3 Reasons To Focus On Your Brain Health

The brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity.


National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke

A Healthy Brain Is A Happy Brain

World Health Day is upon us and we decided this year to focus on brain health.

In most cases, the brain is often the last part of the body we work on. We maintain the health of our bodies, with rigorous effort. Often posting #Progress pictures to showcase how healthy they are. 

The brain is usually only considered in old age when changes in cognition begin to surface. But, by this point, it can be too late for many as the cognitive decline sets in.  

By paying closer attention to our brain health now, we can understand ways to prevent cognitive decline brought on by ageing. 

Why Is Brain Health Important?

The National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke has been at the forefront of research of the brain for over 10 years. 

On their website, they list the brain as being, “the most complex part of the human body.” As it happens to be the centre of the nervous system. 

Part of its job is to control our:

  • Thoughts
  • Memories
  • Behaviours
  • Emotions.

As well as the rest of the nervous system, the brain is made up of different cells. Yet, the “primary functional unit” is the mighty neuron.

As the University of Queensland explains, neurons are nerve cells and these little guys are responsible for: 

Receiving memory sensory input from the external world, sending motor commands to our muscles and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in between.

The University Of Queensland

A healthy brain ensures that these neurons can continue doing what neurons do at the top of their game. This can be key to living a long, healthy and functional life.  

Here are three reasons, you need to focus on your brain health this year. 

3 Reasons To Focus On Your Brain Health

  1. Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term which describes various “progressing neurological disorders.” These disorders affect the brain, negatively impacting cognition

In dementia, nerve cells (neurons) become damaged causing the brain difficulty in sending and receiving messages. This then prevents the body from functioning as it should be and it can severely impact the quality of life for the person affected.

Age is a huge factor when it comes to dementia. As a person ages, their likelihood of developing dementia also increases.

Researchers of the study Lifestyle Choices And Brain Health found through their scientific literature search many studies which illustrate the importance of brain health when it comes to preventing dementia. 

Mintzer et al. report, having a sense of purpose in life greatly benefits your brain health and is associated with a 20% reduction in dementia risk and a strong indicator of better brain health. 

It may be possible to maintain brain health and to prevent dementia in later life. 

Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults – Gorelick et al.

2. Mild Cognitive Impairments

Mild cognitive impairments (MCI) develop in older people. The term describes early memory and thinking problems. Whilst it can later lead to dementia, MCI is not a strand of dementia. 

More specifically, sufferers of MCI experience difficulties not typical for their age. Yet, MCI tends not to interrupt daily life in the same way dementia does.   

Symptoms of MCI include. (as outlined by Alzheimer’s Research UK): 

  • Declining memory
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Disorientation 
  • Deteriorating thinking skills
  • Problems finding the right words 
  • Irritable, anxious or low mood. 

Defining Optimal Brain Health warns: “Poor brain health may eventually manifest as cognitive impairment.” Researchers of the study Gorelick et al. note, brain health can be achieved at any point and can help to keep your brain away from any cognitive impairments which may otherwise develop with ageing and poor brain health. 

3. Mental Wellbeing And Brain Health

A recent study published by Frontiers In Medicine researched the link between mental well-being and brain health. In collaboration with AgeUK, Mintzer et al. carried out a survey in 2018 that surveyed 2,287 adults. 

The results of the survey concluded that people who scored higher on the scale of mental wellbeing tend to report  better memory and thinking skills than those who rated lower on the mental wellbeing scale. 

This presents a positive correlation between mental wellbeing and brain health, suggesting the two qualities coexist.

Characteristics of mental well-being are as follows:

  • Feeling good
  • Functioning well
  • Adequate coping with life circumstances and change.

The brain is a complex and important muscle. Keeping it in good health and fighting fit can, according to some scientists, help to prevent MCI, Alzheimer’s, dementia and maintain a high level of mental well-being and health. 

The health of your body is important and there’s no disputing that. All we’re saying is, don’t forget about your brain!

Sources Cited: 

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Know-Your-Brain

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6787147/

https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/what-neuron

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654545/

Sajal Azam

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