I’m a neurologist and here’s the 7 common habits that are ruining your brain

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THE health of our brain is vital for everything we do in life. From our productivity and thoughts, to memory and our coordination skills, the brain really does rule the roost.

Our lifestyle plays a huge role in how our brain functions and there are several day-to-day habits that many of us have that can lead to a negative impact on our brain. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that dementia – a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life – is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases. 

Plus it’s one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific brain disease that accounts for 60 to 80 per cent of dementia cases.

The WHO also adds that although dementia mainly affects older people, it’s not an inevitable consequence of ageing. 

So, the way we live our lives day to day DOES impact our risk of dementia. 

Hana Burianová is a Professor of Neuroscience working with supplement and wellbeing brand Healthspan.

Hana explains that all of the below habits decrease neural plasticity and increase our likelihood of dementia.

Neural plasticity is the production of new neurons and the creation of new connections between them.

“It helps us prevent dementia and neural inflammation and supports our cognitive and emotional functions as we age,” says Hana.

Meanwhile, regular exercise, sleep, a good diet, lack of stress, plenty of mental activity and supportive social circles lower the risk of dementia. 

Fallen victim to any of the below habits? It’s time to make some simple lifestyle changes, to protect your brain and help it thrive…

“This leads to poor circulation and poor oxygenation, dysregulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, faster ageing and predisposition to dementia,” says Hana. 

Prone to sitting down for too long? 

“Ideally, we should be standing up every half an hour, but it depends on how long one stands for. It should be at least 15 minutes per hour,” says Hana.

When it comes to exercise, Hana says that ideally, we need at least 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day or at least 15 minutes of high intensity exercise per day.

If you’re getting irregular and insufficient sleep, Hana explains this will have a negative impact on neural plasticity, plus it will worsen concentration and memory.

Ideally, we should all be looking to get seven to nine hours per night as well as aiming to go to sleep at the same time every day.

Hana also adds that just one bad night’s sleep can have an impact on our brain health. 

“It will already cause dysregulation of neurochemicals; if this becomes a regular pattern, there will be a chronic issue impacting our brain, however it is difficult to say exactly how long, as individual compensatory mechanisms take different times.”

Unfortunately, catching up on sleep on the weekends isn’t advised.

“The brain works on a 24-hour circadian rhythm, which should be consistent, regardless of whether it’s a working day or a Saturday/Sunday. Changing the balance of light and darkness leads to dysregulation of melatonin and cortisol.”

Melatonin is our sleep hormone and cortisol is our stress hormone, which drives us to wake up. 

We need melatonin in the evening and cortisol in the morning, to help with our sleep and wake cycle. 

Think you’re getting enough sleep? Turns out, there is such a thing as too much.

“There is some (but limited) evidence that too much sleep might lead to cognitive decline, possibly due to dysregulation of the hormones melatonin and serotonin,” says Hana.

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