Throughout your life, your brain’s purpose is to help you make sense of the world and help carry out your daily operations and life. Brain health refers to the ability to concentrate, remember, learn, perform and maintain a clear, active mind. It’s being able to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgment, perspective, and wisdom.
When most people think of health or wellness, the topic that seems to spark the most conversation and debate is physical fitness (weight loss or muscle gain). Brain fitness, or brain health, is an important topic that is often not recognized. Simply, brain health is all about making the most of your brain and helping reduce some risks to it as you age. Brain health is integral to consciousness and quality of life. Optimum brain health can be achieved through a proper balance of exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Exercise & Brain Health
Exercise in all its forms can help reduce anxiety and improve depression (1). Certain types of exercise such as high-intensity exercise can increase levels of beneficial proteins in the brain that help maintain and grow neurons (7). Exercise also allows our brain to interface with muscle, which is important as we age. Exercise allows our body to have more functional nerve cells that allow us to perform day-to-day tasks. In more scientific terms, without a healthy central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system (the nervous system excluding the brain and spinal cord) would not be able to effectively convey messages to our brain.
Nutrition & Brain Health
What we eat and the diversity of our gut can also influence our brain health. In our gut there are microorganisms called probiotics (5). They grow via our lifestyle choices such as the foods we eat and the supplements/medications we take. Foods high in fiber and supplements such as probiotics can feed the gut microbiome, which may improve our immune system (4). Conversely, anti-bacterial medications (such as antibiotics) can destroy our gut health leading to a decreased immune system. The gut diversity and the digestive system is our body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses (6). If we have poor diets and gut health it can lead to a compromised immune system. This has the potential to cause inflammation in our body and brain. The brain’s immune system protects against the buildup of plaque and inflammation, which may lead to depression, anxiety, and neurodegenerative disorders. (2,3).
What You Can Do to Improve Brain Health
The good news is that there are a number of different ways to improve your brain health, especially if you’re willing to do some things consistently over a longer period of time. Let’s explore seven ways that you can support your brain health:
- Identify and treat underlying medical problems (such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure)
- Avoid injury to your head and brain (i.e., wear a helmet when riding a bicycle)
- Manage physical and emotional stress (i.e. take some time to relax)
- Get an adequate amount of sleep (more on this topic later)
- Exercise your brain with stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles,
- Don’t skip physical exercise
- Be sure to eat a well-balanced diet based on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats
While supplements such as MCT oil and caffeine have been shown to improve brain function, the ingredients in Prolimbic 29 can have incredible effects on the brain. These effects include boosting and maintaining cognitive function as well as preventing cognitive decline.
- Cooney, G. M., Dwan, K., Greig, C. A., Lawlor, D. A., Rimer, J., Waugh, F. R., … & Mead, G. E. (2013). Exercise for depression. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (9).
- Dantzer, R. (2018). Psychiatric Disorders and Inflammation. Inflammation: From Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms to the Clinic, 767-784.
- Gehrmann J, Matsumoto Y, Kreutzberg GW (March 1995). “Microglia: intrinsic immuneffector cell of the brain”. Brain Research. Brain Research Reviews. 20 (3): 269–87. doi:10.1016/0165-0173(94)00015-H. PMID 7550361.
- Kau, A. L., Ahern, P. P., Griffin, N. W., Goodman, A. L., & Gordon, J. I. (2011). Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system. Nature, 474(7351), 327.
- Schrezenmeir, J., & de Vrese, M. (2001). Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics—approaching a definition–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 73(2), 361s-364s.
- Sherwin, E., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2018). Recent developments in understanding the role of the gut microbiota in brain health and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1420(1), 5-25.
- Vega, S. R., Strüder, H. K., Wahrmann, B. V., Schmidt, A., Bloch, W., & Hollmann, W. (2006). Acute BDNF and cortisol response to low intensity exercise and following ramp incremental exercise to exhaustion in humans. Brain research, 1121(1), 59-65.