12 Habits that damage your brain

When it comes to our health, we don’t always think about taking care of our brains the way we take care of our bodies. We tend to focus on other parts of the body and overlook the brain which is responsible for all bodily functions.

Take a look at some of these daily habits that are doing serious damage to your brain.

1. Consuming too much sugar

Include brain damage to the things we already associate with a high sugar intake like type 2 diabetes, dental cavities, and obesity. So you may be asking; How does taking too much candy affect your brain? Taking sugar in excessive amounts for a long period of time messes with the body’s ability to absorb proteins and nutrients.

This might consequently lead to malnutrition which deters brain development. This happens because the body lacks enough nutrients in the bloodstream and therefore is unable to deliver sufficient nutrients to the brain, which then deters its growth and development.

Eating too many sweets can damage your memory and ability to think, so sticking to alternatives like anti-oxidant-rich sweets like dark chocolate and raspberries would be a much better choice for both your brain and your waistline.

2. Not getting enough sleep

Insufficient sleep is a huge problem for many busy professionals. Depriving oneself of sleep can result in several issues such as extreme daytime drowsiness, depression, and impaired memory.

Recent studies reveal that not getting enough sleep can actually decrease the size of your brain. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that suffers when you don’t get enough sleep.

Even a single night of inadequate sleep can interfere with the brain’s ability to recall new information. A number of studies have shown that the brain cleanses itself of toxins only during the sleep cycle.

Lack of sleep can also cause the death of brain cells which slows down your thinking, impairs your memory, concentration, judgment, and decision-making, and hinders learning.

3. Playing loud music with earphones or headphones

People naturally tend to crank up the volume. It makes the music sound more fun and immersive. If you constantly listen to music at a very high volume with your earphones or headphones you should stop doing it because it can damage your hearing. But it’s not just your ears that are affected.

Hearing loss in older people is connected to brain problems such as loss of brain tissue and Alzheimer’s. When your brain has to make an extra effort to understand what someone’s saying it can’t store what you’ve heard in memory.

Protect your hearing by adjusting the volume of your earphones for it’s a great way to preserve your hearing and permits your brain to function better.

Headphonesty.com suggested one to test to ensure your volume is not too loud. The digital headphone magazine recommends that one should take off their headphones, keeping them at their preferred volume, and then hold them out in front of you at arm’s length.

If you can hear the music clearly then you should try turning it down and repeating the process. They also said that you should aim to take regular breaks throughout the day to give your ears enough time to relax.

4. Skipping breakfast

Many people choose to skip breakfast probably because they’re on a diet or to save time. Not many people know that missing breakfast could damage your brain. The body needs enough nutrients after a good night’s sleep and so skipping breakfast denies the brain of these essential nutrients.

A Japanese study of over 80,000 subjects over a period of 15 years revealed that participants who frequently skipped breakfast increased their chances of having a stroke and high blood pressure. Another study showed that children who took breakfast on a regular basis performed much better in school than those who don’t.

Skipping breakfast lowers blood glucose levels which adversely affects the brain’s functioning. So before you leave your house in the morning, remember to have a bite to eat.

5. Eating too much food

Overindulging in food makes us gain weight, feel boated, and increase our chances of having life-threatening diseases. But one fact that you might be unaware of is that it can also do serious damage to your brain. It hardens the brain arteries hence harming our mental capabilities.

Studies have shown that a prolonged high-calorie diet can in fact increase a person’s risk of developing memory loss or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) later in life. A study published in the journal Neurology in 2012 examined 6,000 people who were 50 years old on average.

The same participants were examined a decade later, and the ones who were overweight had a 22% higher deterioration of their cognitive functions as compared to their slimmer counterparts.

6. Sleeping with your head under the cover

Oxygen is very essential for normal brain functioning. The less air you inhale, the poorer your brain functions. A situation you create where you breathe in less than 20.95% of oxygen is when you sleep with a blanket or comforter over your head.

