What Does Your Brain Need to Function Well?
What does your brain need to function well? From insufficient sleep to poor nutrition to excessive screen time, many Americans fail to give their brain what it needs to function properly. This leads to brain fog, increased stress, and impaired cognitive function. There are 5 things your brain needs to be healthy and in peak performance.
5 Things Your Brain Needs to Function Well
- Sleep – Poor sleep doesn’t just compromise our immune system and increase stress; it inhibits the brain’s ability to function. While the body is asleep, the brain is hard at work, removing waste products from brain cells and strengthening and reorganizing connections. A healthy amount of sleep is key to “brain plasticity” (the brain’s ability to adapt to input). Too little sleep, and we are unable to process what we’ve learned during the day and have more trouble remembering it in the future. The effects of one lost night of sleep can last for days, so be sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Social interaction – Connecting with other people allows us to express our thoughts and feelings and to understand others by integrating what they say with their nonverbal communication – all of which exercises various areas of the brain. Socializing also reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and helps stimulate our creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.
- Exercise – Staying active isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain! Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and the healthier our hearts, the more efficiently our blood circulates. Regular exercise also releases numerous beneficial hormones, stimulates brain plasticity, and helps flush toxins from the brain.
- Mental stimulation – When we learn new things we develop and strengthen neural connections. Our minds benefit from being challenged, from learning new information and skills, and from taking on pursuits that are initially difficult. Whether it’s taking a painting class, picking up mountain biking, learning a new language, or studying a new subject, new experiences improve both mental and emotional health.
- Nutrition – What we eat has a direct impact on brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health, helping improve mental clarity, concentration, and focus. Fruits and vegetables provide key vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Complex carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, breaking down into glucose which is the brain’s principal source of fuel. Healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Protein helps balance blood sugar and ensure a steady supply of glucose to the brain, and is also used by the brain to build neurotransmitters. Protein is found in meat, beans, seafood, nuts, and seeds. Vitamin D is crucial to memory, cognitive function and the growth of new neurons, but many people are deficient in vitamin D. Your doctor can check for vitamin D deficiency and help you boost your levels.
Improve Brain Function with the Help of Anchor Wellness Center
As a Board Certified physician both in Family Medicine and with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra is committed to helping patients optimize their physical and mental health. Call Anchor Wellness Center today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM and get a personalized care plan.