How to Keep Your Brain Healthy

brain-based wellness Sep 19, 2021
The human brain

Recently, I posted a video on Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok about the importance of exercising your brain. But that was only a 60-second video. And so I started thinking I had to more information.

I found an excellent article written by Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School about improving your brain health which I was fascinated by where they gave several ideas on how you can keep your brain young.

It doesn't matter what age you are at; there are things that you can do to maintain a younger brain. And I hope this isn't a spoiler for you, but you only have one. And when it's gone, it's gone.

My mother is 76-years-old and suffers from late-onset Alzheimer's. I miss my mom. While she is still alive physically, the mom who raised me is forever gone. Dementia and Alzheimer's has destroyed her frontal pre cortex, which is where the executive function lies. Because of this, I'm aware of brain health. That's one of the reasons why I run every day and have since August 29, 2017. I'm taking better care of myself.

Here are six ideas on how you can improve your brain health today, right now, that don't require any fancy equipment.

Number one, mental stimulation.

What does this mean? Reading. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are reading today, which I find very sad. But I'm not talking about reading tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram posts, or captions on a TikTok or a Snapchat video. I mean reading a book. And even beyond that, reading something that forces you to think. I recently finished reading Walter Isaacson's book called The Code Breakers, which is about gene editing. Before reading this book, I didn't know a single thing about gene editing. But I learned a lot, and it forced my brain to think. So read things that are not easy for you to understand.

The next thing is to take courses. Whether it's my Basics of Productivity course, how to quilt, plant a garden, or trim your tree, take a course. Even better if it's something that you're not at all familiar with. Then there are the mental gymnastics: word puzzles and math problems. You can also experiment with things that require mental dexterity and mental efforts like drawing, painting, or other crafts.

Number two, physical exercise.

Did you know this? Physical exercise spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connection between brain cells. Physical activity is essential not only for your health, not only for your heart, not only for your body but for your brain as well. The more you're exercising, the healthier your blood vessels are, which means more oxygen can get to your brain.

Now you don't have to run as I do. I run every day. Maybe you take a brisk walk, go swimming, go on a bike ride, or you dance around your house. Now a little note here: if you haven't exercised in a while, please consult your doctor first. Don't just get your sneakers on and go for a run that may not end well.

Number three, improve your diet.

What kind of foods are you eating? I use and endorse an app called Cronometer because they track the micronutrients. In addition to this, they verify every food submission for accuracy. My wife and I have a podcast you might want to check out called Mark and Michelle Go Keto. It's available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. The whole crux of that podcast show is to share our journey with going keto. One of the things we talked about in a recent episode was if you're eating horribly, don't get down on yourself. Instead, begin to make small changes. Minor changes are more likely to stick with you than significant changes. So please don't say, I'm never going out to eat again, I'm never going to have a McDonald's french fries, I'm going throw my food out. Instead, maybe your next meal, you decide to eat keto. Minor changes to your diet will significantly help your health.

Number four, improve your blood pressure.

How do you do this? Stay lean. I'm tickled pink that my wife told me that I look leaner since I've been on keto. Also, exercise regularly, and reduce stress. How much pressure are you under? Are you under a lot of stress? Reduce as much stress as you can. And of course, eat right.

Number five, improve your blood sugar.

Did you know that diabetes is a significant risk factor for dementia? I didn't. How do you improve your blood sugar? Eat right, exercise regularly, and stay lean. Isn't that amazing? The same core ways to keep healthy applies to everyone at every stage of life. No doctor is ever going to say, Eat horribly, don't exercise, get fat. They're never going to say that. You cannot go wrong by eating right, exercising regularly, and staying lean.

And the sixth thing I wanted to share with you on the show today: improve your cholesterol.

I thought this was interesting. High levels of LDL, which is the "bad" cholesterol, are associated with an increased risk of, wait for it, dementia. I bet you didn't know that. And what do you do to improve your cholesterol? Okay, let's cue the replay: diet, exercise, weight control, but we're going to add tobacco here.

So those are six ideas on how you can improve your brain health: mental stimulation, physical exercise, improve your diet, improve your blood pressure, improve your blood sugar and yes, improve your cholesterol. The overlying takeaway, eat better, exercise regularly, and stay lean. That is all from the Harvard Medical School.

You only have one heart. You need to take care of it.

You only have one brain. You need to take care of it.

You only have one body. You need to take care of it.

I'm 56, and I plan on making it to at least to triple digits. And more than that, I plan on still running when I'm triple digits. And I can't do that unless I'm taking care of myself.

And I'll be frank with you. I didn't start taking care of myself until my mother was diagnosed with late-onset Alzheimer's about four years ago. Mom's mother, my grandmother, died from Alzheimer's. And now my mother has it. I remember having a conversation with my mother's neuropsychologist. I asked him, Is there anything I can do to reduce or mitigate my chances of getting Alzheimer's? And you're not going to believe what he told me: eat right, exercise regularly, stay lean. Does this sound familiar? He also added to get enough sleep. So that's why I'm so big on talking about health and wellness.

Now, you may say, Mark, but I thought you were a productivity guy? I am.

Do you think you can be productive if you allow your brain to deteriorate? No.

Do you think you can be productive if you're massively overweight? No.

Do you think you can be productive if your heart is in such poor shape you can't even walk four feet? No.

So health and wellness tie directly into productivity. So please take the suggestions from the Harvard Medical School to heart, to your head, to your brain. Take care of your body. It's the only one you have. It's not hard to do this. The ideas are straightforward. You're going to have to make some tough decisions. But you can do it. Because I know you can.

What do you think? 

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