Playing Full-Contact Sports Could Have Lasting Effects On Your Brain
Playing sports is a great way to stay in shape. But full-contact sports like football, soccer, and hockey may put you at risk for concussions and traumatic injuries that can have devastating effects on the brain. Concussions are common in contact sports at all levels from children up to professional athletes. Although one concussion is unlikely to cause long-term issues, repeated concussions can cause a serious condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disease impairs thinking and causes mood and behavioral issues. It has no cure and gets progressively worse over time, often resulting in dementia. Brain scans of former professional athletes found changes in the structure of their brains compared to non-athletes. And the alterations were more obvious in athletes who played sports with higher levels of contact. Similar results were seen in college athletes who play full-contact and collision sports.
Not Taking a Break When You’re Sick Will Mess With Your Brain’s Ability To Cope
When you’re sick, your whole body needs time to heal. The brain is no exception. Although it may be tempting, going back to working while sick can have negative impacts on your brain health. Many of the symptoms that we associate with being sick may actually be our brain kicking into action to help us feel better. A study found that mice who are sick experience fever, chills, and loss of appetite due to a brain region that controls body temperature and appetite. In fact, when that brain region is activated in mice who are not sick, they experience the same symptoms as sick mice. That indicates that the symptoms may not actually be a result of the infection but the brain’s response to it. Another study found that mice moved less while sick to conserve energy, a behavior that is controlled by the brainstem. These studies suggest that the best thing we can do for our body when sick is to listen to our brain and take a break.
Using Recreational Drugs Will Actually Alter Your Brain
Recreational drugs like ecstasy are designed to alter our brains. Aside from the obvious risks of addiction and overdose that come with recreational drug abuse, these substances can change how our brains are wired. Brains cells are connected to each other and communicate using chemical and electrical signals. These signals control most brain functions, including learning and memory, focus and attention, decision-making, and critical thinking. Drugs alter how brain cells connect and communicate with each other. Some of those changes are irreversible. Recreational drug use can cause memory loss, kill brain cells, and increase the risk of mental health disorders, stroke, and seizures. Even cannabis use, which has well-documented health benefits, is not without risks. Marijuana use can impair memory and slow reaction time.
Not Cracking Open a Good Book Can Increase Chances Of Dementia
It should come as no surprise that reading is good for the brain. But you might not be aware of all the ways that curling up with a good book can improve brain health. Several studies show that people who read more have slower cognitive decline as they age and a lower risk of dementia. Reading keeps your memory sharp and helps you focus, even as age naturally impacts the parts of the brain that control those skills. Getting immersed in a book can reduce stress and helps you fall asleep. There’s also some evidence that helps your brain cells form new connections and may increase the length of your life.
Not Getting Your Vitamins Is Starving Your Brain Of What It Needs
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your brain. As the most powerful organ in your body, your brain needs lots of nutrients to perform. Fish and nuts provide you with omega-3 fatty acids that help support overall brain health and memory. Flavonoids, found in berries, citrus fruit, green tea, and dark chocolate may slow cognitive decline as you age. Vitamin D from milk and mushrooms, vitamin E from avocado, nuts, and olives, and vitamin C from citrus fruit and a variety of vegetables all help keep your brain sharper for longer. Add in green leafy vegetables packed with lutein, folate, and Vitamin K, and you’ll have a diet that could be the key to a healthier brain and a healthier you!
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