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  • Writer's pictureBy April Sage

We’re Celebrating Brain Health and Awareness Month

“The root of all health is the brain. The trunk of it is emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of the health blooms when all parts work together,” - Kurdish Saying

June is brain health and awareness month. This is a serious subject that I see often in my career. I see a variety of cognitive issues in all ages and health profiles that could be drastically diminished if we understood how to better care for ourselves. Last June, I was certified in Gerontology through the University of Washington. I utilize this information constantly and notice a significant difference in how I can support my clients. Cell development in our bodies is complex, fascinating, and quite sensitive to our choices. Here are a few ways to improve your habits and protect the most precious center of function – our brain.

Movement: It is important to understand that our brain is constantly changing and rewiring with new memories and experiences. Reinforcing connections in our brain is a lifelong evolution called neuroplasticity. Movement helps neuroplasticity. If we look at the priority we should place on brain health, it should motivate us to get up, move our bodies and experience something new.

Relationships: Connection with others feeds the brain neurons and reinforces mental health. Someone who is primarily isolated is at higher risk of cognition issues. Having friends and social outlets helps you live longer by mentally stimulating you socially, getting you thinking, sensing, reasoning, and feeling. All of this while reducing stress and loneliness.

Diet: Feeding our body and brain properly is essential. Many of our loved ones living alone have a reduced desire for food and are less stimulated. Our brain does not reason well when it is starving for nutrients. A healthy diet of plants, fish, some meat, nuts, whole foods, and hydration can make a significant difference in the longevity of brain health. Diet is a crucial topic, as more than 90% of all chronic diseases are caused by poor-quality foods and nutritional deficiencies.

Vitamins: The key to overcoming inflammation in the body is to feed it healthy vitamins. Quality digestible vitamins are essential for long-term cell development and managing the body’s natural response to inflammatory triggers. Omega three fatty acids, zinc, protein, antioxidants, glutathione, b-vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin D3 helps with this. My functional nutritionist, Angela Morris, owns True You Wellness, a company focused on implementing high-quality supplements along with lifestyle and diet recommendations for overall optimal health results. Angela believes the best way to combat inflammation is through healthy nutrition. She says it is all about vitality, and allowing your body to do the work it does so well; keeping us alive.

Reducing Stress: Stress is expected. We all have it. Severe stress from loss, loneliness, or anxiety can change our brains. When cortisol (the stress hormone) floods us repeatedly, or for long periods, it can inhibit the growth of new neurons, causing our memory center to shrink. This reduces our ability to learn and remember. Implement a regular hobby or task that brings you joy to reduce stress. If you are learning along the way, that is a bonus! The brain loves a challenge. I do something every other day to manage my stress levels. Some ways to calm your emotional brain include looking or listening to something that makes you happy, touching something or someone, or even smelling something that brings you joy. All of these can reduce stress. Enjoying a snack with cinnamon, dark chocolate, or saffron can also naturally bring down feelings of anxiety.

Sleep: Everyone understands what it is like to be sleep deprived. Sleep is essential to our brain health. It encapsulates overall wellness, especially emotional wellness. Rest and sleep improve the brain and body connection. A short nap greatly enhances recall, mood, and patience, reducing stress.

Healthy living produces positive results in how we bounce back from emotional, physical, and medical-related issues. We will all have challenges in one or more of these categories. Still, when we focus on feeding ourselves well through emotional support, nutrients, and proper lifestyle boundaries, we function better, heal faster, and can fight emotional, mental and physical challenges more easily. When we feel pulled together, our brains work with ease. We can keep track of dates, appointments, where we left daily items, all without being flustered. These tips and professionals like Angela, personal trainers at your local gym, or even online resources, can help support your goals. We have one brain – let’s nurture it properly.

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