Keeping a Healthy Brain
Eating healthy, staying active and limiting alcohol can help your heart, weight, and body. Doctors say keeping a healthy lifestyle can also help protect your brain.
Neurologist Dr. Fredrick Schaerf says regular physical activity improves brain health. “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. So we know that the risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and heart disease are risk factors for dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease. We know now that exercise may be very important. Not only does it release neurotransmitters to make us feel better but it may actually have a beneficial effect to the brain. There’s a hormone called osteocalien which is released by bones. It’s released when we exercise and walk. But it also has been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.”
Even our diet can have an impact on our brain. Studies show brain cells don’t respond well to sugar. Diets high in sugar and high in carbohydrates have shown to be detrimental to brain cells.
“Listening to music an hour a day with headphones may actually be very beneficial for increasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, important for energy, motivation, and thinking and concentration,” said Dr. Schaerf.
Alcohol and illegal drugs can also damage brain cells. It’s important for patients of any age to protect their brain from unhealthy substances and injuries. “I think there’s a new awareness about how our brain is really our most important organ and the things we do early in life can really have profound influences later in life,” said Dr. Schaerf.
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