At any age it’s important to look after our brain health - cognitive function is so important, especially in this age of information overload.
Memory, learning, information processing, attention, focus, and motivation all help keep our lives interesting, rewarding and ever- expanding.
The crucial chemicals involved in brain function and brain cell communication are called NEUROTRANSMITTERS. Everything we think and feel - from learning to ride a bike to falling in love - comes down to the ebb and flow of neurotransmitters.
Let’s look briefly at 5 of these and how they affect us when we run low ( deficiency more common than excess).
Low DOPAMINE: mental exhaustion, poor memory, low motivation
Low ADRENALIN: lack of focus, exhaustion
Low NORADRENALIN: poor long term memory
Low ACETYLCHOLINE: short term memory problems, and age- related cognitive decline
Low GLUTAMATE: fatigue, poor memory, poor brain function.
So how can we support our brain health including neurotransmitter function?
It’s actually not complicated or expensive ...YAY 😁
1. Exercise - I can see the eye rolls know ( most of you would know my Love of exercise as a prescription for just about every health problem). Studies have shown that women and men over 60 who exercise regularly, have faster reaction times and do better in mental function tests - this is partly attributed to improved cerebral blood flow. As blood flow to the brain increases, so too are oxygen and nutrients
2. Feed your head - once again, the Mediterranean diet wins. Fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains like rye, barley and buckwheat, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices ( esp garlic, onion, pepper), extra virgin olive oil, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, and of course, water ( filtered) and tea and coffee ( organic preferred). Eat rarely - red meat, and avoid sweetened beverages, processed meats like ham and bacon, refined oils like canola, white flour products, and margarine.
3. Stay engaged- our brains are very adaptable, the more we challenge it the more it can do. Continue learning ( language, music, dance, skills), get good quality sleep, reduce stress, and read books...these all contribute to the power of neuroplasticity ( the brains ability to recover and re- wire).
4. Vital nutrients- B vitamins, Zinc, and Magnesium are key nutrients in supporting neurotransmitter function. Active and well absorbed forms are ideal. Vitamin D and amino acids ( the building blocks of proteins) are also essential to brain health.
5. Herbal medicines- St Johns Wort, Withania, Rhodiola, Kava, Siberian Ginseng, Gingko, and Bacopa are key herbs for brain function. Quality is paramount so please see your Herbalist or Naturopath regarding doses and herb/ drug interactions for safety
It is possible to protect and extend our cognitive abilities as we age. Diet and lifestyle are key contributors ( news flash! Aren’t they usually?)
Mind your mind and reap the rewards NOW and into the future
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