7 factors that hinder your brain activity
Every day many factors we don’t even think about affect our brain activity. The food that we eat, every bad habit that we’ve developed over the years, diseases and conditions, that don’t seem related to the brain on the first glance, even environment and other people. Some of these factors can boost our cognition, some of them destroy our brain cells or promote mental loss, but lucky for you it is possible to protect yourself from their negative effects if you learn how to recognize and avoid them.
1. High Blood Sugar
Blood sugar level is a serious factor that shouldn’t be neglected when it comes to the cognitive ability and brain health. It is unknown territory for scientists, but sugar consumption affects brain function and in a bad way. And that is a big problem, since according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture average American consumes 156 pounds of sugar every year.
If you just imagine visually how much is 156 pounds of sugar look like, lying in sacks in the warehouse, you would be shocked at the very least. The sugar we consume is usually dispersed throughout our diet so it doesn’t leave such a strong impression on us. But maybe it’s a good idea to start taking care about the sugar amount in your food? Develop a good habit to read labels – it’s not that hard, and it’s a great psychological effect: you will put aside sugary foods and drinks from seeing numbers only.
2. Air Pollution
That’s the hardest one, considering that majority of people leave in urban area, where air pollution is quite a big thing and it’s not easily avoided. Your brain needs a lot of oxygen to function properly, and as you may guess – polluted air is not the best fuel for your cognitive engine. Not only it impairs the oxygen flow to the brain, it can even cause physical changes to your brain cells. Everything from industrial waste, vehicle exhausts, dust, and etc, hinder your cognitive function. Try to limit your exposure to the polluted air as much as possible and consider occasional trips to the country side, to make your lungs a well deserved vacation from the big city air.
3. Poor sleep
Your whole body (brain included) needs time to mend itself, make small casual reparations, like creating new cells in organs. If you deprive yourslef from sleep, your damaged brain cells are not being properly replaced with new ones, and it disrupts the connections between neurons. Think about it like not taking your car in the service for a necessary maintenance. Even a short-term sleep deprivation can cause problems, but doing so for a long term can inflict irreversible changes to your cognitive function. The golden rule is to have at least 8 hours of good sleep every night.
Maybe you were hoping we would skip this one? How could we, if it’s the root of all evil in our body – brain function is no exception. Maybe you feel satiated, when you eat greasy junk, but your brain cells are much more peaky eaters than you are, and they are surely starving. Healthy nutrients are required for your brain to function properly. Loading fried junk in your cells will destroy them and that will slowly degrade your mind. But hey, the good news are that you can completely take control over your diet (unlike air-pollution, for instance) and chose good nutrients for your brain. You can even improve your brain activity with proper food.
5. Drinking alcohol and smoking
As if the threat of causing cancer, heart disease, and endless list of other diseases was not enough, a new research finding suggests that smoking may cause gradual cognitive decline in men and women. The study focuses on NNK, a compound normally found in tobacco, and which becomes carcinogenic when altered by metabolic processes in the body. Unlike alcohol, this compound does not appear to harm the brain cells directly; instead it causes neuro-inflammation, which in turn causes other disorders including multiple sclerosis.
Alcohol may cause a temporary chemical imbalance and even structural changes in the brain when consumed in high volumes over a long period of time. MRIs of most alcoholic patients show decreased brain volume.
6. Neglecting your breakfast
If you’re one of those people who simply can’t eat anything in the morning, you may be lowering your blood sugar levels, which also means low nutrient supply to vital organs. Take a few minutes each morning to eat something healthy so your body gets renewed and experience heightened alertness, high energy and improved productivity at work or school. Aim for proteins and vitamins to get you that healthy combination needed for strength and mental performance.
7. Not enough mental exercising
Just think about your brain as the really advanced muscle in your body – you need to exercise it or it will degrade. This is why most smart people like filling puzzles or playing other mind games. Learn how to play chess, scrabble and other fun games that stimulate the mind and get you working at your best. Creative thinking is also an effective way to stimulate the brain, so find some time for inspiring music and the arts, and see how it changes your way of thinking.