In our ever busy world of adulthood, we tend to forget our mental and cognitive health and yet we use it every second for tasks related to home, work and life generally. Just as we ‘burn out’ our bodies when doing physical activities, so too do we ‘burn out’ our brains. This makes it absolutely necessary to have a maintenance culture, not only for our physical health but also our cognitive health.
Based on different research works, we have put together our 6 THUMBS of Cognitive Wellness, these focuses on the key areas we need to work on for optimal cognition and brain health. Once we can maintain these areas, either in parts of each or all of each subsection, then we are on a solid foundation for our overall health.
1. MENTAL STIMULATION:
Basically translates as “giving your brain a good workout”!
- Our brain needs to be stimulated to keep working well, the more the dendrites (of nerve cells) connect, the more there will be an improvement of functions in thinking and memory. This has been proven by research to delay onset of cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.
- Mental stimulation promotes happiness and fulfillment.
- It keeps boredom at bay.
- It helps us to progress and achieve.
- It exercises the brain.
2. NUTRITION: you need to eat well to feed your brain well. Your brain is always turned ON, it works hard 24/7 and so it needs a constant supply of fuel…...Premium Fuel i.e. Good Food. What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain, and ultimately, your mood.
Different fruits and vegetables appear to support different cognitive domains of the brain, so both variety and quality in the diet are important. Lots of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended, in fact, research found that drinking fruits and vegetable juices lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer's by 76%! Superfoods are highly recommended as brain boosting, especially those containing flavonoids and even sea vegetables.
Eating high quality foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress (- the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen) which can damage cells. Diets high in refined sugars saturated fats and processed foods are harmful to the brain, promotes inflammation and oxidative stress.
Make sure to check the sources of your food because of contaminants. Pork tapeworm larvae invading the brain is one of the most common causes of epilepsy; toxoplasma, a brain parasite is also found in lambs. Domoic acid, found in seafood has been linked to amnesia. Mercury contamination found in fishes has been linked to microcephaly, impaired cognition, and delayed brain-nerve communication. Cognitive deficits may also be a sign of B12 deficiency. Read More
3. SPIRITUALITY: The evidence for spirituality as a set of capacities and abilities that enable people to solve problems and attain goals in their everyday lives has been evaluated. Here, we get to invest everyday activities, events, and relationships with a sense of the sacred.
Connect with your Creator, meditate often, practice mindfulness. Learn to appreciate your life, be optimistic and find peace with yourself and beliefs. Get that balance in your life…..it's time for an attitude with gratitude.
4. SLEEP: a naturally occurring state of the mind, everyone spends about a third of their lives asleep. It is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. Many of us with ‘sleep debts’ have forgotten what it truly means to be rested. To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights – including those from our electronic devices - interferes with our circadian rhythm or natural sleep/wake cycle.
Sleep varies across ages, and is especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it is important to assess not only where you fall on the ‘sleep needs spectrum,’ but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality of your sleep such as work schedules and stress.
Click here to get more information about sleep.
5. PHYSICAL FITNESS: Regular physical fitness can improve cognitive functions throughout a lifespan, regardless of your age.
There are studies to show that physical activity done today can benefit cognitive function for decades down the road. Also, regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function beginning in infancy and continuing through every stage of our lives.
Using your brain to carry out coordinated movements in walking, swimming, jumping or any type of exercise utilizes yet more brain power. This type of mental stimulation definitely assisted our oldest generation. You can also decide to join a brain fitness group.
6. SOCIALIZATION: when you are amongst people, you are activating Your mind on many levels, you form thoughts, opinions, speak, and access your emotions. Even caring and looking after someone or pets helps to activate different parts of the brain and is quite a thorough exercise for the brain.