Is it all warm and cozy when you bury yourself under the covers? Certainly. Does it help to decrease the annoying effects of too much light or sound first thing in the morning? Of course, it does. But it will result in an elevated intake of carbon dioxide which means you’re increasing the risk of damaging your brain cells.

7. Multitasking

You’ve probably heard that multitasking has a negative effect on your productivity. It turns out that doing this also scrambles your brain and makes you less effective.

A neurologist at MIT and one of the world’s experts when it comes to divided attention, Earl Miller said that our brains are not wired to multitask well. When people think they’re multitasking they’re actually switching from one activity to the other real quick. And every time they do there’s a cognitive cost.

The habit of multitasking also increases the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight or flight hormone adrenaline which can overstimulate your brain and can cause mental fog or scrambled thinking.

Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that people who are bombarded with multiple streams of digital information regularly have more pronounced problems recalling information and paying attention when compared to people who complete one activity at a time.

8. Inadequate water intake

The body is made up of approximately 70% of water, so it’s vital to every bodily function including brain function. When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.

Water is also essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for eliminating toxins. When the brain is fully hydrated, the exchange of nutrients and toxins will be more efficient—thus ensuring better concentration and mental alertness.

The effect dehydration has on the brain is almost immediate with researchers saying that even two hours of intense exercise without water can cause a cognitive decline.

Studies also show that dehydration had the most impact on functions like complex problem-solving, coordination and attention. The brain needs sufficient water to think faster and focus better.

So it’s very important that you stay hydrated all the time. Drinking water benefits both your body and brain enabling them to function better.

9. Smoking

This is most likely the most harmful habit that indulging in it has on your brain. Smoking not only causes lung diseases or even heart disease, but it also has a lot of negative effects on your brain.

Smoking damages cell membranes and neural viability in certain areas of the brain that manage balance, coordination, and both fine and gross motor skills.

Not only that, but it also thins the cortex where processes such as language, memory, and perception occur. It can also lead to problems like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and maybe even death.

Smoking excessively causes neuroinflammation indirectly, which can cause an autoimmune disorder known as Multiple Sclerosis or MS.

10. Consuming alcohol

Alcohol begins affecting a person’s brain the moment it enters the bloodstream. For someone who is healthy, the liver quickly filters the alcohol, helping the body get rid of it. However, when someone drinks excessively, the liver cannot filter the alcohol fast enough, and this triggers immediate changes in the brain; often known as getting drunk.

Alcohol causes chemical imbalances when consumed for longer periods of time and in larger quantities. Brain volume also decreases due to chronic alcohol intake. There are some subtle differences in how brain damage occurs in men and women, but regardless of gender, loss of brain matter increases with age and the amount of alcohol consumed. More than two units a day for men and one unit a day for ladies is considered excess alcohol.

11. Working when sick

If ever need an excuse to get out of work, well here’s one. We often fall sick when we’re overworked. If you continue working during an illness, it’s bound to take a toll on the brain’s efficiency and this only adds to the stress.

A certain study showed that participants who had developed a cold reported less alertness, more negative moods, and sluggish thinking.

The second round of tests also revealed that they reacted slowly and were slower at learning new information and completing tasks dealing with verbal reasoning and semantic processing.

When we’re sick the body and the brain are already working overtime to cope with the infection. Working while sick only adds to the burden so take a break, relax and get better.

12. Not exercising

Exercise affects the brain immensely. It increases your heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also helps in the bodily release of a number of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a conducive environment for the growth of brain cells.

Exercising is also known to decrease stress levels in the body and also increase mobility and make you more flexible. If you don’t exercise enough, your mobility and motor skills begin to decline in one way or another.

Studies also show that exercise helps to keep us younger by releasing endorphins which are happy hormones. All in all, exercise strengthens your heart and your lungs, not just the brain.

If you’re concerned with the well-being of your brain and the quality of your thinking either now or in the future you need to learn to take care of your brain.

A few changes to the way you’re living your life could go a long way in boosting your memory, learning, mental resilience and the health of your brain overall.

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