Sure, we all want to shut off our brains every once in awhile with a couple of glasses of wine, a few extra hours of sleep, or some mindless TV watching. But certain lifestyle choices can threaten the health of our brains significantly, even when the connection isn’t obvious.
Habits that deny our brains important nutrients or rapidly kill brain cells put us at risk of mental disorders like depression or anxiety, as well physical ailments like Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy, and even cancer.
It’s easy to forget that even if your mind is at rest, your physical brain could still be suffering. And while mental disorders are largely a result of genetics, diet and lifestyle play a huge part in how regulated and calm your brain activity can be.
Below are 3 dangerous habits that damage your brain – stopping them immediately, in conjunction with your doctor’s advice, can make a world of difference in your mental and physical health.
1. Skipping breakfast
There is a reason that breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Skipping it can result in low blood sugar levels, and that is very damaging to the brain, especially if it happens a lot. Your brain uses more energy than any other organ in the body, and takes up to 20% of the total available glucose in your system each day.
About 2/3 of the brain’s “energy budget” is used to help neurons fire off signals to the rest of the body. The remaining 1/3 is designated for cellular maintenance and care. Regularly denying your brain enough nourishment causes a deficit in that energy budget, and you’ll find that your brain becomes less responsive to stimuli. Unbeknownst to you, your brain cells will also miss the critical care they need to be healthy, and will die at an accelerated rate.
2. Sleep deprivation
It’s probably no surprise to you that not getting enough sleep will make you feel sluggish and forgetful the next day. The reason is that insufficient sleep robs your neurons of the ability to function properly. That leads to mental lapses that can affect your work and relationships. But more than that, your senses and reflexes are dulled, making it more likely that you’ll have a dangerous accident.
Chronic sleep deprivation can make these effects permanent. So the next time you feel that you are too busy to get enough sleep, remember that until your prioritize your slumber, you won’t be performing at your best. Take the time to sleep properly and you’ll get more done in less time the next day.
Studies reveal a surprising connectionbetween obesity and dementia. The reasons are unclear, but researchers suspect that obesity occurs when the food we eat lacks nutrition, leading to the desire to overeat in order to meet the body’s need for vitamins and minerals. So even if you eat a lot, you could still be starving your brain.
Observationally, we can see that by 2015, the number of patients diagnosed with dementia hit almost 45 million, a number that has doubled since 1990. In that same time, national obesity rates in the U.S. went from 11.1% to 30.6%. More studies are needed to unravel the connection, but it is clear that there is one.