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Take care of the brain with sound sleep, diet

Sleep
Sleep is a necessary period every day which takes about a third of our lives. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I have heard it said: take care of your head, you might need it. I will say, take care of your brain, you will need it throughout life!

Intelligence is a function of the brain. It is an organ situated in the head that in a grown up person weighs just less than one and a half kilos, making about two percent of body weight. It has 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) neurons, give or take a few billions.

The brain receives sensations from outside the body and from all parts of the body. It controls all its functions. It is connected to all parts of the body through neurons, the central nervous system being its major pathway. We discuss the brain here in relation to intelligence, creativity and memory. In order to reach and maintain IQ capacity and prevent deterioration, it is important to take care of our brain.

We shall now consider ways of taking care of the brain. We are dealing with growth and sound maintenance. From the outset, it is important to consult a doctor any time one feels that anything is wrong with any of the functions related to the brain or pain in any of its associated areas. Here then are some ways of taking care of our brains and consequently IQ.

Mental Stimulation: This involves challenging the brain by learning new and unfamiliar things, engaging at higher levels of intellectual ability and learning new skills. Learning a musical instrument, a new language and juggling, solving puzzles, travelling to new places or taking a higher degree are known to develop important brain centres and co-ordination with the body. It also helps to have friends who are intellectually challenging either by their higher IQ or being differently gifted.

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Exercise: According to Health Harvard, regular exercise increases small vessels that bring oxygenated blood to the brain, growth of new nerve cells and connection between brain cells. It also lowers blood pressure, helps sugar balance and reduces mental stress which are all beneficial to the brain in reducing the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Good diet: Medical and nutrition experts agree on foods that contribute to good brain health and prevention of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease or boost memory, concentration and cognitive functions of the brain. They are good for their nutrients and for replacing harmful foods such as excessive sugar.

Healthline.com lists some of those foods such as: fatty fish, blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, oranges (citrus fruits), nuts, etc.

Protect your head from physical damage: The brain is well protected by the skull, three membranes and cushioned by a watery fluid found in four pockets in the head. This protection is sufficient for normal impact.

However, from the birth process and throughout life it is important to avoid falls, and wear protective gear when involved in activities that expose the head to physical damage and concussion as well as oxygen deprivation.

Cycling, car racing, boxing and construction are examples of activities that call for protective gear and safety procedures. Falls, concussion, vibrations to the body, violent fights often lead to irreversible damage to the brain. Proper doctor and midwife attendance is critical to prevent head damage in the birthing process.

Avoid tobacco: Smoking has been identified as a cause of dementia. Those who stop smoking have this risk reduced. Avoid alcohol: Alcohol impairs judgement and is a factor in dementia. Alcohol besides being an intoxicating substance is a highly addictive drug so that it brings potential for continuous effect. Avoid drugs and intoxicating substances: Most of these substances alter the chemical balance or functioning on the brain

Sleep Well: Here we refer to the length and quality sleep. Sleep is a necessary period every day which takes about a third of our lives. A grown up person needs at least eight hours of sleep every night. A 60 year old person has slept for 20 years!

There are different stages of sleep so its function to our bodies may seem contradictory. Sleep time is when the brain and body gets rest, removes toxins form the brain.

It is also housekeeping time when memory is consolidated between short-term and long term memory. Dreams help us with interpretation of information in our brain. It is important for each person to operate at their highest level of IQ and in addition avoid damage to the brain.

Good brain health is within reach of everybody. However, ignorance and lethargy keep many people operating below their IQ. Fortunately most conditions that impair our potential are preventable or controllable.

Take care of your brain!

The writer is a Psychologist, Coach, and Organisational Consultant.

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