How many of these are you guilty of?
It’s a well-known fact in the scientific community that brain cells don’t regenerate. Therefore, we need to be very careful in the ways we treat our brains these days, especially seeing that cases of neurodegenerative diseases – like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – are at an all-time high. We might not realize it, but those diseases aren’t just reserved for people over 50. Even when we’re in our 20s and 30s, we might engage in bad habits that can damage our cognitive “cogs.” And while we don’t feel it right now, we will grow to regret it later.
The sooner we train ourselves into a discipline that allows for better brain health, the sooner we’ll be able to start decreasing the number of neurodegenerative diseases we deal with. Take a look at some habits that are really bad for our brain, yet everyone does them sometimes. Try to do these things less and less to ensure that your brain remains healthy.
1. NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
A lack of sleep has been associated heavily with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When you sleep, your brain gets a chance to rest and recuperate after a long day’s work. If you deprive your brain of that rest, it will degenerate more quickly. Many people today have a problem going to sleep at a good time and getting the right amount of REM cycles in their nights. If you’re struggling with insomnia, try reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake. Also, avoid screens (such as laptops and televisions) right before bed. It won’t just help you feel better in the morning, but you’ll also be taking long-term care of your cognitive powers.
We know you’re not going to like this one. And yes, maybe we were a little too harsh on all the lifestyle advice we talked about in the beginning. Tips regarding how to eat healthily are actually quite valuable for your body’s health, and for your brain too. A study published in the journal Neurology in 2012 examined 6000 people, who were on average 50 years old. 10 years later, the same participants were examined once again and the results showed that the ones who were overweight, had a 22% higher deterioration of their cognitive functions than their slimmer counterparts.
We’ve all heard reasons why smoking is bad and you should consider quitting, but did you know that it can cause significant damage to your brain? Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen supply to the brain. This means you can’t function at your normal capacity. A link has been proven between Alzheimer’s, dementia, and smoking. Furthermore, cigarette smoke doesn’t only cause lung cancer. Cancerous cells as a result of incorrect DNA reproduction can manifest in the brain, too.
4. SKIP THE SALT
After all these years of sugar-blaming, you can add another ingredient to the list of nutritional villains: salt. A study published in the journal of JAMA Neurology exposed salt as one factor contributing to high blood pressure. And indeed, research has proven that a high intake of salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to minor cognitive deficits and an increased risk of stroke. A higher risk of stroke can cause quite severe damage to your brain.
5. FEELING LONELY
Isolation can lead to cognitive deterioration. Of course, being lonely doesn’t just mean not having people around you. You can be just as lonely in a room full of people. To avoid this, evaluate the relationships with the people around you and think of them in a “quality over quantity” way.
A study at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted with the participation of over 100 people, all aged 80+, revealed that those who had the least social contacts were suffering from the most severe cognitive deterioration. If you find yourself struggling to understand why you can’t create lasting relationships, consider seeking professional help.
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