting on the couch watching TV, you feel tired and dull? The only way to shake off the lethargic feeling is to take a brisk walk or work out at the gym. Even though you’re tired, once you begin to move, the brain fog lifts, and you become more focused. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, which gives your brain cells more nourishment and makes you feel instantly alert. If you routinely don’t get enough exercise, not only will you experience a decline in brain function in the short run but your brain will suffer in the long run. Canadian researchers followed more than 4,600 men and women over the age of 65 who did not have Alzheimer’s disease to see how many would eventually develop the disease. Five years later, 194 people in the study had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The researchers compared the lifestyle and habits of those who developed Alzheimer’s to those who did not. Regular exercise proved to be the most important protective factor, even more important than a family history of the disease. In fact, regular physical activity lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 30 percent!
There are 40 million smokers in the United States, and each one of them is at greater risk of dementia, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. All of these can have a detrimental effect on brain function.
What makes tobacco smoke so deadly? Each puff of a cigarette produces thousands of free radicals that can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses. Smoking damages your lungs by promoting inflammation, which eats away at delicate lung tissue over time.What you may not realize is that inflammation from your lungs can spread to your brain and can damage brain cells. Furthermore, smokers have notoriously low levels of brain-protective antioxidants such as glutathione and vitamin E, which will leave your brain cells even more vulnerable to free radical attack and inflammation. To add insult to injury, smoking destroys blood vessels, which can interfere with the flow of blood to your brain, robbing it of essential nutrients. Don’t smoke! Even if you quit smoking, you still have to undo the damage inflicted on your body, and you must be vigilant about minimizing your exposure to other free radical–generating toxins. You must take your antioxidant supplements and be very careful about living a clean, “toxin-free” life.
Cocaine and Your Brain
The cocaine high is a result of a surge in dopamine production in the brain. An ongoing study being conducted at the University of Michigan suggests that cocaine may destroy the dopamine-producing cells in the brain, which could increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease later in life. Cocaine users are also at high risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is characterized by bleeding within the brain. This is a no-brainer—don’t use this drug. If you have used cocaine at any time in your life, be vigilant about reducing your risk of stroke (maintain normal blood pressure and don’t put on excess weight).
Sources And Citations:
1. Better Brain Book By David Perlmutter