The brain is the body’s main control system. It helps process sensory information, regulate blood pressure and breathing, and release hormones. But your brain wouldn’t be able to process all these things when it’s not in tip-top form.
Essentially, your brain health should be at the top of your priority to stay alive and functioning well. This means you need to do everything it takes to keep your brain healthy and ditch bad habits that you think are okay but actually lead your brain to its demise.
Perhaps, all of us are guilty of these things. But now is the time to start becoming aware of these bad habits and get rid of them once and for all to preserve our brain’s health. The following habits are the most common pitfall you may have committed without being aware of their indirect harmful effects on the brain.
1. Not getting enough sunlight
Depression cases are higher in countries where the sun doesn’t shine 365 days a year. This is because vitamin D or sunshine vitamin has been linked to brain health and mood regulation according to science. A recent finding shows that a deficiency in this vitamin is likely to lead to schizophrenia while another study reveals that vitamin D deprivation can cause brain damage to middle-aged rodents.
2. Storing important information in your gadgets
When cell phones aren’t yet the “in” thing, you’re using your brain to store information. You even have your own strategy on how to recall things more accurately and easily. This enables your brain to work more efficiently to support your needs. Now, when everything you need to know is just one click away, you’re no longer using your brain the way you used to. Unfortunately, the less you use your brain, the blunter it becomes.
3. Overworking your brain
While multitasking seems to be an inevitable part of this digital age, it’s a habit that you should cut down on if you were to maintain your brain’s health. Doing too many things at a time while bombarding your brain with too much information can reduce its effectiveness. Scientists at Stanford University revealed that digital information overload reduces people’s ability to recall information and retain attention.
4. Drinking too much alcohol
While moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart and circulation, too much alcohol is not only harmful to the body but the brain as well. Researchers from the University of Oxford and University College London admit that 15 to 20 standard drinks a week can lead to hippocampal atrophy. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that processes new memories and regulates learning and emotions. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to dull memory and affect the way you think and process things.
5. Letting your brain get idle
The brain is like a knife. The more you use it, the sharper it gets. This also means, the less you use it, the less sharp it gets. Experts say after 25 years, the brain’s productivity starts to decline. However, with constant usage, through reading, solving puzzles or any activity that can challenge it, your brain will stay at its peak regardless of age.
6. Feeding your brain with junk
If you think watching reality shows on TV is a good pastime, think again. Despite being harmless in themselves, psychiatrist Dr. Marcia Sirota says these things can rot the brain and even make people rude. This is because these things don’t challenge the brain to think more. Instead, they target the emotions, making people react to whatever emotions the actors and actresses portray, which are more often lacking the good vibes. Japanese neuroscientists even confirm that children who often watch TV have lower verbal IQ and increased aggressiveness.
7. Sleeping less
The evolution process has wired our brains to get enough sleep, which is at least 9 hours in the 1900s. As human development progresses, the number has decreased. In recent times, people say they get as much as 5 hours of sleep. While some people thrive on 5 hours or less of sleep time, science says this is not good for the brain. Not getting enough shut-eye can affect your cognitive function and may even kill brain cells. Poor sleep habits have also been linked to an increased risk of developing mental illness as well as negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
8. Spending more time alone
Having alone time is necessary to recharge yourself, especially if you’re the extreme introvert type. But if you do it often, it can strip you of the ability to communicate with others. Communication can stimulate the brain and increase brain health even if it’s only over the phone. If you’re living alone, having a pet will provide you the communication that you would otherwise have with humans. Besides, it’s the connection that truly matters. Without true connection, you will still feel lonely despite being surrounded by lots of people, and this is detrimental to the brain.
9. Consuming too much glucose
Sugar is most often linked to the risk of developing diabetes. But the damage of too much sugar is not only limited to the muscle cells. This sweet treat can also pose serious harm to the brain. One study affirms that sugar can affect the brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which helps in the formation of nerve growth.
10. Skipping breakfast
Postponing or giving up breakfast is popular in the world of weight loss. Some say it’s a form of intermittent fasting that’s truly beneficial. If you’re a breakfast skipper and can prove that you’re doing well and good without suffering from any cognitive problems, then great. But numerous studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better in school compared to their breakfast-skipper counterparts. Researchers say it’s because a decline of the blood glucose levels can affect the brain’s functioning. A Japanese study involving 80,000 participants confirms that breakfast skippers have a higher risk of having a stroke and high blood pressure. Their blood pressure interestingly drops after breakfast.
11. Blasting your headphones
Headphone manufacturers warn users not to put their earphones in full volume to avoid hearing loss, but scientists say more. Adults with hearing loss have been found to have brain problems including Alzheimer’s and brain tissue loss. This is because the brain can shrink faster when a person suffers from hearing loss.
Your brain’s health depends on too many factors. Some of them may be genetic, which are not in your control, but some depend largely on the things you do regularly. Ditching the bad habits and creating brain-friendly habits is the best start to have a well-functioning brain until old age.