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Neuroscientist reveals how to boost your brain health

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There are important points to consider when it comes to your brain health.

Like many aspects of our health, the foundations of nutrition are: sleep, food, and exercise.

Fourfive neuroscientist Dr Elisabeth Philipps says there are ways to optimize these areas to boost brain health.

It’s important to get the basics under control, and these are simple and easy ways to make sure your daily life doesn’t negatively affect your mind.

These are the things you should include in your routine.


How do you know when your brain needs some TLC?

Isn’t it time to give your brain some extra attention?

Stress, high sugar, and low-quality nutritious diets can have major effects on brain health.

Elisabeth says: ‘There is a lot of science to show that the stress hormone cortisol alters the structure of the brain, and that poorly controlled blood sugar and insulin response also affect brain function, particularly how brain cells “wire and fire.”

‘Eating foods high in sugar regularly leads to irregular blood sugar problems.

‘Short-term symptoms include brain fog, fatigue and low mood, but that’s just the beginning.

‘Long-term blood sugar and insulin problems not only increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but also damage the brain.

‘Alzheimer’s disease is now called type 3 diabetes for a reason.’

Dr Elisabeth says warning signs to look out for when your brain is struggling include:

  • feeling tired after waking up for more than three days
  • Tiredness
  • irritability
  • loss of focus

Sleep

If you’re under stress, it’s important to pay attention to your sleep quality—which, if it drops, affects the brain’s ability to repair and repair itself.

Elisabeth says: ‘Getting into a bedtime routine – which should include avoiding bright lights an hour before bedtime, and you can use mindfulness or meditation practices.

‘Try keeping a diary before bed to get rid of thoughts and stress.

‘CBD also helps balance the brain’s response to sleep so it can be a beneficial part of a healthy sleep routine.’

Food

About 60% of the brain is fat – so you shouldn’t exclude it from your diet.

Elisabeth says: ‘I specifically recommend a good breakfast smoothie to start the day – this includes healthy fats like almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, as well as protein from these foods and a protein powder.

Smoothies also blend foods so your gut doesn’t have to do the hard work of digesting, so you have instant access to brain-boosting nutrients.

She also says to include omega 3 essential fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon, as well as flaxseeds, eggs, and nuts in your diet.

“Avocados and extra virgin olive oil (preferably not heated, but used as a vegetable or salad dressing) also contain brain-boosting oils,” she adds.

fitness

Fitness-phobes rejoice – Elisabeth says: ‘A longer, more intense workout is not better for brain health, as it can create extra stress and reduce oxygen circulation.’

Instead, add 30 minutes of walking to your day.

“This can be quite beneficial when it comes to keeping your brain in top shape, and it needs oxygen to function, so fresh outside air is best.

‘Forest bathing is highly recommended for calming brain activity and also for increasing mood, energy and concentration in the long run.’

You can also try crosswords, sudoku, playing an instrument or listening to music to keep your mind ‘fit’ with brain exercises.

supplements

Supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet, but they can strengthen and supplement an existing one.

Elisabeth says: ‘Your brain needs fuel to work, and to burn that fuel you need a lot of nutrients to help your brain cells work.

‘This is why a varied diet rich in many different colorful vegetables packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is important for brain health.

Products such as fish oil help to make up for the essential fatty acids lacking in the diet. Eggs contain choline, another important fat that builds brain cells, but if you don’t eat eggs, you can supplement with lecithin powder, which contains choline and other healthy phospholipid oils.

The gut and brain are closely linked through the gut-brain axis. This means that what happens in the gut affects brain function and health.

‘Helping keep gut bacteria levels healthy is crucial to overall health and brain function. Probiotic supplements containing healthy gut bacteria can therefore help support our brain health.

‘Vitamin B12 is especially important if you follow a vegan diet – supplementation as part of a multinutrient or in the form of methylcobalamin alone.’

People

Finally, cut out the people who consume you.

Elisabeth says it’s important to ‘spend time with people who lift you up’.

“Quality relationships support a healthy brain, and relationships that drain energy and emotion can negatively impact brain health.”

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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