Brain health is important no matter your age. As we age, our brain health and function can decline. The human’s brain is an integral command center that control our thought process, learning, memory, movement, emotion and essential senses like hearing, smell and vision. Maintaining a healthy brain is important for longevity and happy life.
Various disease processes can impair brain function such as stroke, neurodegenerative conditions (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other form of dementias), infection (meningitis), trauma, mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia, psychosis) and abuse of substance and alcohol. The effect of each disease are different to every individual as it affect different part of the brain function.
When a person is having dementia, the size of the brain shrunk to half its size. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia cause progressive decline in cognitive function. It also affect our physical ability, speech, gait and balance, behavior, emotions and ability to perform normal activities of daily living.
Stroke cause by a disease process called ‘atherosclerosis’ due to narrowing of blood vessels from various causes such as high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and heart rhythm disturbances. It is an acute brain injury caused by interrupted blood flow to the brain tissue. Depending on which area of the brain that is affected, it caused different symptoms such as weakness on the face and limbs, speech impairment, difficulty swallowing, visual or hearing impairment, balance problems and at worse, coma and death.
What can you do to maintain a healthy brain function:
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week from walking, dancing, cycling or playing badminton. Research have shown that people who are physically active are less like likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise increase the blood flow to the brain and release endorphins that trigger positive feeling in the body and reduce pain perception similar to that of morphine
- Getting enough sleep. Aim for 7–8 hours of quality sleep every day. Sleeping can help to reset the brain and healing process. Sleeping also help to detoxify abnormal proteins that is damaging to brain health. Sleeping disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea are harmful to brain health and can impair memory function
- Eat well. Eat balanced nutritious meals that are rich in whole grains, fish and healthy foods, fruits and vegetables. Cut down on red meat, salt, sugar and fatty foods. Studies have shown that people who follow Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease likely from consuming foods that are rich in omega fatty acids which have shown to slow cognitive decline and reduces oxidative stress in the brain such as olive oil and fish
- Stimulate the brain by participating in new memories activities such as learning new skills or language, playing musical instrument, doing quizzes or new hobby. Social interaction by engaging in stimulating conversation, connecting to other in the community can also be helpful. Research have shown that social isolation is harmful to the brain
- Be happy. Being emotionally happy is protective against various mental health disorders. Start managing your stress well and avoid constant worry that can keep your thinking at night and affecting your sleep. Try to incorporate activities such as meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises regularly
- Ditch bad lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and use of recreational drugs
- Regular health check-up with your doctor to screen for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Work with your doctor on ways to get your health in optimal level
If you have any questions about brain health, talk to our doctor for more information.