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Top 10 Ways You Are Killing Your Brain (#5 – Who Knew?!)
You already know that smoking causes heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases, but a recent study links smoking with a gradual cognitive decline in men. A compound commonly found in tobacco called NNK becomes a carcinogen once inside the body. Although this doesn’t do direct harm to the brain, it does cause inflammation, one of the leading causes of dementia and multiple sclerosis. You have plenty of reasons to stop smoking, and here is another one. Unless you can picture yourself smoking away in a nursing home with no idea who you are or how you got there, stop smoking today.
8. Skipping the Bookstore or Library
Reading books (not video game instructions or Facebook memes) stimulates multiple areas of the brain. It also changes the brain and sparks those “light bulb” moments when the brain processes new information. The French National Institute conducted a study which found that when people avoid reading, they had an 18 percent greater risk of developing dementia. Worse still, once dementia set in, these non-readers had worse symptoms and quicker development of this disease than avid readers. Your brain is constantly adapting to your environment and the information you feed it. By reading books, you are continuously supplying your brain with new information that it must work to process.
Reading keeps your cognitive skills, especially your verbal skills, high throughout your life. Just 30 minutes of reading each day is all it takes to keep your brain sharp and give your brain a kind of “force field” that can help protect it from decline. By the way, those electronic “books” that you download simply wear out the eyes, create headaches, and even interrupt sleep. Comprehension is actually better when you read regular, old books, rather than a digital book. So don’t pass by that bookstore in the mall; pick up a few new reads (or visit your local library for free books!) and prepare to be amazed.
9. High Blood Sugar Levels
In a recent study, poor memory, learning problems, and depression were all linked to the over-consumption of sugar. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average American eats about 156 pounds of sugar each year. Imagine that amount, if you can. Each bag of sugar sitting on your supermarket shelf is five pounds. Most Americans eat more than 31 bags of sugar each year. 31 bags! It’s absolutely mind-blowing! Most people have no idea that they are consuming that much sugar because it’s commonly hidden in foods. Don’t blow your brain power by chowing down on sugar.
10. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your body repairs itself, which means it creates new cells in your vital organs as well as your brain. Everyone has a bad night every now and then, but habitual sleep deprivation can actually cause brain damage as new cells are not being processed. Without new cells to replace the old cells, the brain begins to lose its ability to communicate with nerve cells. Sleep deprivation has long-term negative effects on your brain, so be sure to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.
It’s not that complicated. To give your brain the best chance of working well your entire life, pay attention to the little things such as diet and reading. Your brain was meant to last a lifetime, so give it the care it deserves.