Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. So, yeah, this is just a blog. Talk to your doctor about changes to your diet and routine. But, if your doctor discourages you from exercise or eating fruits and vegetables or reducing stress or drinking water then they probably suck (in my non-professional opinion).
Last week, I went to the monthly “Whole Health Forum” that is put on by some local health professionals. It is basically a forum open to the public where 2-3 health professionals come in and speak for about 15-20 minutes on different subjects in their field. I am really happy I got over my nervousness and “new place anxiety” (thanks to therapy) to attend.
There were two speakers, one who spoke about the vascular system (blood flow) and one who spoke about neurological health. Basically, habits to help have a healthy blood system and brain system. There were definitely some “aha!” moments, as well as some “hmm, I’m going to need to do some independent research on that one” moments, and some “yep, already knew that” moments, but I was really impressed with the information and the handouts to make implementation easy. It was clear that these professionals want to help people make healthy choices.
Most people who know me know that I am fascinated by anything involving the brain. In 5th Grade I actually wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I’m constantly looking into nootropics and practices to keep that 3 lb blob of gray matter doing what it is doing. It is the most powerful computer on the planet and one the greatest gift I ever received, the least I can do is try to maintain it. Luckily, the presenter provided a very convenient “Top 10” card with ways to have a healthy brain. (I hope I’m not breaking any copyright laws by sharing this, please don’t sue me)
- Socialize – Go meet and interact with people instead of watching TV. The results from Marian Diamond’s rat studies showed how different social environments can have neurological affects on brain health. Similarly, Dan Buettner’s research into “Blue Zones” found Social Engagement to be be common in all areas with above average longevity. This is an area that I’m really trying to proactively improve in my life, working from home means that I have very little meaningful social interaction in my day-to-day.
- Exercise – This was one of those “duh” moments. We all wish there was a magic bullet or some sort of drug that makes us perfectly healthy, but there isn’t yet. The brain is part of the body and the body needs exercise. An increased heart rate for 20 minutes every day is really good for the brain. So, unless your masturbation periods are wilder than mine every day it is probably good to go for a run.
- Do Something New Every Day – This one overwhelmed me at first, but then the presenter said “it can be as simple as taking a different route to work”. So, I’ve been running different routes, listening to different music, and watching educational YouTube videos during my lunch. The point is to keep yourself out of “muscle memory” mode to exercise your brain.
- Make Good Food Choices – Again, “duh”. We ALL know what a healthy diet is. The research is damn near universal, a whole foods plant-based diet is shown to be the healthiest diet. You don’t need to be a vegan like me, but if you want a healthy brain then you need fresh, minimally processed food. Ten foods were provided (walnuts, avocados, blueberries, bone broth, broccoli, celery, coconut oil, eggs, turmeric, and fish). Not shockingly was how these foods seem to overlap with other research (see chart below).
- Change a Habit – Try and break bad habits and create new ones. Not only does this develop better habits but the actual act of changing a habit exercises your brain and creates new neuropathways. Each year, each month, each week of your life should be different than the last.
- Play A Game – Get out and have fun! I’m not sure if video games count in this category but I know board games do. Learning a new game and just being joyous or goofy or silly is great for the mind.
- Meditate – “Duh” number 3. I have read a bunch of research on this and I am convinced of the benefits for the body and mind… and I still struggle with it. It would be best to do 20 minutes, twice per day but I’m currently doing only 10 minutes once a day. I’m trying though, and as you often hear in meditation groups, you just need to “begin again”.
- Take a nap – Offices should have nap rooms. Sleep is important. I work from home and never take a nap, maybe I should schedule that in…
- Be Optimistic! – Alright, this is tough as shit in today’s world but it is worth striving for. You can also use some of the other techniques above like meditation and changing a habit to help. Studying ancient Stoicism has REALLY helped my optimism and happiness. I’d also recommend not paying attention to politics (or really any news) and shutting yourself out of social media if it is a stressor. Getting rid of my old, politically bogged down, Facebook page was a huge boon to my productivity and happiness.
- Let it Go! – Related to above and very in line with Stoic philosophy. Stoicism is really has two parts: determine what is within my control and ignore the rest. There is so, so, so much outside of our control that taxes our brain and body. From Donald Trump to weather, there is nothing I can do to change them. All I can do is alter my response, ignore (in the former) or put on appropriate clothes (for the latter). Just ignore what you can’t change and forgive people for the things they do. The past is as unchangeable as Trump’s temperament, so learn from it and just let it go.
Okay, those are the ten things. While at the forum I couldn’t help but see overlap between what was being presented and other things I’ve read. So, here is a chart I put together that is in no way comprehensive but still shows some overlap in the habits for a healthy brain, healthy circulatory system, and longevity.
So yeah, let’s get healthy so that our brains don’t stop working!
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”