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3 surprising keys to a healthy brain

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“Maybe if we tell people the brain is an app, they’ll start using it.” LearningMind

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

What is the most common information you come across regarding how to make your brain healthier? You’ve likely seen information on food, like eating salmon and berries and avocado. You’ve probably heard enhanced brain health touted as a benefit connected to exercise. And you’ve likely been told that keeping the brain active is a must. 

There are some fascinating connections that have been made regarding brain health in the past several years, and I wanted to share three of my favorites.

Brain health is linked to leg strength

A study conducted in Milan Italy, published in 2018 in Frontiers in Neuroscience showed that restricting hind leg movement in mice for 28 days severely restricted the production of neural stem cells associated with a healthy nervous system. Think of your nervous system as an orchestra, with your brain as the conductor. 

This direct quote from Medical News Today sums it up well:

“The main takeaway of the new findings is that leg exercise — weight-bearing exercise, in particular — “tells” the brain to produce healthy neurons, which are key for our ability to cope with stress and life changes.”

Takeaway: It’s vitally important to stay mobile and use your legs. This is a key signal of vitality to your brain, and is essential for longevity.

Walk daily, and work some weight bearing exercises in on a regular basis. Squats are an easy body weight exercise you can do anywhere.

Brain health is linked to chewing

Another really interesting finding is that chewing is linked to brain health. 

A team of Swedish researchers examined data on a sample of elderly people and found that those with an impaired ability to chew, for example not being able to eat something like an apple, had a much higher risk of developing dementia.

A study by Cardiff University in Wales found that chewing gum over an extended period of time can help with concentration.

And a leading Japanese dental researcher has worked with multiple patients with very poor health to restore their ability to chew, and this has drastically improved their failing health.

The act of chewing and swallowing increases blood flow to the brain, and decreased chewing and swallowing leads to decreased blood flow.

If you or a loved one has issues chewing food, make it a priority to try and remedy that situation.


Brain health is linked to sleeping on your side

When we sleep fluid flows between arteries and veins in our brain, washing away harmful proteins that are then drained out of the brain via the “glymphatic system.”

The most efficient way that this drainage system works is when we sleep on our side. 

It’s noted in this article that side sleeping is the most popular position that humans and most animals, even in the wild, sleep in.

If you have a hard time sleeping on your side due to knee or hip issues, try using a knee pillow, or just place a small pillow between your knees.


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