The brain is one of the body’s most important organs. Although the skull is hard, the brain’s consistency is soft and custardy. It floats around in cerebrospinal fluid, which acts like the blood of the brain and nervous system.
Although the brain is only about 2% of body weight, it uses about 20% of the body’s blood flow and oxygen supply.
Blood flow is essential for brain health. Blood brings oxygen, glucose or blood sugar, vitamins and other nutrients and gets rid of carbon dioxide and other toxic waste.
Caring for the brain limits blood flow. Anything that limits blood flow is extremely ageing to the brain and to other organs.
The brain needs the same things to be healthy as the rest of the body, such as good clean water, quality nutrition, sleep, movement and deep breathing.
It is made up of 60% fat so good quality fats should be an essential part of the diet. Walnuts are a great brain food and they even look like a brain hemisphere.
Other good fats for the brain are olive and coconut oil, oily fish and clean lean protein sources. Lean protein is essential at every meal. Omega 3 fatty acids help the brain function properly.
Use low glycemic vegetables with lots of fibre. Phytonutrients in highly coloured fruit and vegetables are a must for healthy brain nutrition.
The brain is about 80% water so dehydration makes it a lot harder to think – staying hydrated is a must. Imagine a plump grape versus a dried raisin when you are not hydrated.
Exercise not only increases blood flow but it raises serotonin levels. This is great for the limbic (emotional) part of the brain because it relies on serotonin to function properly.
It is desirable to do exercise that requires right and left brain activity and coordination with both sides of the body working well. Skilled weight training on cable systems is ideal.
The prefrontal cortex is the front part of the brain that helps in judgment, learning and planning. The lack of good sleep lowers the blood flow and can lead to bad decisions.
Smoking is a powerful constrictor of blood flow. Too much stress – an overflow of adrenaline constricts blood flow to many areas of the body. Too much caffeine can restrict blood to brain, disrupt sleep and cause dehydration.
Avoid toxic substances whenever possible. Not enough movement – it is essential to get blood pumping enough to get nourishment to vital organs.
Heart disease and diabetes both limit blood flow and make blood vessels brittle, which prevents healing of tissue. Learning is good for the brain. Become a life-long learner; just like muscles, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
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Michelle Owen – See more at www.michelleowen.co.nz Corporate Health and Wellness Speaker, Postural and wellness specialist, Corrective Holistic Exercise, Kinesiologist