Three Tips for Improving Your Brain Health

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The human brain is the command center for the human nervous system. It receives input from the sensory organs and sends output to the muscles and all the organs. The human brain has the same basic structure as other mammalian brains, but is larger in relation to body size than any other brains. It weighs about 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kilograms). The brain makes up about 2 percent of a human’s body weight. Despite this, even at rest, the brain consumes 20% of the body’s energy, about 327 calories per day! The brain consumes energy at 10 times the rate of the rest of the body per gram of tissue. The average power consumption of a typical adult is 100 Watts and the brain consumes 20% of this making the power of the brain 20 Watts, enough to light a light bulb!  

So, what are some tips to take care of this amazing organ? 

There are lots of lifestyle tips, but here are just three.
1) Hydrate. Our brain tissue is approximately 80 percent water, which is pretty high in water content compared to other organs. It needs the water to facilitate all the neurological connections and transmissions. Just like the heart, the brain has a rich network of blood vessels to supply the oxygen it needs to function. The research from the Adventist Health Study shows that the single most important health behavior we can adopt to reduce the risk of vascular disease is to drink at least five 8 ounce glasses of water each day. Research also shows that it’s best to start your day with two 8 ounce glasses of water in order to rehydrate. We really don’t need the caffeine in the morning – we need the water!
2) Decrease fats and cholesterol. From research on over 7000 autopsies, we show that clogging of brain arteries can begin as early as our 20’s from a diet that is high in saturated fats (oils, animal flesh, dairy), trans-fats (processed foods, chips, pastries) and cholesterol (all animal foods). Research now shows that cholesterol that is in the diet can become oxidized and then cross the blood-brain barrier contributing to arterial plaque formation and the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s. A diet that is plentiful in legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruit will help minimize arterial plaque and maximize brain function. 
3) Sleep. With so much stress in our modern-day lifestyle, sleep has come to be in short supply for many of us. The average time of sleep has now dropped to slightly less than 7.0 hours per night. Yet, our brain goes into clean-up mode while we sleep, clearing out the toxins that build up throughout the day. Without sufficient sleep, these toxins gradually build up and contribute to the formation of the beta-amyloid plaques which are a feature in Alzheimer’s disease. One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to actually create a routine of a regular bed time and regular time to rise. 
There are lots of important lifestyle habits that can help to improve your brain health, including cardiovascular exercise, strength training, stress management and much more. To improve your brain health, it is recommended that you adopt just ONE change at a time. I usually recommend focusing on one practice for about 90 days until it becomes a well-ingrained habit. Then, it is much more likely to stick. Keep practicing that habit and adopt a new practice. Rinse and repeat!
Take action on improving your brain health today. You’ll find that you have more energy, more focus, improved memory, and just feel better. For more information on memory and brain health, phone us at 530-297-6464 or click here to email us.

Ruben J Guzman, MPH, ACLM, author of Evolving Health and living proof of what it takes to lose weight, eat healthy and stay fit. Ruben possesses over 30 years of experience in the health field: attended 3 years at the UC Davis School of Medicine, holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA specializing in behavioral sciences/health promotion, and member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

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