August is Neurosurgery Awareness Month and we're kicking it off by giving a few tips to help keep your brain healthy from our neurosurgeon, Dr. Gregory L. Wilson!
Sleep plays a vital role in your overall brain health and gives your brain time to recharge and consolidate memories effectively. To do so, it is important to try and get seven to eight consecutive hours of sleep per night. Fragmented sleep of two or three hour increments does not allow your brain to fully rest and can affect proper cognitive and behavioral functions.
Not only will your body and mind feel recharged the next day, but it also helps your body remain healthy and fight diseases. When you do not get enough rest, it can impair your brain's ability to concentrate, think clearly and process memories.
Your diet plays an important role in brain health. We recommend the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole foods, healthy fats, and plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and extra virgin olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of lean poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs.
Studies have shown that people that stick with the Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and also have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
When you work out and increase blood flow throughout your brain and entire body, you pump feel-good neurotransmitters, otherwise called endorphins. Endorphins are natural stress relievers. Preventing and managing long-term stress can drastically lower your chances of developing other medical conditions.
Stay Mentally Active
Like the other muscles in your body, it is important to exercise your brain frequently. To keep your brain in shape, you can challenge yourself with crossword puzzles, sudoku books, reading books, playing cards with a friend or putting together puzzles. Better yet, challenge yourself in multiple ways by incorporating multiple activities to increase effectiveness.
It's also important not to participate in too much passive activity that does minimal brain stimulation, such as watching TV and scrolling through social media.
You need to use it or you'll lose it!
Not only does staying socially active decrease depression and stress, but it can also strengthen the health of the brain. Frequent visits with family, friends and loved ones increase mental activity and stimulation that can improve cognitive function and memory skills.